How Startups Can Use Instagram to Grow Their Business to a Competitive Level

Ejiofor Francis

Ejiofor Francis is a performance-based PR strategist who helps brands to get quality results by developing a winning content strategy. He is the founder of Effective Marketing Ideas and contributes articles about the latest technological developments and I’ve been published on some amazing outlets, which include Entrepreneur Magazine, Beincrypto, ReadWrite, B2C and more.

According to, about 50% of marketing teams spend half of their marketing budget on social media ads. Explicitly, from the graph below, about 29% of marketers spend a larger share of their marketing budget on Instagram.

Instagram is a hugely Influential social media platform for any business. And since it is one of the top media of engagement, businesses channel their marketing dollars towards it to achieve astronomical business growth. From all indications, Instagram has proven to be much more than a photo-sharing platform. It now has tons of amazing features that can help businesses, especially startups, grow to a competitive level.

Table of Contents

Why Instagram is a Great Platform for Your Startup

Let me share a few facts:

  • Instagram has a total number of 1 billion active monthly users.
  • About 73% of U.S teens said that Instagram is the best way for brands to create awareness about products or promotions. 
  • According to Statista, Instagram has over 130 million users from the U.S. alone. Furthermore, research also confirmed that 67% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 make use of Instagram in the United States. The list is endless.

Challenges that Hold Startups from Winning on Instagram

Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges that prevent startups winning on Instagram

Intensive competition

Competition breeds innovation, but it’s quite intense in the corporate world. With millions of businesses all over the world investing heavily on Instagram marketing — and many offering the same or almost the same thing, it becomes challenging for startups to survive the heat of competition. That’s why one has to be wide-awake as there is no room for any error in the quest to take your small business to the next level using Instagram.

So, whether you’re running a B2C or B2B organization, the heat of the competition is inevitable. Hence, to survive the competitive business environment and grow your business to the next level, you need to perform at a higher level than expected.

Thriving amidst existing businesses and other startups in the Instagram community isn’t a walk in the park. A lot of strategic thinking, planning, execution, and consistency needs to come into play.

Being trapped with undefined expectations affect marketing goals

One of the major challenges holding startups from winning on Instagram is because they set unrealistic targets that affect their marketing goals. Truth be told, success doesn’t come alone. It’s being accompanied by expectations that seem defined.

Sadly, some of these expectations are unrealistic especially at the startup phase. Newly established businesses tend to face this struggle a lot. They expect too much. And when it doesn’t flow as expected, it affects their Instagram marketing goals. 

Generally, to succeed as a startup in the business world, it’s great to have high expectations. But it has to be controlled. Having them tamed will enable you to keep a view of the available marketing budget — and to a greater extent, it will enable you to effectively allocate it across channels.

Not having a proper business model

If you’re a small business owner and you’re of the mindset that you can sell your products or services to just anybody on Instagram, this will lead you nowhere. Any startup operating with this notion has no business model. CB INSIGHTS explored reasons why startups fail and the study revealed about 20 of them. One of the facts revealed that a startup’s product without a defined business model tends to fail.  

This is an uncomfortable truth. Yet, many small business owners still refuse to recognize it as a delaying factor affecting their business.

Frankly, as a result-driven startup owner, who wants their business to not only survive but also thrive using Instagram, it’s very crucial to have a solid business model that will help you identify your ideal customer or target audience on Instagram to effectively sell your product or services.

Insufficient budget and  mismanagement

It’s crystal clear that money brings more money. It’s a proven fact that the more your business grows, the more money you need to maintain it. And this is one of the major challenges startups face today. The competition is very intense, so many juggernauts spend millions of dollars keeping their business afloat on Instagram

While the pricing and management might seem too steep for startups, most of them rely on investors. However, you always have to be extremely smart and cautious by keeping all cards to your chest.

Advisably, if your business is in a precarious situation, and your investors aren’t responding as they should, it’s wise to seek the assistance of a reputable financial consultancy firm that will really help you out.

Not attaining true engagement and connection

It’s no longer news that almost all businesses now run their affairs online. Social media is one of the channels they invest their marketing efforts and budget in. Unfortunately, many businesses, especially small-sized companies, don’t understand how to maximize social media platforms, including Instagram.

The key to achieving authentic audience engagement on Instagram and making true connections with prospective clients is by being “social”. The deeper you get involved with them, like replying to their comments, asking them questions related to what you’re offering and how your products or services could be of help, the more seamless they can engage with your brand.

Focus on making them feel valued and listened to, and you’ll naturally win their connections. And one great thing about natural engagement is that your audience tends to share your regular post without being forced.

How to Use Instagram to Thrive as a Startup

Since its inception, Instagram user growth has been consistent and showing no signs of slowing down. And from all indications, the platform has proven to be a great place where result-driven business owners can use it to grow their startups to a competitive level.

Forecast for Worldwide Instagram Users, 2019-2023

While surviving the heat of the competition as a startup should be of paramount importance, you need to learn how to make the most of Instagram for your brand. Here are six actionable techniques.

1. Design a business landing page that engages

After all the hurdles of setting up a business page on Instagram, you need an amazing landing page so as not to make your potential customers regret clicking on your page. Keep in mind the following tips:

  • Your page should be scannable
  • Your page must have content that matches what potential customers are expecting to find
  • Make sure your visitors’ visual experience is seamless and breathtaking
  • Ensure your landing page delivers exactly what your call to action offers

2. Run a creative Instagram contest

Here is another interesting way to drive in more leads. And this can be achieved through contests, sales, and promotion. 

At this point, you can begin by asking your followers to complete a survey (always keep the survey form short) or asking them to comment on a specific post to win a prize. As a startup, make sure the supposed winning prize is within your budget. Additionally, you can also broaden the reach of the contest to generate more leads by adding a tag-a-friend element to the survey form or comment section.

3. Always post product content that gets the most attention

Shoppers don’t usually make a purchase the first time they come across any product. And to be on the front line of demand, Instagram advises marketers to check their insight tabs first to find the product post that performs best.

Next, you need to refresh your prospect’s mind by regularly posting content around the product that has the most attention. By doing this, you’re strategically building up your customers’ confidence and creating more opportunities for them to buy your products.

4. Carefully choose and partner with Instagram influencers

There’s no doubt that this is one of the most effective ways to generate leads. As a startup owner, you might not be able to afford a celebrity influencer (with millions of followers) who appeals to your prospects compared to established businesses. But you can opt for a micro-influencer who usually has between 10,000 and 50,000 followers.

According to the study carried out by ExpertVoice, the survey revealed that micro-influencers have a real impact in swaying consumer behavior. Furthermore, it also revealed that about 82 percent of consumers who were surveyed for the study, disclosed that they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.

When searching for an influencer, don’t select randomly. Opt for an influencer with strong brand affinity. Someone who builds trust with their fans. Then offer them a partnership.

Looking for the right Instagram influencers to promote your business? Find the best creators who fit your brand with HypeAuditor Influencer Discovery

Instagram influencers have a strong power of swaying in more leads — especially when your company is still young.

5. Coat all your actions with creativity

The key to getting more leads on Instagram is to be creative all-around. In other words, your call-to-action phrases and your visuals should be creative and go hand in hand to fulfill the same target goal, which is to drive more leads.

6. Make use of Instagram lead ads

Instagram lead ads are the most obvious way to generate leads. It’s designed to help businesses gather customers’ information such as job titles, birthdates, phone numbers, and addresses.

Well, startups can leverage this as it can help them learn more about their existing and potential customers, enhance direct marketing campaigns, etc.

To create Instagram lead ads, you’ll need a Facebook page because all Instagram ads are created in Facebook Ads Manager.

How to Keep the Prospect Engaged

A strong engagement strategy is also a crucial way that can take your startup to the next level. Here are actionable ways to keep your prospects engaged:

  • Have a defined content posting schedule
  • Regularly create shareable content
  • Integrate video content into your strategy
  • Test your content to determine what works best
  • Share statistical facts and figures that would interest your audience
  • Leverage Instagram Stories
  • Understand the art and science of hashtags
  • Always reply when your brand is mentioned

Building Trust on Instagram

To grow your business to a competitive level, building trust with followers is very crucial. Frankly, if they trust you, they’ll be more likely to purchase or refer your products or services to family and friends.

Here are few tips on how to build trust on Instagram.

Always provide quality content

Instead of posting random content just for the sake of posting, it’s wise to invest your efforts in providing your audience with educational, entertaining, and shareable content. More importantly, make sure it solves your audience’s problems or needs. These posts could be graphs or short videos or quotes.

Be authentic and transparent

One of the fastest ways to blow your startup’s chances of building real relationships with customers is to break your promise. Gone are the days when businesses could sweep flaws under the rug. The new generations are pretty smart and can sniff out brand intentions pretty fast. Therefore, be very careful with every messaging you’re sharing on your business account. Let them feel your authenticity, and trust will flow naturally.

Humanize your interactions with customers

Humanizing your interactions with customers is one of the key ways of building trust with your followers. Your audience is always excited to know that there are real humans behind their brands, not bots. Remember, Instagram is a social media platform, and to win the race, your brand has to be all “social”. Show them that you care about them by humanizing your conversation with them.

Closing Thoughts

In general, Instagram is an amazing platform that startups can leverage for exponential growth. If your strategies appeal to the audience, your offerings on Instagram will organically attract users, increase engagement, and generate leads.

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