Instagram Marketing for Small Businesses: The Ultimate & Ever-Evolving, Guide for Spas, Salons and Barbershops
If you are a small business entrepreneur operating a spa, salon or barbershop— it’s worth being on Instagram.
We probably don’t need to remind you of the benefits of the platform, and it’s best assumed that you may either have a personal profile, a creator profile or Instagram for business profile—each with its own merits.
✅ Maybe you have a personal profile that you use to relay information about your business with cute pets pics and family updates thrown in for good measure…
✅ Maybe you have an Instagram creator account and your key goal is to create content and gain insights…
But if you want your Instagram profile to be specific to your business—one that will eventually work as a growth engine—driving brand awareness, boosting revenue and bookings, it’s time that you switch to Instagram for Business.
When it comes to Instagram marketing for small businesses, the right tactics will depend on your business type. A company that’s primarily selling products will market itself differently than a service provider.
In this post, we’ll be focusing on the latter. Specifically, this resource will serve as a detailed and actionable guide for how spas, salons, and barbershops can develop a strong Instagram marketing strategy.
Dive into the article below or quickly jump to a specific section:
- What is Instagram for Business?
- How does Instagram differ for small businesses?
- The benefits of using Instagram marketing for small businesses
- How to switch to an Instagram business account
- The best Instagram features for spas, salons, and barbershops
- Marketing tips for small businesses on Instagram: pointers to grow your audience and engagement
- Instagram’s COVID-19 updates for small businesses
What is Instagram for Business?
Since 2016, Instagram has allowed accounts to identify themselves as businesses rather than personal users. This is more than a label — Instagram for Business comes with a range of great tools that are invaluable to your marketing efforts.
As well as gaining access to analytics and Facebook’s powerful advertising capabilities, Instagram for Business allows you to manage your profile in a much more hands-on way. With a business account, you can:
- Add specific call to action buttons (like an Instagram book now button)
- Add links to your Instagram Stories
- Schedule posts ahead of time via social media planning tools
- ‘Promote’ your top posts
How does Instagram differ for small businesses?
Small businesses like spas, salons or barbershops pack a strong punch on Instagram, and in some cases, they’re in a better position to connect with their audience than larger brands.
Classic Instagram features such “following”, tagging and direct messages blur the line between consumers and companies. They help businesses to present themselves as individuals with unique personalities — which is integral to building a successful brand.
Instagram enforces the natural edge that small businesses, and especially service providers, have over their larger counterparts — being able to more easily forge personal connections with their customers.
This is why the topic of Instagram marketing for small businesses is worth exploring. When implemented correctly, the platform can have a material effect on your bottom line.
The benefits of using Instagram marketing for small businesses
Here are some of the benefits you can experience when you put Instagram’s platform to good use.
Make your business and services visible
If consumers don’t know that your services exist, it’s impossible to grow your business. Maximizing your presence online is especially important within a crowded market such as hairdressing, spa services or barbering. Instagram marketing provides another avenue for prospective clients to discover your brand.
Effectively tell your brand’s story
For service providers, it’s challenging to build a brand identity around what can feel less tangible than a product. Your Instagram feed provides you with a unique space to explore your brand story and build an aesthetic that appeals to your target audience.
Foster an online community
There is a reason why engagement rates on Instagram are roughly ten times higher than on Facebook; the former allows consumers and businesses to interact with each other in a much organic way than targeted advertising. Whether it’s through commenting, sharing, or reposting content, Instagram offers a variety of ways to drive interest in your brand.
How to switch to an Instagram business account
Ready to dive into Instagram marketing for small businesses? The first step is making sure that you have a business account on the platform. If you haven’t done so yet, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to the three stripes menu in the top-right corner of your profile and choose ‘Settings’.
Step 2: Select ‘Account’ and ‘Switch to Professional Account.’
Step 3: The app will prompt you to provide relevant business information, such as your physical address, opening hours, and contact details. If you already have a business Facebook page, you can connect your accounts during this process.
The best Instagram features for spas, salons, and barbershops
Now that you know how to set up your business account, let’s look at the functionalities you can use in your strategy.
Call-to-action (CTA) buttons
Service providers like salons, spas, and barbershops need to constantly drive bookings. Part of doing that means letting your clients schedule appointments quickly and easily. You don’t want people to jump through too many hoops just to get into your calendar.
On Instagram, you can facilitate a smooth booking process by using the app’s call-to-action buttons. Specially, you can include an Instagram book now button on your profile, which connects to your appointment scheduling platform. This allows your clients to set up appointments without having to leave Instagram.
Pro tip: If you’re using Genbook, you can set up your “Book” button by following these steps:
1. On your Instagram profile, tap “Edit Profile.”
2. Select the “Contact Options” section.
3. Tap “Add an action button”
4. Select *Genbook BookNow! Application* from the list on the next screen and hit “Next” at the bottom.
5. Enter your Genbook login information when prompted, and tap “Connect”.
6. (If relevant) Select the location(s) whose booking you want to link to Instagram, then tap “Finish”.
We can see the Instagram book button in action in Akai Hair Design & Barbering. Clients who land on their Instagram page can easily schedule an appointment by hitting the “Book” button on their account. From there, they’ll be taken to Akai’s Genbook page where they can select a service and confirm the date and time.
Everything can be done in a few taps and there’s no need to switch apps or leave Instagram.
As far as tools, Stories can be very powerful when it comes to Instagram marketing for small businesses. These real-time photos and video clips allow you to forge “in the moment” connections with your followers, which makes you a far more engaging account to follow. According to Facebook, 39% of users surveyed said they became more interested in a business’s offerings after viewing their Instagram Stories.
One example of a beauty and wellness business that’s putting Instagram Stories to good use is Spa 131, which uses the feature to share their services and latest promotions.
Instagram’s long-form video feature might have gotten off to a shaky start, but with IGTV monetization on the horizon, it’s set to become a key content strategy on the platform.
Instead of disappearing within 24 hours of posting as Stories do, IGTV videos remain as permanent posts within your feed. With Instagram having added the ability to upload landscape videos as well as vertical, it’s now even easier to repurpose your top existing content.
Youssef Barber of Diamond Cuts uses IGTV to share business updates, haircut demos, and more, which keeps his followers informed and engaged.
Instagram marketing for small businesses can be tricky, so it’s best to rely on data to figure out what tactics are working and the types of content that resonate with your audience.
Whether you are experimenting with a new Instagram marketing strategy or want a better sense of how your current approach is performing, the Insights tool is invaluable to businesses who are trying to grow their audience.
You can find Insights within the top-right menu of your profile. Here, you’ll find metrics grouped under three tabs:
This gives you an overview of what you have posted in the past week. Tapping into these will give you metrics for individual posts, including reach, impressions, and engagement.
The ‘activity’ tab gives you a weekly summary of what is taking place on your feed, allowing you to see which days generate the most interactions from your followers. This is broken down into reach, impressions, profile visits, and website clicks.
This is where you can track the growth of your followers and see the times of day they are most active on Instagram. You’ll also find important demographic information, such as gender, age distribution, and where your followers are based.
Note: Insights cannot give any data that predates your switch to a business account. This means that if you have only just signed up, it will take some time before you can see any overarching trends.
With us so far? Why not bookmark the following resources to grow your business on Instagram?
Marketing tips for small businesses on Instagram: 4 pointers to grow your audience and engagement
Although it might seem daunting, Instagram marketing for small businesses doesn’t require fancy social media skills.
Following these top Instagram marketing tips will help your business to foster an active community of clients:
1. Be consistent
When you are trying to build your follower count, there’s nothing more important than having a cohesive Instagram marketing strategy. Why? Because without a consistent brand approach, people will struggle to get a sense of who you are as a business. You are far more likely to reel in followers, and in turn future customers, if they know what to expect from your content.
In addition to having a cohesive brand image, being consistent also applies to your posting schedule. Come up with a cadence for your Instagram content, ensuring that it helps you gain visibility & engagement.
The right posting frequency depends on your business and schedule, but try to do it daily or at least several times a week.
You cannot build up your follower count if you’re sporadic with your content. Instagram can be a crowded platform and your audience needs to hear from you often and consistently if you want to attract followers, build meaningful relationships, and ultimately drive bookings.
Mav Lash, which offers lash extensions does an amazing job when it comes to content consistency on Instagram. Not only does the team post content multiple times per week, they’re consistently sharing eyelash-related content on the platform, so people know what they’re all about.
2. Use results-driven marketing techniques
Use Instagram to showcase the results that you’ve achieved. “Before and after” posts are incredibly effective here, especially for service providers. Potential clients need to be convinced that your business is the most capable of fulfilling their needs. As an aesthetics-driven platform, Instagram is the perfect place to show off the skills of your stylists and technicians.
Here’s a great example of a before and after post from Nicck Townsend, which clearly shows the wonderful effect of having well-groomed brows.
3. Make the most of Story Highlights
Saving your Stories into Highlights allows you to curate your very best content all in one place. It also helps those who have just discovered your brand to find out more without directing from away from your feed.
Best of all, Highlights are a convenient shortcut to give followers more information about your services.
Check out Manly & Sons, a barbershop business with locations in California, Oregon, and Washington. They have Story Highlights for each location and they even came up with custom icons to make the Highlights look more attractive.
4. Take the time to engage with your followers
Instagram marketing for small businesses isn’t all about the follower count. A smaller audience that is highly engaged is far more valuable to your business than a larger, inactive follower base. Taking the time to interact with supporters of your business helps to build stronger relationships and increase brand loyalty.
There are many avenues for doing this, including:
- Liking and responding to comments on your posts
- Following accounts that have followed you
- Sharing/reposting content from your followers
- Posting content which encourages interaction
Instagram’s COVID-19 updates for small businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented shift in how businesses operate, especially for personal care establishments who are very vulnerable to lockdown measures.
In recognition of this, Instagram has added new features and resources to help small businesses better connect with their customers during this challenging time:
“Support Small Business” stickers
Instagram has introduced a ‘support small business’ sticker for use within Instagram Stories. Your followers can mention your business within this sticker, which joins a shared Story that is accessible platform-wide. This helps your business to extend its reach into new communities, and can support some fantastic marketing campaigns!
Shops on Instagram
This is a highly useful tool for salons and spas who are supplementing their income through product sales. Shops with Instagram is an immersive virtual shopfront that allows businesses to build a custom shopping experience entirely within the app. It integrates seamlessly with Instagram’s existing checkout feature, making it easy to drive customers along the path to purchasing.
This is a great feature to take advantage of if you’re selling products along with your services.
Instagram COVID-19 resource directory
This directory provides some excellent advice for those seeking to pivot their sales and marketing strategies. Here, you will find the Instagram for Business COVID-19 guide available for download, as well as a collection of blog posts designed to help businesses manage the impact of the pandemic.
Small Business Grants Program
Instagram’s parent company Facebook has launched a dedicated program to give financial support to disrupted small businesses – with $100m being made available to those who have been affected. Check the website to see whether your business meets the criteria.
Instagram marketing for small businesses: it’s not as hard as you might think!
Now you know the best Instagram features for small businesses looking to grow their audience, as well as the top Instagram marketing strategies to help boost your revenue. Remember: Putting your efforts into creating authentic, interesting content is the key to your business finding a lasting home on Instagram!
Want more ways to boost your Instagram marketing? Why not start by picking up the right hashtags for your spa, salon, or barbershop business. Download our copy & paste list and start seeing a rise in engagement and bookings! Download our hashtag handbook now!