Communities are a vital part of society. From the people to small businesses brings growth and innovation to the local community, they need to be innovated with how they continue to grow in today’s society. With technology always changing and adapting to what people want. A part of technology changing on the daily basis is social media. Social media platforms adapt and change all the time like a small business. A platform that small businesses have gravitated towards is Instagram. Instagram was developed and released in October 2010 and since then has become an essential for everyday life. For small businesses around the world, Instagram has become the ultimate marketing tool for them. With many features including the professional account mode and stories mode that Instagram includes with their app, small businesses now have a new advantage with completing against big businesses. As there are many tools available with Instagram, it’s essential that small businesses use them to continue to complete with big businesses. So throughout the entire paper, I am going to discuss why Instagram has become and still has been the perfect marketing tool for small businesses and how each tool has become a valuable and essential asset for the business.
In today’s society, small businesses have become an essential in local communities. As everyone wants to support their local businesses, small businesses need to continuously produce new and creative content to build their brand for growth. So using a platform like Instagram has become an essential marketing tool that allows businesses (mainly small businesses) exposure to grow an entire new audience. In a paper written by Wassan Alkhowaiter, he speaks of the power of Instagram and its power as a marketing tool. An interesting quote as he deliberates on the topic is “Instagram was basically designed for mobile phones, and since smart phones help to connect people to social media on the move, it makes it easier for a business to reach its customers wherever they are” (Alkhowaiter, 2016, p. 61). When analysing this very accurate and honest fact, that Instagram is for smart phones and especially on the go. Most users on Instagram use it to share moments, milestones and special occasions. However for small businesses, it’s to promote their brand and what they’re all about. For example, a small clothing brand would use Instagram to showcase the clothing rather it is woman’s wear, men’s wear or even kids wear. As this business continues to use this inexpensive tool at their advantage for free, they’re saving money in marketing and adverting which is usually two of their highest expenses. A tool that small businesses use that is also an expense that goes with promoting is using Instagram Influencers. Influencer is a social media marketer who helps targets the audience that the particular business wants to attract. It’s a networking tool that all businesses use to grow their audience and brand. As an Influencer has thousands of followers, their popularity can help promote the business products for a fee which the Influencer’s audience may feel encouraged to buy said product from the small business. A Research conducted by De Veirman, Cauberghe and Hudders (2017) suggests Influencers who are “more attractive, extractive, trustworthy, approachable and possessing other socially desirable characteristics” (De Vierman, Cauberghe& Hudders, 2017, p. 2) are targeted more by small businesses to promote their brand and grow their popularity using particular Instagram Influencers. As the Influencer and small business works on an agreement that both parties can agree to, both parties are working together on a marketing strategy that will help establish growth on Instagram for both parties. When a small business learns new skills with Instagram, that knowledge and power is going to help them boost their confidences and benefits from the rise of growth.
As previously discussed in the paragraph beforehand about the power and influence that Instagram can bring to small businesses but with all that knowledge, small businesses need to creative with their posts and keep to the aesthetic that they know is right for their brand as well how they want the aesthetic for the business to look like. By doing this, the audience that has been developed will end up engaging with the business. As content is being created for the small business, it’s got to scheduled to be posted at the right time for their audience by using scheduling programs. Even thou users on Instagram can notify for every post for accounts that users like. However it isn’t just posts that small businesses need to be creative with, it is also stories. With many features like gifs, questions and poll for example. It’s became some of the most creative ways that small businesses in different communities can interact with their respected communities. According by research conducted by Casalo, Flavian and Ibanez-Sanchez (2020) that “brands to post visual content, which can be improved using several tools provided by the platform” (p.2). Diving into this further, they are discussing with several tools on Instagram is important. When it comes to actual posts, small businesses need to target on being creative with videos. Posting videos of Influencers or models being used in the video post can produce an up growth interaction with potentially new customers. So being more creative with video posts might entail learning how to video edit short clips, what the best program is and how it can help a business market future products on Instagram and continue to improve on those skills. As small businesses use these tools to develop their content, they need to be more creative with the content they’re posting for the audience which showcases the message of the small business. A powerful message from a small business that is being portrayed on a platform such as Instagram needs creative content to helps market the business either if it’s a video, photo or even using the story feature to tell the story of the business.
To further explain about aesthetics from the previous paragraph, why is it important for small businesses to have an aesthetic on Instagram? Well an aesthetic is a set of principles underlying the work of an artistic movement. So creating an aesthetic for small businesses is important. From the colour palette to the theme of the business must be taken into consideration for an online presence especially on Instagram. According to Colliander and Marder (2017) “the impact of using a snapshot aesthetic versus a studio aesthetic on social media, on brand credibility and on users attitudes towards the brand” (p.35). When looking at this statement, there’s truth behind especially the users attitude. As the user continues to support the small business on Instagram and potentially purchase from that business. An example of a small business that needs to stay on top of aesthetics is upcoming and indie makeup businesses. Makeup is about creativity with different products and being a popular topic on Instagram, the more they can stand out with their aesthetic the better. As an indie makeup business continues to release more products to the market that is being newly released to the public. They have created a marketing aesthetic in studio which plays into brand credibility of a studio aesthetic mentioned in the quote above. However thou for a snapshot aesthetic for a small business would be perfect for a café. As they produce a coffee with incredible coffee art, a delicious slice of cake or both really plays into the user attitudes on the quote above. It’s authentic and more straightforward approach for a user to interact with.
The old saying a picture is worth a thousand words. This is said to us all our lives but as technology has grown, so has that saying. Changing the way it is looked at now. With Instagram allowing everyone to caption a photo with very few words or no words at all. For small businesses on Instagram, their photos/posts need to say a thousand words. As businesses begin to post more and more of their current that they think is best for their accounts. As they begin to post photos and videos, the process of Photoshop and video editing begins. As the likes come in, so do the followers. In a report conducted by Pittman and Reich (2016) by describing a visual image such as “sensory-specific because it is linked to the visual modality, whereas a mental model is not sensory-specific” (p. 167). So seeing a visual in front of us, we need a mental model too to get the full picture. For small businesses using Instagram in this case, they need visualise the image mentality first and focus on the final outcome before starting on the text caption. As the final image is edited and polished to be release for everyone to see on Instagram. Then the business can think of a fun but engaging caption that followers of the small businesses can interact with.
The main element that all these paragraphs is marketing. As society changes, so does marketing. Using different business models, marketing on stuff like Instagram. For small businesses, they need to get on every opportunity possible. They need to capture the consumer’s interest enough for them to be interested and once they are, that’s when the support begins. The usage of social media continues to grow as more people join. So marketing on Instagram now for businesses especially small businesses in small communities is essential. As said in a paper conducted by Iankova, Davies, Archer-Brown, Marder and Yau (2019) about a lifestyle with customers describing it as an “engagement framework that establishes social platforms as central to developing dialogue with customers” (p. 171). Posting an Instagram can do so much but it’s the engaging and interacting part with customers and influencers that helps small businesses to grow bigger in their communities as well to a global audience.
As this paper is being written, there are enough evidences to prove that Instagram has been the perfect marketing tool for small businesses. Everything is changing on the daily basis. So we get more creative, engaging more and really focusing on small businesses. So communities have been able to grow in many ways thanks to Instagram being the perfect marketing tool for small businesses to gain expose and growth in so many ways.
Alkhowaiter, W. (2016). The Power of Instagram in Building Small Businesses. IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2016, 59-64. https://doi.org/10.1007/978_3_319_4534_0_6
Casalo, L.V, Flavin, C. & Ibanez-Sanchez, S. (2020). Be creative, my friend ! Engaging users on Instagram by promoting positive emotions. Journal of Business Research, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.02.014
Colliander, J., &Marder, B. (2018). ‘Snap happy’ brands: Increasing publicity effectiveness through a snapshot aesthetic when marketing a brand on Instagram. Computers in Human Behavior, 78, 34-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.09.015
Iankova, S., Davies, I., Archer-Brown, C., Marder, B., & Yau, A. (2018) A comparison of social media marketing between B2B, B2C and mixed business models. Industrial Marketing Management, 81 (2019), 169-179. https://doi.org/j.indmarman.2018.01.001
Pittman, M., & Reich, B. (2016) Social media and loneliness: Why an Instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words. Computers in Human Behavior, 62 (2016), 156-167. https://doi.org/10.1016.j.chb.2016.03.084