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A beginner’s guide to Instagram

Traders- Hints & Tips

Does the thought of using Instagram overwhelm you? Here are some tips for starting out…

Are you feeling daunted by the idea of Instagram? Perhaps you use Facebook but want to broaden your reach, or you don’t use any social media at all?

Facebook and Instagram can now be linked, so if you post on one platform it will automatically post on the other – super handy for small businesses (although there are some differences, for example you can’t add a link to Instagram, links can only be in your bio). Nevertheless, it’s useful to have both for any small business.

We’ve put together a list of tips, do’s, don’ts and general things you need to consider, to help you get started!

First thing’s first…

  • Personalise your name and add your chosen pronouns too (e.g. she/her/they). You can add both your business name and also what you do – i.e. Joe Brown Woodwork, rather than just Joe Brown.
  • Make sure you add a link! Linktr.ee is useful if you don’t have your own website, so that you can direct people to your online shop (e.g. Etsy). However, if you do have your own website, add a website page where you can include links, and pop this in your bio.
  • Personalise the URL. Make sure it’s your business name and BE CONSISTENT! Ideally make your Facebook and Instagram handles match, and ensure they are your business name or as close as possible. Dots and underscores can be used too, but try to avoid adding extra numbers (unless they’re already in your business name! e.g. We use PedddleUK rather than Pedddle1).
  • Use emojis to bullet point your bio – think about giving your personal name as well as your business name, and a small insight into what you do, i.e. ’slow made crafts’ or ’knitting patterns’.
  • GRAMMAR! Last but certainly not least, make sure everything is grammatically correct – this is a business and there is no room for typos! We are all prone to the odd typo, but your bio you cannot afford this. Read, re-read and get a second opinion to make sure everything is spelt correctly (e.g. scarves not scarfs!)

Do I even need Instagram?

Instagram has over a BILLION active users worldwide. Who wouldn’t want a chunk of that audience? Here are some stats: 

  • 90% of Instagram users follow at least one brand
  • 83% of Instagram users find new brands or products on the platform
  • 80% of users say Instagram helps them when deciding to buy a product or service.

What should I be posting?

What do you do if you’re new to Insta, don’t have many followers and you don’t get many people commenting? 

  1. Clear images 

Images are everything. Scroll through your feed. Can you instantly tell what type of products you sell? 

Not sure where to start with product photography? Check out this blog. Here are some further tips:

  • Use the same lighting. Natural light is always best. Record the time of day so you can keep your photographs on theme and show the colours more truly. 
  • Take photos from different vantage points. Try flat lays, experiment with different set-ups, lie down or stand on a chair if you want to try different angles. 
  • Enhance your images. VSCO is a great app and is recommended by photographers, Canva is great for customising your images (and creating graphics for your grid too).

2. Complimentary colours / branding  

Take inspiration from your logo or consider setting a colour palette for your brand. This will help you theme your grid. Make sure each image ties in with this colour palette in some way, whether it be tonal colours or using one or two colours from that palette in each photo. A Color Story is an app which helps you stick to a colour scheme by using filters to colour your images. Pedddle’s logo is yellow so we try and tie this into our images.

3. Gain new followers with freebies 

Running a competition can help you gain new followers by asking them to like your page in return for competition entry. Choose a good image of your product to lead the competition, so it gets shared far and wide and shows your business in its best possible light. Try offering: 

  • Extra entries in return for sharing the competition in their Instagram stories, so you gain more exposure. 
  • The ‘like / comment / follow’ format. This will boost engagement by getting lots of comments on your post. 
  • Tag a friend. Users get a competition entry for each friend they tag – the more the better. This will encourage lots of new people to follow your page. 
  • Personalised hashtags. Your audience needs to create their own post but use a hashtag you create (such as your business name). 

4. Video content

Videos are twice more likely to capture attention than images! Instagram has introduced their Reels feature, which is a great way to use video, or you can easily add captions, music and behind-the-scenes footage to your stories and highlights with video content. Post short videos on your grid too – it’s a great way to gain page views.

5. Be consistent!

You don’t need to be posting at the same time every single day BUT it is good to regularly update your stories at least. Customers tend to quickly flick through stories until they find something they like, so use this to your advantage.

What are the definite ’don’ts’?

  1. Don’t use pet pics!

Images of your pets are lovely but keep them away from your business grid! Save it for your personal account if you really want to show them off.

The same goes for children, friends and family photos – it’s occasionally nice to see your ‘behind the scenes’ and business motivation so you could use them sometimes, but your customers need to be able to instantly see what you’re making and selling when they look on your grid (unless you are intending to sell your pets or your kids!). As lovely as it is to see your children go back to school, save it for your personal account. 

2. Don’t use split images 

Avoid using split images wherever possible. Instagram only gives you a tiny square to work with, don’t waste this space by splitting it even further. Your product images must be clear so customers can see all of that lovely detail. If you’d like to show your product at different angles, you can add more images on the post – see below

How else can I grow my Instagram?

1. Engage, engage, engage! 

To get something out, you need to give something back. Like and comment on people’s posts. When people comment on your posts, respond to them and answer their questions. Show them you appreciate them taking the time to interact with your brand. 

2. Use hashtags 

You can use up to 30 hashtags per post but this can be a wide chunk for your reader to scroll through. Using around 10 per post will ensure it doesn’t look too much but will still connect with people. 

Create your own hashtags with your brand name or using a phrase that fits your business. We use #PedddleYourWares amongst others. 

Try and mix it up – don’t use the same few hashtags on repeat. Here are some hashtag ideas.


Ready to get set up? Check through this blog to make sure you’re Instagram ready! Once you feel more confident with Instagram, check out these 4 tips on growing your Instagram page and this blog to read your Insights.