Using Instagram for small business can have its benefits, especially in certain sectors. However, according to a recent Manta poll, 76% of small business owners aren’t using Instagram to market their companies. That’s 400 million users that could potentially be viewing their products or services as part of their purchasing research. Now that Instagram allows for sponsored posts, only 20% of small business owners are paying for ads or promoting posts.
Manta found that 39% of small business owners say they don’t know how to use Instagram, which is why they don’t use it. But those that are using Instagram for small business are in it to attract new customers (92%). Another 41% use the app to support their communities  and show their company’s values or personality.

The best small businesses for Instagram

While it’s worth it for small business owners to learn how to use Instagram, not every small business is suited for using Instagram as a promotional tool. Small businesses that rely heavily on visuals are poised to take advantage of Instagram. Here are some industries that can benefit the most, along with tips for use. Regardless of the type of business you own, post a sentence or two about the picture, e.g., The before and after of Jane’s balayage hair transformation by Stylist Mary. Also use hashtags, including local hashtags, to show up in searches. Make sure you link to your Instagram account from your business web page as well.

Hair salons

Snap before/after photos of your clients’ cuts and color (the backs of their heads is fine, and be sure to ask for permission from the client). Post pictures of the salon or new equipment, like the new pedicure chairs, the wall of polish, or other amenities. Tease new treatments you’re doing, like Brazilian blowouts.

Tattoo shops

For tattoo shops, Instagram is a great way to showcase the work you do for your clients. Ask their permission and post the finished work, along with an explanation. This serves as an online portfolio, and potential clients can view the different styles of your artists.


CrossFit gyms already know this: if you run group training sessions, Instagram is your best bet for showing off the workouts your clients will do. Post pictures of your clients working out, as well as photos of new equipment or workouts of the day. You can also post motivational quotes that pertain to the work you do.


Everyone loves looking at beautiful flower arrangements. Turn your Instagram feed into something that people will want to follow with photos of finished floral arrangements. Explain why you chose certain flowers for the arrangement.

Restaurants/Coffee bars

Do not just post pictures of your menu or the empty dining room. Take a snap or two of patrons enjoying their orders, or a specially-created dish, or latte art.