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The Small Business Instagram Strategy Your Community Craves

July 10, 2023

Hello, I'M SHANNON
The unofficial poster girl for oat milk lattes, pinot grigio, and long walks down the aisles of Target.  

I’m also a wife, mama, and marketing junkie who turned my love of social media into a 6-figure business from straight-up scratch.
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Want a Small Business Instagram strategy that will actually resonate with your people? This post is for you. 👇

Have you noticed that the ‘80s and ‘90s are coming back in a big way? ‘90s fashion is on every rack at Target, and my TikTok feed is filled with early 2000s jams (PS – this elder millennial is not mad about it).

And this love for nostalgia isn’t just permeating pop culture. It’s also showing up in how we want to consume social media. 

As a social media mentor and manager with more than 18 years of media + marketing experience, I’ve learned how to pick up on the needs and desires of consumers.

And lately, I’ve noticed that people crave the OG versions of their favorite social media platforms – especially Instagram. 

A few weeks ago, I saw a creator practically beg for the “old” Instagram.

But why? And should you employ an OG Instagram strategy for your small business? 

Keep reading to learn what the “old” Instagram was, why you should consider going back to the original intent of Instagram, and how you can employ some of those tried-and-true strategies as a small business owner.

a photo of social media coach shannon mckinstrie with the text: "how to create the instagram content your community craves"

What was the OG Instagram?

Picture this: it’s 2011, and you’ve just downloaded the Instagram app to your iPhone 4. 

Developers created it to allow users to share well-edited photos. But it didn’t take long for it to morph into a way to share everyday life with friends and family, and now you want in on the fun.

After you follow a few friends and family members, your feed lights up with photos of your cousin’s new dog, your best friend’s vacation to Cancun, your college roommate’s new baby, and your sister’s artfully crafted latte. 

Pretty soon, you’re hooked. You can’t wait to open Instagram daily to see what your people are up to.

The app eventually becomes a way for bloggers (the original influencers) to share their lives (and, yes, their favorite products) with their followers.

And it doesn’t take long for Instagram to become an advertising tool – a way for businesses of all sizes to market their products. 

But the goal of the app from the very beginning was to be a conduit for connection – not sales.

And many people – including your people – miss the old Instagram.

Should You Use Some OG Instagram Strategies for Your Small Business?

Yes, and here’s why.

No matter what new features Instagram introduces or what trends make their way down the social media pipeline, most people still crave the connection they found through the app in the early 2010s. 

Sprout Social reports that nearly 70% of Instagram users use the platform to “post or share photos and videos … indicating the desire for users to be creative and express themselves.” 

In other words, most users are on the app to connect through creativity.

Users are also nosey.  So while the app has evolved into a tool for entrepreneurs and big brands alike to share their goods, most people still open it to get the tea on who they’re following.
In 2022, Business Insider said, “For most people, checking Instagram is equal parts voyeurism and self-expression. For the entrepreneurial set, like business owners, brands, and influencers, Instagram is an indispensable marketing tool with unmatched reach.”

How to Flash Back to the OG Instagram Strategies for Your Small Business

So how can you tap into most users’ desire to connect while still using Instagram as the powerful marketing tool it’s become? Go back to the “old” Instagram! 

Here’s how 👇👇👇

Know Your People

Before you develop any marketing strategy, you need to know who you’re talking to. 

Do market research to understand your ideal client’s pain points and goals, wants, needs, and desires.

When you understand your ideal client, content creation is much easier, and the more you can speak directly to them.

Prioritize Connection

Instagram is the best way to build a community around your brand. But you can’t do that by only selling every time you post. 

So, instead of thinking about sales, ask yourself: “If I were selling absolutely nothing, what would I post today?”

What stories can you share to develop a relationship between you and your followers? 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Share the recap of your week including business AND non-business-related tasks
  • Post a photo dump of a recent event or fun outing
  • Create a Reel that gives a behind-the-scenes look at what you do
  • Share a “day-in-the-life” Reel
  • Share a recent client win or customer story

Bottom line? The original intent of Instagram was to connect through daily experiences, and that’s why most people are still on the app. 

Sure, there are new bells and whistles, but connection still reigns supreme.

Case Study: Kristen McShane

I know this strategy works because it works for my clients and mentees! 

Kristin McShane is a member of The Social Biz System – my course and membership for social media managers. 

A few months ago, she reached out to me because she noticed a dip in engagement. She told me she was sharing a ton of educational content with little traction. 

I suggested she post more behind-the-scenes and personal content. Since implementing these strategy tweaks, she’s seen a massive jump in engagement, and followers have turned into clients.

“Changing my strategy to include more behind-the-scenes & thought-provoking content rather than just tips & tricks changed the way I connected with my audience,” Kristen said. “To this day, BTS content is ALWAYS among my best-performing posts! I’ve connected with clients over it, because they really get a peek into my processes & how I can help them versus just spouting off a tip that they can hear from anyone. They’re getting to know ME and as a service provider, I think that’s the secret to content that converts.”

Wrapping Up!

I started my social media management agency more than 8 years ago, and my strategy hasn’t changed much.

I share life updates and quick, easy-to-implement tips and spend a lot of time engaging with my ideal followers.

When I meet with potential new clients, the first thing I often hear from them is, “I feel like I already know you.”

They know my kids’ names, my coffee order, and my favorite reality TV shows. They tell me they think of me whenever they see an oat milk latte! (Now that, friend, is the definition of staying top of mind!)

It all goes back to Instagram’s original intent: connection and community. 

The best part? When you make connection your number one priority, you can cut out the noise from the Instagram gurus who insist your primary measures of success should be Reels views and follower counts. 

If you’re tired of feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and uncertain about Instagram, check out my Grow Your Gram Guide! 

This 18-page e-book contains all the tips and tricks I’ve learned in my 8 years as a social media manager and coach. And get this! I regularly update it as Instagram introduces new features. I can’t wait for you to check it out!

Lastly, be sure to follow me on Instagram. And if you found this post helpful, why not share it with your biz bestie?

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  1. Nancy Johnson says:

    Thank you! I can’t wait to share with my friends!

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hey there!

I'm Shannon! 

The unofficial poster girl for oat milk lattes, pinot grigio, and long walks down the aisles of Target.  

I’m also a wife, mama, and marketing junkie who turned my love of social media into a 6-figure business from straight-up scratch.

more about US

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