What Are The Challenges Of Using Instagram For Small Businesses? - Social Media Explorer
What Are The Challenges Of Using Instagram For Small Businesses?
What Are The Challenges Of Using Instagram For Small Businesses?

It often gets praised as the be-all and end-all if small businesses want to be successful on social media, but Instagram is not for business.

Quite often, it can be an absolute time-waster and with so many opinions out there saying you have to be on social media to be successful, it can get disorientating for business owners.

Should you or shouldn’t you use Instagram? And if you do decide to use Instagram, what are the challenges of using it to spread the word about your business?

You’ll be surprised to find out in this article that, often, Instagram advertising for Small Businesses is not all sunshine and rainbows … 

  • Instagram Engagement Is 1% of What It Once Was

If you’re currently using Instagram then you’ve probably noticed that your engagement (number of liking and commenting on your photos, videos and/or stories) is down considerably.

Look back on your very first photos and you’ll see 100’s of likes with hardly any followers, but since gaining more followers and posting more, your likes and comments are pitiful.

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Should be the other way round, right? More followers + more posts = more likes + comments?

Ahh, if only!

Unfortunately, studies from TrustInsights.com show that engagement has nose-dived since May 2019 and the average engagement rates are sitting at 1.54%. 

Is it really worth investing time as a small business owner when your engagement levels are going to be just above 1.5%?

Let’s bear in mind that a small business is going to most likely have a smaller following as well. Probably in the region of 200 – 500 followers, though there are exceptions. 

And if we take the high-end of that, 1.5% of 500 comes to 7.5 people engaging with your content…woeful!

Considering that 1 of the 4 most common reasons small businesses fail is due to failed marketing – as a business owner – you shouldn’t take the risk of focusing your marketing efforts on Instagram – unless you decide to pay.

Put your energy and resources into something that has a higher pay-off than 1.54%.

  • Your Audience Might Not Use Instagram 

Another reason many people say you should use Instagram is that there are 1 billion people using it.

There’s also over 1 billion people in Africa but it doesn’t mean you should market to people living there because the population is large.

If you’re targeting the wrong channel or region, then you’re wasting your time and money, regardless of what social platform you’re using.

For example, there may be 1 billion people on Instagram right now but most of them are below the age of 35.

Selling pensions to the over-50s?

Then put your money as a small business owner somewhere other than Instagram.

Using Instagram is dependent on what industry and audience your small business is trying to attract. If your small business is young, vibrant and easily marketable to a generation ever-more adept at technology, then Instagram is probably a good shout. 

If your market is generally slightly older, or less visually marketable, then spending time and energy on this particular platform is unnecessary if your audience just isn’t going to be engaging with it. 

And you’ll pay the price for following the wrong crowd.

We see it all the time where a business owner has decided to set-up an Instagram account only to become disheartened that he has a load of teenagers commenting fire emojis on his posts that talk about retirement plans. 

Instead, look at other channels such as Facebook or Google and even go further afield and look into magazines, trade-shows and pretty much anywhere your target audience is.

  • Marketing On Instagram May Sink Your Business 

You may also do more harm than good when you start marketing on Instagram.

Just think of the opportunity cost of spending time and money on Instagram.

Let’s stick with the small business specialising in retirement plans. 

So, you hire someone to market for you on Instagram and pay them £1,000 a month to reach your target audience – over-50’s planning their pension.

£1,000 is your entire marketing budget each month and you have not much to gain but everything to lose. 

Nothing happens and all you’ve done with the £1,000 spent on Instagram is gained a few hundred followers who aren’t in your target audience – perfect!

What could that £1,000 have done elsewhere?

You’ll never know because it’s been wasted on Instagram, but you can bet that it would have stood a better chance on Facebook and Google, that’s for sure.

The opportunity has gone now and the bit of opportunity you did have to reach your target audience has sunk with your money and your business. 

However – as we mentioned before, if you know your audience is constantly looking at and engaging with Instagram, then it might be worth some consideration… A LOT of consideration.

Just make sure that you’re using your budget consciously and are prepared to put the work in! 


We told you it’s not all sunshine and rainbows at the start!

But don’t get too deflated because if you’ve read this, you’re now aware of the challenges Instagram poses small businesses. 

While Instagram has its uses, and can certainly do a lot of individuals just starting out, the challenges that it poses regarding engagement and cost can make it a non-starter, depending on your budget and industry.

More often that not, the small businesses on Instagram are one-man bands that are attempting to make the most of free marketing platforms. Spending money on Instagram, if you do not have a reliable base of thousands of followers, will put you in some trouble…

Someone needed to tell you!

Bio – The Good Marketer is a Marketing Agency in London which drives more traffic, generates conversions and increases sales for Small-To-Medium Sized Businesses.

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