Why Small Businesses Still Aren’t Joining Instagram

According to a recent poll, only about 1 in 4 small businesses is on Instagram.

(So, not many.)

Especially when you consider that Instagram has more than 500 million users – that’s more than LinkedIn. It gets almost as many unique users in a single day as Twitter gets in a month!

So why aren’t small businesses using it?

Is Instagram not as effective as marketers pretend?

Or are there maybe a few misconceptions about Instagram that need to be debunked?

Let’s cut to the chase and take a closer look.

Why small businesses DON’T use Instagram

Small businesses don’t ignore one of the world’s most popular social networks without a reason.

Can you guess what that reason is?

Is it that they don’t have time?


Because on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, writing, scheduling, and posting updates can take a LOT of time – especially without the right tools.

(That’s why in 2017, a whopping 87% of marketers are going to spend as much or more than they did in 2016 on content delivery tools like social media schedulers. It’s why scheduling tools like Edgar have so many users!)

But actually, only 5% of small businesses who don’t use Instagram say it’s because they don’t have time.

On average, brands of any size only post to Instagram once or twice per day – a lot less than they ought to be posting on networks like Twitter. Scheduling updates isn’t that big of a deal when you’re only posting a few per week!

So what else could it be?

Is it that your customers just don’t use Instagram?

That’s the reason given by more than 20% of small businesses – which is shocking, considering that more than 300 million people per day DO use Instagram, and half of all users follow brands. Heck, the only social network that’s more popular than Instagram is Facebook!


Instagram’s supposed unpopularity isn’t the most shocking misconception in the world – over the past three years, its number of monthly users has quintupled, which is the type of popularity that can really sneak up on marketers who might still think of it as a niche network!

(And to be fair, demographic changes make a big difference. As little as 4% of Internet users over the age of 65 use Instagram – so if you ever want to know what your grandmother had for brunch, you’ll probably have to just call.)

What’s MORE shocking? A third of the small businesses that don’t use Instagram don’t use ANY social media.

But consider what marketers think about social media in general! Fewer than half of marketers think that their Facebook marketing is actually effective, and most of them spend six hours or more per week just on social media.

Fewer than half of marketers think that their Facebook marketing is actually effective. Click to Tweet

If you’re a small business, you probably don’t have that kind of time to spare! (Another reason why saving time with social media automation and scheduling is so popular.)

So, what’s the biggest reason small businesses give for not marketing on Instagram?

They don’t know how.


That’s what more than a third of those surveyed said!

And while it may have been a good enough excuse in the past, those days are pretty much over.

It’s okay to not want to get too attached to a social network too early on. Even popular ones can get shut down unexpectedly!

But Instagram is long past that point – in fact, Facebook (which owns it) is continually throwing resources at it to make it even more user-friendly and popular. Tools that allow users to filter and manage comments, for example, make it easy to control what can and can’t show up on your account – a problem other social networks have sometimes struggled to effectively tackle.

Instagram is here to stay – but whether or not you know how to use it, and whether or not you already DO use it, there’s something unique about this network that every hopeful marketer needs to keep in mind.

Your definition of success on Instagram should be very, very different

For brands, one of the top priorities on social networks like Facebook and Twitter is driving organic traffic – giving your followers on those networks links to your site, and compelling them to visit.

On Instagram, not so much. (It doesn’t help that Instagram doesn’t allow you to post clickable URLs in your updates – just in your profile.)

This is just one of the ways that Instagram is designed with users – not marketers – in mind.

Instagram doesn’t allow fully automated posting the way other networks do.

Its new live broadcasting feature lacks the functionality that has made live video so popular on Facebook.

Estimates say that in 2016, Instagram will have made about $1.5 billion from advertising – Facebook made almost five times that much in a single quarter.


Basically, Instagram is a useful tool for marketers, but not quite in the same way that other social networks are. You can tell from brands’ goals specific to this network: instead of focusing on things like driving traffic and paying for ads, they’re more interested in being discovered by new people, demonstrating their values, and engaging the customers they already have. (That’s how WE use Instagram, too!)

Whether or not you already use Instagram for your marketing, make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success with the right expectations – it might change your mind about just how effective your efforts actually are!

Are YOU marketing on Instagram?

However big or small your business may be, are you marketing on Instagram?

What do you love about it? (What do you hate about it?) And if you’re not doing it at all, why not?

Share your thoughts in the comments below! (No filter required.)