You put a lot of work and planning into creating your small business. You’ve raised money and developed a great product you know people will love. So what’s the next step? Your small business marketing plan!

And in 2020, that plan needs to include Instagram. That’s where we come in!

To give you inspiration for your own Instagram content, we’ve picked out 12 stellar small business marketing campaigns from the platform.

We’ll break them down and show you some tricks you can use for your own business, from making shoppable posts to taking your audience behind the scenes.

Instagram is a particularly powerful marketing platform. With its high engagement rates and over 1 billion users, Instagram is ideal for increasing reach and awareness.

But to get plenty of views and conversions, your content needs to show what makes your brand special so shoppers are motivated to engage with it.

1. Vitamin A: Make Content Shoppable

A key component of increasing conversions is making shopping as easy as possible for the consumer. Shoppable posts do just that. They reduce the time and effort needed to go from seeing a product to buying it.

Vitamin A swimwear, for example, uses shoppable Instagram ads. When someone taps their promotion’s tags, which shows product names and prices, they are taken directly to Vitamin A’s product pages.

Vitamin A Instagram ad

Vitamin A Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Make Story posts shoppable by adding product stickers. You can add one sticker per Story post, and it will link back to your product catalog just like a tagged product in a feed post.

2. OLIPOP: Talk to Real People

Small businesses have to work hard to build shoppers’ trust because many haven’t heard of the businesses’ brands. To attract customers, marketing should be designed around social proof—the psychological phenomenon in which people are more likely to try a product or service because they see other people trying and enjoying it.

OLIPOP, a health drink business, taps into social proof by featuring people trying the product for the first time and loving it.

OLIPOP Instagram ad

Seeing other people try and enjoy OLIPOP, shoppers who are new to the brand are more likely to try it themselves.

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Build credibility through social proof by sharing user-generated content (with the creator’s permission, of course). Search through your branded hashtag, or through hashtags related to your industry, and look for posts of people using and enjoying your product.

3. Nothing New: Share Your Passion

Make your mission clear and you’re likely to connect with customers who align with your values. In fact, an Edelman survey found that 61% of respondents will recommend a brand that shares their ideals.

Shoe company Nothing New uses Instagram to highlight its goal of sustainability and show how its product is part of that objective. The caption offers specific evidence proving that the featured shoe follows the company’s mission, such as the fact that the product is made of 100% postconsumer plastics.

Nothing New Instagram ad

Nothing New Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Tie your mission to product quality in your marketing. People won’t buy your product based on the mission alone; they also care about how the product functions. Nothing New uses captions to emphasize its dual commitment to sustainability and aesthetics, using phrases like “sustainability with style.”

4. Strata: Show How Your Brand Helps Others

Use your Instagram content to highlight how your company is supporting your larger community. This will show consumers that you are committed to helping with social issues, which 53% of survey respondents believe is important for brands.

Strata, a clothing company, started making face masks when the coronavirus pandemic made the need for them clear. The company changed its Instagram ads to let shoppers know that the company would donate a face mask for every one purchased.

Strata Instagram ad

Strata Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

To create service-driven promotions, build from existing ad creative featuring relevant products. Add information in the caption letting viewers know about how your company will contribute, whether that’s through product donations or volunteer work.

5. Olivela: Point Shoppers to Multiple Products

Instead of showing a single product in your ad, highlight multiple related items that they can purchase. Seeing how much your store has to offer, shoppers will be likely to click on the promotion and explore your site.

The clothing and accessories business Olivela, for example, advertised a Father’s Day gift guide instead of focusing on a single product. A guide encourages shoppers to browse through products and see a wider range of what you have to offer.

Olivela Instagram ad

Olivela Instagram ad

6. Wizard Pins: Share an Unboxing Video

Another way to build confidence through social proof is by featuring unboxing videos. This type of video takes away a lot of the uncertainty of buying from a new brand by showing consumers exactly what to expect.

Custom pin company Wizard Pins turned a customer unboxing video into a paid Instagram ad. Users can see the packaging and high quality of the pins, as well as how close the finished product is to the original design.

Wizard Pins Instagram ad

Wizard Pins Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Enhance your social credibility by sharing positive reviews, either your ad, as Wizard Pins did, or in organic Instagram content.

7. Vegamour: Educate Your Audience

Share the facts and statistics that show, unequivocally, why your product is the best choice. You have less name recognition as a small business, so consumers need to see solid evidence for choosing you over a larger brand.

Beauty specialist Vegamour, for example, uses an Instagram video ad to inform its audience about the way hair thins and grows more slowly with age. The company then shares studies and trials showing how its product is the best solution for these problems.

Vegamour Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Tell customers why a problem is happening, followed by why your product is the best solution. This formula illustrates for viewers the value that they will get from your brand.

8. Monmon Cats: Start Out Strong

When your ad shows up in someone’s Instagram feed, you have only a moment before they scroll right past. Grab their attention quickly with catchy music, bright colors, and a fast-paced video.

Monmon Cats uses all of these attention-grabbing tactics in their ad. Upbeat music starts right away, and the video is fast-paced and full of bright colors and eye-catching artwork.

Monmon Cats Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Put your brand name or logo at the very beginning of the ad, like Monmon Cats does. That way, even if viewers don’t watch the whole thing, your video will still help with spreading brand awareness.

9. Olive and June: Go Behind the Scenes

Personalize your business and connect with customers by taking them “behind the scenes.” Use your Instagram content to feature interviews with employees and share how your products are created.

Olive and June sells at-home manicure products, and it frequently features its founder in ad campaigns. She speaks directly to the viewer, explaining why she created the product line.

Olive and June Instagram ad

Beyond humanizing the business, this video is also inspiring for shoppers who are interested in entrepreneurship.

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Feature your founder or high-level executives. Show how approachable they are as a small business owner. This will help personalize your brand and put a friendly face to your company.

10. TomboyX: Share Your Inclusive Side

Create a sense of community with your audience by sharing how your company fosters inclusivity.

TomboyX, a company that makes bras and gender-neutral briefs, connects with its audience by focusing on what everyone has in common: wanting to be comfortable. The company includes all current and potential customers as a common group, regardless of gender norms, stating that “comfort belongs to everybody.”

TomboyX Instagram ad

TomboyX Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Being inclusive goes beyond just the product. Share what your company is doing as a whole to foster inclusivity and community, such as adopting a no-tolerance policy for prejudice.

11. Hairstory Studio: Take a Counterintuitive Stance

Instagram users see dozens of ads every day. Make yours stand out by making an unexpected but genuine statement.

Hairstory Studio, a hair-care company, starts their ad with “hair was not made to be shampooed.” The counterintuitive phrasing goes against what most ads for hair products say, and it grabs viewers’ attention right away. The ad goes on to inform viewers why this particular consumer habit needs to be changed, and how Hairstory Studio’s product will change that habit.

Hairstory Studio Instagram ad

Hairstory Studio Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

State your credentials to back up your bold claim. Hairstory Studio mentions a celebrity who uses its product (Jonathan Van Ness), shows top reviews, and lists magazines that feature the company in order to show how well-received the product is.

12. Our Place: Opt for Unconventional Formats

Ads don’t always have to look completely polished or feature professional actors. Try something a little different by designing your ad to look like spur-of-the-moment organic content. Unusual formats encourage users to pay attention to the ad, rather than scrolling past as they might do with a more traditional ad.

Cookware company Our Place features a video call between a daughter and mom. There is no branding overlaid on the video, and the brand and product information don’t appear until the end. The setup steps outside classic advertising norms. It draws viewers in with its organic appearance and encourages them to watch the full video.

Our Place Instagram ad

Small business marketing bonus tip:

Appeal to the emotions of your viewers so that they have strong positive associations with your product. Our Place calls up feelings of family and nostalgia by featuring a familiar scene: a conversation with mom.

Boost Your Small Business Marketing with Instagram

Instagram is better than ever for driving conversions and raising brand awareness.

Make your ads fun and memorable so that you stand out from the big businesses also advertising on the platform.

Show customers what makes you different: interview your founder, share your mission, and step outside traditional advertising formats.

You know why your small business is the best—and soon Instagram will, too!

Interested in Instagram but running on a tight budget? Check out our guide to organic Instagram marketing.