So you have a small business. You’ve heard how social media can help you grow. You’re on Instagram, and you’ve heard it can help you find clients and customers. How? Well, here’s one simple Instagram trick I’ve found can help you.

If you already have Instagram, open the app. (If you don’t already have Instagram, you can download it first and set up an account, or just follow along with what I have to say.) Think about your dream client or customer. Go ahead, think big. Press the magnifying glass icon to bring up search, and type in their name. If you don’t have a specific brand or type of person in mind, type in what your dream client is known for, or a keyword related to your business.

You should see four different columns of results: Top, Accounts, Tags, and Places. Top will show you the most popular accounts for your search. Scroll down through the list and click on accounts that look promising. See if they have posted recently. If so, you’ve got a live one! Ding ding ding! Go ahead and press on Follow.

The best part about this simple Instagram trick

Instagram for business

After you press Follow, Instagram will show you a row full of similar accounts under a heading titled “Suggested for You.” This pops up after you follow. Instagram has done a lot of work for you! You’ll have to scroll to the left to see all of the similar accounts. Find accounts that look like the kind of client you’re after. Each time you press Follow for an account, you’ll be shown even more accounts to follow.

These are your potential clients!

While you can press the “See All” link and follow a bunch of similar clients or customers at once, you might want to look at each individual account one at a time to see if A) they really look like a match for you and B) their account is active.

Instagram tips

(I don’t recommend following accounts that don’t post at least once a month. However, if they look like a good customer, you might find they are active on another platform, and you can follow them and reach out to them there.)

If you already follow accounts of brands or clients you’d like to work with, you can find similar accounts by clicking the tiny arrow next to “Contact.” Then you’ll see who Instagram recommends in the same general industry or those who post similar content.

Make sure each account is active before you follow, because you don’t want to follow a dead account. You can tell right away if the account is active if it has the telltale pinkish-reddish border around the profile image that shows the account has posted a Story in the past 24 hours. Or, look at the date of the most recent post and see if it’s within the past month.

… and another Instagram tip for small business

If you are interested in using Instagram for your small business, here’s a related tip. You probably know it’s not enough just to follow people or brands. It’s also not enough to just to post your content and leave it at that (a digital marketing mistake I see all too often). You need to actively reach out to strategic accounts.

For a few years now, many Instagram pros have been touting the “$1.80 method” of growing your account. You search on ten subjects in your industry, find the nine top posts for each subject or hashtag, and leave your two cents — that is, you comment on these posts. Do this every day, or at least every week. It’s easy to like someone’s content, but it takes effort to leave a relatable comment. This makes you stand out and helps you get noticed!

The $1.80 strategy works for some, but in my experience, not all industries. I will say there is definitely value in reaching out to other Instagram accounts. But don’t expect every account where you leave a comment to follow you or suddenly become your client. This will take time and the effort of you showing up again and again.

You can also simply reach out to your potential clients through a direct message (also known as a DM). If you go the direct route, make sure you provide something of value for the person you contact. It’s not enough to just say, “Hey, come follow me because I’m great.” (Haven’t you already gotten too many DMs like this? I sure have.)

Whatever method you choose, make it a regular part of your social media marketing strategy.

Happy finding and following!

Looking for help with your social media? Just send me a message through my Instagram, or email me at holly @ hollyambrose dot com.