When it comes to running your small business successfully, there are many essential strategies you need to use to attract customers. In the online world, Instagram is one of the most important tools at your disposal. That doesn’t mean you won’t also need a great website, that’s optimized for both desktop and laptop screens, but mastering social media is essential.

All social media platforms matter, but one of the most important is Instagram. It began as a simple photo-sharing app, is now one of the most popular ways that customers connect with their favorite brands. Especially millennials and Gen Zers. Instagram can definitely be a challenge at first. It’s not just about taking cool photos and posting them with some fun hashtags. It’s much more than that.

Mastering Instagram

If you want to master Instagram so that it’ll make your small business successful, here’s how.

1. Use an Instagram for business account

Even before you decide what you want your feed to look like, and start posting pictures, you should start things off right by making your business’s account an official Instagram for business account. 48.8 percent of businesses used Instagram in 2016, and that number has grown since then–which is why you need to use the Instagram for business account feature to stand out. In addition to giving you more visibility to potential customers, you can provide them with more information, such as contact information, your website, and your Facebook page.

Additionally, you’ll get more information about your visitors. This kind of account provides you with Insights, and information about which posts are most popular. As well as the age, location, and gender of your followers. As you continue to post, you’ll learn more, and become a more effective Instagrammer.

2. Research your followers and create an aesthetic

Because Instagram is image-based, you need to think about what kind of pictures you want to post. They really need to align with the brand image you’re trying to convey, and appeal to your ideal demographic. For example, if you’re running a bridal shop, you should choose a color scheme and fonts that would be attractive to brides-to-be. Choose your filter wisely, because once you’ve started using it, you should use only that one filter, unless you have a total rebrand.

See what your competitors are doing if you aren’t sure where to start. That should get you inspired. Additionally, don’t forget that the tone of your bio should match your aesthetic, so redraft it a couple of times before making your account official. Finally, remember that your Instagram aesthetic should match all your other social media accounts and website. If you need to hire a professional photographer, do it. Visual appeal and consistency are important aspects when it comes to learning how to cultivate Instagram followers. Considering that there are 1 billion accounts active every month, taking the time to perfect your look is worth it.

3. Use the right hashtags

In addition to images, the other most important element of any Instagram post you create is your caption and hashtags. The caption should reflect the tone of voice you use in all your content, such as your blog and emails. For hashtags, there are some definite strategies that work best. You’ll want to create a branded hashtag (Eg., use #riderboots if your shoe company is called Rider Boots) that’s used in every post.

Additionally, use hashtags that are common in your niche, which you can do by looking up a topic in the search bar related to your industry and business. Last, use trending hashtags, which you can do by using social media monitoring tools such as Brand24. Feel free to have some fun, too, with hashtags like #summervibes, and also by using emojis.

Mastering Instagram

4. Use Instagram stories

Finally, you need to use Instagram stories. Younger users of the platform, especially millennials and Gen Zers, love this feature. It was created because of the popularity of Snapchat, and now it’s a fun way for you to connect with young customers. And it’s easy! According to Buffer Blog, “Once the story camera is open you can take a photo or record a video, just as you would normally on Instagram. After you’ve recorded your video or taken a photo, you can use a range of filters and also add text and drawings to your content.”

These are some of the best ways that you can master Instagram, so that your small business can be successful in getting more Instagram followers. What other strategies do you use on social media platforms like Instagram? Which strategies have been most successful for you?