When you're a small business owner trying to make headway with social media, it can feel like a Sisyphean task: you spend all this energy coming up with great content, only to have it fall on deaf ears. With any social media channel, the questions you have to ask yourself come down to finding the right fit: is this channel right for my business? Can I create interesting and unique content? And, most importantly, is this something my ideal buyer actually uses? Answering these questions is key to figuring out if you should use Instagram, and how to best leverage it to turn followers into customers.

Is Instagram right for my business?

Instagram is one of the quickest growing social networks, but, more importantly, it also rates extremely highly in terms of user engagement. That means that if you can make content that fits into a user's feed, they're more likely to check it out. More than any other platform, Instagram's sponsored and branded content fits seamlessly into the user experience in a way that feels authentic.

Most importantly, Instagram dominates the millennial demographic. Almost 60% of Instagram's users are in the 18- to 29-year-old age range, and, by 2019, two-thirds of all millennials will use the platform. If your ideal customer is born after 1980, your best social media channel to reach them is probably Instagram.

How do I create interesting content?

The important thing to realize about Instagram is that, at the end of the day, it's about offering users a unique view of the world. You can make good on that promise in a number of different ways: show them something they've never seen before, give them a quick tutorial on something you're working on, or take them behind the scenes of something they'd never considered before.

It sounds like I'm setting a high bar, but that's not necessarily the case. It's important to remember that what seems everyday to you can be really interesting to an outside observer. If you work at a restaurant, purchasing ingredients is probably pretty boring, but doing a series of short videos about each of your vendors would make for some riveting content on Instagram.

Instagram and you

Just like any other channel, using Instagram is ultimately about reaching your ideal customers in a place that makes sense for them. Like any social media channel, you grow your following by, well, being social-;a combination of liking, commenting, following, and (when the time is right) running contests.

If you're trying to figure out if Instagram is right for you and your business, ask yourself if you can picture your ideal customer using it. From there, it's about understanding how to show someone something that gets them excited and interested. Most importantly, you need to have the patience and perseverance necessary to keep putting out great content, even if you don't necessarily catch fire overnight. Your future fans will appreciate your work when they can scan back through your old posts and favorite everything they come across.