Instagram’s new mentorship programme: How can your small business apply?

Instagram has announced a new mentorship scheme to support UK-based SMEs by boosting their online presence. So, could this really help your business, and where can you apply?

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Over the past decade, social media platforms have slowly become the favourite method of marketing for small business owners. They’re typically low-cost, quick to use, and great for reaching huge audiences.

Instagram is one of the platforms with the biggest consumer engagement rates. Last year, the company revealed that 90% of its users use the service to follow a small firm – that’s a whopping 966 million people.

Now, to show its support for the huge number of small business owners that use the app, Instagram has announced a new competition, exclusively for SMEs, with winners receiving a spot in the platform’s first ever mentorship programme.

Following a tumultuous year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement is sure to be well-received. But, what exactly does it give you, and how do you apply? We break down everything you need to know in the below article.

What is the Small Business Mentorship Programme?

The Small Business Mentorship Programme will be delivered in partnership with Small Business Britain, and will run from October-December 2021.

It’s been designed to give SMEs all of the tools and skills they need in the run up to the holiday shopping season – one of the busiest times for both ecommerce and in-store shopping.

To win a place on the programme, small business owners must submit details about their business, including their goals and objectives. Five applicants will then be selected from the pool of competitors. We’ll explain how to apply, and what you need to qualify, below:

For their prize, the five successful SMEs will receive:

  • An afternoon content workshop with one of the UK’s top Instagram creators. Businesses will also learn how to design a three-month Instagram content plan.
  • An hour-long virtual coaching session with a professional business mentor.
  • Three monthly hour-long sessions with an Instagram product expert, to discuss how to best use Instagram for business.
  • £1,000 worth of Instagram ad credits – a form of payment which can be put towards advertising your product or service on the platform.
  • Each specially selected business will also benefit from media and press opportunities generated in relation to the programme.

Does your small business qualify?

The competition has some specific requirements that you must meet in order to qualify.

To start with, you must be aged over 18 and be a small business owner with less than 25 employees. Only UK-based businesses are eligible for the competition.

You also:

  • Must use at least one of the following Instagram functionalities as part of your business operations: Stories, Shops, IGTV, Reels.
  • Must not have been part of another official mentorship scheme in the last year.
  • Must champion diversity in your operations, principles and leadership teams.
  • Applications must not be submitted from Instagram employees, and members of the employee's families or Instagram’s affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising or promotion agencies.

As long as you meet all of the above requirements, and if you’re a small business wanting to learn more about digital marketing and content creation, you will be able to apply to the scheme. Only five entrants will be chosen in total, so you’ll need to begin your application soon to be considered.

How can you apply?

There’s likely to be a rush of applications, and winning this competition may feel like finding a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – but don’t let that stop you from trying!

Qualifying businesses just need to fill in a quick online form with some information about your business and why you want to be part of the programme. There is also space to submit a one minute video to describe what your business’ aims and objectives are.

There’s no entry fee, and no purchase is necessary to apply to the scheme. You just need to be the owner or founder of the business being entered. The deadline for entry submissions is September 19.

Plus, as an added bonus, every unsuccessful business will still receive a specialist digital toolkit full of best practice guides and tips on how to attract business on Instagram. Winners will be announced on September 27. Good luck to all our readers!

Don’t want to wait until October? Startups has been helping SMEs to market their company for two decades. Read our ultimate guide to social media marketing for small businesses, to learn more.

Helena is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has previously written for a popular fintech startup covering everything from money-saving tips to cultural reviews.

She is particularly interested in project management software and the films of Peter Jackson.

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