Follow for follow: marketing of a start-up company on Instagram

Henrik Virtanen, Peter Björk, Elin Sjöström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse the deliberate social media marketing practices of a start-up company. The study aims to measure the effects of these practices (i.e. following potential customers and liking and commenting on their posts on Instagram) on creating and increasing awareness of the company’s business and gaining followers for the company’s Instagram account.
Design/methodology/approach – The research is exploratory in nature and adopts an approach similar to that of action research. The research was enabled and facilitated by collaboration between the researchers and a company representative. The company offers an application for young mothers.
Findings – The model developed in this study identifies the effects of the practice of endorsing and interacting with customers for marketing purposes. It points out following as a first-order practice that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can employ to gain followers instantly on Instagram.
Research limitations/implications – The method used limits the generalisability of the findings. However, the findings offer preliminary insights for future studies on Instagram marketing in SMEs.
Practical implications – Companies can attain success in social media marketing by actively engaging with customers and potential customers on various social media platforms.
Originality/value – There is a paucity of research focussing on Instagram marketing in SMEs. The model in this study contributes to theory on Instagram marketing and offers a framework that can help managers plan Instagram marketing strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)468-484
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 15.08.2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Marketing
  • Social media
  • SMEs
  • Start-ups
  • Instagram
  • Pre-launch phase
  • Marketing Effectiveness and Profitability

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Service and customer-oriented management


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