Web Design

6 sensible alternatives to including an Instagram feed on your small business website

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Lyzi Unwin
Content Producer
Fervent blogger sharing signature Studio Cotton advice & small business stories
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This article and all others on the Studio Cotton blog are written by humans. Please enjoy our opinions, expertise, advice, experiences, and typos.

Oh Instagram… as small business owners, we love it, we hate it, we get super frustrated by the algorithm, and we make lovely connections with our audience on it. It can be a beautifully curated minefield.

Some of us spend time making our grid look aesthetically pleasing (I think both the Studio Cotton Instagram and my personal Instagram lean in this direction) and some take a more free approach, uploading whatever feels right that day.

Now, just because your grid looks pretty nice, it doesn’t mean you should add your Instagram feed to your website, oh no no no.

You want to put a feed there to turn your website visitors into Instagram followers, right?⁠

⁠Probably, yeah. When these Instagram feeds are showing the perfect pics a paired with a compelling and direct call to action, they can be a neat tool for getting more eyes on your Insta.⁠ But we rarely come across occasions where the positives outweigh the negatives enough to include one.


3 downsides to popping an Instagram feed on your website


1. Slow load time

A typical Instagram feed will add 4-8 additional images to a page, and – as Studio Cotton founder Aime always bangs on about – images are some of the chonkiest files on a website.

The more images you have, the bigger your page size, and the slower it’ll load. Both your visitors and Google hate slow websites, so this can negatively impact both your SEO and your conversion rate.

Plus, the feed needs to actually grab those images from Instagram, which is a pretty taxing job that requires more processing, and, again, can impact your website speed.


2. Additional managing & fixing time

These Instagram feeds often require additional apps or plugins, which give you an extra item to manage or thing to check when your website has a bug. And they break all the time.

Every time we’ve ever added a feed to a small business website, it has broken at least once. Images stop updating, feeds turn off, styling gets reset, aspect ratios are off, Reels don’t work, Reels do work but look ugly, etc etc etc.


3. Little control over the content

We’ve all had times where our most recent 4-8 Instagram pics – which are the ones being pulled onto our websites – are not the best representation of our small businesses or the content we share.

So instead of showing off another beautiful angle of a business and convincing someone to follow, sometimes it just adds visual clutter with events that have passed, out-of-season pics, and service updates that could actually confuse customers, rather than help them.


A phone showing the Studio Cotton Instagram grid, resting on a pink fabric background.


6 lovely alternatives to an Instagram feed on your website


Ask yourself, “what is that Instagram feed on my website there to do?” and have a read through this list of blimmin’ delightful alternative ideas to find a more efficient system.


1. Create a gallery that resembles a feed or grid

A simple, small gallery is a good alternative which can look very similar to an Instagram grid. Buuut with this one, you have full control over the content. It also removes the need to process all that data pulling from Instagram, and removes the extra plugin too⁠.

Did you notice that one at the top right of this blog post? Real nice, isn’t it? Makes you want to follow us on Instagram, doesn’t it?


2. Fill that faux-feed with customer pics instead

You’ll need to get consent from the customers before using their photos on your website, but that won’t take long and they’ll probably say yes. Having a little gallery of customer pics will promote engagement, instead of just a pure show-off moment.

You can see great examples of this in action on a couple of websites we’ve built, like at the bottom of the Good Fabric website, as well as on Lauren Aston Designs.


3. Use a standard banner with a styled screenshot

Grab a screenshot of your lovely Instagram profile, and create a single styled screenshot of it. We really rate Moyo Studio for all the classy mockups – you just pop your screenshot into the black area of the mockup, and ta-dah!


Self Promo

Thoughtfully crafted websites for lovely small businesses

Utterly splendid websites designed & built exclusively for small businesses (with all the bells and even more whistles).



4. Use social media icons

You don’t even reeeeaaally need photos to get people over to your social platforms, as visitors will probably be able to tell from your website whether your small business is their vibe or not. Add a simple sentence of text telling people why they should follow you on each platform – you get bonus points for custom icons.

Most website platforms come with their own icon packs or integrate with a library like Font Awesome (we use Elementor for WordPress, which does this).

But if you want something non-standard or a bit more interesting, Creative Market and Etsy are great marketplaces to find reasonably-priced alternatives.

And of course, you could speak to your branding/graphic designer to create a set of social media icons that perfectly matches your website.

Our recommendation is to always get SVG files for icons, as they’re scalable, easily recoloured, and work in other tools like PowerPoint. They can also be converted into PNGs if needed, but it adds more flexibility to have an SVG, rather than going straight for the PNG files.


5. Create a GIF of a few feed pics

Hand-pick some of your favourite and most beautiful photos from your Instagram grid, and make them into a GIF for a cute and diddy call to action.

Making GIFs isn’t as complicated as it seems. We often use a website called EZGif to make snazzy lil GIFs for free – you just upload your pics and it makes one for you. You can control how speedy it flicks through the photos, crop them, crossfade them, all sorts.

Here’s one I made of some of our faces, for fun. I made it not-so-diddy, so you can fully appreciate it.


6. Subtle shoutouts to your social media

Rather than one big feed, think about having smaller, more subtle nods to your social media on your website, to encourage people to head over and follow you there. There are lots of places to sneak it in.

You could add follow links to your blog articles, use customer photos in your product galleries (again, only with their consent) and include your social media icons in your email campaign footers.⁠


What do you reckon, have we convinced you to rethink that Instagram feed on your website?

PS. This whooolllleeee post has been adapted from one lil footnote in our recent SEO Creative Session with 91 Magazine. The playback is available to purchase for anyone whose SEO needs a lil TLC 😘⁠

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