ABSTRACT: This paper investigates how Russian small businesses can develop their use of the social network Instagram. It also provides a brief study of the most popular Russian social networks. The authors provide a review of custom applications that can assist small businesses to promote their Instagram account. One of the applications was tested over a long period, and a conclusion was drawn that most of the objectives proposed by applications did not work effectively in practice; the causes of inefficient operation were identified. All accounts on Instagram are classified, and the category with the largest number of prospective buyers for small businesses is defined. We introduce two new notions: 'liker' and 'imaginary liker'. The paper shows that social media have a great impact on the development of small businesses in terms of improving customer relations and customer service, improved access to information, and reducing costs in terms of marketing and sales growth. After interviewing 80 accounts of Kazan small businesses, we found a number of enterprises using applications for the promotion of their account. We also revealed some shortcomings in the entrepreneurs' work on Instagram.