25 Tips for Using Instagram in Your Business

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Instagram is a social channel that let’s you snap photos (and now video), add creative filters and share them with your followers. The photos can be posted not only on Instagram, but on social channels like Facebook and Twitter too.

Below are some tips from Instagram users for how to effectively use Instagram for business as a tool to build your brand.

Getting Started with Instagram for Business

1. Think before you click. Ask yourself the following questions:  What is the purpose for using Instagram? What is the tone and style we want to portray through our images?

2. Become a regular user first. It’s always a good idea to experience Instagram as a regular user so you can see how people are using it. That will provide ideas for tying this platform into other social media marketing efforts.

3. Think about your product. What do you sell or what do you use to sell your services? Without being too promotional, you can get your followers engaging with your product. Instagram is about everyday people taking everyday pictures.





4. Establish a customer profile. Brands can establish their customer profile by carefully monitoring the types of content posted by their followers. For example, a brand notices that a majority of its followers post images of shoes.

5. Coordinate with social media campaigns. How can you use Instagram in conjunction with your existing Facebook and Twitter activities?

6. Think strategically about your posts. Just because Instagram is a series of visuals doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think strategically about what you should post and when.

7. Choose your handle carefully. When setting up your Instagram account, where possible, use the same username as your Twitter account. So when your content is tagged and shared on Twitter the @username links to your Twitter bio.

Choose the Right Content

8. Show off your products with sneak previews. Clothing companies and even publishers may use Instagram to give “sneak previews” of new additions prior to launch date.

9. Remember that cuteness sells. It is a well-known fact that cute animals with funny quotes are among the category of images most likely to go viral. People like images that create a visceral reaction.

10. Announce new hires, promote your culture. Instagram is a great place to announce new hires, profile your staff and even promote your organization as a trendy, fun place to work.

11. Showcase your customers and service. Virgin America does a great job of giving their followers a taste of the company on Instagram. They showcase their customers and other fun things they are doing to make a person’s in-flight experience more enjoyable.





Use Instagram Filters Effectively

12. Begin with a thoughtful approach. You might not think that choosing one filter over another could lead to a noticeable shift in engagement, but it does. Using the right filter can create up to a 60% increase in average engagement.

13. Consider your location first. Instagram is great for making a standard scenery shot look much more appealing. Intensify the color with filters like Hefe, which can turn the average sunset into something spectacular.





14. Show a sense of style. Simple rule: If the photo does not look good before you select an Instagram filter, it will not look good afterwards. Instagram’s filters help give your great photo an artsy and even professional look. However, you must make sure that the end product fits in with the style your company is trying to portray.

15. Lo-Fi is perfect for restaurants. The high saturation makes the colors immediately richer, and an average sandwich snap can have followers heading down for a meal in no time.

16. Experiment with retro. Instagram has a lot of filters which change photos into images of times gone by. Everyone likes a ‘do you remember when…’ moment. Think about the history of your brand, and use Instagram to show users a visual depiction of it.

More Tips for Using Instagram

17. Follow a defined theme. There are so many things companies can take photos of, so it is vital to think things through before you jump in. Stand alone style photos will not be as powerful as photos that are part of a collection or that follow a defined theme.

18. Show your brand’s personality. Businesses should look at their use of Instagram similar to the way they use other social media platforms. There should be a nice balance of showing the brand’s personality but also giving the followers information about the brand.

19. Don’t just advertise. Instagram is a great place to showcase shots of your products, services and how-tos. Of course, you don’t want to turn your feed into a series of display ads. Find a creative way to incorporate your products and brand into images people will want to see and share.





20. Calls to action work well. Don’t be afraid to use calls to action on Instagram. Users will quickly scroll past messaging buried in the comments, but by placing your call to action on the image itself you’re more likely to grab their attention.

21. Apply the 80/20 rule. Pictures of their products, products in use, happy customers and the environment in which the products can, and are, used are all sound marketing techniques. But those should only be a portion of what a business shares to Instagram or any other social network — approximately 20%. The other 80% of the content shared should be of other people, other things, other scenarios… things that relate to your business but aren’t images of your business specifically.

22. Examine your feedback. Definitely – you can learn a lot by what customers comment on and share, how they tag photos and more.

23. Invite guest contributors. Inviting users to contribute images to your Instagram feed is an easy way to collect content and generate buzz. Call for entries that fit a specific theme and ask users to include a branded hashtag in their posts.

24. Use hashtags for branding. Hashtags are rapidly becoming a cross-platform social media currency. They originated on Twitter and are now used on Google Plus, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook.





25. Remain loyal to your brand. Marketers who choose to add Instagram to their social media marketing tool box should remember to remain loyal to their brand image. Brands should never forget that everything they post represents their brand’s promise to consumers.

Introduce a Video Element

Finally, as we mentioned earlier, Instagram has recently added video to its features. Here Amy Schmittauer of Vlog Boss Studios shares some simple tips for using it effectively.





A big thanks to the experts contributing to the above Instagram marketing tips:

- Greg Fry, Founder of Careers Coach 1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 14, 17

- Sharon Hurley Hall, Sharon Hurley Hall · Professional Web Content Writer and Blogger 2, 22, 24

- Carla Mai Froggatt, digital marketing manager for Steel City Marketing 3, 9, 13, 15, 16

- Genia Stevens, President and Chief Marketing Officer, Genia Stevens & Associates 4, 25

- Rachel Sprung of Rachel Sprung on Marketing 6, 11, 18

- Janelle Vreeland, Social Media Content Developer at HY Connect and author at Lonely Brand Blog 12, 19

- Katherine Leonard, Social Media Content Developer at HY Connect and author at Lonely Brand Blog 20, 23

- Mike Allton, The Social Media Hat 21

Image: Instagram

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Annie Pilon - Staff Writer


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles and feature stories. She is a freelance writer specializing in marketing, social media, and creative topics. When she’s not writing for her various freelance projects or her personal blog Wattlebird, she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

33 Reactions

  1. After reading this post, I might just try out Instagram for a start. Normally, I use Facebook, Twitter and Google+ now and then. Instagram will be a new platform for me.

  2. I am all for being a regular user before you attempt any form of marketing. That’s the error most business owners have committed on Twitter and Facebook. Get to know how the market is using the platform and then work from there.

  3. I approve of the rule #21: “Apply the 80/20 rule.” The Pareto principle is working here too! ;) If you love tea and other good things in life, please feel free to follow me on Instagram! :)

  4. Great, great article. Thank you!

    EWM

  5. Annie,

    Thank you for your great article. I partially translated it into Mongolian, so that my friends can benefit from your insights about Instagram. You can find my article at Richscholar.com. Here is link to the translation: http://bit.ly/1iQGVvY (I am using a URL shortener since Mongolian URLs do not show up favorably on English sites.

    Sincerely,

    Buyan

  6. Great article Annie.

    I am currently developing a complete guide for Instagram for business. Your article is full of useful tactics and tips. The guide I am putting together focuses on strategy and scheduling.

    I would really appreciate your input once I finalize the guide.

    Thanks again for the great article.

  7. Instagram is such a powerful tool for brands who understand how to use it. My friends published beautiful photos and videos of how their hand made products come to life. When Instagram decided to share their work with their audience on Instagram blog, it was such a turning point for the business. Instagram followers are loyal and engaged with brands .

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