Most of us have heard about the genius app sweeping not only our nation, but also the world.   Users wanting a fast and fun way to share their photos on mobile devices with friends and family have made Instagram prominent in the social networking world.  Now the phenomenon has expanded to businesses wanting to showcase their products or appear more transparent to their audience.  The question is, how can it help your business?

Can Instagram Grow Your Business?

Like any social network, spending any time promoting your brand has to be carefully strategized.  First you have to decide whether it is the right platform for your business.  Instagram is a photo-sharing app, so for you to gain an active following, you must have something to show.  Businesses in the creative industries have the best chance of expanding their business through this app because they have unique photos to share on a consistent basis.  For example, an artist can post photos of not only their art, but also their creative process, like a walk on the beach and their local and worldly travels.  An architect can share photos from each step of the design and building process.  An art gallery can showcase events, new pieces of art, or special clients (with client’s permission).  If you have a product, share the creation process, from design to manufacturing, to packaging and marketing.

Instagram for your business

What happens if you don’t have a product to showcase?  Why not increase transparency for your business by introducing your employees via the photo stream?  Maybe create a regular spotlight, introducing a new employee every week?

Another way to engage users to go behind the scenes of your company.  Show photos from parties, photo shoots, or other exciting events that your audience would be interested in seeing.  Present the photos as “exclusive looks” or “sneak peeks.”

Using hashtags on Instagram for businessWhere do you find new followers? Instagram has over 100 million users.  It is imperative to your business to tap into this market.  Your best friend on Instagram is the hashtag. A hashtag is a word with # at the beginning (examples: #smallbusiness, #jewelry, #art, #architecture, #design) that creates a link for that key word.  When clicked, you’ll be able to tap on the hashtag to see a page that shows all photos users have uploaded with that same hashtag.  Use hashtags to find people that are already talking about your industry or type of product.  Follow and engage with those users to create a growing and evolving foundation of active users, who have the capability of turning into leads!

How to use Instagram for business:

  1. Download the app. To download Instagram, you must visit your device’s native app store (Apple App Store or Google play).
  2. Pick an account name that is consistent with your other social networks, such as your Twitter handle or something easily recognizable by your audience.
  3. Sync your other social networks. Such as Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Flickr, and Facebook.
  4. Turn on notifications.  You want to be made aware every time a user mentions your brand, or likes and comments on your photos.  This allows you to interact with your audience, creating a unique dynamic between your online and offline business.
  5. Can Instagram Grow Your Business?Add photos to your Instagram feed.  You can either take a photo from the Instagram app or choose a photo from your gallery.  I would suggest taking the photo on your mobile device first, then importing it to your Instagram.  Once you have either taken a photo or imported one, choose a filter.  Be creative, but don’t be too extreme.  Remember that you are a professional and your photos should not only be appropriate, but consistent with your brand.  Once you choose a filter, you will be taken to the “Share Photo” screen.  Here you can add photos to your Photo Map, choose a location, and share to your previously linked social networks.
  6. Be sure to use hashtags! Here is what the Instagram Help site says about hashtags:
  • Private users’ tagged photos will not appear publicly on tag pages.
  • Numbers are allowed in hashtags. However, special characters, such as $ or %, will not work.
  • You can only tag your own photos, not other users’ photos.
  • The limit on the number of tags you can use on a photo is 30. If you include more than 30 tags on a single photo, your comment will fail to post.
  • Older versions of Apple iOS do not support tapping on hashtags. Instead, search hashtags by navigating to the Profile tab > Search Instagram > Tags.

Read more about hashtags on the Instagram blog.

20BNatalie Grinnell is the Founder and Creative Director of Studio 41 Creative.  Studio 41 Creative a creative marketing agency focused on building the innovative brands of our generation. We have over 10 years experience in the online marketing industry, and we have the creative background to bring you a dynamic and full-service marketing plan. To learn more about our marketing services, including brand development, website design, social media management, and public relations services, contact