101 Tips for Using Instagram For Business. By Casey Gollan Tuesday, 29th October 2013
With over 100 million users it's impossible to ignore Instagram; Iíll start out by saying that Instagram for business is something Iím still exploring myself, Iím looking through the different ways it can work for my business and the businesses of my clients. There is no getting around the fact that Instagram has over 100 million users.
Itís time to pay attention.
I wanted to put this post together because I know there are businesses out there looking to take advantage of the big opportunity that is Instagram.
The information presented in this post will help not only to get started with using Instagram for business, but will give you actionable steps to take to start getting more followers and more traction with the photo sharing platform.
Instagram For Business: The Ultimate Guide for Entrepreneurs
1. Choose a Handle That Matches Your Business Name
Starbucks is easy to find on Instagram. The account is @Starbucks.
You want to start your Instagram for business strategy by choosing a name thatís exactly what your business name is. If you have a longer name youíll have to get creative, but itís important to have something people can easily search for and find. If you canít get an exact match then match it to your Twitter and Facebook name.
2. Connect Your Instagram Account to Your Facebook Account Facebook and Instagram users are very connected. They share photos they post on Instagram on Facebook (and to a lesser extent on Twitter). Connect your accounts and cross-pollinate the two social accounts to build your audience. Facebook also owns Instagram so itís a good connection to make in that regard as well. You can expect more integration in the future for the two social properties.
3. People Like Travel, Pets, Food and Quotes If you check out the Explore feed on Instagram youíll notice the types of photos that do really well in terms of getting likes, favorites and comments. People love photos of travel, pets, food and quotes. Post these types of photos if you can, but also realize that you can take similar photos and relate it back to your business.
4. Tap Into Other Audiences People search for popular people and things on Instagram. For instance, you could visit Disney World and post a photo using Disney World in the description. You could also purchase a new song by your favorite artist and take a photo of the album artwork on your computer screen and use the artistís name in the description.
5. Use Popular Hashtags People follow hashtags like they do popular topics. You can use witty hashtags like #ThisIsCrazy and entertain a few people or you could use something like #Love and get more attention.
6. Go Easy On The Filters Instagram seemed to become popular in part because it had filters that changed the appearance of ordinary photos. Surprisingly, though, photos seem to do well without a filter. If you have an interesting filter donít feel like you have to use a filter. It will only distract from the photo.
7. Set Follower Goals Entrepreneurs are goal setters. We like to have a target in mind. We know that setting a goal will give us the motivation to find a way Ė any way Ė to get there. Set a goal like getting 1,000 followers in one month. Itís possible and youíll be drive to do it if you set the goal.
8. Test Photos On Friends and Family You want to figure out the kind of photos people like. Take a few photos and show them to people you know will give you honest feedback. Read their eyes and reactions. If they arenít interested in something itís no big deal. Just try something different until you get a reaction. Then post it on Instagram.
9. Use Your Established Audiences This is a classic social media strategy. Use your Instagram photos in places where you already have audiences established. Use photos on Facebook and Twitter. Use photos on your website and in the emails you send to customers.
10. Enable Notifications You can setup notifications to get notice when someone likes or comments on your photos. Early on this is good because you can immediately respond. If it grows to be an issue you can turn off the notifications. Itís a good problem to have.
11. Host Events Companies are using the efforts of their clients and subscribers to host events on Instagram. For example, a real estate company will host an event asking people to share photos of their favorite properties or properties they admire and use a hashtag like #lovehome and an additional tag to match the companyís name like #companyname.
12. Use Call To Action in the Description Ask followers to do something when you post a photo on Instagram. Ask them if they agree with a quote you post. Ask them if they want to be at a location where you have been. Encourage interaction. The more people comment the more people will know about your brand on Instagram.
13. Use Accompanying Apps There are apps that allow you to create even more interesting photos and photo collections. PicFrame, Diptic and PhotoShake! are three apps that integrate with Instagram.
14. Like Other Photos Since youíll be following hashtags anyway also comment and like photos of people you wish to have follow you. Shoot for people with large followings. Their followers will see your comment and might become interested in your brand on Instagram.
15. Show the Benefits of Your Products A shoe company could post a photo of a shoe, but thatís boring. Instead the company could have an employee run a marathon and take a post-race photo of the shoe with a description describing the situation.
16. Document Projects To get people to follow you for long periods of time while staying engaged you can take a series of photos documenting a project. A baker could take photos throughout the process of baking a cake.
17. Host a Photo Contest We mentioned how you can have people tag photos of a certain hashtag. You can use the same process and host a contest for the best submitted photo.
18. Use Location Services Instagram has a visual map feature allowing you to tag your location. If your business is local-based you can use this to meet people in your area.
19. Include Your Brand Logo In Photos Donít be blatant with your logo, but squeeze it in photos when you can. The additional branding sticks with people and theyíll remember your brand when they need the product you sell.
20. Use Location Services for a Mobile Event
Share your location like @charlottajansson did when she visited #Sydney.
Maybe youíre on the move one day at an event or on location. Use location tags and location services to invite people following those areas to come and visit you on location.
21. Create Interesting FAQ Photos Most businesses have frequently asked questions from customers and prospects. FAQs are often found on websites, but itís mostly text. If there are questions surrounding your business that could use photos then take those photos with Instagram and put them on the site.
22. Show Employee Interaction Part of the buying cycle is learning to trust and connecting with the people at a company. When customers see your employees having fun in the break room or enjoying a company lunch it gives them insight into the people behind the brand.
23. Give Sneak Peeks People love to feel like theyíre getting insider information. Share sneak peek shots of new products, services, website updates and more. People love seeing just a little taste of whatís to come.
24. Teach Customers with Photos Teaching can be part of Instagram. Celebrity chefs use Instagram to show followers how to make certain dishes. Itís a step-by-step process for people that are visual learners.
25. Dig Into Your Archives A sub-trend on Instagram is posting old photographs. You simply take a photo of a photo and upload it to the app. People love seeing vintage photos from decades ago.
26. Put Badges On Your Website and Blog Instagram offers badges (just like Facebook and Twitter) for you to put on your website. This makes it easy for your website visitors to follow you on Instagram. Put the badge on any page on your site that relates to Instagram.
27. Add Hyperlinks In Descriptions Say youíre having a promotion hosted on your website like a photo of the homepage or a related photo of a product. Include a link to the landing page or website in the description so users can easily visit.
28. Create Co-Branded Photos Additionally, create co-branded photos with other similar businesses and brands. By combining your audiences youíll each be gaining new followers.
29. Host Guest Photographers One way to grow your audience is to tap into the audience of others. You could hire a guest photographer to shoot a few photographs for your company. You can post them on your account and they could share them with their followers.
30. Create a Gallery On Your Website
People can join in the fun just by using the hashtag #GolfDigest
Golf Digest encourages its followers to post photos with the hashtag #GolfDigest. These photos are shared on the Golf Digest website for all to see. Images are also included in the print version of the magazine for all subscribers to see.
31. Expand the Gallery If you bring in feeds to a gallery on your site you can also do ďBest ofĒ collections for people to look at over the years. Collect the best photos from the previous year or month and create collections on your site for people browse.
32. Post Photos in the Late Afternoon Instagram users like the afternoon. People are generally busy in the morning with getting ready for work and going to work and working. By the afternoon they are ready for a quick break and checking Instagram is one of the escapes.
33. Upload Photos of Items People Aspire For Instagram is very much about aspiring for a great life. People comment on and like photos of luxurious things and interesting places. If you have the means upload photos of these things even if youíre not the owner of the item. For example, take a photo of a yacht in the harbor or a car in the parking lot.
34. Participate in Group Events There are events on Instagram like #Photo365 where people upload photos each day. Participate in these events or create your own. Not only will you be part of a group, but youíll also be committed to posting something new each day.
35. Create a Unique Time Lapse Series Find an interesting spot and take a photo there each day (if possible). After a week, month or even a year the series will be very interesting to followers.
36. Photograph Different People In The Same Spot Take your entire staff to a location near you and take everyoneís photo separately. It will create another neat series that will be interesting and appealing for followers.
37. Take Photos at a Local Event Maybe there is a concert or a fireworks show in your area. Take photos and publish them as the event is happening. Anyone close to you would feel connected and people will follow just to see what photo might pop up next on your feed.
38. Share Photos of Antiques You can take photos of old photos, but you can also take photos of old things. People love vintage right now so if you have anything related to your product or business take a photo and share it.
39. Showcase a Company Mascot A trend on Instagram is to take photos of a Mascot. It could be the company dog or even a stuffed animal. For example, image you have a company dog named Buddy. You create a ďBuddy visitsÖĒ series and take photos of Buddy Visits The Vet or Buddy Visits The Park. People love pets and they love mascots.
40. Associate Your Brand With Celebrities
Even something as simple as buying wine can associate with a celebrity. via @davidkerr48
Celebrities have huge audiences. Find ways to associate your brand with celebrities and post photos on Instagram. Youíll be tapping into their audience to build your own. For example, post a photo of you watching a movie with a famous actor or of a billboard with a famous sports start.
41. Create Leader Boards of Followers If you are successful getting people to use your branded hashtags take things a step further by creating leader boards on your website. You could list the most popular locations of photos that used your hashtag or the most popular item in a photograph from the previous year.
42. Watch the Sun Be careful with the location of the sun when taking photos for Instagram (or for any photo). The sun can be harsh. Watch where the sun is and avoid direct light into the lens. Also watch for harsh shadows that form during late day and early morning sun.
43. Photograph Landmarks People love seeing landmarks. If there are landmarks near you take a trip and take photos. Share them with followers that otherwise wouldnít get to visit themselves.
44. Commemorate Anniversaries People love anniversaries so celebrate any and all with your followers. It could be the 10th anniversary of your company or the birthday of your company mascot. You could even celebrate the anniversary of how long your employees have been with your company.
45. Take Photos of Old Buildings Architecture is another popular focus on Instagram. Old, run down buildings have interesting character and people love looking at them. If youíre in an old industrial neighborhood or if you can access one take a few photos and see if your followers like it.
46. Find Signs Signs are another item people love. Find signs that say interesting things or maybe there is a light out in a neon sign that makes the title funny.
47. Eat and Shoot Delicious Looking Food Food is a huge item on Instagram. People share meals theyíve had all the time. If youíre having dinner with clients or associates take a photo of the main course or of the dessert. The more decadent the dish the better.
48. Feature a Specific Color For one week take photos of the color blue or the color green (or the color of your brand). Photograph different items that share the same color and hue. Itís a fun project that makes for an interesting series.
49. Take Photos of Different Water Settings Water is an interesting element and people love it. Create a series of photographs that include water. One could be a photo or rain or a drop hitting the water in a glass.
50. Feature Your Kids
Interesting photos of kids always do well like this one from @_dmacias
People love seeing the smiling faces of kids. Share photos of you and your kids having fun. It can be business-related or just you and them having a good time. It shows the human side of your business.
51. Use Positive Emotion More Than Sad Emotion For the most part Instagram users appear to like smiling faces and fun locations. Occasionally you can make an impact with a serious post, but people like happy images most often.
52. Start with One Photo Per Day Frequency is a topic of debate for Instagram for business. Start with one photo per day and see if you can increase from there. It can be surprisingly difficult to publish even one photo per day so start there and work your way up. The more often you appear in the feeds of your followers the more top of mind youíll be when buy time comes around.
53. Avoid Photos That Are Too Personal You are running a business and you donít want to get too personal with your photos. Avoid publishing anything you would be embarrassed to show your grandmother. Itís a good basic rule to follow as a last minute check before hitting ďShareĒ.
54. Create a Countdown Countdowns get people engaged. You could do the ultimate Christmas wish list or birthday wish list of items you crave. Create a top ten list. Start with ten and work you way toward the top item. People will follow along in anticipation of the number one item.
55. Participate In Holiday Events The holidays are big on Instagram. People are posting photos celebrating and enjoying the event with family and friends. Take part in the holidays with photos from your company life and personal life. Include the hashtag for the appropriate holiday.
56. Showcase Interesting Black Friday Products Black Friday is a worldwide day after Thanksgiving in the USA when online retailers and physical retailers heavily discount items. If you take part of Black Friday or Cyber Monday or similar events make sure to post an interesting photo of a popular product.
57. Take Photos of Art People love to look at art. It could be paintings from a local gallery or spray paint on the side of a building. Maybe there is an artist in your design department. Ask them if theyíre interested in creating something every week or every month for the Instagram account.
58. Share Photos of Funny Animals If youíre ever in need of an idea for a photo then head to the zoo or the park and take a photo of a funny animal. There is always something that makes people laugh when they see an animal acting goofy for the camera.
59. Use Different Perspectives Sometimes on television and in movies youíll get a shot of a different perspective. Use different perspectives with your photography. Take a photo as if youíre looking at a golfer from the perspective of the golf ball or maybe from the perspective of a cake inside the oven.
60. Find Unique Landscapes
Landscapes always find interest like this blue beauty from @tking49
People like to see interesting landscapes. This could be an area where you go hiking or it could be an urban landscape. Attach the appropriate hashtag and youíll find people that love landscapes following your brand.
61. Get Up Close and Personal You can take landscape shots, but people like to see things really close up with great detail. Get close to the item youíre shooting and show a really detailed perspective of the item. Itís something we normally donít see with the naked eye.
62. Share Photos from Sporting Events Sports are popular throughout the world. There is something about the best athletes in the world competing that makes people interested. Visit a sports event and take photos of the stadium and the players in action.
63. Take Photos of Airplanes and Other Flying Items Humans have long been fascinated with flight. We still find amazement in seeing a jumbo jet floating in the air. Take photos of planes, blimps and balloons. It makes for an interesting image.
64. Wear Costumes People find it interesting when people dress up. We do it on Halloween throughout the world, but if you ever dress up in costumes be sure to take photos and share it with users.
65. Use Mentions for Twitter You can use mentions in your Instagram photos and they translate over to Twitter. You can tweet at other brands and followers right from your Instagram account. Itís a great way to include others in your activity.
66. Add Mystery with Shadows Earlier we talked about shadows and how you have to watch for harsh shadows. An interesting trend on Instagram is taking photos of only shadows. It adds a bit of mystery to the item thatís the center focus of your photograph.
67. Find Bright Lights at Night There is something special about seeing a dark sky lit up with bright lights. Take photos at night of things like fireworks or a lit up billboard or building.
68. Do a Series About a Specific Emotion For example, photograph people during moments of amazement. It could be a kid that opens a present for their birthday or the moment you tell an employee about a raise.
69. Capture Things That Donít Belong Weíre always interested in things donít belong. It could be a brightly colored building amongst a sea of grey or a huge mansion amongst regular houses.
70. Imagine What Things Once Where Take a photo of an old fence and share your thoughts on what it might have been with your followers in the description. Capture an old building and ask followers to guess what the building once was long ago.
71. Find Different Seasons Time lapse once again can take place anywhere the seasons change. Capture the same spot at different times during the different seasons. Itís interesting to see how nature changes things.
72. Share a Different Perspective of Something Popular If you visit a landmark or a place everybody recognizes find a spot to take a photo that offers a different perspective. You can write something like, ďYouíve never seen the Opera House from this angle beforeÖĒ to the description.
73. Play Games With People Take a photo of your office and ask followers to find the number of an item in the photo. You could take the photo of the conference room and ask people to count the number of pens in the photo.
74. Show the Size of Things Itís interesting to see how big some things are and how small other items can be. Say you get a new puppy. Put the puppy in your hands to show how small the puppy is or photograph the puppy sitting in your shoe.
75. Find a Company Instagram Pal Youíve heard of pen pals. Find a company or a follower in another location and take similar photos and combine them. It could be how you both drink coffee in the morning, but from different mugs or in different coffee shops. People find it interesting when things relate to each, but are still different.
76. Shoot a Generation Photo Are you a third generation entrepreneur? Take a photo of the different generations. People love looking at family history. The photo series can tell a story.
77. Re-create a Family Photo Speaking of family photos, take one from many years ago and re-create the photo. You can do this with family or with co-workers that might have been around 5, 10 or even 20 years ago.
78. Create Themed Filter Photos Black and white photos are timeless. Create a collection of photos about your brand and use the black and white filter or a different themed filter your followers will enjoy.
79. Make Others Look Good When you include other people in your photos and make them look good theyíll likely share the image with their audience. Itís a way to grow your own following.
80. Create a Little Controversy
What's your favorite color? Red, White or Black? via @youngplatt
Controversy always gets people to say something and in social media thatís what itís all about. The classic example is a coffee shop with two tip jars. Each jar has the name of different singers or celebrities. People will share money with the one they prefer. You can take a photo of two things and ask people to comment their support for one or the other.
81. Find Shapes in Architecture and in Nature Have a week where you try to find swirls or squares around the city or out in the country. Find interesting circles from around your neighborhood and post them with the appropriate hashtag.
82. Shoot The Details Instead of the Big Picture Everybody can take a photo of a big item like a skyscraper. To be different take a shot of the crack in the step at the bottom of the skyscraper or the rusty bolt holding it all together on the side.
83. Find Repeating Patterns Architects will often use patterns in buildings. Sometimes youíll find patterns in nature like a row of trees that look identical. People are fascinated by patterns Ė both manmade and natural.
84. Document The Journey Are you going on a business trip or a family trip? Document the entire trip on Instagram with a series of photos. People will follow along. Make sure to show some behind the scenes action that isnít the first thing people would think about.
85. Find Late Day Sunrays Remember when we mentioned the part about avoiding the sun? Well in the late day you can get some interesting sunray shots. Get the sun in the background of a cool shot. The rays can look really cool without being too harsh. Some on Instagram call it #goldenhour.
86. Document a Recovery People love series of photos. Did you or someone you know recently go through some kind of struggle like a broken arm? Document the recovery process.
87. Copy Someone Elseís Photo Did someone share a photo you love? Re-create the photo in your own perspective. Then mention the person in your photo. Youíll be combining audiences once again to grow your own.
88. Create a Prank Are you playing a prank on someone for a birthday in the office? Capture the moment on camera and share it on Instagram. Everybody loves a good prankÖas long as itís not on them.
89. Document an Accomplishment Is your company reaching a milestone? Maybe youíre talking to your 1,000th customer today. Take a photo of the phone call or the electronic order. People love seeing you succeed.
90. Show Pride in Your Location Are you proud of where your business is located? Show your pride by taking photos from the area where you live. People like seeing your hometown pride even if itís not their hometown.
91. Show Your Own ďA Day In the LifeĒ Series Document your entire day in the office. Have your employees do the same. Document each of the positions at your company.
92. Share Your Involvement in Charity Giving back is something people love to see. If youíre participating in a charity event document it with photos and share them with followers. You can also ask people to donate. Provide a link to where the donations can be accepted. Itís a win-win for everyone.
93. Have Your Designer Create an Illustration Instagram isnít just about photos. Thatís surprising to some people. If you have a designer on staff have them create an interesting illustration. It will really stand out on Instagram.
94. Post Photos About Current Events Instagram is kind of like Twitter in some ways. One way is that people are interested in whatís happening right now. If something is happening make a photo showing that youíre part of whatís going on. For example, if your sports team is in the championship game take a photo of your team wearing team shirts to show your support.
95. Host an InstaMeet If youíre looking to get really involved you can host InstaMeets with your local followers.
96. Jump One of the fun things people seem to do in Instagram photos is jump. Go all over your office and surrounding areas and jump in the air and take a photo. Itís quirky, but people seem to love it.
97. Get Creative With Sizing Youíve seen the photos of people holding up the leaning tower. Get creative with the sizes of items in your photos. It will make people stop and think for a moment. Thatís enough to get them to remember your brand.
98. Add a Tip in the Description Letís say youíre an ice cream maker. Take a photo of your ice cream and share a tip for eating ice cream like letting it sit for a few minutes to get it ready for swirling in the dish.
99. Use The Where Were You WhenÖ Meme Itís always fun to remember where you were when something happened. Go and take a photo of a place you were when something happened like at the hospital for the birth of your child. Then ask followers to do the same.
100. Capture Action Moments
Catching action in a photo is really cool. via @mattvwphoto
Catching an action moment while itís happening can be really interesting like running in a race or a person mid-dive into a lake.
101. Take a Photo of Someone Taking a Photo This one is weird, but people love seeing other people taking photos. Take photos of your staff as they are Instagramming.
Instagram is a relatively new mobile app. The company created a website and appears to be growing. Businesses are finding success building followings on Instagram and the bigger your audience the more customers you have.
Use these tips as you get started with Instagram for business. Youíll be growing your audience in no time.
For over 16 years Casey Gollan has been coaching and guiding businesses through extraordinary growth. Tailoring his business coaching approach and methods to suit each individual client, Casey takes into account the size, industry, market and current situation of every business he coaches so as to develop the most successful business coaching platform.
His dedication and innovative thinking has allowed some tremendous results to be achieved, both for his clients and for him personally, with honours such a past client winning the ĎBRW 2010 Fast Growth Of The Yearí and a past client being finalists in the ĎBRW Entrepreneur of the Year 2012í.
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