9 Ways to Use Instagram for Business


August 20, 2013

There is something completely untouchable about a photo. Photos take us to places we’ll never go, allow us to come face to face with people we’ll never meet, and experience things we otherwise would not. They capture the parts of life we want to remember—what was seen, what was done, how you felt. They allow you to view things in a different way and shape how others see that moment. It’s the one in a million capture that will never happen in exactly the same way again—and this is why people love photos. This is why people love Instagram. And this is exactly why your business should use Instagram.

Photos have a unique way of pulling at our heartstrings and stirring emotions. And when it comes to marketing, the ultimate goal is to communicate a message or brand identity that resonates with people. So what better way to do that than to post beautiful, interesting, informative photos (and now videos) that your customer will remember? Here’s how some of my very favorite brands use Instagram for business:

1.              Show Your Products

Perhaps one of the easiest things to do on Instagram is showcase your products. This works especially well for fashion labels, car companies, foodies, or anything that is eye candy. However, consistently try to show products in a creative or unique way.


I see you reaching for your wallet now.

2.              Identify with a Lifestyle

Fast foreign cars are nothing short of appealing. So, how do you stand out from the German engineered competition when you’re up against big names like BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche? Sure, you could take stunning photos of your stunning products all day long, but so can the competition. But if you align your brand with a lifestyle, especially one that appeals to your target demographic, you align your brand with what’s important to your consumers. Take my favorite car brand (Audi) on the market for example:


I like surfing. I like skateboarding. I like snowboarding. Oh, so does Audi? I love Audi. See how that works?

3.              Show What Your Products Can Do

On the flip side of showing your products, show what they can do. Posts of an actual GoPro camera would be rather dull and boring, but posts of what a GoPro can capture will make you want to immediately purchase one.


See what I mean?

4.              Inspire

Two words: travel photos. I don’t really think there is anybody out there that gets an overdose of breathtakingly beautiful scenery and inspiring global happenings. Typically, it’s better to keep Instagram captions short and sweet, but National Geographic manages to share amazing little stories that correlate with each post.


You’re going to purchase a lifetime subscription to National Geographic now aren’t you?

5.              Go Behind the Scenes

Consumers want to see the action. They want to see your company culture. They want to see what your employees are doing. They want to see company events and outings. They want to see what makes your brand your brand. The North Face manages not only to show what their products can do by taking followers behind the scenes, but showing employees and athletes at events, such as this Outdoor Retailer convention, or doing things they enjoy that align with the brand.


That baby is so cute.

6.              Run a Campaign/Contest

We’re back to German engineering again, but this time Mercedes-Benz is in the driver’s seat. In their “Take the Wheel” campaign, five of Instagram’s best photographers, as previously selected, have or will hit the road for five days behind the wheel of the brand new Mercedes-Benz CLA. Whichever contestant gets the most likes during their time on the road will keep the car. Talk about brilliant social media and traditional media integration. You can follow mbusa on Instagram, visit the campaign specific website, and search photos with the hashtag: #CLATaketheWheel.


Mercedes-Benz even gave a sixth contestant a shot at winning the CLA. Since the sixth contestant was selected based on their Instagram feed, stay tuned to see some more eye candy for the “Take the Wheel” campaign.

7.              Give Shout Outs

Since brand awareness and brand evangelism are the main goals, you strive for engagement in every aspect of your marketing plan—and engagement is huge on Instagram. Take one of the leading urban cycling brands, Chrome Industries. Not only are they recognizing and featuring brand advocates, they’re also promoting businesses that don’t even relate to their industry, like See See Motor Coffee Co. This is a great way to get cross exposure and gain new followers.


Give shoutouts by “regramming” as well. Followers love to see their posts featured on your brand’s feed.

8.              Offer Tips and Make Tutorials

A great way to encompass a few of these strategies in one post is to give suggestions or show how-tos. Maybe you post how to style an outfit, how to put on make up, or how to make a snack—whatever you post, you’re able to show products and give shout outs.


With the new video function, there is no reason not to give followers a step-by-step tutorial for certain things.

9.              Be Entertaining

Everyone likes to laugh. Everyone likes to be amused. Be funny. Be witty. Be clever. You don’t always have to post things that directly correlate with your products or services, but you do have to post things that directly correlate with your audience.


Not everyone will find these funny, but I sure do. And that’s why I #RockDiscrete—know your audience.