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Instagram for Business Part 1:5 min read

5 min read

[vc_row][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][text_output]Instagram was just two years old when it was snapped up by Facebook, so we should have known this platform was one to watch for businesses.

In fact, following Facebook’s acquisition, Instagram saw a growth of 23% in 2013 whilst Facebook grew by just 3% and now has approximately 300 million active users who love its simplicity, ease of use and active communities.

Seems pretty easy if you love sharing snaps of your fun filled weekends, jet setter lifestyle or gourmet dishes, but what if you’re a business or a brand? Can Instagram be used as a marketing tool or is it just another platform you feel you should join because everybody else is?

Although we can’t quite nail down the first brand to get an Instagram account, we can tell you that quite quickly, National Geographic became it’s first “brand partner” and Instagram has since seen the likes of great brands such as Thomson Holidays and Uniqlo making the most of the platform for their business. We’ll get on to that later (Part 2), but first let’s start with using Instagram as a platform for your brand… with zero pounds exchanged.

Getting Started

Don’t you dare upload a photo without defining your business goals. Set yourself some long term goals and brand KPIs before you start posting pictures of cute kittens and expecting people to click your bio to get an insurance quote.

These could be anything from growing a following, telling your brand story through photos, marketing a specific part of the business or creating a greater brand awareness. Beware, Instagram will not drive masses of traffic to your site, the only link you can use is in your bio, so choose it wisely.

Speaking of bios, this should be your starting point alongside your logo. Keep the logo and strapline consistent across channels and highlight your best bits, for example “Google’s Fastest Growing Agency in 2014”. Shameless self-promotion alert, but you get the picture.

Getting Seen

Like other platforms, you can be pumping out great content, in this case high quality images or videos but get nothing in return. There are lots of ways you can get your content seen on Instagram, especially if you have already established communities on other platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

Announce your presence to your followers on other channels, and those that are interested in what you have to say over on Instagram will naturally come. For those that need a little more encouragement, “follow us for weekly photo competitions” might do the trick.

Got an email marketing database? Broadcast your new Instagram account handle to them, and don’t forget to add your Instagram follow button on your blog or website either.

Use hashtags. Hashtags serve two main purposes; content discovery and content filtering. People search Instagram using hashtags so make sure they know what is ‘trending’. By using relevant hashtags, you’ll attract a relevant audience, but be careful not to just jump on the hashtag bandwagon. #fail.

Building a Following

Now you’re set up and posting pictures to Instagram, followers should be flocking shouldn’t they? Sometimes, it is not as easy as it sounds and I know you will have heard this before, but you really need to ensure the following:

  • Your content is compelling
  • It tells a story
  • It engages with your target audience or demographic
  • It is relevant to your brand (I don’t mean just showcasing your products)

A great example of a brand doing this well is GoPro. Everybody knows what a GoPro looks like, and let’s face it, endless pictures of GoPro’s would be pretty boring. But, what you can do with a GoPro, now we’re talking. Go and have a look for yourself, it is amazing.


Users need a reason to follow you, whether it be for exclusives, discounts, tips and tricks or showing not just what your product is, but what it can do.

A great way to gain more followers is to partner with an influencer; someone who has a massive reach and a highly engaged following. Think about what you may incentivise them with, an Instagram takeover perhaps? They’re likely to broadcast the fact they’ll be posting shots to your account which will encourage their users to follow you.

Proving Worth

Not bad this whole Instagram thing is it? Until you’re asked by the board to prove its worth… It becomes hard to provide exactly what value Instagram is bringing to your business, as Google Analytics counts visits from Instagram as direct mobile visits. So you can never quite pinpoint the channel driving traffic. A way round this is to use a unique URL shortener in your bio, something like Bitly, where you’ll be able to track clicks straight from it.Instagram

Other ways to prove worth is to look at how many more likes, comments and followers you get through using the platform in terms of numbers and in terms of rate/timeliness.

Failing that, you could always run some Instagram ads, where you’ll get proper data (of course), but you’ll have to wait until my next post to learn about that.[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][visibility type=”hidden-desktop”][gap size=”20px”][/visibility][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”ups-sidebar-2″][/vc_column][/vc_row]