How Your Business Can Harness the Power of Instagram


Instagram now has over 300 million Instagrammers who post 70 million photos and videos – every day. With those sorts of figures isn’t it time your business or brand had an Instagram presence? And if you do, how can you be heard among the crowd?


There are three basic elements that will set your business apart and be heard on Instagram. They are, audience, creativity and engagement. Lets discover how each of these elements will give your business the edge on Instagram:


1. Know Your Audience

Instagram can be likened to a visual form of Twitter. You are communicating your brand values and business mission with images instead of words. Determine your visual personality first. Think about your audience. Who are your trying to engage with? How does your audience use Instagram, and who do they follow? It’s very easy to find out.


Before you set up an official page for your business, search for hashtagged images relating to your company or product. It’s likely that your keenest customers will have posted their own pictures of your products. Learn from this. Following these unofficial ambassadors tells them that you have arrived and your business is now on Instagram. Comment on appropriate photos, and use the hashtag yourself. You will soon see an influx of followers, all eager to get to know you.


Cross-reference your feed from your newsletter, and post Instagram images direct to Facebook, particularly if your audience is greater in these places. Competitions and giveaways are great for driving traffic to your feed. Set the rules to increase follower numbers, frequent hashtag use and to grow engagement.


2. Get Creative

Go beyond straightforward photos of your products. Make images illustrative or suggestive rather than literal. Think laterally about how to visually represent your brand values. Intel does this very well. An Instagram feed full of processors would be boring and not very appealing to most people. So to engage with its followers Intel uses broader, eye-catching images of innovation, adventure and science. It even delves into its archives for #throwbackthursday


There are plenty of simple tricks and online photography tutorials to help your images stand out from the crowd. Create drama and contrast with lighting, backgrounds and unusual composition.


As well as Instagram’s own filters, try doodle apps such as Phonto and A Beautiful Mess, filter apps such as Afterlight and VSCO Cam and collage apps such as Diptic. Brands and businesses whose images really stand out are the ones with added value. Doodle the name of the product, a hashtag, or a question over your photo to entice followers to interact. Re-use photography you have already paid for product shots, screen grabs and packaging images are an ideal way to vary your feed.


Draw inspiration from the calendar. There are many holidays and celebrations throughout the year that will make for great content. Why not pick some the more unusual festivals as well to differentiate your business from your competitors. Your location could provide a rich seam of inspiration. British brands for example, who are looking for overseas success might capitalise on iconic geographical locations those shores to have to offer.


Video is perfect for a brand selling products that move. Events in action, behind the scenes clips and new design ideas can provide perfect little ‘day-in-the-life’ snapshots of your company. Involve your staff as well. Topshop, for example, has more than a million Instagram followers and it regularly features designers, personal shoppers and store staff.


3. Engaging People

Hashtags don’t necessarily increase engagement on Instagram, particularly not for top brands. However, smaller businesses can make clever use of them. When carefully selected, hashtags can get images in front of people searching for a product. It pays to research those used by your followers and competitors.

Asking questions tells followers that you are open to dialogue, making your business seem accessible and friendly. When followers answer your questions or comment on your posts, always respond. Don’t ignore them. Acknowledging customers encourages longer discussions and deeper interaction.

If you are serious about making an impact on Instagram and want to learn how to engage potential clients even more, you can read social media research.

For example, visual analytics company, Curalate, analysed 8 million images to determine the properties of those images that generated the most likes on Instagram. They reported that blue images received 24 per cent more likes than red or orange ones, and images dominant in one colour gain 40 per cent more likes. Lighter photos were 24 per cent more popular than darker ones. Highly textured photos are 80 per cent more liked that flatter images, while those with lots of background space won 29 per cent more likes than their closely cropped equivalents.


Measure of Success

You can monitor success by using sites such as which offers free, basic reports to help you decipher the highs and lows of your activity. This is just one of many tools that can help you to measure your success.

The key is to keep talking, monitoring and improving. Your efforts will pay off. The result will be a popular and talked about Instagram feed that will provide significant positive results for your brand.