Social media platforms

Instagram for business


Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service. It is used by businesses as a marketing tool. Instagram allows you to create video and photo content on your mobile device and instantly publish it to your audience.

Instagram was launched in October 2010 and now has over one billion accounts that share millions of photos and videos every day.

Set clear goals for Instagram

It is very important to consider how Instagram fits into your overall marketing strategy. Think about what your objectives are, do you want to:

  • increase awareness
  • change perception
  • reach a new audience

Getting started with Instagram

To set up an Instagram account you need to complete two steps:

  1. Choose an account name - you should ideally use your business name if it's available.
  2. Upload a profile photo - it's best to keep your profile photo simple. Instagram recommend using your brand's logo or a graphic symbol. Profile photos are cropped into a circle and show as a small 150 x 150 pixel image on most phones.

Using Instagram

Instagram was launched as one of the first 'mobile-first' social media platforms. Once Facebook bought the company it launched a desktop photostream, however, you are still required to take and upload your photos and videos from your mobile device.

Images - It is essential that you use good quality images. If appropriate, you could use the built-in photographic filters on your photos. Consider what your audience will find entertaining, useful or interesting. 

Videos - Instagram allows you to share short videos. You can apply filters the same way you can with photos.

Captions - Keep captions interesting. A good way of encouraging engagement with your followers is to ask questions.

Hashtags - Adding hashtags to your content will mean that people searching for these terms will come across your photos and videos. This will help you to build up new followers and share your content with more people. Tags should be specific and relevant to the post - this way you are more likely to target like-minded followers. You might want to explore how businesses that are like your and have a large following, successfully use hashtags. If appropriate, you could consider using popular hashtags such as #throwbackthursday or #eatingout - this will help you appear in the relevant search results.

Commenting and liking - You should engage with your audience by replying when they comment on your posts. You can ‘pin’ up to three comments to the top of a comment thread on your post, allowing you to highlight positive comments about your brand. You can build your presence on Instagram by commenting and liking posts from other brands and influencer accounts.

Link in bio - your Instagram bio is one of the few places you can include a link to your website or online shop. You can make the most of it by linking to a landing page that lists relevant links for your posts. There are online tools available to help you create these landing pages. 

Tagging - Consider including the location of your photo or video if appropriate. This helps to promote the location of your business. You can also use the 'Invite Collaborator' feature to tag accounts in your image when they will help you reach a broader audience.

Image tools - Edit your images with photographic filters and other image editing tools available in the Instagram app. These effects give images a distinct look that people often respond to. There are also a number of third-party apps available that can add extra filters or create collages.

Stories - Instagram has a 'story' feature that allows you to upload temporary images and videos that appear for 24 hours. You can add permanent story ‘highlights’ on your profile. There is a range of editing features you can add to your stories such as geolocation tags, text, stickers and filters. You can drive audience engagement by using features such as polls, question boxes, quizzes and sliders which encourage users to interact with your content.  Business accounts with over 10,000 followers can add ‘swipe up’ links to their stories. 

Live - You can also broadcast live videos. Your followers will get a push notification that you have started a live broadcast. Users can interact with your broadcast in real-time. 

Shopping - Businesses can tag products available to buy online in posts and stories, as well as having an “Instagram Shop” tab on their profile to showcase products. This presents opportunities for e-commerce businesses to secure sales within the Instagram app. 

Direct messaging - Instagram direct enables users to send private messages, photos and videos directly to each other. It also allows users to respond to stories - this is an opportunity to engage with your audience. 

Reels - Instagram Reels allow you to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. They can be shared with your own followers as well as the wider Instagram audience. Reels can help reach a new, wider audience.

IGTV - IGTV allows you to share videos up to an hour long. This is ideal for content such as interviews and tutorials. 

Advertising on Instagram

Alongside opportunities for organic content marketing and engagement, you can also pay to advertise on Instagram. There is a wide range of formats and types of placement for Instagram advertising that you can choose based on your goals. As with most social media advertising, you can select specific targeted audiences for your ads.