Cool Ways to Show Off Your Business With Instagram

Instagram for business

Hey, Instagram is not just for 15-year-olds. Everyone likes pretty pictures.

That said, it’s true that the people who use the platform most tend to be teens and 20-somethings. But you know what’s great about them? They have disposable income, are easily distracted by shiny things and love to overshare.

I can say this because I’m one of them – hi – and I’ve thought a lot about how a business can benefit from our habits on Instagram. These are just a few ideas I’ve seen used successfully, so bite your tongue and get ‘gramming.

N.B. Don’t ever say ‘gramming, OK?

Show what you can DO with your product, not the product itself

A daily picture of treats from your range of garden tools would get dull pretty quick, no? But what about the gardens they help make beautiful? Because Instagram is so visual, it’s also very aspirational. People like looking at photos of things they wish were theirs.

Look at Pilot Pen’s Instagram feed. It’s full of the fab drawings people have done with their pens. So that’s not only making their community feel good – it’s also showing what YOU could do if only you had a Pilot Pen.

Pilot Pen on Instagram

Pilot Pen on Instagram

Give shout outs to your community

Oooooh, we love a mention don’t we? It makes us feel good when someone shows appreciation for something we’ve done. This is heightened on Instagram, where you’re putting your visual life out into the world for instant judgement.

A way to tap into this is to follow your followers and show you like what they’re about. Choose a photo a week from your community and regram it with a comment and their tag. I’d ask first – you can use Instagram’s message function for this – but I doubt you’d find many people unwilling to bask in some attention!

Tip: Instagram doesn’t have a reposting function like Twitter does, so you need an external app if you don’t want to be screenshotting all the time. Try Regram (iOS) or InstaRepost (Android) – they’re free.

Starbucks do this very well. For some reason, the act of buying a coffee makes people want to take hipster photos, so it’s a natural fit for Starbucks to share their followers’ images. For no cost and minimum effort. Clever.

Starbucks on Instagram

Starbucks on Instagram

Take advantage of hashtag trends

The phrase ‘hashtag trends’ makes me want to pull my own face off but this is a really easy way to think up ideas for content.


#tbt or Throwback Thursday is a chance for you to Instagram old company photos. If you’ve got anything ‘vintage’ looking or just hilarious, whack a grainy filter on it and show some company history. #fbf (Flashback Friday) is also a thing so you get two bites at the apple.

#ootd or Outfit of the Day would be a great one to parody. I’m seeing a fancy dress shop, with staff willing to put on something silly every day. Please do it, someone.

Follow your followers and you’ll be able to keep up with what hashtags are being used constantly. Some stick around ages but some are topical and you need to jump on them…and STOP when your followers stop.

Launch products exclusively on Instagram

Probably not the one for you if you sell mainly tubing products. But if you do anything that’s nice to look at, a few days of teaser material (closeups of the product, or artsy videos of the preparation you’re doing) and then a big deal reveal is a nice way to build a bit of hype.

Oscar de la Renta on Instagram

Oscar de la Renta on Instagram

Work with influencers

There are people on Instagram with millions of followers who do nothing but post pictures of their lives. These people have huge influence – thousands of people like their photo of a doughnut within minutes of posting, then ask over and over where they can buy that doughnut.

Do people buy because of Instagram? Yes. Social isn’t often seen as a place to get direct ROI but I have personally bought products because I saw them on Instagram and I have spotted this habit everywhere since lifestyle blogging got really big. Certain influencers get a product and suddenly it’s everywhere, ubiquitous. Being able to copy the people we admire is a big part of Instagram and Pinterest’s popularity.

So product placement does work. However, the big guys are inundated with free stuff so they’re probably not the ones to go for. Think about the niche ‘celebrities’ in your industry and look them up. You might be surprised who’s on Instagram.

Luanna on Instagram

Lua on Instagram

Run hashtag contests

Take advantage of Instagram users’ need to share and offer a small reward for doing so. Example: you’re an online DIY store. Summer’s coming. You want to get people conscious of your existence in time for the great garden spruce-up.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Announce the competition with an example entry and the rules of the game: “Share your #DIYdisaster to win £500 towards doing it properly.”
  2. Like, comment on and regram entries to encourage engagement from your followers and the entrants’ followers
  3. Post more of your own examples – with the hashtag every time!
  4. Pick a winner and regram their entry with the announcement
  5. Ask the winner to Instagram their finished DIY project looking beautiful – photograph it yourself if you have to
  6. Post the final winner picture with the hashtag to show people the kind of awesome they can expect from you

Check out my last post on how to do more content marketing for more ways to get your brand out there.

Instagram may be the home of under-30s but that doesn’t mean your company doesn’t belong. Engage! Click To Tweet