How to Market Your Business with Instagram

Instagram isn't just a fun way to make your photos look old. It's also a great business marketing tool. Guest writer Diane Thieke has 6 ways to incorporate Instagram into your brand strategy. 

Diane S. Thieke
December 7, 2012

How to Market Your Business with Instagram

We are a visual society, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows internet memes even from a far distance. Be honest: how many cat pictures have you looked at this year? (Mashable’s Crappy Holidays Grumpy Cat photos are both cute and funny.) 

Beyond the cats, there are better reasons to incorporate photos into your digital marketing strategy. Both photos and videos are shared more often than links or text, and they encourage more fan and follower engagement. 

See also: Which Social Media Networks Are Best for Marketing?

This is a prime reason that Facebook bought Instagram earlier this year for $1 billion, even though the company was less than two years old. The mobile app (you can download it for iOS and Android) is a hit with users because it’s simple to use and offers a lot of room for creativity. 

What separates Instagram from other photo apps is that it allows users to tinker with their photos in fun ways. You can add filters, create borders, and blur sections. For example, I can use the 1977 filter to get that old Polaroid feel – and turn my modern appliances into throwbacks. 

The possibilities for creativity are endless—and so is the potential for visual storytelling, which is the most powerful form of content marketing. Businesses can use Instagram to tell who they are through photos, potentially building deeper connections and accentuating what makes them unique.

Consider Starbucks, for example. Their Instagram stream isn’t just a collection of coffee cup photos. It puts those cups in the context of a dreamy lifestyle. Here’s a cup sitting on a dock, by the pool, at work, and playing Scrabble. 

Here are 6 ways to use Instagram to share your story with the world:

1. Tell a good story. Create a series of images that explains your business and how it benefits the customer. For example, an organic dairy can document the trip its yogurt makes from the farm to the grocery store – and even into the consumer’s home. 

2. Go behind the scenes. Today, business is personal. Customers prefer to buy from people. Don’t be afraid to introduce buyers to the people who make your business tick. 

3. Put a badge on your website. Instagram has just launched new profile badges that make it easy to promote your photos across the Web. They’re similar to the ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter buttons and can be placed on your website or blog.

4. Share with other social networks. Connect Instagram with your other social accounts such as Facebook, Tumblr, or Flickr. This allows you to distribute your story more widely.

5. Use geo-tagging. If you have a physical location, be sure to add your photo to your photo map. This will promote the location of your business with each photo you share. Who doesn’t want more customers walking in the door?

6. Create a hashtag. Just like on Twitter, hashtags are a way to follow specific topics or conversations on Instagram. Invent one that is unique to your business story, then people can follow and participate as you unfold your tale, little by little.

Diane S. Thieke is the president and founder of Simply Talk Media, a digital media marketing consultancy. With more than 25 years in digital media and technology, she helps clients build stronger relationships with their customers and communities, using both social and traditional channels. Follow her on Twitter at @thiekeds or visit her blog at www.simplytalkmedia.com/blog.