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Social Media Blog

Using Instagram for your business

19th February 2016

Instagram is an increasingly popular app used for posting pictures or videos only. Users post an average of 70 million photos per day. It can be used to show off your amazing photography skills to the world or simply for posting fun photos for family and friends to see. With the option of a private or public page, it’s up to you who your audience is.

Each post consists of a square picture with a description underneath which can include hashtags and @mentions of other users. Other users have the option of liking and/or commenting on your photo. 

All of your posts will remain on your page in the order of when you posted them. You can also write a short Biography at the top to explain what you’re all about; this could include a link to your own website. 

Instagram for Business

Instagram has become an exciting platform for promoting businesses. Brands on Instagram post on average 5.5 times a week. So why do so many brands use it and what makes them successful?

Planning Your Page

Planning ahead and being conscious of the impression your photos give will help you create a professional and interesting looking profile which will encourage more people to follow you. 

Each time you post a new picture, remember the layout of the photos on your page and think about how they will look together.

So before you begin, have a think of the style of photos you’ll be posting and try to stick with it so that your pictures look cohesive and smart. For instance, you could have photos with similar colouring or the same background- an easy way to achieve this is to use the same filter. 

Scheduling your posts can be really useful to make the most of the channel. If you keep posting consistently then followers will rely on your Instagram as an updated, interesting source for information on your business. So if you’ve got some events coming up, plan how you’re going to use photos to promote it in an engaging and inspiring way. For example if your cafe is going to be selling some new Easter-themed cakes and drinks, in the build up to Easter start posting photos of them. Perhaps you could use a new hashtag and get your followers to use it when posting photos of their own Easter bakes.

Here are some interesting stats that might help you to get your photos more attention:

  • Photos that mention other users in the caption receive 56% More Engagement
  • Adding a Location in the caption results in 79% Higher Engagement
  • Using at least one hashtag in the caption will get your photo, on average, 12.6 % more engagement.

Interact with your Followers

A really effective way of engaging with other users is to hold competitions on your account. 

Simply posting a picture with a new, catchy hashtag and inviting others to post their own will begin an interaction with your potential customers. You then send a prize to the user with the best picture. A good example of a brand that has used this technique is Walkers, who held a competition to win an adventure holiday in order to promote their launch of their new Deep Ridged Crisps. They challenged users to post the best ‘epic’ photo with the caption “My #TwiceAsEpic entry for @walkers_crisps to win 1 of 10 EPIC adventures with Deep Ridged”. 

As well as planning in advance, it’s really important that you’re adaptable and spontaneous with some of your posts. Keeping up to date with what’s trending and including it in your posts will pull more people towards your page and shows that there is a genuine person behind your profile. 

When you’re stuck for ideas look to other successful users for inspiration. Reposting and tagging your favourite users could help you to build new relationships and lead to successful collaborations in the future. 

Promoting without Selling

The great thing about Instagram is that it is a more personal way of advertising your business. This platform can give people an idea of what goes on behind the scenes and they can use it to get to know and trust you as a brand. People will follow you if your photos connect with them, not because you’re pressuring them into buying. 

Here are a few ideas for posts that will spark interest without the sales pitch…  

  • Customer stories
  • What inspires you?
  • Behind the scenes
  • TBT (Throw-back Thursday)
  • A how-to clip 
  • Famous quotes

Success for Traditional Businesses

These are few examples of traditional businesses that have used Instagram as a highly effective marketing tool:

  • @btpcafes - Boston Tea Party is an independent company that has under 20 cafés throughout Britain.

Whilst working hard to build on their success by expanding with more cafés opening across the UK, they strive to sustain their reputation as a traditional, homely, local cafe. By investing in the relationships they make within the community each café is personal to the local area.

The high quality food and rustic feel of the café is reflected in the photos they post.

Their photos capture genuine moments of families relaxing and enjoying the beautiful, rural farm holiday setting.

Using customer reviews in the caption is an effective technique to advertise in an emotional way.

  • @merkinsfarm – “Award Winning Cafe, Award Winning Holiday Cottages, & a Campsite.”

Based in Bradford-On-Avon, this farm Holiday Camp offers family-friendly holidays in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside. Scrolling through vibrant photos of a vintage café and snapshots of the rural scenery leaves people longing not only for a Merkins farm holiday but a Merkins farm lifestyle.

  • @lootvintageuk – An edgy vintage clothes warehouse based in Bristol, also available online on ASOS Marketplace. This company is dedicated to hand picking only good quality, preloved items to sell on.

Anyone with a love for retro style will be drawn to this brightly-coloured and kooky profile for inspiration.