7 Tips for Promoting Your Business on Instagram

Instagram to promote your busines

Sara Collins

As social media marketing becomes increasingly important, business owners are turning from old-school advertising outlets (like TV and newspapers) to new and creative ways to promote their businesses.

A smart phone app called Instagram is making news and growing in popularity as a tool for business owners and individuals to share photos and videos with customers and followers and post them directly to Facebook and Twitter. (Facebook owns Instagram)

Use the Instagram Smart Phone App

A business can share relevant photos with their followers at any time through Instagram’s instant, media-sharing smartphone app. Instagram provides a platform for interaction with your fans and customers to promote your business and generate more traffic to your website. Instagram has 19 “filters” that enable you to edit and enhance your photos so they look very professional

Here are 7 tips to get you started:

1) Use Your Phone to Take Photos

Instead of taking photos with Instagram’s built-in camera feature use your smart phone’s camera. That way you can choose which photos to share on Instagram and you’re using your original photo instead of the one edited within Instagram’s camera. Use Instagram’s Camera Roll menu to upload your photos and then edit them with Instagram’s filters to create unique looks

2) Use Hashtags

Using hashtags and keywords in your Instagram photo captions is absolutely essential, as it allows you to be discovered by Instagram users. When brainstorming hashtags, think of words or phrases that are relevant to your business or photos. For example, if you’re a baker and you want to share an image of a tray of freshly baked cupcakes, use hashtags such as #vanillacupcakes, #freshbakedgoods or #frostedcupcakes. Use words and phrases you think Instagram users would search for. You can also use your business’s name and location as hashtags to help nearby customers track you down.

3) Tell a Story Through a Photo or Video Series

Share a story by starting a photo or video series. For example, take a photo of the beginning stages of a new product you’re creating. Share photos of the product’s daily or weekly progress so that your followers feel like they’re involved in its development. You could also take before and after photos of your new office building or distribute a photo of a product update. Instagram’s newest update now allows you to share up to 15 seconds of video on Instagram that you’ve previously recorded on your phone.

4) Encourage Customers to Share

Ask your customers to share photos of themselves using your products to gain invaluable word-of-mouth advertising. As Instagram allows instant media sharing, your business photos quickly go viral. Your customers will not only become your brand advocates, but Instagram will help you to build stronger relationships with them through social sharing.

5) Use Instagram for Contests

Instagram to share photos and videos to promote your businessBoost your business’ visibility with Instagram contests.  You could award a free product or gift certificate to the winner. Ask your customers to share photos of how they use your product or of them visiting your business location. Ask them to use hashtags or the @mention feature, so you can easily keep track of participants. Announce the rules for your contests, on Facebook applications or in a Google Doc, and link to it in the photo caption for your contest launch. (Also check that you’re in compliance with regulations concerning contests and sweepstakes).

6) Give Your Customers a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Your Business

From your employees to your office space, you can choose the parts of your business you want to share with your customers. Present a behind-the-scenes perspective to your followers. For example, if you own an organic cosmetics business, you will build customer trust if you share step-by-step photos of how you create a product.

7) Check Out What Other Businesses Are Doing

If you’re running low on photo-sharing ideas or just starting to use Instagram for your company, check out how other businesses are utilizing Instagram. A search of your keywords should help you locate your competitors. Think of photos you can create with Instagram to differentiate yourself.

Don’t be a copycat. Get ahead by creating new ways to present your products and services through the images you create on Instagram and share on Twitter and Facebook.

Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping readers learn about strategic investing.

Leave a Reply


  1. I am just starting to get my feet wet in Instagram and have yet to really use it. I think Instagram is a great outlet for social media since many people are visual. A great photo can go a long way. 🙂

  2. I haven’t really gotten into using instagram as I don’t know if it would be something that corporations would use as they are my audience. With that said I do like the idea of boosting business’ visibility with Instagram contests – I have done contests on Facebook so now I will have to look into instagrams.

    • Arleen — Instagram is another tool in your arsenal. You have so many promotional items that are visually interesting I’d think Instagram could be helpful in promoting your business.

    • Catarina — You don’t need to use the Instagram platform. You can simply use the app that enables you to enhance photos you take on your smart phone and then distribute to social media networks. But I can understand not wanting to take the time to learn one more thing.

  3. As an avid user of instagram, this is really great advice. Some that I’ve already put into practice actually. I’ve done artwork giveways that have brought me some heavy traffic and loyal followers who had never heard of me, but had seen my work on the web. I think I need to take your advice and utilize the video feature more often and get a little personal. I think it would help to humanize the work more. Great post, Sara!

    • Dennis — I’m not surprised that you’re using Instagram. You’re a designer and have the skills and creative eye to enhance your images. For you, it’s a great tool.

  4. I haven’t been on Instagram too long. I joined it because of it’s influence on Empire Avenue. I like the convenience of it with my iPhone. In particular I like they recently added video. But I don’t use it much. There are only so many hours in a day. Thank you Sara for making it sound easier. Thanks Jeannette for introducing Sara to us.

  5. I know I will get there eventually, but I’m not quite ready to take on Instagram. I imagine that when I do start using it, it would be amazing with Pinterest, as well as, Facebook and Twitter. I really like the options it gives you for managing your images.

    • Debra — I’m with you. It would be a nice tool to use to enhance images you post to Pinterest. I decided to drop out of Pinterest. I wasn’t active and now it’s one less thing to worry about!

  6. I have not yet used Instagram. Can anyone tell me what advantages there are to using it over Pinterest or Twitpic on Twitter? As others have said, I’m already on so many social media platforms. I can’t imagine managing yet another.

    • Doreen — You don’t need to use Instagram as a social media platform. It’s also a smart phone app that enables you to take a picture and then edit and enhance the image and distribute to social media networks like Pinterest. I think it would be great to use on your travels.

  7. I opened an account on Instagram a while ago. I have yet to login into or figure out what to do with it. You gave me some ideas, if only I were selling cupcakes! Maybe when I see my sushi restaurant owner I can suggest using the program to him. Or maybe I should try searching Instagram to see what other businesses are doing with it. That sounded useful.

    • Leora — I do think Instagram works best with consumer products. I guess I could take my own photos with my iPhone to use in my blog posts. But I am not that technically savvy or creative in designing special effects.

  8. Elizabeth — I think you just coined a new term: instagramer! If used properly, Instagram can really help promote your business.

  9. Dan — wow, imagine your Instagram pictures! The images you’re posting from your travels are already beautiful. Just think of what you do to further enhance them with Instagram.