01-instagram-logoInstagram launched as a mobile application in October 2011.  Its focus was to provide a mobile social community to edit and share photos. By the end of the year, it had over 1 million users.

Bought by Facebook in early 2012, Instagram spent the next two years adding features and updating its interface. Today, Instagram has more than 150 million registered users, with over 100 million active each month.

Instagram for Business

Instagram offers an impressive market to expand brand engagement, especially since the majority of user interaction happens on a mobile device, allowing for engagement almost anywhere.  At its core, Instagram is a social experience acting as a catalyst for meaningful interaction, which, in turn, ideally converts into a long-term relationship with the brand.

Brands have increasingly started to take advantage of the social platform, with Instagram capturing 71 percent of the most recognized brands.  Of the top brands that utilize Instagram, 57 percent average one post per week, with 19 percent having audiences that exceed 100,000 followers.

With these numbers consistently growing, it’s clear that all brands share a huge opportunity to tap into this unique market.  Plus, with the recent addition of sponsored ads, they now have the opportunity for an even deeper engagement within the community.

Actionable Insights

Utilizing Instagram for Business

Instagram branding and engagement are free (except for sponsored ads), but can be time consuming.  Utilizing the techniques below can help minimize effort spent, while maximizing brand engagement.

  • Use quality photos/videos.  Utilizing high-quality photos and videos is the best way to get noticed and increase profile credibility.


  • Repurpose company advertising and marketing content. This is a great opportunity to add company campaign mediums that have been produced and to see how much engagement can be driven through a very cost-effective platform.
  • Post content regularly.  Frequent posting allows users to stay engaged and become familiar with the brand. However, avoid posting more than one piece of content per day. Oversaturation can drive users away.
  • Post timely content.  Whether it’s the holidays or another special time of the year, users are already thinking about it and engaged with the season.  Get in the spirit and use it to your advantage.
  • Use #hashtags.  Determine the best hashtags to use for each piece of content. Take advantage of trends and hot topics, but don’t get carried away.  Too many hashtags can look like spam and diminish the significance of the post. Typically, an appropriate amount is between one to five hashtags per post.  Complete ongoing testing to find the brand’s sweet spot.
  • Entice engagement.  Ask questions within the post to promote active engagement from users.
  • Engage with engagers.  Keep conversations flowing by engaging the users that engage with the brand by asking questions that encourage further interaction.
  • Create contests and giveaways.  Create a call-to-action, such as following the brand or liking or commenting on a post, to entice users and new followers.  Giveaways instructing users to post photos using a specific hashtag and awarding the top picks drives further engagement with the brand overall.
  • Consider sponsored ads.  Instagram users have been mostly open to the idea of 05-instagram-benandjerrys-sponsored-screenshotsponsored ads appearing in their feeds. This is because the content from branded businesses is typically high-quality and appealing. Therefore, users don’t mind seeing it. Using sponsored ads can be a great way to reach new followers and expand the brand’s community.
  • Utilize analytics.  Instagram analytics provide data and trending for each post, allowing a brand to view content performance and engagement within the account.
  • Connect and share with other social channels.  Instagram allows connection and sharing capabilities to a variety of other social channels, including Facebook and Twitter. Share Instagram posts throughout other social platforms to expand brand awareness.
  • Add Instagram features to the brand website.  Embedding photos and providing social link buttons can indicate that an Instagram account exists for the brand and promotes community expansion by obtaining new followers.

With more than 150 million users, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social platforms to date.  It is an important opportunity for businesses to promote their brands and expand their user community within a very cost-effective channel.