Instagram for business?

Instagram is Facebook for teenagers. At least, that is what I heard. Demographics seem to (at least partly) disagree. At Yoast, we started to actively use Instagram for business a few months ago. When it comes to sharing personal photos, Instagram is a great way to do so.

In this post, I will explain what I think Instagram for business is, who should or could use it and why we don’t use it much in our own social marketing efforts. Yet.

Why use Instagram for business

Business.instagram.com has some case studies you might want to read. As our business is different from the businesses highlighted, I did some more digging into the active brands on Instagram and roughly found four different kind of businesses on Instagram:

Product showcases

This seems to be obvious, but if you have a physical product, get your Instagram account now and start photographing. Like Pinterest marketing, Instagram for business will make your product shareable and visible on yet another social platform. Inform the community of new products or show off your spring collection in advance (sneak preview).

Examples:

Great photography is part of your business

That seems like an odd one, but we all expect National Geographic to share nicer photos than Barney’s Car Repair. If your business consists of great photos already, please do share them on Instagram as well, as we really want to see these. Personally I think that any background information provided with great photos makes them come alive even more. When your main business is great articles and awesome photos, Instagram is definitely right for your business.

Examples:

By the way, if you are a photographer, also be sure to read this post about Photography SEO we did.

Community oriented brands

If your business has an active, outgoing community, be sure to use Instagram for business. If you can get that community involved, for instance using Instagram contests, you can easily grow your social following on Instagram even more. Larger brands like Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s leverage that community very well in Instagram.

Examples:

Personal branding

Although most businesses won’t be able to relate to these, Instagram is used a lot by celebrities, of course. Justin Bieber gets 60K+ comments for just sticking his tongue out. But that’s not our business…

Examples:

Next to the obvious photographers, I am sure you can come up with more businesses that will do well on Instagram, but these are the four main groups I found. A number of weeks ago, Instagram announced they have over 500 million accounts at the moment. Regardless of how active these accounts are, with over 70 million photos and videos shared every day, that’s a lot. Period.

Using Instagram for business

The common thread of all Instagram business profiles seems to be either great photography or a mix of business (product photos) and fun (either funny images or happy employee pictures). I totally agree with Kevan Lee from Buffer, who mentions these important Instagram for business guidelines:

  1. Post consistently, but avoid being pushy.
  2. Show what others can do with your product, not just the product.

Keep in mind that Facebook, that acquired Instagram in 2012, still has a much larger user base. Sharing your Instagram efforts on Facebook as well seems to pay off as a result of that. Besides the easy ‘mixing’ of Facebook and Instagram for business purposes, Facebook also repeats the hashtags created on Instagram.

Hashtags in Instagram

These hashtags are very valuable. In fact, you can’t go wrong with these. In the same article, Kevan mentions a finding (after testing) by Max Woolfe: The more hashtags you use, the more likes your photo will get. The article states that: “Instagram photos which have the maximum of 30 #tags receive, on average, about three times as many Likes than photos with only a few tags.”
Now I don’t want to encourage you to add 30 hashtags to every image – I like less tags for better user experience – but it does seem to work. In the image based setup of the social platform, Instagram might be less easy to browse and relies a bit more on hashtags because of that. But that is just me thinking out loud. Bottom line: use hashtags.

Instagram for your consultancy business

Like Pinterest, Instagram is about visualisation of your company. Some brands and products are easy to promote via Instagram, others seem less likely to succeed in this. Do we use Instagram at Yoast? Hardly.

User stats of Instagram

  • 55% of 18-29 yo people use Instagram
  • 28% of 30-49 yo people use Instagram
  • 11% of 50-64 yo people use Instagram

Of all internet users, around 28% uses Instagram.

Source: Pewinternet.org

Although our target audience might be on Instagram, Facebook remains a very effective and perhaps easier to turn to platform to reach that audience (due to reach, experience, etc). But we do realize that the ease of posting on Instagram, Facebook developing the tool, growth of use and celebrities and big brands using it actively, Instagram for business could be / is the next big thing.

Thibault Davoult from Nitrogram wrote a very nice article: The 5 Biggest Misconceptions About Using Instagram for Business. I had all these arguments about why we don’t actively use Instagram and he basically killed all the arguments in that one post. Be sure to read it when you feel that your product, like ours, files under ‘unsexy’. The only remaining reason is that it isn’t in our regular social media system. Yet.

Convince me.

Convince me on how to incorporate Instagram in our social media strategy. Should consultancy companies, or software companies for that matter, fill their own Instagram feed and how? What kind of images would you be interested in from Yoast, for instance?

If you are a self-proclaimed Instagram for business guru, I trust you will have some insights for us. Looking forward to these!

Read more: Use Social Media to increase your sales »


24 Responses to Instagram for business?

  1. Fred
    Fred  • 6 years ago

    I see Instagram as an app for kids who want to share their lifes on the go. There are many ways to post lnstagram pictures to a blog but not a single way that I know of to autopost from WordPress to Instagram. I can imagine using IFTTT or something to grab the first image from a blog post, throw it to Dropbox on a phone and let the user manually upload it to Instagram and maybe apply one of those ugly boring Instagram filters. But will it link back to the blog post and use the blog tags as hashtags? No. It may be worth the effort for a big brand but I see no point in using Instagram to promote a small business. Please correct me if I am mistaken. I have a visually attractive blog and if only I could easily promote it on Instagram, I would.

  2. Sabine
    Sabine  • 6 years ago

    In my previous job, travel, instagram is an obvious choice: How better to convey a feeling (which is what you’re buying, with a holiday) than images? @germanytourism is a good example. Not just pictures, but also video.

    Current job is for a e-retailer that sells instruments, DJ gear, headphones, microphones etc. Obviously that is a very young (and very male) userbase, who interact suprisingly well and often on IG as compared to FB or twitter. Ex: http://instagram.com/p/xL4Sc5Aend

    We also monitor the brand hashtag because people are quick to upload their arrived orders, and luckily post it including the (branded) box. People act happily suprised you saw and liked their post.

    The thing I want to start in the future and would be the angle for you, is doing 15 second product reviews / unboxing vids. For yoast that would be “how to do settings for your Social channels in the SEO plugin” or whatever.

    Our youtube channel has a plethora of explanations in the 8-20 minute range which are viewed a lot, but by people who are already very expert. Cutting it back to 15 seconds would give a very concise explanation, leaving them wanting for more.

    To be honest though, we did 2 or 3 regram & win actions, and that is the thing that generated a lot of fans. Same story, different platform.

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Nice addition, Sabine – thanks :)

      And thanks for the 15 second tip as well, might indeed be something to look into..

  3. MF Simchock
    MF Simchock  • 6 years ago

    Kinda ironic that the author’s bio widget doesn’t have an Instagram icon, nor do I see one for the site hosting the article. Just sayin’ :)

    Continuing on with my contrarian tilt (atm), Mark Cuban once a said:

    ” If you’re looking where everybody else is looking, you’re looking in the wrong spot.”

    Nuff said.

    Do I believe Instagram might have its place in a brand’s / product’s marketing efforts? Of course I do. But I have to wonder about the strength of an article for business that uses Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Miley “Twerk” Cyrus as examples. Really? (And how many of those follower are real and/or active?)

    Fact: These sites / platforms skew youth heavy. Who else has time to, say, watch YouTube vids all day? The quantity of follower counts is so 20th century. Are we gonna count “hits” now too? When are we going to talk about quality (of followers and fit)?

    The question is not: Where is everyone?

    The question is: Where is the best place to put our efforts to achieve our goals?

    The question is not always: Where should we be seen?

    The question sometimes can be: Where should we *not* be seen?

    Does being on (e.g.) Instagram make you unique? Or are you simply commoditizing your brand in order provide free content that someone else can monetize?

    Note: I’m not signing off on all of the above ideas. I’m just trying to provide some relevant / alt context for those who are thinking, “Maybe there’s a better way?” That said, I would argue that often there probably is. It might not always be the easy way, but “no pain, no gain,” right?

    — Linky to Cuban article:

    http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/ESQ1206BBCUBAN_182_1

  4. Vincent
    Vincent  • 6 years ago

    I haven’t used instagram before. After reading this post, I think it is really a good stard to do some business on instagram.

  5. Florian
    Florian  • 6 years ago

    Hello ! Nice posts ! I got the chance to make a lecture on the same topics some months back.

    If you need some more info I made a small post and slideshare :)

    http://www.joomgeek.com/blog/dubai-lecture-instagram-for-business.html

    Hope it’ll help !

  6. SunshineStateStoner
    SunshineStateStoner  • 6 years ago

    You don’t just have to post pictures and hope to build a following like some are suggesting.. Like you said, there are a tons of businesses that fall into your 4 categories. I’m sure a majority of them need some help with seo; Shit, you’d be surprised at how many small companies are starting on instagram without even making a website! As soon as they have websites they need SEO, and if they have an seo guru theyve been following posting some promotional screenshots and basic pictures you are the man they would go to. If you need a good hint on how to target and automate some actions once the page is set up shoot me an email!
    Shoot me an email anyway, i just installed your plugin and I need some assistance

  7. Mihai Pintilie
    Mihai Pintilie  • 6 years ago

    The use of Instagram for business depends mainly on the advertiser’s strategy. It’s a promotion channel which favors the creativity which in the end might be positive in the relationship in the customer. On the other hand it requires resources for creativity is not at everybody’s hands.

  8. Lee Thomas
    Lee Thomas  • 6 years ago

    I think consultancy businesses and many of that type that can sometimes having somewhat of a ‘boring’ reputation have the largest opportunity for platforms like Instagram.

    As Chris rightly mentioned above it adds a human level of interaction with your audience – whilst your point about regular peanut sandwiches is valid, I feel that you are not giving your imagination enough credit :)

    If there truly isn’t anything fun going or interesting going on in your office the maybe this is the first thing you should look at changing :) After all, a fun work environment produces more creative and effective work. Just think, you could even be a fun inspiration to offices everywhere ;)

    I have got my eye on a Socialmatic camera already for that exact reason, Michiel!

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Hahaha, good point, Lee :) We actually have a lot of fun and do interesting things in our office. Now we just have to think about how to make that into photos..!

      Yeah, the socialmatic looks nice. I just don’t get/need the print option :P

  9. Nigel Abery
    Nigel Abery  • 6 years ago

    I am with Tiziano above. The only photo friendly part for me would be happy customers with their financed purchases.

  10. Tiziano
    Tiziano  • 6 years ago

    I don’t see Instagram as another social option for our business (but please convice me of the opposite). We have a consultancy business (tax advice, business consulting, etc…) therefore no products to picture except a lot of papers. How could Instagram be used for it?

  11. Adam McIntyre
    Adam McIntyre  • 6 years ago

    My buddy over at FilterGrade is getting his teeth into Instagram marketing and with just a small following it is already paying off.

    I choose not to use Instagram for business purposes for reasons you’ve mentioned.

    Though we may have ‘unsexy’ products, we still have customers, readers and site users.

    Posting everyday photos on platforms like Instagram can be a great way for your biggest fans to get an insight into your life.

    I personally choose to use Facebook for my personal branding (garnering followers etc), but then I also share my Instagram photos to Facebook too.

    I never use these channels to plug products, but I do use them to show my fans that I am in fact a regular guy with an honest Joe product.

    I think it works -_-

    • Michiel Heijmans

      I think you are spot on by using it that way. That could indeed be a way of using Instagram, and definitely a way we’ll keep in mind. Like giving the company a face – although I think we did a nice job on that already :)

  12. Ms Terry Ash
    Ms Terry Ash  • 6 years ago

    I plan on utilizing Instagram at website launch. Photos of working; using free online cartoon software to create the brand persona adventures; photos of happy customers; launch coupon photos; etc. I am doing consultancy, info video products, training, and maybe some coaching in the future.

  13. chris
    chris  • 6 years ago

    You guys could use your IG for posting pics from around the ofoffice. It doesn’t need to be heavily work/product related but rather a way to connect on a more human level with your clients like eaely morning pics of someone who looks like they just crawled out of bed… that epic shot of coffee, all kinds if stuff.. juat post pics that relate with your clients, entrepreneurs, development and design etc.. its all about just connecting with people who relate with your team.

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Thanks for your response. Totally agree. The thing is that I can’t predict what the expire time of that is. How long will random pictures of people in front of a computer will be attractive for the community :)

      I wonder if there are case studies. I can imagine that larger (more people) offices can create more variety in that. Every day another image of my peanut butter sandwich..? I’d get bored :) But it is a nice challenge, of course. Perhaps having a socialmatic camera lying around in the office will encourage interesting pictures :)

  14. Sia
    Sia  • 6 years ago

    I strongly agree with you that Instagram can be a powerful tool for businesses. We’ve noticed a huge boost in daily direct traffic from when we started to professionally photograph our products in life-like real situations and post them on a constant daily basis on Instagram.
    We also observed a stable growth in the number of likes and followers. And I have to say it wasn’t only for brand awareness, we also managed to get a positive ROI the channel with some profile optimisation and a dedicated mobile friendly landing page.
    The most difficult task when it comes to using Instagram for business is the lack of proper tools for monitoring the traffic and also some guess work when it comes to assigning website conversions to IG as a source, because most of traffic will come in the form of direct traffic and the only place that links are allowed are in profile Bio.

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Nice to hear and a really nice collection on instagram. I totally get the effect of products in their ‘natural habitat’ as mentioned in the article as well. Yours makes a great example. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hunny Champ
    Hunny Champ  • 6 years ago

    We do see a lot of product based business leveraging on Instagram’s platform and growing exponentially even without a proper website.
    That being said, I can’t really say how a service or consultancy business could reach out better to users by using Instagram. Other than Instagram only coupons :D

  16. Amie
    Amie  • 6 years ago

    We just started using Instagram for business a few weeks ago. We are in a very “unsexy” space (senior care), but have been pleasantly surprised at the interaction that has already occurred. It’s another tool to enhance our message, and visual seems to speak to people. Thanks for the great post, as always!

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Thanks for your comment, Amie :) I think it all depends on the scale of your business as well, don’t you think? It’s clear that you just started, and all interaction will make you enthusiastic, of course. Keep that up! Looking forward to your thoughts and experiences in six months!

  17. Cik TudungSiComel
    Cik TudungSiComel  • 6 years ago

    Thanks for the info. We also started to utilize Instagram but not focus on selling. Just sharing and building followers

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Let me know how you transit someday to making money of it, would love to hear your story!