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Instagram can be used for a lot more than just pictures of food or filtered lifestyle snaps. Depending on your business, it can be a key tool to your social media strategy.

Users love the simplicity of Instagram and the active community, but if you can’t quite ‘picture’ how you would even begin to use Instagram for business, take a look at some of these top companies that are already doing it well:

  • National Geographic – the first brand to start using Instagram as a ‘brand partner’.
  • Starbucks – their account is mostly controlled by followers, contributing their images of their coffees.
  • Free People and Bonobos – both clothing brands ask their followers to contribute images of themselves as the models.

These brands are great inspiration and excellent examples of encouraging followers to participate. After all that is the basis of having an Instagram account, users taking snaps of their experiences and sharing them.

With this in mind, we have put together a few points that should help kick start any Instagram campaign.

Research your audience

To begin with, identify your audience: who they are, what times they are likely to be online, and what type of content they respond to. Use information collected from other social media campaigns to help with this. Then explore which hashtags you should use to really target users.

Like and follow

It’s important to engage with both existing and potential followers through liking and commenting. Also, target industry leaders, use their audience and draw inspiration from what they are posting and how they are interacting with their followers.

Engage and reward

Engage with and most importantly reward followers. This is simply providing them with interesting content and the opportunity to get involved. Include competitions to start a dialogue with your audience.

Followers do not want to see static images of products or a repetition of what’s on Facebook or Twitter, take sneaky behind the scenes snaps, reward followers by making them feel like they are getting VIP access to your brand.

Another great way to engage your followers is to encourage users to participate in collaborative projects, a fantastic example of this is the 365 ‘a photo a day’ project, whereby users pledge to take at least one photo a day for a year using the hashtag: #365project.

What to post

Instagram users will not respond to advertising and sales posts and photos, Instagram is a community of sharing and creativity. Have fun with your brand and events! Don’t be overly professional, take photos of nights out with the team, show your more relaxed side to followers and they will respond.


Which filter to use? With so much choice does one filter encourage engagement any more than another? According to a study by TrackMaven, Mayfair is the most popular filter, closely followed by photographs with no filter at all. Surprised? We were too!

Don’t be afraid to post photos with no filter, if your photos are great without a filter your audience will appreciate that you have shared something with them that is 100% natural. Below is a breakdown of brand’s favourite filters (from Simply Measured).

Lexus and Instagram

A great case study on how Instagram has been used for business comes from car manufacturer Lexus. They used 212 instagrammers to take individual shots and add their own filters to create a stop motion film. The instagrammers were asked to upload their images to Instagram using the hashtag #Lexusinstafilm. A pro example of user engagement. Take a look at the video!

Inspired? Great, now get out there and have some fun!