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Facebook's purchase of Instagram for $1 billion was mocked at the time, now it's the fastest growing social network. We would imagine it's time for some skeptics to eat their own hats. We've put together this handy guide to help you get the most out of Instagram for business.

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’. Inspirational shots from far and wide and different travelling photographers.

Image of yellowstone national park by national geographic
Image of yellowstone national park by national geographic

Paris City Ballet- Beautiful behind the scenes shots of rehearsals and costumes.

Instagram image of paris city ballet at rehersal
Instagram image of paris city ballet at rehersal

Asos- Shots of ensembles and featured items from the Asos range, Asos provide what fashionistas want, which is fashion inspiration and lifestyle shots.

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.


Hashtag like nobody’s business, Instagram is the one social platform where using multiple hashtags won’t impact your engagement, in fact, the best engagement rates have been shown when using 11+ hashtags at a time!

Which hashtags should you choose?

Fortunately, Instagram is super nifty, in that it shows you the most popular hashtags in order. This is super helpful, however, it is important to not get lost in a world of popular or broad hashtags.

Remember, if a hashtag is popular, the longevity of your post is going to be quite short (and by this I mean that, if lots of people are posting using the same hashtag your post will quickly be pushed down the list).

Often these tags are very broad such as #love or #weekend, use these words by all means, but remember you can target your audience with more specific hashtags, even though they may be slightly less popular.

You need to create a post which has a balance of these popular hashtags and those hashtags that apply to your niche audience, and will ensure your post has long- term engagement.

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 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.

A great example is the case of the ‘Gilmore Girls revival’. During the run up to the sequel to the massively popular Gilmore Girls series followers were treated to backstage snaps of the cast, teasers to provoke speculation and more!

image of Gilmore girls TV show Instagram feed
image of Gilmore girls TV show Instagram feed

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.

Generally, the rule on social media is a ratio of 80/20% content posts/ sales related posts, stick to this to engage followers and grow your audience.


Which filter to use? With so much choice does one filter encourage engagement any more than another? Research has shown that warmer filters prove better engagement results. Elements like contrast and saturation can also have an effect on a post’s popularity.

In addition, some of the most liked photos on Instagram are often those with no filter. 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.