Instagram: Just For Fun or Savvy Business Move?

Instagram has 200 million active users each month. Visit now to learn all about setting up a successful feed for your customers.
InstagramA picture says a thousand words; just ask Instagram. From the first kiss as bride and groom to a child’s first steps, a memorable lobster dinner to a skydiving adventure – we are capturing all of life’s most notable (or just photogenic) moments in a socially shared collage. With all these exciting personal mementos on Instagram, you may wonder if there’s room for your business in that feed? Or, even if people want see your brand on their mobile screens intermingled with their friends and family? Wonder no more, the answer is yes.

Instagram is today’s social media hot spot

Instagram has 200 million active users each month. These users spend an average of 257 minutes per month on the site, and upload an average of 55 million photos every day. In fact, Instagram engagement is 15 times greater than engagement levels on Facebook. Want proof? There are 8,500 likes and 1,000 comments per second on Instagram. It’s no wonder that brands are flocking here!

As it stands right now, brands are posting about 5.5 times a week, with 43% of brands posting more than once a day. Just recently, an L2 study analyzed 249 “prestige brands.” It found that 93% of these prestige brands use Instagram – a pretty substantial jump from the 63% in July 2013.

Within the 10 largest Instagram brand communities, retail and fashion brands are the most common. Along the same lines, beauty brands are currently the fastest growing industry on Instagram and nab the highest levels of engagement. Experts say this is understandable since these industries are extremely visual and appeal directly to women (the majority Instagram demographic). However, you don’t need to be in these industries to discover the benefits of this popular platform. All brands can benefit from a presence on Instagram – if you have the right approach.

Pictures with a purpose

Before you start posting too many of your snapshots, let people know you’re there. Point your customers in the right direction by including a link to your Instagram account on all your major touch points including website, Facebook, and Twitter.

All work and no play make Instagram a dull experience

The most important rule when posting to Instagram is to remember to post a healthy mix of business-related pictures with fun images. After all, who wants to see your products and boardroom meeting shots over and over again? Sprinkle in entertaining pictures when the opportunity presents itself (i.e. a wheelbarrow race at your company picnic, a double rainbow outside your office window – really anything interesting goes), and invite your followers into the story. When your brand builds itself with more intriguing layers, people want to know more. This engagement can translate into profit.

Pay attention to your followers

As you earn more followers, take note of who is choosing you. Is there a demographic that keeps reappearing? How many of these people should you follow back? What industry leaders/people should you seek out to follow first in order to build your following? And, who should be in charge of monitoring the comments you receive and responding directly back to some of these people on a daily basis? These questions should all be asked (and answered) before you sign up for an account.

Loyalty begins with reward

How can you reward your followers? Think about what special promotions, incentives, and offers that you can gift to your followers. Something as simple as an exclusive free shipping promo code (that isn’t even posted on your website) may secure some followers for life. This is a great platform to give direct value to your most important customers.

Plan ahead

It can be challenging to keep your Instagram feed fresh and exciting, especially when you “need” to come up with something quick. To avoid that common pitfall, try and map out a posting calendar of some great picture ideas that you think will really resonate with your audience. You can also keep your brand in the mainstream conversation by paying attention to trending hashtags – as long as they’re relevant to your business.

Post videos

If you have a story to tell that can’t be captured by picture, film a video. Instagram has a 15-second, filter-enabled, editable video functionality. Make sure your content is really worth filming and brings something memorable to the table. If it’s truly must-watch material, it just might go viral.

Is it time for your first photo story?

Instagram allows your brand to cultivate a deeper personality with the customers that want to know you better. Through your photos, videos, and words, your brand has the ability to share something new everyday. With that, grab your camera, go forth, and tell your story.

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Hemley, Debbie. “26 Tips for Using Instagram for Business.” Social Media Examiner. September 10, 2013.

Herman, Jenn. “Instagram Statistics for 2014.” Jenn’s Trends in Social Media Management. February 17, 2014.

Smith, Craig. “By the Numbers: 80 Interesting Instagram Statistics.” Digital Marketing Ramblings. March 6, 2014.


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