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Understanding How and Why to Use Instagram for Business

How and Why to Use Instagram for Business

Social Media

Understanding How and Why to Use Instagram for Business

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…

We all have a substantial understanding of these social media and the advantages of using them for marketing your business.

But what about Instagram?

Did you know that Instagram is the fastest growing social medium? Contrary to what some believe, it is not just a site kids and celebrities visit to get an ego boost from posting endless selfies.

There are more than 600 million active users on Instagram everyday, averaging a total of 3.5 billion photo likes everyday (Instagram, 2016).

With those numbers, it should be no surprise that Instagram receives higher engagement than other sites. Yes, even including the infamous Facebook and Twitter.

That is why our founder, Derek, saw the vision to start The Modern Marketer on Instagram.

…of all places.

He wanted to hone in on a platform that had the core attention of the next generation of marketers, businessmen & women, professionals, executives and business owners.

Don’t believe me? WAYYY back in the first episode of The Modern Marketer show, he even said it. Watch the first 45 seconds:

Since then, we’ve built a community over over 30k people and have now reverse engineered that attention to the content you see on our website.

Here are a few reasons and ways Instagram can crush it for your business.

Instagram is Pioneering Visual Marketing

While content marketing is still superior, visual marketing is quickly becoming a contender. And Instagram is a visual marketing wonderland.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words then one could argue that Instagram has far more to offer than, say, Twitter—where you’re limited to 140 characters.

Between IG stories, Instagram Live, and normal posts, your business is covered on all interactive media fronts.

Instagram Live - The Modern Marketer Instagram Stories - The Modern Marketer Instagram Live Session Ended - The Modern Marketer

Iphone with Instagram account 046

This social media site gives users the ability to create a story with their visual content in a way that words alone can’t accomplish. Although, adding amazing content in your captions is half of the reason The Modern Marketer was able to retain so much attention over time.

Here’s the kicker: if you aren’t using all types of interactive media on Instagram, why are you even trying to use it. You have to keep up with the times and ESPECIALLY keep up with the platform. Instagram isn’t just offering live video and stories because it’s cool. It’s because it’s relevant. So take advantage of that.

Picking the Right Voice and Strategy On Instagram

Storytelling Centric Strategy

Some brands, like Nike, focus on their products. Or so it would seem…

Nike Instagram

This post on Instagram is simply a 20 second video where the innovators talk about the shoe. You don’t hear much about the features, or even see much of the shoe.

This is only 20 seconds—a glimpse at the product. This type of storytelling is value and entertainment based content.

That one video has garnered 1.7 million views and over 3,000 comments.

The first line of the caption reads “The future isn’t tomorrow. It’s today.”

The product sounds so cutting-edge that you almost have to learn more. Then Nike invites you to watch the full video by clicking the link in their bio.

Nike does a great job on Instagram revealing an enticing bite of their product and inviting you to learn more without really just posting pictures of the product and saying, “buy this…”

As you know, Derek is infamous for saying:

“The best marketers are salesmen and the best salesmen are storytellers.” -Derek Palizay

Community Centric Strategy

Some businesses make their brand on Instagram about community and company culture—like Starbucks.

Starbucks Instagram

Starbucks does a great job at optimizing their content in relevant posts like these. Holidays, like Martin Luther King Day, are good for positioning your business on social media as a real part of the community.

Not only does this post advocate for unity, but it also encourages volunteering within your community. Starbucks uniquely positions itself in this post as a coffee shop that supports volunteerism.

So how can you make the most of your marketing efforts with Instagram?

This largely depends on your marketing goals.

What kind of image do you want to put in people’s minds when they think of your business? With Instagram, the answer to this question is more literal than in other social media sites.

Hashtags: They’re Annoying, But…

Instagram has grown so quickly that it’s worth your time and effort to do research on keywords―kind of like your SEO keyword research.

No, LITERALLY like your SEO keyword research.

Hashtags are really just keywords with a “#” in front of them and of course people can search hashtags on Instagram. With that in mind, you want to know what hashtags are getting the most search volume and use those that are most relevant to your photos.

Or you could obsess over the organization of your content like Derek and create categorized groups of 30 hashtags for the content you publish:

Categorized hashtags for Instagram - The Modern Marketer

Unlike search engines, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post without being “penalized.” Keyword stuffing is not a crime on Instagram.

Side-note: And you don’t have to find a way to naturally squeeze them into the caption on your photo either. It’s acceptable practice on Instagram to list all your hashtags at the end of your caption or as the first comment under the caption.

The key, however, is relevancy. It’s still important to use hashtags that are relevant to your photo. You’re not doing yourself any favors by stuffing in all the currently popular hashtags if they aren’t relevant to your photo.

When your photo pops on a hashtag search and it’s irrelevant to the search, people will just scroll past it.

Don’t waste your energy with irrelevant hashtags.

You can also optimize your posts by asking your followers to use similar hashtags to get more exposure. Especially when you are holding a contest…

User Generated Content and Incentivizing Contests

Prizes are a great motivator on social media, but particularly on Instagram. Remember why Instagram users are there in the first place—the images.

This is such a great opportunity for branding.

Asking your followers to post “the best” photo with a particular hashtag by incentivizing it with a prize not only gets you more exposure but uniquely positions your business. Just like when we started giving away “V.O.E.” wristbands (which stands for “value over everything.”)

Contests and Giveaways on Instagram - The Modern Marketer

…or when Derek asks people to send in their best 60 second videos containing their best marketing tips to use as user generated content.

User Generated Content on Instagram - The Modern Marketer

…or when one of our clients creates #MillionsCon for her live conference and gets about 600 posts with that hashtag. That’s essentially like her audience just gave her content for the next several months! Lol.

Hashtag for an Event - The Modern Marketer

User-generated content and incentivizing contests on Instagram can truly help paint what your brand looks like. And when you pick a good hashtag to pair with the contest, anyone who searches that hashtag will likely discover your business.

Featuring Your Followers

“Sometimes, you don’t need to incentivize just so you can get something out of it. Sometimes, you don’t need to “leverage” people. Sometimes, you just need to show honor and respect to the people who are giving you their attention.” -Derek Palizay

Interacting with followers on any social media site is good, as it makes your brand more accessible. But the fact that Instagram is all about photos really makes interaction that much more personable.

Featuring your followers on Instagram not only makes them feel important and more motivated to support your brand, but it also motivates other followers to interact with you.

Who doesn’t like feeling important? Especially on Instagram.

Buffer does a wonderful job at featuring its followers by sharing customer stories.

Buffer Instagram screenshot

This stunning photo is credited to one of Buffer’s followers in the caption. It really gives the Buffer brand a community feel.

Since Buffer is all about social media management for digital nomads, images like these from community members really make the brand stand out.

Bonus: Tools for Managing Instagram

We wanted to share a few tools for helping you make the most out of Instagram. These are some of the best tools available for managing and analyzing Instagram at the time of this article.

Iconosquare – By far the best analytics software for Instagram. It’s essentially the Google Analytics of Instagram.

Hootsuite – Already know for being on of the most used social media management tools in existence, Hootsuite offers effective Instagram Management and analytics. The only issue we have with Hootsuite pertaining to Instagram is that it doesn’t automatically post. It sends a notification for your scheduled post, opens it in Instagram, and you have to approve and copy and paste your caption.

Sprout Social – While they don’t have a way to post to Instagram, their analytics platform and comment tracker are useful for breaking down the growth of your social channels including Instagram.

SEMRush – While SEMRush is a bit behind the game with social tools, if you’re looking for a great SEM software for research and development that has side tools like social analytics, this is a good “two birds with one stone” platform.

Onlypult – This is by far one of the most underrated Instagram tools out there. You can schedule your Instagram editorial calendar and it posts AUTOMATICALLY to your account. You can add filters, add your hashtags as the first comment after the caption automatically, and you can track analytics as well. Oh, let us not forget that you can manage multiple accounts in the same platform. In our opinion, their analytics are pretty weak, but the tool itself is the most powerful


Instagram brings customer experience to the visual forefront.

In this day and age of brand saturation, we are increasingly more likely to believe in a brand if we can visually see that it creates an experience we desire—rather than simply reading a review about a brand experience.

Additionally, with Instagram’s feature of only allowing hyperlinks within the bio of your profile, more high quality traffic is driven from Instagram. This is perhaps the most genuine of social media sites for customer leads because the user must put in so much effort to get them directed to your website.

Explore your options.

What is your goal in marketing? Think about how you can manifest that goal on Instagram. How can you transform your efforts visually?

Check out some of the top brands on Instagram today for more examples of the best Instagram usage:


Senior content strategist at DPA Marketing & Media. Marketing Specialist, Writer, and Tumbling Instructor. I have a love for travel and connecting with people all over the world.

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