Using Instagram For Business

I recently had a request asking me how Instagram can be used for business. Because I think very highly of this person (wink-wink-nod-nod), I decided to enlighten small businesses, entrepreneurs, and organizations on how they can best use this social medium.  Instagram is great for novice photo and video takers to get a final product that looks professional. It is an app that can be downloaded for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. They currently have 200 million active users per month, 20 billion photos shared, 1.6 billion likes daily, and 60 million average photos posted per day. Recently, Instagram updated their editing tools to extend their capabilities and give users more enhanced and user friendly tools.

Here are three areas I believe businesses should focus on with Instagram:


Depending on your product, it may be difficult to physically show or tell your potential customers about it. Instagram allows you and your followers to come up with creative and useful ways for your products. A great example of this is Redbox. They brand their business while giving customers/followers reasons to go and rent movies. They use emotion to reconnect you with classic movies and tag lines to get you to want to rent their movies. As customers, we are always looking for a deal or a reason we NEED something. For most businesses, Instagram is about telling their story VISUALLY. We need to put a face to the business or an icon to the name. Instagram allows us to do this and not only with images, but with short video clips as well.



Many of you know I live and breathe by the #hashtag. Hashtags are a great extension of your business and brand, but they also allow you to capitalize on a smaller niche group of consumers. The use of hashtags can give businesses a great deal of insight on their business and their competitors (See previous article on Hashtags). Instagram works in the same traditional sense. There are key hashtags used on Instagram that optimize your chances of being liked and your business follows. Some examples are: #Smile | #love | #instagood | #tbt | #followme |#selfie

Using key trending hashtags allows you to grow your following, but be careful. Remember, the goal of building your brand is building it for the right PAYING customers. There is a lot of value in the number of people that follow you, but the ROI (Return On Investment) should be at the forefront of your Social Media marketing plan.

Have fun with existing hashtags, but be creative and develop one for your business. We branded #TurnTheLightBulbOn for Harness TechED to show how we can help businesses with their digital marketing. One element of our hashtag that I decided to overlook was its length. It should be shorter, but I felt we could brand it over time. Length is important, as you can see from the examples I gave you above, however your brand may need something that goes against the norm. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, but also don’t ignore best practices.


Some of the best contests are those that run themselves. Having your followers or potential customers self promote your business is the key element of any social medium. The most successful photo contest will focus on these areas of marketing and branding your business:

  • Liking/Following your social media platform
  • In-store
  • The infamous “Selfie”
  • Voting

The goal of your business with contests is to brand your business to potential new customers and drive them to your business (online or brick and mortar). The examples about give your followers the power and freedom to brand however they see fit. This is why your directions on how to play or enter the photo contest should be well thought out. There is nothing worse than to have your contest go awry and take on a life you hadn’t planned.

#TurnTheLightBulbOn | If you would like to learn more about how Instagram can build your business and brand, contact us TODAY.

About Tom Harness

Tom Harness is the owner of Harness Digital Marketing, a digital marketing firm that works with businesses and organizations on Social Media, SEO, and Email Marketing. He is an entrepreneur and business owner with 20 years of combined experience in Education, IT, and Business. Tom is a U.S. Army Veteran and a Southern Illinois University alum. He also enjoys craft beers, his beloved Chicago Cubs, and his family.


  1. Fellow entrepreneur and social media #guruharness – you certainly “turned the lightbulb on” for me when trying to think about how I could use Instagram to promote our CrisisGo mobile emergency response app. Thanks for the great ideas and helpful examples. Keep it coming!

    • Rebecca, with your particular business, I would recommend you use images (branded with your logo) that show how it can make the day to day life of administrators happy. I could even see administrators posting selfies of them doing more of what they want to be doing….spending time with students and faculty. Another way is to show schools how Crisis Go promotes safety. This is done through many combinations, not just your service.

      Glad you enjoyed it! If you have any questions, you know how to get a hold of me.

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