It's no secret that Instagram is taking off as one of the most popular photo sharing outlets. The photo-sharing app, which was purchased by Facebook, has over 8 million users, including brands. The amount of opportunity this app has is something that should not be ignored!



Being an iPhone user myself, I use Instagram, and while I follow many of my friends, I also follow different brands to see how they use it. I think it's a great chance for a brand to generate word of mouth. After-all, a picture says a thousand words.

I know what you're thinking... "grrrreat, more social media I have to jump on board with." But honestly, Instagram is fun to use, and photo-sharing is one of the best forms of word-of-mouth to use for your brand. If you're wondering how to use this great app for your brand, look no further because I'm going to tell you as simply as possible!

5 Step Guide to Instagram for Brands:

  • Do not use your name - Use your Brand's Name

If you're motive is to create brand awareness, use the name of your brand! For example, Starbucks Canada lists their name as 'Starbucks Canada' and their Instagram name as 'STARBUCKSCANADA' they aren't using the name of the CEO, or any person for that matter. I'm not saying it's bad to use your name, but the idea is to get the user to connect with your brand. It's also an easier way for users to find you.


  • Connect With Your Fans

Sharing photos of your products is good. Sharing photos of your products with your fans is even better! If people like your products / services they'll likely post a photo of them with it - and hopefully hashtag it (which I'll get to shortly). So why not show them your appreciation by sharing their photo as well! A lot of brands I have monitored generally share photos of people using, wearing, eating, etc. their products. I think this is great! It also acts as an incentive for people to hashtag their photos when they share a photo relevant to your brand - which is word-of-mouth! You can also use it to post photos of people who work for your brand - at the office, in the community, anything that makes your brand look real, and engaging.


  • Using Hashtags

Starbucks and other big corporate and already well-known brands have an advantage with Instagram and hashtagging photos. But for smaller brands, you still have an opportunity to use hashtags to create awareness. For example, if you have a website about sports and you post a photo of cheerleaders - you could use the following hashtags "#cheerleading #sports #cheer #cheerleaders" that way, when people go to search for those hashtags (see screenshot) your photo will show up in those results. If your photo is really cool, people will hopefully like it, and then even start following you!




Now, from a reverse point of view, you can also use hashtags to find people who are already spreading awareness about your brand. If you alert people on your social networks to specific hashtags they can use for your brand ex. #yourbrandname, you can use that to find photos and then share them on your brands profile! You just need to search for the hashtag as shown in the screenshot above, and choose a photo that really showcases your brand in an exciting way!


  • Link your Instagram Profile with Facebook and Twitter

Instagram gives users the ability to link their account with Facebook and Twitter so they have the option to send the photo to those social networks as well. You don't have to post the photo to Facebook or Twitter every time, but the option is there. One thing to keep in mind is the 140 character limit for Twitter. There aren't any character limitations for Facebook, but if you are posting it to Twitter keep this in mind, especially if you want to include specific keywords and hashtags in your post.

Linking Instagram to Twitter and Facebook is a good way to increase awareness, and also show users you have Instagram. Having a photo attached to a Tweet or Facebook post will likely be recognized more than one without a photo attached.


  • Taking Advantage of the New Web Profiles

Instagram recently launched web-profiles which are still rolling out. This allows your profile to be shared to users who are not using Instagram on their mobile. Make sure your brand profile is not set to private; otherwise users will not be able to see your photos.
The pro's of web profiles:

  • Ability to reach more users (i.e. non-iPhone and non-Android users)
  • Ability to share your web-profile in multiple ways - Facebook, Twitter, link to it from your website, get people to link to it from their website or blog post, link to it from your own blog posts, add it to your email signature...I could keep going, but I'll stop. I'm getting carried away.
  • The web-profiles will be indexed...which means your Instagram web profile will eventually show up in the results!


Get Your Brand On Board!

Sharing photos related to your brand can be done in really creative ways that it makes it a great tool for all types of brands to use. It's a great way to get creative and show a really fun and interesting side to your brand. Since Instagram's users are of all ages - although understandably geared towards a younger generation, you can target multiple demographics depending on the angle you want to take!
Have fun with it!

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