How Brands Use Instagram and How You Can Learn from Them

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Instagram for businesses is a popular tool marketers are adding to their social arsenal. Instagram is a photo sharing network that sets itself apart by allowing users to add vintage-feeling filters to the photos.

Here are five simple rules that top brands are following on Instagram today:

  • Post Interesting Content. As you go to post a picture, ask yourself who would find it interesting. If no one comes to mind, then find something else to post. This may mean you post less overly branded materials and instead focus on the lifestyle and personality your brand instills. And as you move forward, you’ll see what types of images work best.
  • Post Often. As with with any other social network, don’t let your account become abandoned.
  • Post Consistently. Making an editorial calendar or using an app like iScream will help keep your posting on track. If you decide to post 10 times a day, spread the posts out throughout the day instead of posting all at once.
  • Engage. Similar to your other channels, you’ll want to have conversations with your followers. Much like Twitter, you can use hashtags and @replies to talk with your fans and generate more activity on your photos.
  • Create a Theme. This can be either in content or style. Some brands using Instagram have found success sticking primarily with lifestyle content, however there have been some—such as Audi—who have found great success with product-oriented photography.


Because Instagram is a mobile-only application, it’s important to know where you can access your account from a desktop or laptop. Here are a couple of our choices for handy tools for Instagram for businesses.

  • Ink361. Ink361 is a web viewer useful for livestreaming photos at events with a specific hashtag. The site also allows users to like and comment on photos when they connect with their Instagram account.
  • Webstagram. Webstagram is an easy way to view the photos your brand posted, as well as Like and comment on other photos, follow and unfollow other users and search for photos by hashtag or keyword.
  • Gramfeed. Gramfeed is another way for users to search and view Instagram photos by users, tags, keywords, hashtag and location.
  • Statigram. Statigram gives users the ability to view Instagram photos on the web and includes some basic analytics all in one place. Statigram includes number of likes and comments received, top photos in terms of engagement, most engaged followers, and optimization tips.
  • Pingram. Pingram allows users to view Instagram photos in a Pinterest-style layout and then “pin” directly to their Pinterest account. Users can also search for photos by location, popular users, number of Likes and more.

Finding Inspiration

Not sure where to begin? These three brands have gotten off to a successful start on the latest social network.

  • Audi. Instead of using Instagram to simply announce promotions or deals, Audi use Instagram to share images of their vehicles. However their photos aren’t simple photos of vehicles in dealership lots. They’re artistic shots of their Audis on the road, in warehouses … you get the idea. Some images come from their marketing department, however they successfully crowdsource images from their followers as well. And finally, using focused keywords and hashtags, they drive up engagement on each of their photos.
  • Sharpie. Sharpie uses Instagram to personalize their products and messaging. The images are mainly doodles on paper, but it gives the brand a more artistic approach. Sharpie also posts photos they receive from their fans and interns.
  • General Electric. General Electric is another brand that does well promoting its own products. Interesting photos of turbines, bottling machines and microscopes give followers an inside look at the company that seems involved with a huge field of products. GE uses its descriptions to give fans a detailed, yet easily understandable explanation of each different technology they create.

Looking for more inspiration? Add the Instagram Business Blog and Instagram’s case studies section to your reading list. It’s updated frequently with currently trends and how brands use Instagram successfully.

And while you’re at it, let us know if you or your band is using Instagram in the comments below.