Businesses (especially service-based ones) don’t have it easy when it comes to creating great content for Instagram
Instagram is quickly overtaking Facebook and Twitter as the hot social platform for marketers to use, with over active monthly users and a strong base of celebrities, major brands, and key influencers.
For businesses in highly visual verticals like fashion, real estate, or food, it can be relatively simple to come up with stunning images.
But most businesses and business owners need help generating content that fuels engagement. Since Instagram has an enhanced algorithm like parent company Facebook, it’s absolutely necessary to engage users (if you still hope to organically show up in their feeds.)
Instagram’s allows users to discover new accounts to follow more easily right in the app. The new addition of business accounts (instead of personal accounts used by businesses) is giving marketers all sorts of exciting new tools, like analytic insights and both ads and profiles that display CTAs.
That all sounds great! But what do you post to grow your audience?
Without further ado, here are 19 top-performing Instagram ideas for businesses.
1. Contextualized Product Pictures
Although these seem fairly obvious, successfully marketing your products or services on Instagram is easier said than done. Not only do you need high-quality photography, you need to ensure that your images do well on Instagram. This means using compelling, attractive, and on-brand filters and getting more creative than placing product against a blank background.
Instead, consider showing the product in use or allowing for user-submitted images like Adidas, Zara, or REI (just make sure you have the right standards, terms & conditions, and agreements in place).
You can also surround your product with other items (say, place sunglasses next to a magazine and ice tea). These sorts of photographs fit in well in Instagram and show your brand’s unique style.
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2. Industry-Relevant Books and Publications
Print media is hardly dead, and you can show that your company is aware of that with stacks of relevant books, magazines, or newspapers. For instance, design and art books for a creative agency, or cookbooks for a restaurant or bakery. Not only can you use the books to craft an artful image, but you may also inspire your users to add to their own reading list —and they’ll remember you when they search for these exact books.
The key here is to keep everything inspirational and aspirational. No manuals, please!
3. Positive Press
Take a screenshot or actual picture (in the case of newspaper or magazine articles) and post it, linking to the full text if you can. Make sure you get the name of the publication in the shot for credibility and so your followers can pick up a hard copy if they are so inclined.
You can also tag the name of the publication in the description for your post, being sure to include your brand’s top hashtag. The publication (or the publications’ followers) might repost your image.
4. Staff Showcase
You are proud of your team, and your Instagram followers and potential clients should know that. Use pictures from company events such as workshops, parties (if that’s appropriate), and conferences that your staff attends.
Don’t worry about posting all the best shots right after the event to your Instagram page. As long as they’re not seasonal, you can spread them out. A picture of a smiling employee is relevant year round.
For images that are tied to a specific time, you can do throwback posts when the anniversary of a holiday or conference rolls around. If a yearly conference is coming up, post a pic from last year saying that your team is looking forward to attending again.
This is an easy-to-use yet effective Instagram marketing idea that helps to humanize your brand and your company.
5. Client Successes
Whether these are pictures of events, advertisements, client properties, a satisfied customer smiling, or other ways of showing off your work, Instagram is a great way to show what you have to offer.
In addition, you can also use Instagram posts to congratulate clients on winning awards, hitting milestones, and any other reasons they (and therefore you) have to celebrate. Just make sure you get permission from your clients and customers before posting!
Think of these as the cool cousin of case studies.
A photo posted by Rachel Alexandria (@rachelralexandria) on
6. Marketing Materials
Post screenshots, graphs, or other images pulled from branded case studies, infographics, white papers, and similar documents (and be sure to include a link to where your audience can find the full versions of the piece).
Things like postcards, newsletters, coupons, posters, stickers, event invitations, menus, catalogs, and other print material can all make clever Instagram shots. And don’t neglect to post-print or traditional advertising in situ—let that billboard, vehicle wrap, or other signage do double duty on social media.
Of course, don’t go overboard with this one. Branded collateral is good every ten posts or so, but probably not more often than that.
The best way to make use of this idea is to make it natural. If you get new business cards, fan a few of them out on your desktop next to a latte and write, “Look what arrived this morning!”.
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7. User Submitted Images
Pics provided by users offer the ultimate social proof, as someone liked your company so much that they took a picture and tagged you on Instagram. Start by gathering pics that use your company hashtag, and share or re-post the best ones.
Next, ask your customers for help. Give them a prompt or question to reply to via Instagram, consider offering sweepstakes or a prize for the best or most popular user-submitted image, and otherwise encourage your customers to hashtag your brand on Instagram in order to collect user-generated content. Obviously, make sure these pics are appropriate for your brand and something you want to be associated with, and always tag the source.
8. Pictures Inspired by Stock Photography
While posting stock photos might seem temptingly simple, especially if your brand isn’t particularly visual-focused, it can come off as boring at best and spammy at worst.
After all, users can almost always tell if an image is stock, and using standardized photography really goes against the whole philosophy of Instagram. The platform was created for users taking pics on their phones.
So instead, look through stock photos for ideas, then recreate your own version of them with your team.
Everyone’s hands on the conference table? Is everyone goofing off in front of a whiteboard? Whatever it is, do it yourself.
9. Everyday Moments
While of course, you want to avoid posting images that are entirely off-brand, sometimes posting images that aren’t immediately relevant can humanize your brand. For example, pictures of your pets, a fabulous cake for an employee birthday or a team event, or even the view from your office can all be worthwhile.
Just don’t do it too often—think of it as a special treat to be posted a few times a month.
If you can drum up everyday life ideas that are brand relevant, that’s Instagram gold.
10. Throwbacks or Repeats
Great images should be seen by everyone, and given the relatively short attention span of your users and the constant updates on Instagram, chances are that you’ll have to post an image more than once for it to be seen. And besides, if you’ve invested time and effort into your Insta-content you’ll want to make sure it pays off!
On that note, you can and should bring back older images and call them a “throwback” or blast from the past, especially if they are something that promotes nostalgia or happy memories for your audience.
11. Concepts Inspired By from Other Users and Brands
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and there are a fair number of brands that are using Instagram very effectively. Take a look at what they are doing and see how you can adapt it and make it your own. Why reinvent the wheel if they’ve already taken the time and made the effort to see what works.
Take a look at what your target audience is doing on Instagram. What kind of content does your dream client or customer post on Instagram? What does she like?
Recreate those concepts with your own brand voice to deliver content tailored to your user and the platform at large.
12. Cause or Community-Related Posts
Cause and community-related involvement are two of the best ways to signal to your audience that you care. The cause that you choose should project the values of your business.
Highlight your support of fundraisers or charities via social media posts. People like to be associated with caring organizations that put others first. Knowing that your business cares about the same things your target audience cares about will make people feel good about buying your product.
It is also a good idea to choose community organizations that have a natural affinity with your brand. For example, if you sell sportswear you could post information related to popular sporting events or sporting heroes.
If your staff have attended or participated in a fundraising event or if you have sponsored such an event, get it out there on social media. It is bound to get shared and increase your reach.
13. Inspirational Content and Relatable Quotes
We all like to be inspired which is why we are most likely to share posts that motivate or excite us. Find inspirational quotes, or create your own, and post them on your feed.
Relatable quotes are also good fun especially when they include some humor. Use vibrant colors and exciting fonts to get more attention.
Stories about inspirational people are also more likely to increase your reach.
Using inspirational content means will associate your brand with positivity.
Don’t forget to credit the author or person you are quoting.
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14. Make Announcements
Announce business or personal milestones on your social media accounts along with an interesting picture. For example, your thousandth order dispatched or a partnership with a new product manufacturer makes for good news. People like to know what’s going on when it comes to their favorite products or brands.
15. Answer Questions About Your Business and Product
Your customers may have common questions that relate to your product, brand or industry. What better way to engage with your audience than by publishing answers to these questions on social media? If you answer the right questions in a fun and interesting way you’ll encourage followers to share the information and spread the news of your brand.
16. Run Contests and Giveaways
Contests and giveaways always generate excitement about the product or brand that runs them. They get people interacting with your business and talking about your brand and product. In this way, you can encourage user-generated posts.
The prize or giveaway that you choose should be one that will interest your target audience. In this way, you can ensure that the people entering the contest are more likely to engage with you in the future.
If you’re giving something away, put up a post that shows what you are offering and let your audience know what it is that they have to do to qualify for the giveaway. Just make sure you check the social media platform’s terms and conditions for contests and competitions first.
17. Team Up with Other Brands
Other brands do not necessarily have to be in competition with you. If you sell sports shoes you may want to team up with brands that sell other sporting equipment. Find a brand that shares a similar target market and then plan a co-campaign. Both brands will gain from each other as you reach each other’s followers.
18. Holiday and Seasonal Fun
Get your audience into the holiday spirit. Social media offers some of the best environments for celebrating holidays. The celebrated day need not be a major occurrence such as Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter. International Women’s Day, Halloween and International No Diet Day can also generate some excitement among your targeted audience.
Posts about seasonal occurrences such as summer holidays on the beach or winter on the ski slopes offer great opportunities to post outstanding landscapes. Share your favorite holiday pics, places to go and travel tips.
When making seasonal posts just make sure to include relevant holiday hashtags or your posts may not get the attention that they deserve.
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19. Create Videos
Brands that are not using video are losing out on a great opportunity to reach new followers. The videos should be short and interesting to gain the most traction.
Instagram Stories is a great place to start for short fun videos, with YouTube ideal for lengthier video content.
Consider creating tutorial videos which show your audience how to use or set up your product. DIY ideas and how to posts also make for great video posts.
We hope you enjoyed this roundup of the top 19 Instagram ideas for businesses. As you can see, there are a lot of options out there for you to succeed on this fast-growing and highly effective platform.
Did we miss something? Want to share your great idea? Feel free to add in the comments below!