When you hear “Instagram” what comes to mind? Did your mind go straight to photos? Instagram’s main claim to fame is that it is a photo-sharing platform.
But did you know your Instagram business ideas can go beyond photos?
From advertising to offering expert advice and motivation or running competitions and building relationships with your followers…
…Instagram can be used for so much more than just photo sharing
If you’re not utilizing Instagram for more than photos these Instagram business ideas will boost your brand visibility, grow your customer base, and increase your ROI.
Going Beyond the Visuals: 20 Instagram Business Ideas
Instagram is a photo-sharing platform so obviously, all of these Instagram business ideas will include you posting a great photo but that’s not all!
Instead of just focusing on the visuals we’re going to dig deeper into the gram and show you ways to utilize Instagram beyond its photo-sharing capabilities.
1. Show people where you’re located
First up on our list of Instagram business ideas is to help people out and show them where you’re located!
Maybe your business is difficult to find or hidden by other surrounding buildings.
Use Instagram to show people what to look for when finding your business, where to park or to give them your exact address.
You can post a photo of your front door so people can rest easy knowing they are in the right place.
Good Dough is a donut shop that has a front door that looks a bit like a back door.
This may confuse customers when they come to try it out for the first time so they decided to post some helpful instructions on Instagram.
The photo is of their front door and their caption lets customers know that when they see the sprinkle wall they’re in the right place.
They also give parking instructions to make it even easier for customers to get to their store. If you click on their Instagram page they include their street address in their bio as well.
Did you know you can make money online by giving away free stuff? It’s true and Instagram is an incredible platform to use for this purpose!
There are so many Instagram business ideas you can utilize that are in the form of contests.
You can do an Instagram giveaway to gain more followers, build brand awareness and trust and to work with influencers in your market.
Gaining followers is simple with contests. Ask followers to follow your brand to enter. You can build brand awareness by telling your followers to tag their friends.
This will have a domino effect if you do it correctly! Friends will share with friends and eventually you will have people who recognize your brand.
Working with influencers or people who are already trusted by a large community can elevate your brand and help you gain loyal followers if you do it correctly.
You can also use contests to promote your brand or product as well as use them to popularize your hashtag!
Marvel Studios is encouraging their fans to share their favorite memory from the movie Black Panther and use their hashtag in order to win a trip to the Avengers movie premiere.
Instead of listing all of their rules and regulations they have a link in their post for fans to learn more about the contest.
This is key because you don’t want your contest post to be so long that people don’t want to read it.
3. Inspiration or motivation
Everyone could use a little motivation. If you’re a fitness or nutrition brand you’ve probably used these Instagram business ideas before.
But if you’re not you can take advantage of this strategy too! People love when brands are encouraging or provide them with motivation.
It humanizes your brand and allows you to take a break from selling your products. This can also help give your brand a personality and help people to identify with you!
Void magazine posted this photo with the caption “Wednesday Motivation” to brighten their followers’ day.
Posts like this are on point with their branding and help diversify their Instagram. They also received a handful of positive comments on their post!
4. Sell your products with Shoppable Posts
Ever seen an Instagram photo with price tags? This is one of the best Instagram business ideas we’ve seen!
You are able to show your product with a photo, promote it and link directly to your store. Talk about increasing sales!
The best part about shoppable posts is that you can boost them just like regular posts allowing you to send traffic directly to purchase the products they see in your post.
Huckberry is a brand that often utilizes this tool. Customers can scroll through images of a product, and then if they like the looks of it they can purchase it!
Huckberry does an excellent job with their product photos.This is key, especially for shoppable posts.
If you have subpar photos of your products customers probably won’t want to buy them and your posts will have low engagement and low ROI.
5. Show that you are the expert
Your customers will look to you for expert advice. Don’t let them down! You can use Instagram to offer advice or inform your followers.
You should do this every so often so that it integrates nicely into your page and gives your customers interesting and engaging content to absorb.
Nutrition Stripped asks their followers the question “What is miso?”
They then proceed to answer the question in a fun and informative way! This lets their followers know that they are the expert in their field.
Although the caption is longer than most, they have broken it up into smaller digestible paragraphs. They also offer a recipe that includes miso for their followers to try.
Notice that Nutrition Stripped has also replied to comments which is a great way to build relationships with followers!
Using posts like this boost your brands reliability and let your followers know that they can put their trust in you.
6. Make your customers answer questions
You can ask and answer questions but make your customers answer every once in a while. This can increase social media engagement and brand awareness.
If someone has followed your brand on a whim and doesn’t know much about you, posts like this give them insight into what your brand is like.
Take some time to show off your brand’s personality and what’s important to you. People will remember this in the future when they go to make a purchase.
Parsley Health asks their followers the question would you rather have coffee or matcha? They give their followers a chance to answer and engage with them.
Then they follow up with another post promoting their products in a recipe format.
They give some background about the health benefits of Matcha as well as why their shake is awesome!
7. Promote your new products
What better way to show your followers new products than with Instagram? Don’t just post a photo.
Write good copy that makes people want to give it a try! Strong photos and well-written copy make for an impactful Instagram post that is sure to wow your followers.
If you post your new product make people curious about it!
And remember: your product is only as good as your Instagram post, so make sure you have a sharp image and a great caption.
Brass Tacks Coffee posted about their iced matcha latte.
Even though this has been a staple on their menu for quite some time they have changed up the ingredients to offer a new flavor profile.
They fully explain their new drink and let their followers know that the people who have tried it have loved it!
They even encourage people to come in and try it saying that they won’t regret it.
8. Build relationships with followers
You may be wondering how to build relationships through a photo-sharing platform, but it’s easier than you think!
If you post a question and expect an answer, your followers expect a reply from you or your brand. This is a fun way to engage with people and build a rapport.
Replying to comments can be as simple as agreeing with people, saying thank you or posting a quick response. They don’t have to be long winded.
It’s a simple way of showing your followers that you care about what they have to say.
Nordstrom is known for responding to their followers comments, but they don’t just respond to the good comments.
It’s important to make sure you are also replying to people who have had a bad experience or need help with customer service.
No one wants to be on hold with support for an hour which is why many people take to social media when they need help.
If you show that you are available and ready to help this can help build your relationship with your followers.
9. Use gifs or cinemagraphs
You probably know what a gif is but what’s the difference between a gif and a cinemagraph?
These two Instagram business ideas will put you above your competition. Gifs are similar to short videos played in a loop.
Cinemagraphs combine good photography and videography and the result is stunning: A still photo that has subtle movements and grabs the users attention again and again.
A cinemagraph is the future of gifs and is beginning to appear in more ads that we see on social media.
This is a coffee gif. It’s a short and fun clip that loops over and over again. Gifs can be cartoon graphics like this or clips of real people.
This is a coffee cinemagraph. As you can see the photo is still and the only thing moving is the stream of coffee.
It’s almost like a more elegant gif. Moving pictures or cinemagraphs can really capture your audience and make them do a double-take at your post.
Making a cinemagraph is a bit of a different process than crafting a gif so turn to professionals if you feel like you need help!
10. Use video
Instagram isn’t just for photos anymore. Video can give you a huge advantage when you are showing customers a product or how it works!
Did you know that 87% of online marketers incorporate video content into their strategy? If you are going to keep up with your competition you will need to use video.
You could show a photo of your product, but sometimes a video is much more compelling. And you can really show users what the product can do for them.
Whirlpool uses video to show people that they can control their Whirlpool products from their smartphone.
It’s a short clip but they are able to capture the user’s attention, show them a new feature and show that they care while also including their branding.
11. Build brand awareness
Building awareness for your brand is crucial if you want to survive. You can use Instagram to showcase your brand’s personality.
Consider having a theme for your Instagram. A theme showcases your style and colors.
All of your posts should be in line with your theme. This makes for a cohesive look and gives followers a feel for your brand.
You can also build brand awareness through your photos and captions. Be consistent.
If your brand is all about living a healthy lifestyle then obviously you will want to promote that and show your followers that’s what you are all about.
12. Use humor
It’s easy to use Instagram as a platform to be humorous. Short witty captions can capture users’ attention and get them interested in your brand if done correctly.
Skinny Pop’s ad is short and simple, and they use humor to attract their audience.
13. Be Informative
Give your customers something interesting to learn about that’s in line with your brand. Focus on something else other that your products or services.
Scott’s Cheap Flights offers customers deals on airline tickets but in this post they show followers an ancient stone statue that will probably make some people get the travel bug.
This is a smart post because once they show customers an incredible place they have never been to they will want to go!
There’s a good chance they will want to also learn how to get cheap flights with Scott’s Cheap Flights!
14. Use multiple photos
This is an awesome feature that Instagram now has. It allows you to post multiple photos at once!
Use these Instagram business ideas to take engagement to the next level. You can use a three-paneled ad like this one from Red Rock Deli.
The user has to swipe to get the full experience. This means that people will have to engage with your ad to find out more.
15. Offer tips and tricks
Giving your customers life hacks or tips that can make their lives easy is one of our favorite Instagram business ideas.
This shows that you know what you’re talking about and that you want to be helpful to your followers.
Tastemade travel teaches customers “how to pack everything in a purse.” They show a short “how to” video that reflects their brand while helping their followers.
16. User-Generated Content
Has a brand ever re-posted a photo that you took on their Instagram for all of their followers to see?
It feels pretty good when they do! It gives the user a since of pride and validation.
Here are some Instagram business ideas and ways you can utilize user generated content.
-Pick a weekly winner and repost their photo. This adds some competition into the mix and will have people wanting their photo to be posted each week.
-Use it to get people to come into your store.
You can post one of your products and tell people to come take a photo with it and post about it on Instagram for a chance to get regrammed!
-Tell people to use your hashtag. If people hashtag their photos with your hashtag it may start trending if you have enough posts.
Juice Tap often reposts their followers photos and gives them photo credit.
This takes the work out of you having to take the photos and oftentimes fan photos are pretty high quality!
Hashtags are SO important on Instagram. This is how people search and find new brands and products.
You should be doing some hashtag research and not just hashtagging anything that comes to your mind.
You want tags that people are actually using and searching for. They should be targeted, concise and relevant to your brand.
You can even create your own hashtag for your brand! If you do this make sure that you are using other popular hashtags with it.
Your hashtag won’t be popular right off the bat. It will take time for people to become familiar with it and to start using it.
18. Story highlights
These allow stories to be on your Instagram for longer than 24 hours.
For example, if you have a really cool story that got a lot of engagement you can post it on your page so that it stays for as long as you want!
With highlights, it’s beneficial to answer questions or show products and processes!
The Skimm has a bunch of highlights that their followers can watch and rewatch. Highlights are great because new followers can watch your old stories.
This is especially important if you have a story that explains your brand, how your products are made, or answers frequently asked questions.
The Skimm chose to highlight their reading list which is a big part of their brand as well as their podcast and items and accessories that they promote.
For example, their highlight Skimm Reading can help followers if they are looking for a specific book that The Skimm posted about.
19. Analytics and insights
Analytics and insights are tools that you can utilize to grow your brand on Instagram!
This is where you can see follower growth, likes and who has viewed and interacted with your boosted posts.
It’s always helpful to keep tabs on things like this so that if for some reason your stop gaining followers you’ll know and then be able to fix the problem.
If you are not paying attention to your insights you will be unaware if you are losing followers or if your engagement drops.
The best part is that you can easily see how many likes, comments and flags your post has received as well as how many people have visited your profile because of a certain post.
It also shows you how many people you have reached!
Boosting posts, creating ads, and using retargeting are three Instagram business ideas that are much-needed advertising tactics.
Once you start using them you will be able to see a noticeable difference in engagement, traffic to your website, and sales!
This Instagram ad we created for a men’s clothing company was able to yield 35 purchases for only $0.12 cost per page view!
Boosting posts is a way to promote photos that you have posted. They aren’t necessarily considered ads but it’s content that you want people to see.
If you have an Instagram business account a promote button will appear next to your posts like this:
Boosting posts focuses on visibility which is great for brand awareness and engagement. You can choose your target audience and set your budget when you boost posts.
You can also create sponsored ads that are targeting people to make a purchase.
They typically include calls to action like “Install now” or “Shop Now” like this post from Vineyard Vines. They have created this ad for their summer sale.
Retargeting is another way to use Instagram for advertising purposes. Retargeting is how you can capture leads that didn’t convert the first time.
When you set up this type of advertising it will target people who have already visited your site or placed a product in their shopping cart.
You can set it up so that it shows them the products they have viewed or offers a discount to encourage them to come back and keep shopping.
If you are not using Instagram as an advertising platform and want to know how to get started, contact us today!
Our social media marketing professionals will create an Instagram advertising strategy that is perfect for your brand.
Instagram is a platform that your business cannot afford to miss out on!
It is full of tools that allow you to advertise, build relationships with customers, show that you are the expert in your field and more! It’s time to put your creativity to the test!
What other Instagram business ideas can you come up with? Let us know in the comments.