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By: Carolyn Edgecomb on May 17th, 2016

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Do's and Don'ts of Instagram: Take a Picture, It Reaches Further


If you think Instagram is just an outlet for sunsets, selfies, and staged shots of food, you are sorely mistaken.

With Facebook at its helm, the number of active users growing every month. and 85% of top brands adopting the social platform as an avenue for reaching their audience, there is no better time than now for your company to get on board.

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With over 600 million active monthly users on Instagram, over 95 million photos and videos are shared each day and 4.2 billion "likes." 

Imagine if your posts were able to generate even a fraction of that kind of engagement. With users so actively involved with your brand, you have a greater opportunity to reach and be heard by them, and ultimately, generate more sales.

Here are some of the essential do’s and don’ts of using Instagram for marketing your business.

The Do's and Don'ts of Using Instagram for Business

Do Interact With Your Customers

While limited features, compared to other social networks, Instagram still enables you to interact with your customers through:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Private Messages
  • Regrams

Instagram does a great job with this. They interact with their users with their weekend hashtag project (WHP). If you follow their account, you know that every weekend, the team challenges their community asking users to create photos around a designated theme, with the incentive of the chance of getting featured as one of their favorites on their profile throughout the week.


Another way your business could generate photos and interact with your audience is by creating a dedicated hashtag where users can share their photos with you. Ulta Beauty does this by including the hashtag #ultabeauty in their bio.


Do Get Your Customers Involved in Content Creation

There is really no better way to create engagement with your brand than to let your customers encouraging them to create content for it. User-Generated content is authentic and shows loyalty to your brand, so capitalize on it!

Consider creating a unique hashtag, asking your followers to post a photo using it, and then posting your favorites to your own account. By doing this, fan will feel more connected to your brand, you’ll create buzz and engagement around your brand, and perhaps their ideas will help you to generate your next big idea.

A great example of a brand routinely implementing this practice is ipsy. They’ve created a vibrant community on Instagram where “ipsters” can creatively show off goodies from their subscription box along with their ideas and experiences with them. The brand then regularly re-grams their favorites, tagging the user, and giving their fifteen minutes of fame.


Do Invest in High-Quality Images that Tell a Story

Images are key to helping you tell a story -- especially on an almost entirely visual platform like Instagram.

In order for you to effectively tell your story, you can’t use any old photos. They need to be authentic and original. Instagram isn’t the place for stock photos. Consider sharing the login information to your account with members of your team so that they can share their as soon as something memorable happens.

If you follow HubSpot on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that they regularly feature their employees with #hubspotemployeetakeover and #humansofhubspot. Not only do you get an inside look at their team, but also their culture and office.


Hello friends of @hubspot! My name is Anum Hussain and I'm taking over Instagram today. Kicking things off with a #fbf to 3.5 years ago when I got my first full-time employee badge -- after 15 months as an intern! I started in September of 2011 as a blogging and social media intern. Over the past five years, I've held a number of marketing roles from producing our early generation of ebooks, to building a content strategy from scratch for our freemium sales products, to managing an incredible growth marketing team. I'm currently on a break from marketing to research and set a vision for our company's Diversity & Inclusion efforts. More on this later today, stay tuned! #HubSpotEmployeeTakeover #DayInTheLife #HubSpotting #flashbackfridays

A photo posted by HubSpot (@hubspot) on


Providing your audience with a story like this keeps them coming back daily. They want to know about your company, but also the people behind it.

Do Use Video

Over the years, Instagram has added and made significant improvements to their video feature.

Extend your brand’s storytelling experience capturing funny team moments, walking people through your office, highlighting how a product works, or creating a tutorial, through video.

Video doesn’t only have to be for funny cat videos or musicians.

Unlike an introductory video or longer form videos typically uploaded to YouTube, Instagram’s 60-sec video limit allows your company to create content that is fun and informational without losing your viewer’s interest.

If you’re going to create a video remember to use a tripod and avoid background noise. Not only do you want quality photos but videos as well.

A brand that’s constantly mixing video into their strategy is Samuel Adams.


All this #MayThe4thBeWithYou talk is making us thirsty. #NitroProject

A video posted by Samuel Adams Beer (@samueladamsbeer) on

Do Direct People to Your Bio

Your bio is prime real estate for telling users what to do and where to go. Use those precious 150 characters to create a strong call-to-action and guide people.

Now, Instagram doesn’t allow links in your comments or captions like other platforms so the link in your bio is your only chance to get people where you want them on your site.

Use the section to tease an offer then direct them to the link in your bio to follow through. Make it a practice to tell users how they can sign up or purchase something by clicking on the link in your bio. It’s common to see brands change this link frequently as they share a photo with a new offer.

Victoria’s Secret, for example, gives their audience a clear and concise call-to-action within their Instagram bio. Check it out below:


Do Consider Instagram Sponsored Ads

Since it was acquired by Facebook, Instagram ads are far more comprehensive than they ever have been. If you are a particularly visual brand or market a product, consider using these to get in front of more potential customers. 

Not only will it expand the reach of your post (and bypass the algorithm), but it will enable you to link users directly from your photo or video. 

Do Use Hashtags, but Don't Spam

As we mentioned above, hashtags can be a great way to engage with and get found by your audience but do not abuse them.

While Instagram allows users much more freedom than Twitter and their strict character count, it’s important to use hashtags that are specific to your brand or relevant to your industry or image. #Catsofinstagram will get you in front of a lot of people, but you probably don’t want to use it unless a friendly feline will be making an appearance.

Don’t Use Instagram Solely For Promotion

You should never over promote on any social network, but use extra caution on Instagram. It may be tempting to post nothing photos of product or ads you’d regularly see in the sidebar of a website, but try to avoid this.

People on Instagram are looking for beautiful, striking images, not sales pitches.

If you are going to use Instagram Ads (the platform’s official paid advertisements) make sure that your content is targeted to your audience and still feel natural. Be creative, post pictures and videos users will want to engage with.

Don’t Post Generic or Stock Photographs

You want your brand to have some personality on Instagram. Don’t post generic pictures that look to be carefully staged (i.e. a formal headshot). Show a little bit of a wild side. Take pictures that show your brand’s personality and office culture. You don’t want to come off like a stick in the mud on Instagram.

Looking to get more out of social media?

For more do's and don'ts of Instagram and other popular social networks, check out our eBook below!  It will help you generate more value from your social media efforts.


About Carolyn Edgecomb

Before moving into a portfolio management position, Carolyn was a key contributor to the IMPACT blog. (In case you thought she sounded familiar.) Nowadays, as our Community Coordinator, she manages and maintains the logistics of daily, weekly, and monthly operations from a portfolio management perspective to ensure each client, Pod, and the overall Community is performing at an acceptable level. You might call her the queen of post-it notes and organization. With a passion for all things inbound marketing and project management, she is always looking for new ways to improve our client services department. Outside of IMPACT, you'll find her on Pinterest, listening to country music, reading a book or trying out a new recipe.

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