Updated December 12, 2018

Think Instagram is just for kids? You could be missing out on a valuable marketing and sales opportunity. Read on to learn what the social media platform can do and some ideas for using Instagram for your small business.

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What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo-sharing social networking app for web and mobile platforms. Initially a craze among youth, it now has over 1 billion monthly active users belonging to all demographics. This makes Instagram an ideal business platform for customer or client attraction and retention, and sales.


1,304 posts | 1.9m followers | 747 following

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God knows I want to break free. _ Music by Queen #LokiFootage

A post shared by Loki the Wolfdog (@loki) on

Why should small businesses use Instagram?

Sharing experiences is a fundamental part of the human experience. Photos afford an easy way to do that in the modern age. As a result, using Instagram can humanize your business. It can also help build brand loyalty, engage your target base and drive them to use your product or service.

How can the self-employed use Instagram to grow their business?

There are many ways to use Instagram for your small business. Here are but a few:

  • Communicate new products, services or promotions
  • Posting crisp photos and dynamic videos on Instagram can create a desire for your product or services
  • Applying Instagram filters is a great way to enhance the appeal of posted visuals.

This is especially true during a product or service launch or a promotional period. Simply pair the photo or video clip with the dates and details of the product or service launch or promotion and post for your followers. You may well see an uptick in sales as a result of the post.

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Niner Bikes

1,1363 posts | 63.9k followers | 424 following

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The #SIR9. @Tjotg’s bike of choice for exploring the trails of #Colorado. #SteelIsReal #NinerBikes

A post shared by Niner Bikes (@ninerbikes) on

  • Grow your follower count to grow your business. Your Instagram page will attract a crowd you might not draw with old-school marketing. Instagram appeals to the digitally-engaged and tech-savvy. Gaining these users as followers can help convert them into customers or clients. Similarly, build goodwill with your followers by following them back.
  • Hold a contest or competition. Create a hashtag and share it in an Instagram post with the details of the contest or competition. Request your followers to share photos that meet the contest requirements. You can give winners product or service freebies to further engage them with your brand.

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1,447 posts | 68.8k followers | 117 following

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For the Friendsgiving we had before leaving for Asia, we made the Sunday dinner of my dreams! Cooked this delicious mushroom ravioli with a light olive oil, garlic, mushroom and cherry tomato sauce, in my new @lagostinausa 4 Qt. Stainless Steel Giada Dutch Oven. The pan is absolutely gorgeous and can seamlessly go from stove to table. I especially love the hammered copper lid. It’s large enough to cook a meal for 4-6 people (we fed 6 with this dish). We picked up some fresh mushroom ravioli from our local grocery store, and boiled it for 2min. Then, heat some olive oil in the Dutch Oven, add 3 cloves of sliced garlic, saute for 2 min or until nicely golden brown. Then add halved cherry tomatoes (used heirloom cherry tomatoes, about 4-5 per guest), sliced brown mushrooms (about 3 per guest), cook for 2-3min until the tomatoes are nicely blistered. Add the drained ravioli into the Dutch Oven, stir through to coat them nicely in the vegetable sauce. Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Italian parsley. Our guests loved it! . . . . . . . . . . . #LagostinaUSA #LagostinaSundayDinner #LinkinBio #Ad #specialtyfood #taipeifoodie #healthyeating #eatpretty #beautifulcuisines #和食 #和食ごはん #bayareafoodie #bayareaeats #wellnessblogger #healthyish #healthyfood #sffoodies #fuelyourbody #cleaneats #食卓 #手料理 #料理写真 #夕食 #献立 #スタジオエム #うちごはん #nycfoodies #ふたりごはん #晩ごはん

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  • Engage with your base. Actively answer questions and casually converse with your followers in the comments section of your Instagram posts. This is a great way to forge a relationship with your customers or clients.
  • Share news or behind-the-scenes life at your business. Post photos or Instagram stories of you and your staff at work or at play. You can also post recent happenings at your business. This will show that there are people, not merely workers, behind your business.


2530 posts | 148k followers | 3 following

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Small business ideas you can launch from Instagram

For many small business owners, Instagram is more than a marketing and sales tool. It’s used to conduct business. The platform is ideal for business models that center on visual communication and engagement. Below are some business ideas that can be built around the platform.

  • Brand Influencer: Businesses pay these digital mavens to promote products or services through their personal Instagram page. Brand influencers usually have large follower bases.
  • Social Media Manager: These individuals serve as brand spokesmen for other businesses. They keep business Instagram pages up-to-date and filled with attractive visuals.
  • Photographer: Event, food and stock photographers alike can use Instagram as a portfolio to attract clientele.
  • Blogger: Instagram can be used to promote recent blog posts and direct new users to your business website.
  • Business Coach: These people can use Instagram to post photos or inspirational quotes to promote paid mentorship services. They can also communicate directly with followers interested in their coaching services.

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Tonyrobbins 2.3M followers

752 posts | 3.3m followers | 145 following

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Happy Friday everybody! Just a week ago Sage and I were in India’s oldest city, floating down the holy Ganges River amidst the crowded streets and alleys that clamor with colorful (and chaotic!) spirit and sound. ✨❤️🙌📿 . Varanasi is flooded with a beautiful diversity of human beings, cows, dogs, sounding horns, spice markets, sadhus, Sanskrit chants, burning pyres, mischievous monkeys, and a constant drum beat of deep devotion. 🐃🧘🏾‍♂️🔥🐒 . This is a microcosm of faith with Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jain, Sikh and Catholic devotees all accounted for, but it’s thousands of Hindus that come here in hopes to die on the banks of the river and avoid rebirth. This place of pilgrimage is known for its ritual crematory burnings 24-hours a day. Many who arrive in Varanasi thinking they have only days left to live end up staying for years, just waiting to die in this sacred city. There is truly no place like it on earth, no wonder we keep coming back. We thank you for your eternal flame of incomparable awe and wonder. 🙏🏽 . 📸: @zungninjaphotographer

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Manasa Reddigari

Manasa Reddigari

Manasa Reddigari is a freelance technical writer and small business owner whose insights have appeared in diverse digital publications. She has a passion for leveraging technology to reveal simple solutions for everyday business finance complexities. Visit www.scribmint.com to learn more about her work.
Manasa Reddigari

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