How To Use Instagram To Build Your Online Business

6 December 2015

Using Instagram to build your online business

For the longest time Instagram was an advert free platform, all content posted was organic and it was impossible for small businesses to promote… until now.

Earlier this year Instagram announced that businesses of all sizes can now start creating ads to reach anyone on Instagram.

If your business produces a lot of image and video content, in today’s article I’m going to reveal ways you can use Instagram to grow your online business.

Disclaimer: Instagram is not for everyone

Before we go any further I need to tell you something. Instagram is not for every business.

You’ll have to be one incredibly ingenious marketer to sell the likes of car insurance through Instagram.

On the other hand, if you’re a restaurant or bar, ecommerce store, in the fashion niche or a large part of your content is images and videos, Instagram is for you.

Here’s how to get started.

1. Find all your hashtags

Hashtags are the way your content is found is on Instagram, users will type in keywords and knowing your industry’s hashtags will greatly increase reach.

How to find relevant hashtags? I always like to start by stealing hashtags used by my competitors, then I’ll head to Iconosquare and Top-hashtags to do some secondary research on what’s best for my business.

If you plan on fans sending you user-generated content (pictures of them using your products/services) creating your own unique hashtag is always a smart move, as everything will be in one place should you need to use their content for marketing promos later.

2. Link Your Instagram account to Facebook to serve adverts

If you didn’t know already, Instagram is owned by Facebook. When you create an advert on Facebook you’ll also have the option to link it to your Instagram account to serve it to your followers on there.

To be able to do this you must first create a Facebook Business Manager account and link the two together. At this moment in time you can create the following ad types on Instagram:

  • Clicks to website – best for driving website traffic
  • Video views – best for branding
  • Mobile App installs – best for app installs

3. Look to outsource

When running any social media account, you have to keep regular engagement with your fans or they’ll lose interest and stop following you. I spent a whole week managing one of my Instagram accounts and it took up a lot more time than I would have liked (a lot of time).

After a while, I hired an Instagram expert (they are surprisingly affordable) who took care of posting 2 images per day everyday for $10 per week. I provided them with 200 photos and gave them a list of hashtags to use depending on the picture that’s being uploaded.

On an average day I gain 5-10 new fans. These fans are essentially your Instagram list, as there’s no way at this moment in time you can gather opt-ins from the platform in the way that you can with Facebook and Twitter.

4. It’s all about the visuals

Instagram is 99% visual, you can write a few characters underneath each image and a call-to-action if you serve an advert, but everything is all about the picture. Luckily, with the introduction of filters you can make an average photo look like it was edited by a professional.

You may want to consider hiring a photographer for a day or get your hands on a high-quality camera to take hundreds of pictures which you can post on Instagram over the coming months.

Instagram users are only going to like and share content that looks amazing, you’ll have to try a lot harder than you do on Facebook or Twitter that’s for sure.


I’ve only ran a few ads on Instagram and from what I noticed, they do end up costing a little more than Facebook, but that’s to be expected, as you can see in this article by Nosto which references how user-generated content drives higher engagement.

If you’re looking for new ways to market and brand your business and create a lot of image content, I highly recommend to get your business on Instagram today!

Vicky Etherington

Vicky Etherington has been running her own online marketing agency since 2003, and in 2015 transitioned to working with coaches and therapists to teach them how to create their own client-attracting websites. 

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