Labels with social media iconsThere are over 75 million users bouncing in and out of Instagram on a daily basis. The photo-sharing social network is no longer just an iOS-only app, but a major marketing platform.

But it’s not for everybody! At least, this is the general perception – or it has been. But as more small businesses find creative ways to visually promote their brand, marketers are seeing the potential to reach out to a wider audience.

When Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, the social platform became the largest grossing acquisition in digital history. Mark Zuckerberg saw the prospects.

In just three years, the photo-sharing app has emerged as one of the most visited social media networks on the web today. Well-known brands with bulging budgets jumped on straight away – but small businesses have typically shied away.

This is understandable. Instagram primarily attracts followers by using images. So the photo content you post has to be of exceptional quality – which can be expensive.

But you don’t have to blow your marketing budget to be a success on Instagram. You just need to think outside the bubble and flex your creative muscles.

Instagram ideas

Story-telling has become a marketing art, and telling a story’s through the use of images is arguably easier than writing an entertaining 1000-word article. And customers are generally interested in people – or more specifically, the people that work for the companies they are trading with.

Browse through Instagram and you will find numerous examples of how companies are using images as an open window into the business.

And given online marketing is essentially a faceless form of communicating and conducting transactions, photos of your employees at work is a great way for your customers to see inside your company.

The open window has to be interesting however. It has to tell a story. A team photograph outside your office does not tell a story. A photograph of technicians operating machinery on the other hand, provides visual information into the process of making your products.

Using influencers

Kissmetric’s, Neil Patel, explained how he boosted his following by 2% using influencers to promote his products. In Patel’s example, he paid models that have a large following to pose with his products.

This is obviously not an option open to everyone, but influencers are a great way to expand brand awareness quickly. If you don’t have a large budget you may need to be a savvy negotiator and sweet-talk influencers into sharing your posts.

A realistic option for accruing more followers is to run a giveaway campaign. Unlike Facebook, Instagram does not have rigid promotion rules. Asking users to tag a friend or post photos and videos drives awareness.

Instagram may not be effective for every company, but there is plenty of potential for many small businesses that are not already using images to promote their business.

To run a successful digital marketing campaign requires publishing a diverse range of quality content, and Instagram provide an ideal platform for online businesses to give their company a face.