How to Use Instagram to Gain Brand Recognition & Reach New Customers

94% of Instagram users take action (such as visiting a website or checking out a store) because of an Instagram post they saw from a brand. But there’s a disconnect between how brands want to use the platform and the reality of what the platform was built for: “sharing photos with friends.”

A spokesperson from Hootsuite put it best, saying “social media is all about being social, not being seen as being social”  In other words, brands have been trying to use platforms like Facebook and Twitter as if they were brochures that people click on instead of invitations that people respond to. It just doesn’t work that way. People don’t come to those networks to learn about your business – they go because they want to be social.

And when brands make the mistake of treating Instagram like a brochure, also known as posting images solely with the intent to sell, they get push-back from their followers in the form of low engagement rates and/or unfollows.  A recent study found that a staggering 80% of people who follow a brand on Instagram do so because they want to see photos from that brand, not hear about sales and promotions

How to be special on Instagram

Here is where companies can really set themselves apart: by using images that encourage social sharing instead of trying to hawk products. The most successful Instagram accounts for businesses are the ones that get people talking with hashtags and mentions, getting each other’s backs when someone else leaves negative comments or even when they don’t like the photo, helping each other out when someone doesn’t know how to do something. You could also use the help of software and services that can help you build out your brand. One of those services is Inflact.

Post content that is consistent with your brand personality

The fact is, photos are shared much more often than links or text posts, so it’s time to stop thinking of Instagram as a place to hawk stuff and start using it for the thing that makes the platform unique: building awareness for your brand by creating conversations through visuals. Just remember these best practices for brands on Instagram:

Use captivating images from your product line to peak people’s curiosity instead of just posting straight-up advertising containing nothing but price points and logos. Everyone has seen an ad before – give us something new! The best way to get people talking about your products?

Give them ideas of what to do with them! Pictures of your product in action are always more interesting than purely promotional images.

For example, picture someone using one of your products instead of just showing it off on a table or stuffing it into its packaging. Make sure to use the right hashtags when posting relevant content – they are how you make people find their way back to your profile.  People search Instagram for particular interests and events, so you need to have those hashtags ready. If there is no audience associated with that hashtag then there is no point in using it because you’ll never be found!

Create branded hashtags

These should be easy for your customers to remember and use. The most successful brands on Instagram use hashtags like #myMindShift, #MyFavoriteThings, or #theSummerProject. By creating an easy-to-remember hashtag you make it easier for the people who love your products to find them! As a bonus, these branded hashtags become another powerful tool in building your brand’s community.

Keep the conversation going on Instagram by encouraging user-generated content

One of the best ways to gain followers on Instagram is to give them an opportunity to submit their own content related to your product line so they can be featured. This gives prospective customers a peek at what other people using your products look like and makes it possible for influencers and models alike to gain exposure as well as for you to build relationships with them. And everyone knows that word-of-mouth is far and away one of the best forms of advertising!

Give followers a chance to submit their content on Instagram by holding contests or just making your submission page available. You can even create a hashtag that encourages users to use it when they post related images and tag your profile so you know about it – people love free stuff!!

You can also encourage user-generated content by re-gramming people’s submissions on your Instagram account. This gives them a chance to become famous for their content as well as giving potential customers a glimpse into the life of real people who use your products.

Rewards for your top fans

Rewards are a great way to encourage creativity by asking followers to submit images or videos related to your brand while also getting important feedback. They also allow users to get even more exposure than just having work featured on your profile – sometimes these contests and challenges can be picked up by various media outlets! Work with influencers on Instagram who have a large following and special skills by asking them to create something using your products.

Give the top submissions shout-outs on Instagram as well as additional rewards for those who really wow you – just make sure that your reward is within reason!

Pick a topic and ask participants to submit original content related to it. There are countless ways to go about doing this, so you’ll never run out of ideas!


Whether you use Instagram for your personal life or your business, it’s important to remember this platform’s unique features. Remember the #1 rule: Be social!

If you follow these best practices, you’ll see an increase in followers. Because of the engagement factor, people like to share their updates with friends and family which can quickly snowball into a lot of exposure. Suddenly your account is growing and you’re getting notifications from influencers about possible collaborations – so go on, take a picture of that sunrise! You never know where it might lead you.

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