Instagram for Business [With Free Templates]

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, how many words are on an Instagram feed?

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool – and Instagram is one of the most powerful, so why not use it to its full advantage? With well over 400 million users worldwide, there is an incredibly large audience just waiting to discover your brand.

Today, we’ll take a look at ten established brands doing awesome work on their Instagram feeds. We’ll not only show you a selected number of their images, but we’ll tell you why they’re so successful, and how you can be as successful on your feed, too.

Haven’t set up an Instagram profile yet? No problem. Learn how here.

01. Display Killer, High-quality Imagery

Who better to take inspiration from than Instagram itself? Instagram posts are of crisp, high quality imagery. There are no fuzzy snapshots here. The more clean and sharp your image is, the more pleasant it is on the eye and the more likely it is to get ‘liked’.

Also remember that your subject matter should be relevant to your brand. Though they show a seemingly random assorment of images, Instagram always manages to stay true to their branding through excellent visual curation.

Their timeline showcases everyday, human life: interesting, dynamic images from their users that are authentic and full of humanity, no matter how surrealistic the photo may be.

And isn’t that what Instagram is all about — capturing and recording all our mundane and out-of-this-world observations of human life?

To post your own high quality images upload them with a high resolution — Instagram can store images up to 1080 pixels in size. This will ensure that you don’t get any grainy or fuzzy images that can strain your eyes and deter followers.

If you’re in need of some high quality images, Canva offers about more than a million in their library. See below for a taste:

02. Use Your Product Creatively

If you sell products, take a look at what Oreo is doing.

These four Instagram images are all drastically different. There’s an image of cookies neatly stacked in jars, another showing the cookies as essential office supplies, one promoting a new flavor and its packaging, and one used to create a beachy scene.

Even though all of these images are different, they’re all visually creative and showcase the Oreo product quite effectively. All of the images are cohesive in both tone and color, while providing a consistent message about Oreo (that it’s the world’s favorite cookie)  in completely unique ways.

What are some unique ways you can showcase your product? Take a look at other brands and take note of what they’re doing — you’ll be sure to find inspiration there.

After taking a look at a few of your favorite product brands, strategize a way to combine what you like about them. Apply it to your posting style, see what happens, and prepare to be surprised.

Check out below our customizable example of an interesting product image, created just with a simple product shot and clever copy placement.

03. Showcase Customer Photos

Using your customer’s own photography is a great way to establish brand loyalty, like what GoPro does frequently.

Just be sure to give credit where credit is due – mention the photographer in your caption and tag them in the photo. This will not only get their attention, but attract their followers as well.

GoPro is an adventurous brand, and their feed reflects that. The types of photos you feature will be dependent on your image, so stay true to it. You can also post short videos on Instagram, or use the relatively new Instagram tool Boomerang, which creates gif-like sequences.

People are incredibly visual, so a dynamic video is almost always more interesting than an ordinary photograph. They can either be a quick snapshot video on your phone, or a high quality shot taken on a movie grade camera.

Take a look at the type of videos your followers are posting and post similar quality ones.

04. Implement Variety in an Approachable Way

No matter your brand, it’s important to be approachable to consumers. Triangl, a swimwear company depicts their product on models, on Instagrammers using their products, or in nicely set up snapshots. You’ve got something for everyone on this timeline, no matter their choice of presentation.

While catering to a wide audience is great, it’s also important to know how frequently you should post images. The average is 1.5 times per day, but you can get away with posting much more as long as your content is quality.

Want to know how to come up with images that sell? Check out this article on choosing the right kind of images for your marketing strategy.

Scared that your images are too varied? Brand them with consistency by layering on a coat of your chosen filter. Here’s a sample:

05. Utilize the Grid to Your Advantage

Instagram lays your images out in a three-wide grid on your profile, and you can use that to your advantage — like NikeLab does on the regular. When they put up images of their products they upload three at a time, each at a different angle.

This not only gives customers a full 360 view, but makes their profile look incredibly clean and put together. If you don’t have a product you can upload multiple angles of, break it up into pieces to be completed by the grid.

Some brands even use the entirety of their visible profile grid to display products. Like what Juliet Zulu does on its feed.

There are just two things you need to make sure of when that when posting images that way: do it quick successions and make it clear that it is a product reveal or part of a bigger picture to avoid confusion.

How to plan out your posts though? You can lay them out on this gridded template right here:

06. Relate to Your Audience

If there’s one thing Taco Bell does right, it’s knowing and appealing to their target market, and they certainly do that on their Instagram account. Hipster inspired patterns, bright photos, and quirky humor can be found all throughout their feed.

To do as good of a job as Taco Bell, get to know your target really well. Look at your followers’ photos and see who they’re following. That’ll give you in-depth insight into the types of images your customers and followers want to see.

Take that knowledge and apply it, not only to your Instagram account, but all of your social media. Knowing who your followers are on all of your social channels will improve customer-brand interaction, and ensure you’re posting what they want to see.

You can also tap into those similarities between you and your audience by combining your images with quotes. Check out these customizable ones we have here:

07. Embrace Your Vibe

Warby Parker displays their products in a unique and trendy way. They showcase adorable puppies, exude a hipster-esque vibe, and use customer photos — all of which contribute to building brand loyalty.

To follow in Warby Parker’s footsteps, stay on trend without compromising your brand’s unique identity. Search your brand hashtag and look at your tagged photos frequently to feature loyal customers who give you a shout out straight from their personal space.

This will not only ensure you keep them as a future customer, but makes your brand feel much more personable.

Being personable as a brand is your ultimate goal — after all, it’s a person who will be purchasing your product or using your services. Appeal to them directly and you’ll only be doing yourself favors.

When adding other design elements to your images, make sure they are also in tune with your vibe. Choose fonts and colors that complement both your brand and your images, like in our customizable design below:

08. Switch It Up

Starbucks does a great job of switching up their Instagram feed. They not only feature fun promo shots, but also hand lettering, artistic photos, and cool illustrations. This keeps their feed fresh and always full of surprises, which in turn encourages people to keep following.

Keeping your followers constantly coming back for more keeps them invested in your brand. They’re more likely to show their friends what you’re posting if they follow regularly, which can in effect can gain you more followers.

These followers will be the type to actually engage with and appreciate your content, which is a thousand times more beneficial than mass bought followers who do nothing for your brand.

Bought followers only make your brand ‘appear’ more popular. Remember that the absence of true human interaction can’t really further your brand.

If you want try out illustrations, we have plenty in the Canva library. Get started with these templates we have right here:

09. Stay Current

Google is a powerhouse everywhere and Instagram is no exception. They share fun and informative posts (like the pepper images above about the Scoville scale to commemorate its pioneer, Wilbur Scoville) as well as shots featuring current trends and brand imagery.

To achieve a feed similar to Google, keep up with current going-ons and be an expert on even the littlest of holidays and other dates. There are thousands (literally thousands) of holidays (National Donut Day, anyone?) that you can create images for and use online.

You can almost guarantee that if there is a holiday for it, there’s a hashtag for it — be sure to take advantage.

Hashtags allow users to search for and find images under a certain topic. It helps Instagram keep images organized and it can bring new people to your account who otherwise wouldn’t have found it.

Once you’ve found that hashtag, join in the fun of the holiday by posting something creative and celebratory, like the hypothetical Haiku Day post we created below. Try it yourself by writing in your holiday greetings in any of our quote graphics!

10. Share Artistic, Yet Personable Images

Airbnb features user photos very frequently, but they choose to display ones that have an artistic flare to them. This makes the brand feel more upscale and high class, but seeing that the images are from Airbnb users helps ground them.

This way, the brand is still accessible and personal, while giving it an advantage over other brands, like hotels. By showing real life people in these Airbnb rooms, it lends warmth to the experience and dials down feelings of intimidation.

Your Turn

Feeling inspired yet? After seeing all of these amazing Instagram images, it’s hard not to be. Take these success stories and apply them to your own Instagram feed and you’ll see results.

Still not sure where to start? Here are some more customizable templates you can use for your brand:

Last Piece of Advice

Be sure to give it time. Solid Instagram followings don’t happen overnight (in most cases). Stick with it, keep posting, and interact with your customers. Respond to their comments, comment on their images, and like photos relevant to your brand, your image, and your interests.

You can apply your solid Instagram skills to your other social networks as well by getting in tune with your audience, interacting with them, and being vigilant about what they’re posting.

Each social network will differ slightly from the other, so don’t expect to plug in your Instagram knowledge directly into Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus and expect to see the exact same results.

It will take some fine tuning and special attention, but your findings on each network could be applied in some way to the others.

Finally, you can post as frequently as you want — just as long as your content is of high quality (there are brands who post as frequently as ten times per day and see ZERO drop off in engagement). And be sure to share images you’d be happy to see on your own feed – your followers will appreciate it.

Caitlin Jordan is a graphic designer and copywriter from Columbus, OH. Apart from design and writing, she loves all things beauty. She combines her passion for both in a beauty blog and beauty channel on YouTube.