adc businesses on instagram

Instagram began to infiltrate our mobile phones about 4 years ago, and hasn’t stopped growing since. This Social Media network is often used to share creative and captivating images and video. The most successful Instagram accounts out there are constantly experimenting and showing off their photography/videography skills. Compared to Twitter and Facebook, Instagram is relatively simple. There are only a handful of actions you can take on Instagram: You can follow users, post content, like and comment on posts, and that’s about it. Instagram may seem very simple based on this, however there’s still a lot going on and users are spending a lot of time on Instagram following their favorite celebrities, friends/family members, and brands. Your business may benefit from interactions on Instagram, so check out our 5 tips for getting started.

1. Should My Business Utilize Instagram?

This post by the Allen Americans is a great example of a business using short-form video to engage with their audience. This is an effective way of keeping fans engaged during the off season when their interest for the team/sport would otherwise be hibernating. Maintaining a relationship with your audience should be the primary motivation for participating in most online forums. If you’re not sure whether Instagram is right for your business, consider these:

  • If you have compelling visuals and stories to share, you can make it on Instagram.
  • If your target audience is between the age of 16 and 30 and relatively technology-savvy, you should probably consider a presence on Instagram.
  • If your business is a restaurant, celebrity/personality, or artist (musical, performance, or traditional), you should put a decent amount effort into an active Instagram account.

Of course, these are all over-simplifications to help you get a feel for Instagram, but the best way to know if you should be on Instagram is to simply try it and see what happens. Experimentation on Social Media generally only costs you some time and manpower, but has the opportunity to create some great opportunities. Consider committing to posting regularly, engaging with users often, and promoting your Instagram account on your website, other Social Media pages, and in person for at least 3 months and at the end of your trial period evaluate how things went. Don’t only determine success/failure based on conversions or sales, but observe how many likes, comments, and mentions/tags you get to see whether it is worth your time and effort. As always, you can also observe how competitors are using Instagram or if they are not using Instagram that may tell you something else entirely, however don’t take all of your cues from competitors as great value can come from being a trailblazer.

2. To Square Or Not To Square?

Up until a few weeks ago this wasn’t even a question. Instagram now allows landscape and portrait images in addition to their beloved square. So now you cannot go wrong whether you upload a square or rectangular image… unless of course you use black bars at the top and bottom or the sides to make a rectangular picture into a square image.

In the past, users fought Instagram’s square requirement by using 3rd party applications to add black bars to the top/bottom or sides of an image to fill in the empty space. Many users have become accustomed to and perhaps even like the look of this, so even with the recent change they are still using these bars. Businesses should not do this. Mainly the only users still doing this are teenagers or users trying to look trendy or “hip” and you probably wouldn’t want your business coming across this way to consumers.

3. Is Reposting OK Or A No-Go?

Sharing or Reposting is common across most Social Media platforms. Facebook users love to share posts or photos, Twitter users enjoy retweeting or quote-tweeting, and Instagram users are no different. Although Instagram does not natively support reposting, there are a plethora of 3rd party applications you can use to facilitate this. A list of our favorite reposting applications can be found at the end of this post with other tools to help you on Instagram.

Reposting content can great for your business, but generally only if the following have been met:

  • Always make sure the original poster is OK with you sharing the content. Try to refrain from assuming that just because their content is public that you can share it. Send them a PM or comment on their picture to ask them for their permission.
  • Always credit the original poster with their username on the image itself (most reposting apps will help you with this) and a shout-out in the caption is always nice to include as well.
  • Always add your own commentary in addition to including their caption on the image.

Reposting photos shows your followers that you are listening to your audience and that you care what they have to say or show. But be careful, it’s important to have a nice balance between original content and reposting otherwise your business will seem like you are not putting much effort into your presence in the community.

4. Why Does Instagram Have To Be So Difficult?

“You Should Not: Use the Instagram APIs for any application that replicates or attempts to replace the essential user experience of or the Instagram apps.”

This quote, taken from Instagram’s Terms of Use for their API, states that applications cannot post on a user’s behalf, each user must use the official app to publish original content. As you can imagine, this presents an obstacle for many businesses who traditionally use desktop computers for their marketing purposes. This also can be a hassle for users that have more than one Instagram account but only one mobile device. For some users, these hurdles may make it more difficult to stay active on Instagram.

Another drawback that many businesses encounter on Instagram is the inability to provide links in the caption of photos. If you see the words “link in bio” in a caption, this means that an account has updated the link on their bio (profile) specifically for this post. Beware though, many people will not take that extra step and in the past some Instagram accounts have used this to trick users into clicking spam links.

Instagram does allow you to tag other users in your pictures, so make sure to utilize this feature as it can increase the likelihood of engagement and reposts. Ikea once used this tagging feature to create a unique and fun Instagram experience resembling their website, check it out here.

These limitations were most likely put in place and remain in place to keep businesses from abusing Instagram in ways other Social Media platforms have experienced over-marketing. Facebook and Twitter anymore are both inundated with marketing from small and large businesses alike. By limiting the ability to rapid-post and links to outside content, Instagram allows their community to grow and stay relatively free of becoming one giant advertisement. Because of these limitations, Instagram is also able to display all content from accounts a user follows, instead of prioritizing posts like Facebook must and without the utilization of lists as are commonly used on Twitter.

5. How Can I Make Using Instagram Easier?

Store Your Images In The Cloud For Easy Access

There are many different cloud storage services available and most of them start off at free. The 3 most common cloud storage services for photos are:

  • Dropbox – You can install this on your PC, Mac, iOS device, Android device, etc. This service starts off free for 2GB of storage, however you can be given more storage for free if you invite others to the service or follow their other directions for additional storage. Most people are familiar with Dropbox, and it can even be downloaded to your computer so that you can access photos directly in File Explorer or Finder.
  • Google Drive – This service is sometimes a bit trickier to use if you’re not yet used to it. Google Drive is similar to Dropbox in that you can download the desktop application and apps so it is available on PC, Mac, iOS and of course Android.
  • iCloud Photo Library – iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) users may recognize this new service as part of their operating system. For that reason, this cloud photo storage system may be the simplest and most straight-forward way to transfer photos between your devices. Depending on your iCloud storage, you can sync many photos (and videos) between your Mac computer using the Photos app and your iOS devices.

Of course, these are not the only cloud storage services that can help you sync your photos between computers and devices, these are just the most common and, in our opinion, the easiest to setup and use. We often use these tools instead of emailing photos back and forth between devices as that can become confusing and will also clutter your inbox. You could also create a document to save to your cloud storage service with captions for your photos so that you can copy-and-paste the caption instead of typing it all out on your phone.

Plan And Schedule Your Posts

Instagram’s API does not support the use of 3rd party posting applications or software. There are other tools available that will post to Instagram on your behalf but beware, they violate Instagram’s Terms of Use so you run the risk of your Instagram account being banned. For this reason, the tools listed here only assist users with scheduling, they will not actually post the content themselves.

  • Hootsuite – Hootsuite is an uber-popular Social Media management tool is used by businesses small and large across the world. This service integrates many other Social Media platforms so that you can access almost everything in one place. Hootsuite allows you to upload a photo and a caption and set a time and date for the post. When the scheduled day and time arrives, the Hootsuite app on your mobile phone will alert you that you need to post information to Instagram. From there you can open the Hootsuite app to copy the caption and save the photo. Once you’ve done this you can go straight to the Instagram app and manually import the photo and caption. One of the perks to using Hootsuite is that you can like and comment on Instagram posts from the desktop application, so that is certainly useful.
  • Latergram – This service is similar to Hootsuite however it focuses specifically on Instagram. The experience is more streamlined and some would argue since it only focuses on Instagram, it’s easier to understand and use. Just like Hootsuite, Latergram does not post for you, however it allows you to schedule posts for multiple accounts so that when the time comes the app will alert you and you can copy the content and post it manually. We found this great review of Latergram, check it out for more information if you’re interested.
  • Iconosquare (Formerly Statigram) – Basically this service lets you do everything you want to do on Instagram except for post or send private messages. You can like, comment, follow, and browse using this desktop website service. This service also offers free analytics that can be seen on the website or sent directly to your email so that you can keep an eye on your Instagram account(s). This is also one of the easiest way to save photos from Instagram, as you can right-click the image and save the file directly to your computer.

These are just a few services available, others that you may want to look into are: Sprout Social (allows you to view comments on your Instagram posts) and IFTTT (sets up recipes to use your Instagram images for other things such as importing to Tumblr, your Dropbox, and more).

Use Hashtags and Emoticons (emoji)

Hashtags started on Twitter, but have found their home on Instagram. Hashtags can provide context, a connection to other posts, or even categorize your images. There are tools out there to help guide you to making decisions on hashtags (in fact, Iconosquare can help you with hashtags too), but my advice is this: Open Instagram on your phone or tablet, navigate to the search feature and start typing in # then the text you think you want to use for a hashtag. You can immediately see how many posts have been made with that hashtag and if you tap on the search result you can see the types of posts associated with it. In my opinion, this is the safest way to make sure the hashtag you’re using is good quality and appropriate. Other tools may help point you in the right direction, but if you’ve not used a particular hashtag before, you should always double-check it on Instagram.

Emoticons or, as they are commonly referred to on Social Media, emoji can be fun to use sparingly. Again, this is a business account so you don’t want to go overboard, but one or two here or there in the caption or in the comments can be fun depending on your demographic. You can even research which emoji you want to use in your caption or comments on your computer by visiting this website. These icons are specifically made for Twitter or Facebook for now, but most of the time they look pretty similar.

Share Posts From Other Users

Only use these tools once you have received permission from the owner of the image(s). That is extremely important even though a photo may be public, that does not give you the right to use it.

  • Repost for Instagram – If you are looking for an easy way to repost photos from other users, take note of this app. The Android app has been downloaded over 5 million times and has an average rating of 4.0 (4.5 on the App Store for Apple devices). This app is relatively straight-forward: Log in, select an image you’d like to repost, choose where you want them to be credited on the image (their username), and copy the caption. Then from there you open the Instagram App and import the data and add your own caption along with the copied content.
  • Canva – Perhaps you have a bit more time on your hands and want to do something creative with a photo or photos from your followers. Canva is a free online service (desktop only) that enables amateur graphic designers to create professional looking images. Perhaps you want to manually add the username of the original creator of the content, or maybe you want to add a bit of text to your image… Canva can help you do that easily.

Remember: Don’t get too carried away with editing photos as Instagram is known for photos rather than graphics, anything too overproduced can come across as corporate or automatically register as an advertisement which can hurt your credibility.


Once you’ve started to establish your business’s presence on Instagram, you may want to consider advertising on Instagram. Recently Instagram has released access for any business to create advertisements through the familiar Facebook Ads “Power Editor”. Luckily this can be completed from a desktop computer so no need to worry about ordering an advertisement from a mobile device. With most advertising on Social Media, it’s extremely important to verify that your content, meaning your images and your text, are strong and compelling. Nothing is worse than paying for advertisement on a social network only to have no traction or positive response.

As with most Social Media platforms, it’s important to experiment, try new things, and learn from your experiences. Always be willing to pivot, use what you have learned, and observe others around you to guide your business in new online spaces.

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