Many businesses, large and small, have been using Instagram as a way to market their products for free. With over 100 million users as of February 2013, Instagram is a social media platform that should not be ignored. Celebrities use it to post photos of themselves; the White House uses it to post pictures of President Obama; and businesses use it to promote their products.

As a local business, if you’ve created an Instagram account, you’re already on the right track. Businesses selling food, clothing, or other products can almost always find a new subject for their picture campaign. But businesses that sell services and not concrete products struggle with their Instagram efforts. How can you be creative when what you’re selling isn’t tangible? What should you be taking pictures of?

As with any social media marketing, incorporating your business’s image is important on Instagram. Keep your goals in mind before trying a few of these ideas:

  1. Take pictures of employees. This can be while they are working, goofing off, eating, having a meeting, drinking some coffee, or anything. Making your business appear more human is an important part of social media marketing.
  2. Show the “behind the scenes” of your company. One of my favorite brands on Instagram is General Electric. Its pictures show engine parts, factories where mechanical work is taking place, and the tools they use. For your business, taking this approach could mean showing parts of the office that customers generally don’t see.
  3. Take advantage of the new video feature . Capture your service through a video. If you are a restaurant, show the process of creating a dish. If you are a salon, show an employee at work. You can also post a video of a small customer testimonial, with the customer’s permission.
  4. Get creative. You would think that there’s not much that the Sharpie brand could post on its Instagram account. A couple of markers and it’s done, right? But most of Sharpie’s posts are drawings created with Sharpies. If you can’t use your product to make a work of art, turn to your employees. They could make a funny video of themselves dancing or performing a skit.
  5. Post images of your local area or events. As a local business, community should always be important. Your audience cares about your community, so you should, too. As a bonus, taking pictures of local scenery or events allows you to tag them with a popular hashtag. This exposes your account to tons more viewers.

A successful Instagram account can be much more of a challenge for local businesses selling service-based products. Just remember that Instagram’s main goal is to inspire creativity through limitations. Doing something different and experimental is a great way to try to appeal to customers.

Is your service-based business using Instagram? What methods have worked for you?


White, Ryan. “3 Ways To Use Instagram Video For Local Business.” (4 Sept. 2013).