Instagram for Business

Welcome to the Instagram for Business blog! Explore how businesses are using Instagram through tips, brand spotlights, API examples and news from Instagram HQ.


brand spotlight, fashion, lifestyle, retail, travel, instagram, herschelsupply, welltravelled,

Herschel Supply Crafts a Brand Narrative of Stylish Wanderlust on Instagram

With a growing collection of popular travel gear, Canadian retailer Herschel Supply could easily use their Instagram account as a visual product catalogue featuring glossy shots of backpacks, wallets, and duffels to showcase the brand’s trademark style of chic ruggedness.

But Herschel Supply’s online marketing team, led by social media manager Allison Butula, knows it takes more than beautiful images of standalone products to build a brand. And more importantly, she wants to tell the brand’s story.

We recently invited Allison to Instagram HQ to share some tips for other brand marketers who are looking to use Instagram as a powerful medium for visual storytelling. “When we look for photos to feature on our Instagram account, we’re looking for photos that fit into our overall brand story of what it means to be ‘well travelled,’” Allison shared. “We’re looking for photos that tell that story in a single image.”

Soon after joining Instagram in October 2012, the Herschel Supply team created two primary hashtags—#welltravelled and #herschelsupply—to build a follower base and engage with consumers across different social media platforms. On Instagram, the team encouraged followers to add the hashtags to photos of inspiring travel scenes and Herschel Supply products as they’re toted into the wild.

Herschel Supply’s followers offer glimpses into that wild—and espouse the brand’s sense of adventure—from locations far-flung or closer to home. “We’re trying to promote everyday travel, as well as aspirational travel,” Allison noted. “We often say ‘well travelled’ which means exploring your surroundings, whether that’s across the world or in your backyard.”

For additional tips, watch this short video featuring Allison and examples of some of the great content published by @herschelsupply.


chobani, cpg, brand spotlight,

How Yogurt Maker Chobani Uses Instagram to Open Minds

When asked why Chobani saw Instagram as a natural fit for the brand’s marketing strategy, the answer is simple. “We want to be where our consumers are,” says Hilary duPont, Content Manager on Chobani’s Brand Communications team.

“We’re on the platform every day so we know what’s trending. If our consumers are posting about smoothies, we are, too. We want to be doing what they’re doing.”

Before joining Instagram in 2011, Chobani had been tracking mentions of their product—now the top-selling Greek yogurt in the U.S.—across different platforms.

The social team uncovered a trove of photos by the Instagram community of artfully-arranged breakfasts and clever smoothie concoctions. By using the hashtags #creationaday and #chobani, people sought to both inspire other yogurt-lovers and engage with the brand in direct conversation.

Chobani’s social team fed off of the community’s creativity to help build their following and inspire new uses for their product.

The result is a feed that uses the power of simple imagery to push beyond the common perception of yogurt as a breakfast staple and showcase it as a core ingredient—and healthy substitute—in donuts, cheesecake bars, even pasta and "FroCho".

It’s by design and through the power and creativity of Instagram that @chobani makes the possibilities feel endless.

“We use Instagram for inspirational and aspirational content that’s still relatable,” duPont emphasizes. “We’re a leading and innovative brand and we want that to show through our content.”


nike, retail, brand spotlight,

Nike Builds a Global Community of Runners on Instagram

One of the insights that has made @nike so successful on Instagram and beyond, is its understanding that being passionate about a sport means being part of community, regardless of whether that sport is basketball, football (aka soccer), or running.

These communities are not defined by country borders, but are instead composed of fans and athletes from around the world. So with this in mind, in addition to its primary @nike account, the company created Instagram accounts that reflect these communities, including @nikebasketball, @nikefootball, @usnikefootball and @nikewomen.

While we could have featured any one of these in our Handbook for brands and brand video, we selected @nikerunning for the extraordinary way it brings the global running community together and gives them even more reasons to run, with hashtags like #werundirty that get runners out on the trails, or posts inspiring followers to “trade daylight for streetlight.”

The team behind the account is part of “The Run Dept.” at Nike, a community in its own right, which oversees everything running related at the sports company, from hosting events like the Nike Women’s Marathon to designing the shoes they sell.

All of this is brought to life on Instagram, with photos and videos that capture events, products, and inspiration, while remaining part of a larger story—one with lots of neon (or “volt” as Nike calls its signature color) and the message that as runners, we’re all in this together.


general electric, brand spotlight,

General Electric Shows a Different Side on Instagram

If you were asked to picture General Electric’s Instagram account, you might imagine photos of light bulbs or videos of washing machines.

Try fighter jets and locomotives.

The team behind @generalelectric isn’t here to push appliances. Instead they tell a broader story of building, powering, moving and curing the world—which just happens to be their company mission.

Of course most people don’t know that. But with Instagram, General Electric saw an opportunity to shift perceptions by showing a different side of the brand. That’s one reason we selected @generalelectric to be featured in both our Instagram brand video and our Handbook for brands.

“We do so many things, something we were looking to solve is how to explain that to people,” says Katrina Craigwell, Global Manager of Digital Marketing at General Electric. “It’s about developing an understanding for what GE does, beyond what you think it does.”

While building awareness for its innovative technology—helpful for attracting young engineers and big contracts—General Electric has also established itself as one of the most admired contributors to the Instagram community, with its majestic shots of powerful engines and remote wind farms.

"Our theory was that there was a way to present our big machines in way that was beautiful, a way that people could geek out on science and technology and jet engines,” says Craigwell.

So how does General Electric craft such a compelling story out of massive machines? Very thoughtfully.

First, they start with messaging priorities that align with the business objectives for the year. Then they commit to a high bar for content, with a mix of images taken on iPhone and DSLR cameras. One especially effective technique is the use of scale—showing people as they build and service these industrial mammoths.

Craigwell explains, “Most of our content is created exclusively for Instagram, and other channels pull from the account. The content production is a group effort but there is always a focus on quality and a unique experience.”

General Electric also makes sure not to overdo it, typically posting once a day, although that number might increase to two or three times if there is an event taking place, such as the Instawalk they hosted last September, when then invited 12 Instagram photographers—some professional, some amateur—inside a jet engine test facility.

The images posted from the walk offered new angles on the technology, as seen through the eyes of the different photographers. Keeping the account fresh is key, Craigwell says. “We like to be unexpected and to add value. Instagram is place where we can do that.”


ben & jerry's, cpg, brand spotlight,

Ben & Jerry’s Secret to Success on Instagram

If watching the Instagram video for brands made you crave a sweet treat, that’s because @benandjerrys is an expert at bringing its ice cream brand to life on Instagram. Focusing on its key themes of flavors, fun, values and community, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first brands to join Instagram in February 2011.

“It’s our visual storytelling platform,” explains Ben & Jerry’s digital marketing manager Mike Hayes.

Ben & Jerry’s Vermont heritage is also a key part of their story, but now that the brand has a global presence, they use Instagram to connect with people around the world and to source photos from Instagrammers enjoying their ice cream in far away places.

In fact, at least half the photos that Ben & Jerry’s shares through their account today are from community members, many of whom compose their shots using the framing techniques modeled by the brand. One favorite: a shot of a cone or cup from the POV of the person about to enjoy it, with a fun backdrop that identifies where they are.

As Hayes sees it, “We’re a curator of our brand story now.”

Ben & Jerry’s does all of their account management in-house, from shooting images and videos, to reviewing Instagram photos posted with Ben & Jerry’s related hashtags, to selecting the best of the best to share in their own feed.

Hayes doesn’t point to a complicated formula when asked how the brand has become so successful on Instagram.

"Other marketers ask us what the secret is,” he says. “It’s helped being on the platform from the beginning, but the secret is respecting the community and providing value to them.”


the making of, brand spotlight,

Bringing @newenglandouterwear’s Shoemaking to Life with Instagram Video

The Making Of… To see more photos and videos from New England Outerwear’s workshop, follow @newenglandouterwear on Instagram. Know any other Instagrammers doing something unique with their hands? Send us a note through Tumblr.

"We started @newenglandouterwear when the brand was just an idea in our heads,” says Dan Heselton, who co-founded New England Outerwear Co. in 2012. “We didn’t know if this thing would work, or if people even cared, but we wanted to record the process of us learning the craft of shoe making, the people we were forming relationships with and who were teaching us this art and the progression and growth of not just the product itself, but the brand and us as people.”

Today, New England Outerwear employs a team or craftspeople assembling shoes and boots from a small workshop in Maine. Through photos and videos shared to Instagram, the company’s followers get an intimate glimpse at the people and machinery behind their products. “A main goal of ours is to convey our process,” says Dan, “and the fact that our shoes are handcrafted in our own factory using timeless methods.”

The addition of video on Instagram, in particular, has given life to the time-tested fabrication process. Says Dan, “It’s perfect, especially for a company like ours. I can’t think of a better way to portray the craftsmanship and skill that goes into a handmade product with tradesmen or women using processes that have been around for over a hundred years.”

Aside from building a sustainable business, Dan has another hope: “Maybe we will inspire someone watching to want to learn and take up the trade themselves.”

(Source: instagram)


the making of, brand spotlight,

The Making Of: British Garments with @sehkelly

To see how clothes go from the factory to the shop window, follow @sehkelly on Instagram.

When it comes to homegrown threads, you can’t get closer to Britain than SEH Kelly's (@sehkelly) hand-woven clothes.

Based in their East London workshop, designers Paul Vincent and Sara Kelly started the menswear company in 2009. They source cloth and makers from 15-20 British locations—from a Mohair mill in West Yorkshire to a one-man mill in North London and a family-son tweed mill in Country Donegal, Ireland.

"What is most important to us is transparency," says cofounder Paul. "The places we visit—be they fabric mills, brass foundries, glove-makers or garment factories—are often so interesting, and the work they do so wonderful that it seems a waste not to show it to the world. We hope, in some small way, to inspire an interest in the making process, not necessarily craft or handmade work, but the simple nuts and bolts of industry around the British Isles doing its very excellent thing."

(Source: instagram)


brand spotlight,

Sailing the Seven Seas with Maersk Line

Maersk Line, the world’s largest shipping container company, joined Instagram in September 2011. Since then, the company has been using its account (@maerskline) to build awareness and affinity for the brand.

"Because we are a classic B2B brand, some people just thought of us as another boring, big company," said Jonathan Wichmann, who manages the @maerskline account. “But our account has allowed us to transform our image into something much more interesting.” Maersk Line is also using the account to humanize their brand and tell their story in a personal way. “We use Instagram like an individual would use it. We try not to over think and just share some of the great, authentic Maersk moments we come across,” says Wichmann.

The Denmark-based company shares images of its more than 600 large container ships, over 2.5 million containers and ports all over the globe. Occasionally, @maerskline digs into the past and shares images from the company’s photo library, highlighting the rich, century-old heritage of the shipping business through a new medium. Followers are encouraged to engage as well by tagging sightings of the company’s ships all over the world with #maersk, and the photos are shared by Maerk Line on other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

To see more images, check out the (@maerskline) account and browse the #maersk hashtag.


non-profit, brand spotlight,

US Interior Showcases America’s Great Outdoors

As part of a broader effort to increase tourism from US and international visitors, the US Department of the Interior, which oversees America’s 401 national parks, launched their Instagram account (@usinterior) in June 2012. Since then, @usinterior has been showcasing the amazing public lands across the country, from Denali National Park in Alaska to Acadia National Park in Maine. The account is also raising public awareness of lesser known parks by sharing striking images of more hidden gems in the great American outdoors such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan.

The images, which are a combination of mobile and DSLR photographs, are mostly from the department staff. In addition, the Interior sometimes features images submitted by the public to photo contests. To see more images, check out the account (@usinterior).


brand spotlight,

PayPal Re-imagines Money

Since joining Instagram in January 2013, @PayPal has been using its account to connect in a new way with followers. PayPal is taking a unique approach to building authentic associations with its brand by highlighting the experiences that the PayPal service enables. PayPal frequently invites guest Instagrammers to “take over” the account and share these experiences. For example, Brooklyn based fashion blogger @keikolynn recently documented her shopping excursions using PayPal. Followers are encouraged to share their own adventures on Instagram using the #paypalit hashtag.

As part of this experience-based approach to branding, this past July 4th, PayPal invited guest Instagrammers to share what freedom means to them through a single photo and caption. For the five day “Freedom” July 4 photo series, PayPal enlisted the help of five Instagrammers who had guest posted on the PayPal account before — @danielsunglee, @mlle_michele, @alice_gao, @trotterpup, and @tylersharpphoto — and asked them to delve into the spirit of independence underlying the holiday.

Each day, one of the guest Instagrammers posted a single image on the @PayPal account. The images captured different meanings and interpretations of freedom, ranging from @alice_gao’s sense of freedom when she travels to @trotterpup’s appreciation of the freedom to “eat endless amounts of #bacon with no shame”.