How to Use Instagram to Raise Your Profile

Instagram, the photo and video-sharing social network owned by Facebook, has become one of the most used social media channels in the world. More than 1 billion of us log on every month to share selfies, holiday snaps, and pictures of our lunch. There is, however, a whole lot more to Instagram than food porn. As a photo-sharing platform, it’s proven to be a highly useful public relations tool for businesses too.

Here are two examples of how brands are using it to attract public and press attention:

Charity Water 

This British charity provides clean drinking water to impoverished communities in the developing world. Their use of Instagram is effective because it shows how people’s donations are making a difference. It’s one thing writing a blog post, but it’s another posting pictures of children who are now healthy and happy because they have clean water to drink. The striking images are a simple but powerful way for the charity to communicate what it does and why.


The sportswear giant is widely regarded as the King of Instagram. With a whopping 80 million Instagram followers, the company’s official account is full of beautifully shot, emotive images that focus on the action in the picture rather than the Nike brand. Ironically, the result of creating such amazing content is that the photos are constantly shared and commented on, which raises Nike’s profile as a consequence.

These brands are doing something right. Nike has millions of followers, while Charity Water has a healthy 385,000 fans. A study by Forrester found that branded Instagram posts generate a per-follower rate of 4.21%. This is 58 times the engagement rate on Facebook and 120 times the engagement rate on Twitter. Why is the engagement rate so high? Remember the old cliché, a picture is worth a thousand words? That’s why. Instagram plays on the fact that images are far more engaging and effective than copy alone.

If your brand lends itself to visual storytelling, you can’t afford to not be on Insta, particularly as journalists scour Instagram for images to accompany their stories, and for stories to cover.

With this mind, here are three handy tips to get you started.

Pick a niche

Whatever business you’re in, you’ll be looking for a certain kind of follower. If you have a travel business, you’ll want to appeal to travellers and travel media. If you’re a restauranteur, you’ll want foodies and food critics to tag along on your food adventures.

A brand that’s figured out how to use Instagram to target its niche and highlight its brand story is organic food-based delivery company Riverford. In their bio, they claim to be ‘proper farmers with mud on our boots, growing 100% organic veg for over 30 years’. The visual content carries the brand’s farm-to-table message further, showcasing fresh ingredients, local growers and seasonal menu items.

Bonus tip: Make sure each photo you upload appeals to your ideal follower. One of the main reasons people unfollow Instagram accounts is because the photos are uninspiring and don’t resonate.

Use #hashtags wisely

Hashtags are a way to group ideas, concepts, or conversations. They make it easy for people to find others who are posting about topics they’re interested in. Including hashtags in your posts makes them more searchable, allowing them to reach a much wider audience. The key is to use hashtags that not only describe your photos and business but are also actively searched for and used on Instagram.

Bonus tip: To find the most relevant hashtags for your updates, you can use a free online service like Websta. These tools provide a list of popular hashtags based on your keywords. Also, there’s nothing more off-putting than trying to read a caption on a photograph and being distracted by a ream of hashtags; keep it to between three and five and ensure they’re relevant to the image you’re posting.

Interact with your community

Remember, Instagram is a social network, not just a publishing platform. So, to succeed, you need to integrate yourself into your Instagram community. At the very least, this means replying to comments that you receive on your posts, and tagging people and places who are in, or relevant to your photos.

If you’re looking to take your Instagramming even more seriously, you’ll have to take your interaction to the next level. Follow people who are in the same sector as you, and spend some time leaving valuable comments on their posts.

Need a little guidance on how to use PR to get that all-important blue tick? Read: How to use PR for Instagram Verification.

Image © Charity Water 

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