It was once said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But in the world of Instagram, it is worth a great deal monetarily as well.

For small business owners and nonprofits looking to make a big difference in the world with limited upfront cost, why not turn to Instagram to amplify your message? The image-centric website — which has made extraordinary impact in the activism world — launched in 2010 and has 800 million monthly active users. While that is far fewer than Facebook (2.07 billion), it is far more than Twitter (330 million), making Instagram fertile ground for companies hoping to attract new customers.

The benefits of such a site are many. It has been shown that 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is of the visual variety, and that images are processed 60,000 times faster than text. 

The question, then, becomes this: How best can a company make use of Instagram? Here’s the rundown:

The basics.

When setting up an Instagram account, choose a name that is the same as that of your company, or as near as possible, to ensure recognizability. Use the company logo as the profile photo. Write a bio that includes the essentials -- name and product/service provided -- and give it some personality.

Know your audience.

2015 Pew Research Study showed that 55 percent of online 18- to 29-year-olds use Instagram, and that women are more likely to visit the site than men. That same study revealed that 30 percent of adult Internet users who make their way to Instagram earn between $50,000 and $74,999 a year. Knowing all that, it is important to target influencers in your industry, as well as potential customers, and follow them.

Create an Instagram marketing plan.

Start by laying down your objectives. According to one report, they should be S.M.A.R.T. goals -- an acronym standing for “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.” The same report recommends doing a social media audit, improving your accounts, gathering marketing inspiration for that platform, creating a content calendar and then testing and evaluating your plan.

Create eye-catching posts.

This might be the most critical part of all, given Instagram’s visual orientation. Photo choice is critical; you need to try, somehow, to make your images stand out -- a task made all the more difficult by the fact that some 70 million photos are posted on the site each day. Your photos should be professional and aesthetic; it is also crucial that they reflect the lifestyle of a person using your product. (Nike has been held up as a shining example of a company that has used such photos to full advantage. The images on their Instagram account don’t just show their products; they show people using their products in imaginative ways, and in picturesque settings.) For nonprofits and small businesses, photo-sharing present a unique opportunity to reach followers on an emotional level, whether by showcasing on-the-ground charity work or the behind-the-scenes charm of real employees. 

Don’t overdo it.

One report indicates that while 38 percent of customers say they’re influenced by a brand’s social media, and 35 percent by retailers on social media, companies would do well to soft-pedal their Instagram pitches, because nobody wants to be brow-beaten. Granted, this involves walking a fine line, but it is a line that must be walked nonetheless.

In short, Instagram is a platform capable of galvanizing your business, and getting your message in front of several million eyeballs. With the right approach, it can be an invaluable tool.

About the Author(s)

 Devorah  Rose

Devorah Rose is an American businesswoman, philanthropist, and writer, best known as editor-in-chief of the Hamptons-based Social Life Magazine (SLM). A first-generation American, Devorah believes in the power of hard work to create the life you want, empowering the voiceless, and elevating the importance of media literacy. Devorah Rose is a media contributor on activism and charity,...

Editor-in-Chief, Social Life Magazine
How Small Businesses and Nonprofits Harness the Power of Instagram