How to master Instagram for service-based businesses

Instagram, the online mobile photo and video sharing social networking service, has long been a marketing domain for businesses with products.

Instagram’s some 1 billion active monthly users (Source: are continually browsing their Instagram feeds, primarily on their mobiles, enjoying images from their friends, but also from the brands that they follow. They might be seeing images of icy cocktails or delicious food made by their local bar, or fashion shots showing a brand’s products styled and in-situ, and more.




With 123,060 posts to Instagram every minute (Source: Marwick Marketing), how can service-based businesses master Instagram? We like to see it as the step before direct lead generation: a way of building and maintaining awareness of your brand.



1. Humanise the Business

People tend to buy from people – so show them the faces behind the services. You can do this by putting faces to the names of staff through doing a series where you introduce one staff member per week and share one unique thing about them. You could photograph them in their favourite work shirt, or eating their special homemade lunch, or sitting in their personalised workspace, and so on. Let your followers feel like they’re getting an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into your business like MailChimp does:


You can also share interesting company news such as new staff members, new offices, new websites, if you’re presenting at or attending an event. And don’t forget that things like team building exercises, catered lunches, casual days, and events that you attend are also great things to share. Be relatable, but always maintain a level of professionalism (Note: no messy pub shots!).

If your business has been around for some time, you may even wish to use the #TBT (Throwback Thursday) hashtag every Thursday to cover off on company history.


2. Follow your followers and engage

If someone follows you, consider following them back. If they look like a potential customer, start engaging with them. Like their posts and comment where suitable, try to authentically connect with them on a personal level. This doesn’t need to be too tricky, it may be as simple as commenting on their photo of a sunrise with “Great way to start the day!”. Adelaide’s Accodex Partners do this well by commenting as seen here:



3. Share interesting pieces of information

What interesting statistics or pieces of information can you share that will capture the attention of people as they’re scrolling? Jim’s Pest Control have hit the nail on the head here with some shock-factor around the likelihood of a home having termites:


The key here is to relate you statistic or fact to something that people can comprehend and relate to. For example, if you’re a caterer, you might share how many kilograms of rice you go through each year, and relate that to the size of an animal so you can make it visual.


4. Remain on-brand

When sharing images on Instagram, always stop and ask yourself: “Is this in-line with our brand message?”. For example, if you’re a financial planner who specialises in dealing with pre-retirees, avoid imagery of young people! And feel free to weigh-in on public holidays or special events, but only when relevant and if there’s a point. We like how Jim’s Skip Bins have posted something iconic for Australia Day, but kept it on-brand by using their logo and relevant by having a fitting caption:



5. Share motivational or inspirational quotes

Do these too often and you risk becoming annoying. However, when done right, you can hit a key note with your followers and resonate with them on a personal level. Ensure the quote you have selected supports the mission and purpose of your brand, then use free tools like Canva or WordSwag to generate these images with text overlaid. And a hint – always double-check the ‘sources’ of a particular quote or phrase. I’ve come across a few in the past that have been wrong!




And finally, some quick tips for using Instagram as a business in general:

  • Create an optimised profile – upload good profile picture (110×110 pixels), use your profile description to explain your business, your location, and provide your website link, and ensure that all privacy barriers are removed.
  • Always use high-quality, appealing imagery, and be sure that you own the rights to this imagery. The optimal image size for Instagram is 1080 x 1080 pixels.
  • Put your branding on every image that you share – even just a small logo at the bottom of the image, as this ensures that if it’s shared elsewhere, your branding goes with it.
  • Use filters if you wish – but remain brand consistent. Don’t go too ‘arty’ if it’s not going to suit your brand.
  • Review popular hashtags and incorporate them. Many users browse via hashtags that are of interest to them, and therefore the reach of your posts can increase dramatically. Popular business hashtags include #smallbiz, #success, #business, #entrepreneur, #marketing.


So there you have it – our top 5 master tips on Instagram for service-based businesses. Have you seen any good examples out there that you’d like to share?

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Simone Douglas

Simone Douglas

Simone is co-founder and Senior Principal Solutions Architect of Social Media AOK. Simone offers over 17 years in corporate management roles encompassing generalist HR recruitment and development of small to large teams across multiple sites, industry sectors and states. Experienced in a variety of social media platforms and their complimentary applications, social media strategy, risk management, disaster recovery and associated HR policies and processes.