I was scrolling through my Instagram feed earlier when I saw an image that made me want to bang my head against a wall.

The image was of a pop-up banner (promoting a business), taken in a poorly lit corridor of an uninspiring building. It was also drooping to one side. What’s wrong with that I hear you say? It’s just an innocent banner: a banner someone clearly wants to share with their friends and family. It’s doing no harm is it?

My issue, of course, is not with the pop-up banner itself but how it had wound its way onto Instagram: a platform designed for inspiring, unique and community based photography. Not to showcase pop-up banners, or any other marketing materials come to mention it.

Indeed, the concept that Instagram is a platform for sharing images is often misunderstood by small businesses. It seems easy doesn’t it -we’ve all got an iPhone nowadays – a quick tap of the button and you can have an image loaded and ready for the world to see in a matter of seconds. The question, however, is whether you’re sharing an image people actually want to engage with.

For example, a few weeks ago, I was asked to manage the Instagram account of an accountancy firm; I politely declined. Why? Simply put, unless the accountancy firm worked from a white-sandy beach or were looking for a parody take on office life, then the account would fail and ultimately, I’d be responsible.

You see, as I’ve mentioned above, Instagram is all about the image (unless you’re a celebrity, who can get away with posting just about anything), and finding captivating images that translate into accounting services would have been near impossible. Furthermore, considering 90% of Instagram users are under 35, it’s also unlikely that an accountancy firm would find their desired audience on the platform. It would have been a waste of time and I fed that back, as constructively as I could.

To help business owners understand whether Instagram is worth their while, therefore, I’ve devised a few questions to consider, before you click the sign-up button:

Questions to ask before you open an Instagram account for businessspoil-me-social-branding-style-guide_element-07

  1. Can you provide regular (daily) high-quality images?
  2. Do you have time to create images?
  3. Can your service or business be represented in image form that is appealing to others?
  4. Is your audience on Instagram?

If you answer ‘no’ to any of the above, then my advice is to resist setting up an account. Ultimately, it’s unlikely to reap much reward and will only serve as a distraction from other platforms that you could be focusing your attention on. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, which can be adapted for use by most businesses, Instagram is more difficult and requires the initial building blocks mentioned above in order to succeed.

As a small business owner, I understand that time is precious. Spending hours uploading images to a platform that doesn’t suit your needs or your audiences needs is, therefore, a waste of your time. Doing one platform well, rather than all social media platforms fairly average, will be far more beneficial to you in the long-term.

If, however, you answered yes to the questions above – excellent! Instagram could be a brilliant platform for you to promote your business on. In next week’s blog post, I’ll be exploring the initial stages of setting up an Instagram account, and what’s important to get right, right from the beginning.

Would you like any advice on using Instagram for business? Get in touch!

Alternatively, if you have any good examples of accountancy firms that use Instagram well, let me know! I’d be delighted to be proved wrong. 


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There is 1 comment on this post
  1. Catherine
    January 06, 2017, 1:46 pm

    Definitely agree with this! I manage my agency’s Instagram account and the aim isn’t to attract clients to get more work, but because our audience are potential candidates who do use Instagram and who want to find out more about our culture before applying for roles.

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