Instagram, it’s the app tons of businesses love and want to be playing on, but shouldn’t. I know, that was harsh. But sometimes tough love is the only way to get a point across. So why is Instagram bad for your business? Well, it’s not bad for all businesses, but for most businesses it doesn’t make sense. Here’s why you need to stop trying to make Instagram work for your business and focus your marketing efforts elsewhere.

1. You’re not a visual brand

Since Instagram is a visual tool, you need to have appealing content to share. It works for creative businesses with a focus on fashion, food and architecture. But there are some not-so-glamorous businesses utilizing Instagram, as well. General Electric has done an incredible job making Instagram work for their brand. How? First, they have a professional photographer, but we’ll get into that later. They also have someone on their team who has a creative mindset and can determine which images and content will work well with their audience.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for other, non-visual brands. If you’re a heating and air conditioning company or an automotive parts store, you’re going to end up wasting your time on Instagram. I know what you’re thinking, “But Anne, there are people out there who are interested in our products and services. We should be on Instagram!” No, you shouldn’t. You’re right, you do have an audience, but they are not on Instagram. Put your marketing efforts into Facebook and Google+. These networks will help you reach people who could turn into actual customers. Google+ will benefit your business on the SEO side and Facebook will allow you to post content that doesn’t necessarily have to feature beautiful, professional photography. Which leads me to my second point . . .

2. You don’t have a professional photographer

All of those beautiful photos you see other brands posting aren’t taken with smartphones. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Most brands have professional photographers who work with their social media team to take flawlessly staged photos for their Instagram account. If you’re really looking to gain followers and engagement on the site, good photos are a must. It is a “photo sharing” app after all. The biggest mistake I see brands making, besides being on Instagram when it isn’t right for their business, is poor quality photos. While there are tons of different photo editing apps and smartphones are coming out with better cameras, no picture will ever look as clear or pristine as one from a professional camera. If you don’t have the resources to have a professional photographer (or even someone who understands how to use a DSLR camera well) you should keep your business off of Instagram.

You need to have someone on your team who already has a creative mindset to turn your not-so-photogenic brand into a thing of beauty on Instagram. You might think I’m being a bit over dramatic, but I’m not. A photographer understands lighting and angles. They know how to get the best shots of the subject they’re shooting and create an image that is visually interesting. Facebook is a great place to post photos taken on your smartphone.

 3. You’re misusing the app

For those who don’t spend a large portion of their time consuming everything there is to know about social media, it’s understandable if you don’t know how to use certain features. You do not need to create a hashtag for every single word in your Instagram caption. Your captions on Instagram do not need to be a small novel. You do not need to share personal photos on your company’s Instagram account. Share those on Facebook. Facebook is the platform to share photos from company parties, volunteer outings and fun activities around the office. When brands create an Instagram account, it is used to creatively show off their products or services. Depending on the business, some can get away with more lighthearted and intimate photos. Please, refer back to this post for more ways you might be misusing social media.

Target is the perfect example of how to use Instagram as a brand. They sell a wide variety of products, some visually appealing and others, not so much, but they manage to keep their Instagram fresh, visually interesting and fun. They keep their captions short and hashtags to a minimum. I’m always intrigued to see what they will post next.


I hate to break it to you, but Instagram isn’t for every business. But that’s ok. If you can’t play on this social media site well, don’t worry about playing on it at all. Spend your time on other social media networks and grow your fans, followers and connections on platforms that are actually relevant to your business.