Marketing is about telling stories and few things tell a story faster than a picture. In fact, images are growing faster than any other form of shared content online due in large part to the tremendous growth of camera equipped smart phones.

Facebook is the world’s largest photo sharing site, but others sites such as Pinterest and, the popular iPhone app, Instagram have also attracted large followings based primarily on the ease of photo sharing.

Reclaimed rock quarry in Curritiba Brazil from my Instagram feed

Instagram is a photo-sharing site that’s a bit of a Flickr meets Twitter. iPhone users download the Instagram app and then share images after applying a range of effects and filters.

Other Instagram users can “like” and comment on images and follow users to view their images in their own feed. Users can also easily post the images they upload to Instagram on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr if they choose.

As with many social networks, personal use has spawned most of the growth. With heavy adoption however, businesses are now starting to take note of ways to use the Instagram tools and network to promote their business.

Naturally image heavy businesses such as hair salons, graphic designers, and remodelers have obvious uses for the photo sharing site, but any business can find ways to use the network and the growing set of tools supporting it to supplement their marketing efforts.

Below is a list of some Instagram applications that can help turn Instagram into a marketing tool for your business.

iDarkroom – This isn’t really an Instagram related tool, but it’s a great tool to use to enhance your images before you upload them to Instagram

Webstagram – This tool helps you search, sort, tag, follow and comment on photos shared by other users. One of the ways to make Instagram pay off is to build a following and part of that is done by finding and following relevant users and adding your comments to their images.

Instagram is a simple tool and lacks many of these basic tools so Webstragram makes using Instagram much easier.

Postagram – This might be my favorite application. Postagram allows you to turn any Instagram image into a postcard with the push of a button. Then Postgram sends your postcard for less than dollar. Think about how you could send product images to customers or showcase a project you’re working.

What if you took client images at an event and turned them into personal postcards? This little tool could produce tons of good will and buzz in the right hands.

Printstagram – This tool takes your Instagram images and allows you to turn them into posters, mini prints, and mini books.

Again, I’m thinking of some pretty cool ways to create project and client story books and present them as visual reminders of the relationship.

StickyGram – This app takes your custom Instrgram shots and turns them into magnets. It’s like having your own little promotional products creator right in your phone, but potentially much cooler.

Think about the artistic and relevant community shots, event shots, and product shots you could turn into a library of giveaways.

Canvas Pop – If you want to take up a notch Canvas Pop will take your Instagram images and print them on canvas frames.

Think about the artsy ways you could showcase your work, your staff or your customers with this tool.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Just got my iPhone (old Blackberry devotee) and this was the first new app I added! A bit of a learning curve for me but the ease of use & fun sharing ways make this a *must* for those businesses who want to make an impact with iPhone users. Thanks for summary here especially of web-based tools. Peace!

  • I haven’t got so into Instagram apps but I see its great potential in my marketing strategies. These apps look totally cool and very helpful in increasing sales pitch and promoting businesses. Thanks for sharing its usefulness in marketing.

  • anonymous

    Thanks for explaining what these different apps do, but the headline is obviously misleading. so how do you use instagram to tell and sell your marketing story exactly?? I was expecting to see some cases etc.

    • Not misleading at all – each app comes with a way to tell and sell your marketing story – how you apply that to your business is how you make your money anonymous

  • Hi John ,

    I just got my iphone4 because my dad upgraded to the 4s and gave me his old one. I’ve been hooked on instagram. CC Chapman told me recently that it’s really a fantastic relationship marketing tool because it gives you this incredibly intimate glimpse into somebody’s life. I think if there’s any industry that should be paying attention to instagram it’s the travel industry because it would give them a fantastic opportunity to connect experience, content, consumers, an their business in a variety of unique ways. People are already creating this content and a savvy business could really leverage that. 

  • Ameena Gorton

    I hate my droid for the lack on Instagram BUT I totally agree that photos have to be part of your marketing story … the more visual the better! After all, over 60% of people are visual learners … we just might be alienating our customers by missing out on the simplest of things … adding a visual narrative! 

  • Thanks for mentioning our Postagram app! We’ve also seen some really businesses using our Sincerely Ink Holiday Card app for sending holiday cards too! We really seeing how people & businesses stay connected with Postagrams. Lots of cool ideas out there.

  • doncampbell

    Very creative idea – I’ve been using Instagram as a fun way to share personal photos but didn’t think of it in this context. Thanks John!

  • Mike

    John, great tools and great ideas.  Keep up the great sharing!

  • Thanks for this helpful post!

    I had a Droid Incredible for awhile….and it really was not so conducive to creating incredible images.

    My iPhone4s is like a dream, and I’m just getting acquainted with Instagram.  Fabulous….awesomeness!

    I can’t wait to try some of the options above.  Thank you for your recommendations.


  • Kathy Sacks

    John–great tips. Confession: I essentially moved from Droid to iPhone for Instagram, better camera and video.

  • Grant BT

    Great ideas, John. You can do most of this on an Android phone as far as I can see using Google+ and Picassa: with Google+ installed, take a photo and your phone uploads it immediately to an ‘Instant Uploads’ folder in Google+ (for sharing with the public or your choice of circles) or Picassa for printing as a card, gift item, canvas, shirt, or whatever, through multiple providers. As simple as can be.

    • Well, sort of – while you can print you’re not tapping the Instagram network, which is also a big part of what makes this work.

      • Grant BT

        But you *are* tapping the Google+ network which is becoming significant and growing daily. I see you have over 13500 followers there.

  • donnaamos

    Great info.  There is also a new photo sharing Iphone app Batch that uses your Facebook friends making it easy to share photos with only those you choose.

  • Cool tool!

  • Great information. I like this post very much.

  • Great post. I’ve been talking with professional portrait photographers who have been using Instagram since almost the beginning (a year ago 🙂 to market their businesses.

    The biggest plus is the ability to brand yourself in a unique way.

  • Great suggestions to enhance the use of instagram, will check em out! 

  • Remember when mobile phones first appeared in the market with a built-in digital camera?  So many people were asking why a phone needed a camera.  A decade later, we should not be surprised at the success of Instagram and can only wonder what innovative uses and applications it will spawn.  Thanks for giving me some great perspective on Instagram – I’m off to download it!

  • Apparently postagram is only available in the US … very disappointing ..

  • what do you think about have you checked this out?

  • Susan Kim

    The apps are now a bit outdated, some are renamed, some don’t exist anymore, but some of them are still cool. If you ever decide to make another article on third-party tools, i think you should consider adding Zengram, Iconosquare, and Schedugram. The first one’s my personal favorite, great targeting capability. And the function of posting from any browser on any PC is also nice, no more switching accounts.

    • Great suggestions, Susan. Thanks for stopping by.