10 Places to Find Inspiration for Your Business’s Instagram

By Jennifer Herman, Eric Butow, Corey Walker

The tactics and methods for using Instagram for your business are often methodical. But what really connects with people and your audience is good content. Posts that evoke emotions or educate your viewers will always perform well for you.

If you’re unsure of where to start or what types of content you want to create, look for inspiration from others on Instagram. Seeing what they are doing can give you the ideas and motivation to create unique and valuable content of your own.

Investigate the Explore Page

One of the first places to look for inspiration on Instagram is the Explore page.

Explorepage Instagram
The Explore page displays a variety of content that is targeted toward your interests.

To get to the Explore page:

  • On your mobile device: Tap the magnifying glass icon in the Instagram toolbar.
  • On the Windows app and the desktop version of the Instagram website: Click the compass icon at the top of the screen (to the left of the heart icon).

The Explore page curates posts from a variety of Instagram users. The content is found and sorted specifically for you, based on the types of accounts you follow and interact with. What you see on the Explore page will always be different than what others will see, because each user receives customized results.

The content on the Explore page is valuable as a source of inspiration because most of the posts are from people you don’t currently follow, so you’re introduced to new accounts and fresh content. And that content is usually high performing, so you’ll see the type of content that generates positive reactions.

Review hashtag searches related to your brand

Hashtags are a popular way to find content centered on a specific theme or phrase. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be using this same resource to find inspiration!

You can perform a hashtag search on Instagram in two ways. The first is to tap any hashtag you see in an Instagram post. The corresponding hashtag gallery in Instagram appears and you see all recent content created using the hashtag you tapped.

hashtag gallery Instagram
A hashtag gallery displays the Instagram posts that include the hashtag you tapped.

The second method for accessing hashtag searches follows:

  1. On the Instagram page, tap the magnifying glass.

    The Explore page appears.

  2. In the Search field at the top, type the hashtag option you want to search for.

    To follow along with the example, type #photography.

  3. Tap the Tags tab.

    hastag search Instagram
    The hashtag search screen populates other hashtags with your related keyword.

    The Tags screen shows results from the hashtag you entered, plus any related hashtags.

    Using this search function with a keyword for your industry is a great way to find other related hashtags that you might want to use on your own content or search for more ideas.

  4. Tap a hashtag in the list to open up the corresponding hashtag gallery.

Searching these hashtags, especially when searching topics and keywords related to your business or industry, is a resourceful way to find fresh content. And best of all, because the content is in line with what you’re looking to create, you should be able to get some good ideas of what others in a similar industry are doing and pull inspiration from those posts.

Spy on your competitors

If you aren’t following your competitors on Instagram, you may need to search for them. Just as you did with the hashtag searches, tap the magnifying glass icon on the home page to display the Explore page. Next, tap the Search field and start typing either the business name, if you know it, or a type of business or a physical location or both. Then tap the People tab to see all accounts that match that criteria. Tapping any name in the list will take you to that Instagram profile.

Serach for Intagram competitors
Use the Search field and the People tab to look up your competitors.

Of course, you don’t want to copy what your competitors are doing. But seeing how their content is created, how often they post, and what hashtags they use can give you some direction in your own strategy.

Even if your competitor posts content that you don’t find appealing or that doesn’t generate much engagement, that information is helpful to know. You can use it as inspiration for the types of content to avoid in your own strategy.

Get inspiration from local businesses

Beyond looking at your direct competitors, it can be helpful to look at businesses in your local area. These accounts may be creating quality content that showcases your city or region. You may be able to draw inspiration from the local flare they utilize in their content. You may also be able to find some good local hashtags to use in your own posts based on what other local companies are using.

If your business is local or has one or more physical locations, consider incorporating content in your Instagram strategy that highlights local or regional attractions. For example, if you own a shoe store, including content related to your local parks, city walks, or even live events can be a great way to connect with your target audience. It reinforces that you are part of the community and reminds active people that they need good shoes.

Check out your favorite products

Many of the brands you already know and love are likely using Instagram as well. And if you already enjoy those products, chances are you’ll like the content they’re sharing on Instagram too. Check out those favorite products and companies on Instagram to get some fun inspiration for your own content.

Look for brands that are creating content regularly and that you find visually appealing. You might find creative ways to stage your products to make them more flattering or appealing.

Finding content that also showcases humor, education, or other entertainment value is also helpful.

From small and local companies to global brands, there are many brands using Instagram well and which can provide inspiration for your Instagram content.

Look to photographers

Great photography performs the best on Instagram. Regardless of the value of your message, people will scroll right past your post if you use a poor-quality image. Improve your photography skills and find inspiration by following actual photographers on Instagram.

Good photographers have a sense of composition, alignment, and lighting that helps them create beautiful photographs. Finding photographers who appeal to your style can help you see the types of photo staging that will improve your own photography skills.

Depending on the types of objects you plan to showcase on Instagram, look for photographers with a similar subject.

Get inspired by bloggers

Many bloggers make good use of Instagram to build their audience and to motivate their audience to take action on the posts they’re sharing. Whether encouraging viewers to, say, read something, follow a recipe, or fix up a DIY project, Instagram often helps these bloggers reach their goals.

Bloggers who create beautiful content and drive engagement and interactions are great sources of inspiration. Most of them have vibrant photos with beautiful finished projects. Seeing how these accounts create attractive content can help you determine how to stage and set up your own content to best appeal to your target audience.

Most bloggers also have cohesive galleries on Instagram. Even though all of their posts showcase a different item or project, they have a consistent style and theme. These posts should help inspire you to create your own style and theme to keep your content branded and cohesive.

Find big brands that are being creative

A lot of big brands get creative with their Instagram content and campaigns. Although they often have the advantage of large budgets and teams of creative input, you can take all their hard work as inspiration for your own content.

Take a look at big brands to see how they incorporate storytelling, employee profiles, company updates, or product launches. When you see how massive organizations are able to connect on a personal level with their audience, you can find similar ways to reach out to your audience.

You can find inspiration in how big brands not only connect with their audience but also take time to create a strong and timely message that resonates well.

Learn from Instagram and marketing experts

To stay on top of what is and is no longer working well on Instagram, you might try following industry leaders in Instagram and social media marketing. These accounts often post breaking news or Instagram tactics to help you better create an effective Instagram strategy. Because Instagram does release updates regularly, having a good resource for current news and tactics is beneficial.

Industry leaders often begin implementing new tactics and features quickly, so you can see them in use and can determine how to incorporate them in your own content strategy.

Some of the best resources for Instagram news and updates follow:

  • @jenns_trends
  • @coreycwalker
  • @smexaminer
  • @tylerjmccall
  • @suebzimmerman
  • @mollymarshallmarketing

Follow the Instagram for Business account

Instagram is always updating the app and adding features. It also does a lot to highlight companies that use Instagram for marketing. Instagram has created @instagramforbusiness to help you better understand Instagram as a marketing tool.

Instagram for Business
The Instagram for Business account on Instagram.

To stay abreast of the latest features and updates, and grab inspiration from other businesses using Instagram marketing, follow the Instagram for Business account.