Being Authentic on Instagram Can Help Grow Your Business

By Chelsea Kallman, NAMA Blogger | 9.7.16

#LiveAuthentic — the potentially overused hashtag encouraging people to live an adventurous life, filled with risk and emotional honesty.

It seems harmless, but because of this hashtag’s common usage it has gotten a bad rap. Photos tagged with #liveauthentic are typically communicating curated moments far from everyday life.

The New Statesman blog post talks about the “cult of authenticity” shaping a supermodel’s worldview, provoking her to rebrand all her sponsored and perfect photos with actual honest captions.

This Gription blog talks about #liveauthentic representing a generations-deeper cry for a unique life with a meaningful story.

If you manage social media for a small business, then you’ve experienced how #liveauthentic makes it that much harder to post actually authentic material. You have to toe the line of being real and relatable, but not so real or authentic that it’s fake.

So, how do we move past the contrived and use Instagram as a powerful social tool?



Social media is meant to be social. Posting pretty pictures won’t give your customers the personal connection a conversation can.

Marketing for a small business is the long game. You need repeat customers and loyalty.

The Nashville Sounds, our minor league baseball team, is actually winning at this concept.

Early in the 2016 season, I brought my bulldog to an event called Bark in the Park. While there I snapped a photo of him, tagging The Sounds.

The Nashville Sounds commented, saying how much they loved it and how the photo was an official selection for The Sounds Choice Awards.


As a fan, this made me feel so special. They offered me a pair of free tickets to the Sounds Choice Awards and a chance at winning a gold bobblehead of Booster, the team’s mascot. I ended up winning and got to go on field to accept my award.

The Sounds paid for the time to find my photo and the cost of my tickets. But, they got a lot more in return.

I came to the game and happily spent money on food, drink, and merch – totaling far more than the worth of my tickets. I boasted on Instagram about winning, tagging The Sounds in all my photos. All my friends saw and were excited for me. They also saw how much The Sounds engage with their fans.

This is an easy and affordable way to make your followers feel special. It can be as simple as commenting on and reposting a photo your business is tagged in.

This has happened to me with several brands and I always feel like a rockstar when it does.


Coffee shops can only post a picture of a beautiful latte so many times before it gets old. It’s the same with any business selling a product and not an idea.

In June 2016, John Frieda hair products launched a campaign making their brand about more than what kind of shampoo you use. It was called Shades of Me.

The program connected to your Instagram account so an algorithm could find out what colors are most present in your photos. It took into account your hair color, then told you what shades you are, and what that says about you. It also suggested different hair care products to use.


The entire campaign communicated that John Frieda cares about who you are on the inside (and that your hair looks good, too). Read this Convince and Convert blog about John Frieda embracing personalized content. The blog post quotes John Frieda’s marketing manager, Alex Bradbury, explaining the power behind content marketing.

“Everybody wants something that nobody has; that’s the crux of it,” she said. “They want something that’s tailored to them, something that gets a layer deeper.”

This sentiment gets at the same idea behind #liveauthentic. Everyone wants to be unique and feel like they’re doing something important.

Use your Instagram to show and live the authenticity of your brand instead of just telling them.