How less-viewed, unpopular Instagram posts can help improve your product

Instagram. It’s cool, pretty to look at, and admit it: it’s fun to see the likes and comments on your product photos ring up like slot machine wins. However, if you want to get an idea on how “real” customers use products like yours, you must venture beyond the comfort zone of pristinely curated, trending posts.


Pick a hashtag important to your business. Give a quick scroll through the “Top” posts relating to that hashtag. Photos paired with recipes probably show spotless kitchens with brightly colored ingredients sprinkled into highly-polished ramekins. Cars are sparkling in the sun. The same fluffy white blanket and taupe pillow stitched with a Monday morning motivational message is cozily askew beside a polka-dotted mug of hot coffee.


Sticking to the trending posts section gives excellent product photography ideas, but you would miss out on the potential inspiration for something brand new. Even a photo or video with less than 20 likes can provide business-changing insight. The “Top” photos of #triathlonbike, for example, are of shimmering bicycles propped against the same brilliant backdrop of ideal sunlight. However, in a photo with less than 20 views, you can find a guy wittling his own modular carbon fiber add-ons in his garage. If you’re in the bicycle industry, this is an excellent insight into the accessories people wish were available on the market.


Simply by switching to Instagram’s “Recent” tab, you can uncover profitable new business segments or learn how to better appeal to your customers’ needs.


Searching Product-Based Hashtags

Baseball bats. We envision them in the springtime, mid swing at the baseball diamond. However, one shopper saw an in-store display advertising baseball bats as a defense mechanism against home intruders. On a recent episode of The Chef Show, they’re using the home run-hitter to loosen shells from oyster cages in Bay Area marshes.


Although these examples seem exaggerated, don’t gloss by outliers when looking up your product type as a hashtag. If a search for #baseballbat shows you something you didn’t expect, start clicking through the hashtags used on the unexpected post. You might find a small, yet untapped niche that can drive a new business category.


Get Creative with Setting or Venue-Based Hashtags

Think about the various venues where your product is used. If you’re in the business of small kitchen appliances, try looking up hashtags of other places where people cook. For example, #vanlife might show people trying to squeeze your product, or a product similar to yours, into the compact dimensions of a miniature kitchen built inside of a van.


Looking up “Recent” posts in #tailgate or #backyardbbq, you might discover a lot of people are attempting to lug your appliance outdoors. Creating a portable version, or a version that also transforms into a serving tray could open up an entirely new customer base.


Exploring Activity-Based Hashtags

Monitor hashtags relating to activities that are done in conjunction with your product. As a car company, you might want to look up hashtags like #roadtrip or #groceryshopping. For example, when states began to pass new legislation enforcing a grocery bag fee, lots of funny videos cropped up of people walking out of stores with comically large armfuls of loose groceries.


While these were funny to watch, a car company should take notice of how the traditional push-button keyfob was becoming less and less convenient. New features like the ability to open the tailgate with a quick swipe of your foot is far easier when juggling boxes, cans, cartons in both hands.


New Discoveries Using Your Business Name as a Hashtag

Look up your product or business name as hashtag. This can give you new ideas about the types of people who use your product. Do you see a lot of city dwellers, or suburban homeowners? Using the kitchen industry example: are people punching dough on a spacious, countryside kitchen island, or on a small city-dwelling sliver of counter between the sink and microwave? A new version that bakes only half loaves for single-member dwellings might better meet the needs of your customers.


Perhaps you’re in the headphone business. In querying your business name, you see lots of scenery shots taken from a train or bus window. This tells you that lots of commuters are using your product. You might consider improvements to your noise cancellation features, or a wheel that winds up the cable for tangle-free transport.


Let your competitors rest on their laurels celebrating popular posts. By using the Instagram “Recent” posts tab, you’ll identify new, profitable niches and identify revenue-generating product improvements.

Photo credit: Konstantin Yuganov for Adobe Stock