There I was sitting in a creative writing class, getting lectured about the use of imagery. “People need imagery and people need to be able to envision an idea”. Yes, that is true when it comes to writing stories, but is it relevant for marketing too? Yes, of course! Companies use imagery every day in their marketing. They use pictures to display and upsell their products. It makes sense… people like to “see” what they’re getting into.

This is why Instagram makes businesses so successful. Instagram uses images as the main focal point. These images create buzz and increase a businesses word of mouth marketing. Remember images sell! If you can use Instagram to market your products, what else could you use Instagram for? Well, you can showcase anything. Instagram users follow their favorite brands to see what the company atmosphere is like. Plus users can be the first to know what sales or promotions are currently going on. People crave the inside scoop and exclusivity.

Think of the bigger picture. Instagram is all about sharing, getting likes, spreading hashtags, and getting follows. That sounds a lot like a referral program, right? The main purpose of a referral program is to get new people to like the company and use your product. Putting the two together could hugely benefit a company. By using Instagram a company has the potential to get their program in front of a ton of eyeballs. Over 500 million across the globe actually.

How exactly can you promote a referral program on Instagram though? Well, think of your referral program as one of your products. Showcase all the aspects of the program. Promote the program on Instagram before it’s even launched (kind of like a countdown). This will get people excited. Showcase what the program will look like (show off the registration page). You could even ask some of your top referrers to do a quick testimonial. The options are limitless.

1. Show it off

This one is easy. Share an image of your referral program. Perhaps you have a referral program landing page on your main website. Take a screenshot of the landing page and post it on your Instagram profile. All your followers will see it, and it can help spike your referral program traffic. This is one of the simplest ways of using your Instagram profile to showcase your program. Another fun way to show it off is by using filters. Users respond to filters! Take an image, add a fun filter, and use a little bit of text to promote your program. This gets two thumbs up for being effective and easy.

2. Program testimonials

Whether you post an image of a program member with their and have their testimonial as the comment. Or post a video of the customer’s testimonial – it’s a win. People like to see happy things. If you have a referral program member who has something good to say, then show it off. It’s a win for everyone. You will have an interesting post. Your program member is happy, and other people will be persuaded to sign up. Plenty of people do testimonials for products. Start thinking of your referral program as one of your products. Remember people share when they are happy. It’s not uncommon for a person to advertise the program on their own Instagram page. Think of all the affiliate posts you see on Instagram. The Instagram user takes a picture of the product. Then they say a few good words to promote it. They mention in the comments that their friends can get a discount. Instagram is an awesome way to spread the word about your product, your business and even your referral program.

3. Help people envision the rewards

Provoke people to sign up by showing how many awesome rewards have been given out. You can simply post a snapshot of a reward all by itself. You could post an image of a program member with their reward. Or you can post an image of the reward and explain how many people have already earned it. It’s a super simple, and effective way to intrigue people to sign up for your program. People are motivated by seeing the results of others. If people can see that the program is working, and there is a benefit to joining then they will most likely join themselves. Visual content is usually most liked among social media websites. Help people envision what they can be rewarded with if they join your program.

4. Use links

Links in your bio, links on your posts, and even add a link to your responses. Links are about as handy as hashtags when it comes to Instagram. If it’s clickable, people are likely to be intrigued and clicks are bound to happen. You can add a link to your referral program anywhere. Why not include them on your Instagram? This is a great way to promote your program, that’s not too in your face. People will see it, and when they are ready they will click the link and sign up. Perhaps someone wants to join your program, but is in a rush. By adding a link to your bio, that person knows exactly how to find the program. It’s a no brainer. If you have a following on your Instagram use a simple link and connect people to your referral program. Instagram is very successful in building followers. Use it to your advantage and spread the word about your program.

5. Show success

Try posting about how many people have signed up. Also post on how many referrals have turned into new customers. This goes hand in hand with showing off rewards, so post about how many happy program members have received their rewards. Really, post about any success the program has brought you. As mentioned before people respond really well to positivity. People have an easier time envisioning themselves doing something if they have seen others do it. This includes earning rewards from a referral program. It’s a great way to show that your program is easy and rewards are actually obtainable.

Another good idea is to use Instagram pictures on your referral program landing page. An A/B test ran by Vanity Planet, found that when they included customer Instagram images to their checkout page it increased checkouts by 24%. Use that same concept with your referral program landing page. Take some of your program members and feature their referral program related posts (i.e. when they show off their rewards) on your landing page. This will make your program seem more relatable. This means that Instagram can help you drive more referral signups. Can you say #success?


Instagram is literally free advertising at your fingertips. So, it’s the perfect place to advertise your referral program. With all the global users, you have the potential to get your referral program in front of hundreds of new people. Instagram provides you with the perfect platform for mobile users. Currently there are 32,831 ‘referral’ hashtags and 42,716 ‘referrals’ hashtags. What are you waiting for? Start promoting your referral program with Instagram.

Author Bio: Megan Mosley is a marketing specialist at Referral Rock, specializing in writing and sharing content specific to referrals and small businesses. Follow them on Twitter & Facebook.