Instagram has already reached over a billion users. Every day over 95 million photos are shared on this app. We can’t ignore these facts. Marketers need to use Instagram as a prime place to effectively reach the right audience and establish a positive brand reputation. But you know what? Everyone knows how to create an Instagram account. But the question is: can your business become successful on Instagram? And how? Keep in mind that only having a well-thought-out marketing strategy and a strong brand identity can get real-world results. Let’s unwrap these 27 awesome Instagram tips for your marketing needs.
1. Build a killer Instagram profile
If you want to use Instagram as a marketing tool, you need to create a great presence on Instagram; this is especially important for small brands. You need to give a clear idea of who you or your brand is to new followers.
A good bio is your elevator pitch. Try to include the essentials about you and what you do. Use target keywords and action verbs to help people find you. The SE Ranking keyword research tool can help you find the top-performing keywords and phrases. For example, Nathan Chan, the founder of Foundr Magazine, focused on the topic of success, brand and posting informative content for young startup founders and business owners on a regular basis.
In your bio, include the link into of a landing page that will help increase conversions, promote your e-commerce site, etc. If you want to add any hashtags “#” or profile usernames “@” to your bio, they will become clickable. For example, you can use a personal profile to promote your business profile on Instagram, or just let others know where you work by sharing your company’s username.
Make it simple for new visitors to capture your contact information or find your location. Add key contact details to your Instagram bio such email, address, phone number, etc. Include the best collections of your Instagram Stories Highlights. This is a great way to tell much more about your brand with new followers than you could do in your Instagram bio. For example, Firas Kittaneh uses Instagram Stories Highlights to share his daily activities, workout routines, and his best travel trips. They help you showcase the best content you want users to see immediately on your page.
The profile picture matters a lot. It’s the first thing new visitors will see before reading your bio or checking out your posts. The profile picture helps define you as a person and your reputation, and evokes emotion. Having the right profile picture that is in-focus and of high quality is a must.
2. Keep up with the different types of content
Good content is the key to your Instagram marketing success. Keep an eye on engagement-based content instead of promotional. Experiment with different types of content. You can use a mixture of videos, photos and text, a Carousel feature, a before-and-after sequence in one slideshow post or showcase your most popular products in different pictures. I really love the idea of “Spot the Difference” posts. It is a unique and fun way to focus on your brand without sounding self-promotional and can help to improve your engagement. Here is a good example from Paula Norris that demonstrates a “spot the difference” post. She shows how decreasing or increasing the portion of your food can influence your overall calorie intake.
Using different content types will maximize your organic reach and stimulate more engagement with your brand on Instagram.
3. Create mind-blowing videos
As we know, Instagram is a great visual medium, but sharing a video can attract 3 times more inbound links than written posts. You can’t miss the chance to generate traffic, increase the number of followers and grow your Instagram presence. Moreover, Instagram has super-easy video editing features to create fun and shareable videos.
You can create different types of videos. Share a pack of images together with a short video, add how-to videos where you can answer a question or just teach how to do something, make funny videos or just create videos around key events and holidays. Here is a good example from Amerisleep that shows an exclusive Variable Pressure Foaming manufacturing process that produces zero emissions.
4. Take advantage of Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are a great tool to tell your story and spark interest in your brand. The advantage is to tell more than you can do through written posts. It looks like a first-class ticket that sits at the top of the feed, so followers can easily notice them. Update your stories once per day if you want to keep your followers engaged with your brand.
Users are increasingly watching Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories offer a wide range of great features like polls, interactive live broadcasts, etc. You can run ad campaigns, teach how to use your product, give discounts and special offers, create contests and giveaways, highlight new and featured products. That doesn’t take much time and preparation to record your story. You can use a mixture of photos and videos, give a link to certain blog posts, websites or profiles. Just make sure that the URL is short so followers can remember it and visit later on. Make sure that stories are temporary and disappear after 24 hours.
5. Use raw photos
Instagram was initially built for artists and photographers to share their unique photos. If you want to increase your reach, use raw photos without overlays and Photoshop. As you know, now Facebook owns Instagram and uses special algorithms to review your content. If it looks like spam, your reach will be low. To increase your engagement, you can add relevant hashtags and appealing titles to help new visitors find your content.
You can periodically post your product images where you can mention the price, some key points, and provide the link so people can purchase the product. It can be a good idea to show your product images in action, e.g. you can show how someone is using your product and how he or she is doing that. This helps your customers visualize using the product which can help influence a buying decision. The following example demonstrates the product from Nike in an interactive and interesting format without sounding too promotional.
6. Nail Instagram contests
Whether you want to sell more products, increase engagement, or gain new followers, running different contests or giveaways is a simple way to have it all. People love different contests, and they work well on Instagram. You can run photo contests, “like” contests, comment contests, sweepstakes and giveaways. To incentivize engagement with your brand, you need to create a unique hashtag contest. It is a great way to get user-generated content and connect your contest to trending topics.
For example, Starbucks launched a contest that encouraged customers to create Starbucks cup art, take a photo of it and share it through social media using the unique hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The results were fantastic; the contest sparked a lot of buzz around Starbucks, generated a ton of blog posts and 3,500 submissions on Instagram alone, and received positive reaction by coffee drinkers. The winner received a Starbucks gift card worth $300.
7. Share customer testimonials
It’s one thing when you recommend your products to your followers because they are awesome - and it’s totally another thing when your customers recommend your products. Just collect as many testimonials, reviews, stories, videos as you can about your products, and post them on Instagram. Customer testimonials show off how others benefited from your products, and serve as a powerful tool to establish your brand authenticity and make potential customers take action.
8. Use the right hashtags
As you know, hashtags play an important role in your Instagram success. To reach the target market and increase engagement on your posts, you need to use the right hashtags. There are a few types of hashtags you need to use for your brand: local-related hashtags (#losangeles #brentwood #moscow) and brand-related hashtags. The use of brand hashtags helps you to effectively promote your brand on Instagram. They should be simple, unique and eye-catching. For example, Citywide Law Group uses the hashtag #citiwide in practically every post on Instagram. Brand-name hashtags help customers easily find your brand, gain recognition and build rapport for the brand and its users.
If you find it difficult, you can check out local hashtags from other local businesses on Instagram, and your competitors with their brand-related hashtags. To make your content more popular, you can use content hashtags. They always look simple and help people find your content. Using the right hashtags will help you to make a lasting impression on a wide Instagram audience.
9. Collaborate with influencers
Influencer marketing on Instagram still earns the most engagement for businesses. Before collaborating with influencers, decide how you want to expose your brand (a product review, a giveaway, a special event or give some tips) and reach new followers. Choose influencers whose values are similar to yours and that have a good connection with their followers. Note that you also need to have a certain budget for this, or offer the influencer the ability to try your products for free in case you cannot afford to pay for a sponsored post that highlights your brand and directs followers to your site.
For example, BECCA Cosmetics worked with Chrissy Teigen to develop a new beauty highlighter palette. The video received 5 million views, over 140,000 likes and a lot of comments. This collaboration not only helped increase the relationship between the influencer and the brand, but it gained a lot of social media engagement.
The most important part of such a collaboration is to estimate the ROI from a campaign. The practice shows that the ROI is very much determined by the brand’s intention. Many marketers are so focused on creating great content that they overlook what matters most - understanding the purpose of the collaboration, the objectives, and how to measure the ROI.
10. Post creative teaser campaigns
Building hype before launching your product can stimulate curiosity within your target audience and make your Instagram marketing campaign more effective. Offer exclusive content to your loyal followers. Post teaser photos, product teaser videos or use Instagram Stories to push your teasers. Reward your followers and let them know the launch date of your new products, events or services. Take a look at this teaser video below. It was posted before the launch of Coldplay’s CD. This kind of preview makes your followers feel inspired and stay tuned to find out more.
11. Partner with other brands
The number of collaborations between brands are growing every day. Partnering with other brands can help you reach your target audience, get more followers and build strong relationships with other brands. Just find relevant businesses in your industry and create joint marketing campaigns. You can run a contest, giveaway, or create a promotional offer together to generate sales from your partnership.
12. Cross promote Instagram posts
Cross promotion is one of the most effective ways to increase your following. Promote your Instagram posts on other social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), and invite your fans to follow you on Instagram. You can use different ways to cross-promote. For example, you can post your video content on Facebook or Linkedin and drive more traffic to the intended network, share your Instagram contests on relevant social networks or schedule your posts on other social accounts with special tools.
13. Include a clear call-to-action
Adding calls-to-action (CTA) to your post makes your followers take a specific action (contact you, lead to your site or buy a product). It is essential to keep them short, actionable and clear. If you want to increase the number of sales and generate more traffic, get your followers to visit your website. Always follow up on your promises and CTAs. For example, Zaful created a sense of urgency by using the attention-grabbing CTA like “Only 72 hours” in order to make their followers buy right away. Adding urgency to your CTAs makes consumers feel a fear of missing out.
14. Give GIFs a chance
People tend to watch videos to the end that are 15 seconds or less. In this case, GIFs are more attractive than images, and they are shared more than JPEG or PNG formats. So, creating and posting eye-catching GIFs becomes mandatory. Instagram offers a great library of GIF stickers. Adding GIFs on Instagram Stories will help you mark key elements in your story and attract your followers’ attention.
15. Post user-generated content
Reposting user-generated content periodically is a great way to build your Instagram presence. It looks real and genuine. That rewards and recognizes your fans, and you may see big results in engagement and follower growth. Unfortunately, it is not so simple to repost users’ content. You should use third-party apps to do this. For example, every day Airbnb shares user-generated posts on Instagram. The team features the stories of their guests and those that provide local experiences or that share photos of any sort of Airbnb properties. Before sharing great photos and videos, they always ask for permission to share users’ content.
16. Offer discount codes and coupons
If you want to increase sales on Instagram, your followers should engage with your content and become active users instead of passive scrollers. People love to buy something at a discounted rate. Give them a coupon code or any discount by including your product photo and text to explain more about what's happening. Holidays and special occasions can be a great opportunity to promote your offerings and prevent your products from cheapening in the eyes of your target customers. Just ask users to follow your Instagram account, and give them 10% off.
17. Build strong relationships with customers
For business owners who want to scale follower growth, it is important to build a strong Instagram community. If a user finds some time to read and comment on your post, take a few minutes to respond and thank them. Try to spend at least one hour on commenting, liking and following people. Ask questions or offer advice to your followers that will add a simple personal touch. If you actively engage with your audience, you can reach out to influencers and ask them to mention you. Making lunch meetings with influencers can also help you get more exposure. Introducing your Instagram profile through a friend will meet less resistance and result in getting new followers.
18. Develop smart Instagram ads
Beyond all doubt, social media advertising is important. Instagram has over a billion users, which gives a good reason to consider advertising on it. You can promote your ads to anyone with your target audience. People who don’t follow you can see your ads and probably find interest in your message. Try to post product photos with calls-to-action in the caption. To increase your sales, you can add limited-time offers or discounts to your ads. Compared to other social channels, it doesn’t cost a lot to advertise on Instagram. Make use of this paid advertisement option, and get more potential customers.
19. Add Locations to Your Posts
Putting the location tagging has a lot of benefits you should definitely try out. First of all, it helps improve your SEO and geo-targeting. In other words, people can view more relevant posts from a particular location. Secondly, you can increase engagement on your posts which will result in getting more followers. Finally, it lets your friends and family know your location. Once you add a geo-tag to your photos or videos, you can always edit your posts on Instagram. For instance, HelpCrunch promoted their geotag and encouraged users to share content to their location.
20. Take full advantage of free Instagram tools
Those who use business profiles can easily access analytics and the connect option. You can easily connect your profile to your Facebook account, and better understand how users engage with your content, which posts get more exposure and earn responses. It’s imperative that you focus on this information to improve your engagement. Check out these 5 free Instagram tools every marketer needs.
21. Don’t abuse the Direct Message feature
Use the Direct Message (DM) feature effectively without being “spammy”. Once people learn about this feature, don’t instantly start sending direct messages like “Hi, you have a great profile! Would you love to buy something?” Surely, it will make you get blocked. If you want to use the DM strategy, create some value in your DMs and send it out to people that really want your product or service. When you build a great connection, say thank you in your message and ask to tag them in your thank you post. Stay real, sincere and grateful. Create more customer value.
22. Monitor the right metrics
If you want to get online activity success on Instagram, you should track the right metrics (follower growth, likes, comments, top posts, the number of clicks to your URL, posts, etc.). Based on your measurable results, you can figure out what works best for you and what doesn’t work so well, and have more clarity about what you should improve. It is also a good idea to monitor your competitors and adopt new methods. There are a lot of online tools that help get statistics and analytics on Instagram.
23. Post on Instagram at the right time
Each business has a different audience. Therefore, the activity of your audience can be different on Instagram. Analyze your posts and choose the best time of day when your audience is most active. Keep in mind the target audience’s location and don’t stick to the posting schedule rules from other bloggers.
24. Find the frequency of your posts
Unfortunately, I won’t give you a magic posting formula here. To find your ideal posting frequency, you should test and check out your business’ goals and how much time you want to dedicate to your Instagram marketing efforts. So, find your ideal post frequency, and don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information.
25. Use Instagram filters and third-party apps
Instagram offers a wide range of different filter options to make your images and videos compelling. The WebDam social media report revealed that 60% of the top brands use the same filters every time they post on Instagram. Maybe, some filters can be a catch for your business. To make your Instagram posts truly sing, you can use multiple third-party apps that help you edit your photos and create collages by mixing your photos (PicStitch), make appealing captions for your posts (Captiona), and shoot time-lapse videos (Hyperlapse).
26. Use a Content Calendar
A content calendar is a great way to organize your Instagram posts and manage your overall content strategy. The calendar helps you track performance and plan for future posts. Define a timeline of activities you want to post on Instagram, and improve efficiency. You can use tools like Google Calendar or Trello.
27. Schedule posts
If you don’t want to spend chunks of time publishing your posts every day, you should certainly use scheduling tools which can help you schedule and preview Instagram posts in advance. They are really big time savers for bloggers. Such preparation will give you the possibility to focus on other important tasks.
The Bottom Line
You know what? Your Instagram journey is never over. If you create an Instagram profile for your business, you will never stop growing and evolving. By using these 27 awesome Instagram tips, you can maximize your earning potential and find success on Instagram. It can be tricky, but I am sure that these tactics can help you kickstart your Instagram marketing in no time.
Irina Weber is an active blogger, content marketing enthusiast and brand manager at SE Ranking whose contributions regularly appear in publications related to online marketing, social media, conversion optimization, and business development. You can reach out to her via Twitter @irinaweber048.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.