Hureka Technologies Inc
Hureka Technologies Inc

Ultimate Guide To Instagram Marketing

Introduction To Instagram Marketing

Establishing an online social presence can help you attract new customers, promote your content, connect with your customers and engage in meaningful conversations across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, TikTok, Twitter, Reddit & Pinterest.

With over a billion monthly active users, Instagram is an industry leader in terms of social media platforms. But using social media for marketing your business isn’t as easy as it was back in 2008. The landscape has changed, and there are rules, strategies, and tactics that you need to achieve your business objectives using social media.

Infographic on Instagram Marketing Statistics 2021

In this ultimate guide, we’re discussing how to start marketing on Instagram. We’ll begin with the very basics of setting up your business Instagram account to advanced Instagram marketing tactics. So, grab a cup of coffee and start reading!

The Instagram growth story

You’re going to spend a lot of time & resources on using this platform. It’s better if you know who you’re working with. Right?

They started off as just an app to post pretty pictures. What made them stand out was the filters, using which even normal photos would look better and ‘professionally shot.’ As their user base grew, these pictures kept getting better and better. The standards were raised and the high standards are maintained to date.

Infographic detailing the growth of Instagram from 2021 to 2020

So, when your target audience is scrolling on Instagram, remember that they’re going to be attracted only to good photos. There’s no Instagramming without good photos. Grab a pen and paper and write this down in your notes - answer how you’re going to add good photos in your content. 

Anyway, the general rule of every social media platform is when there’s a lot of noise, the 'police' come in to add some system to this anarchy. The police on Instagram? The algorithm.

What most business owners don’t understand about social media management is they think it’s just posting and getting followers & engagement. You’re right. It’s actually that but how you can achieve that goes much deeper than that. You can’t get tons of followers or engagement just by posting a lot of photos or using the ‘hashtags’ on Instagram. The algorithm needs more rule-following than simply doing your own thing however you want to.

A normal social media platform stops at that. They’ve got a popular product, people and they established the rules. But Instagram continues to evolve or ‘steal.’

Instagram’s competitor that gave them nightmares at a time was Snapchat. Snapchat is built on the idea of sharing photos or updates with your friends, but the caveat is that they disappear within 24 hours. Instagram took the exact idea once Snapchat grew big enough to threaten Instagram’s dominance, and introduced Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories work the same way - these are more like the behind the scenes & less professional side of your business account. You post here more often, you post relatively less styled posts & there’s more engagement in here.

But the problem was… Instagram still had a competitor - YouTube. To beat that, they launched IGTV. You can post 1minute to 1 hour long videos on IGTV. It’s basically YouTube but on Instagram.

Instagram continued dominating the space until TikTok happened. Short 15 seconds - 30 seconds (now 1 minute) long videos with music in the background. TikTok, as it appealed heavily to a younger audience, became a sensation in the world and endangered Instagram. Hence, Instagram immediately rolled out with Instagram Reels.

Instagram Reels are 15-30 second long videos that often use music in the background. Just like TikTok, there are inbuilt captioning and editing tools to make these videos more interesting.

Instagram Story Highlights are basically saved Instagram stories. So, if you’re posting a few stories that you want to exist for more than 24 hours for your profile visitors, you would use Story Highlights.

Instagram Guides is a very new feature that lets creators create recommendation guides for places, products or posts.

All these 6 products make what Instagram is in 2021. It started off with being just a photo-sharing app and now it’s an app that has 6 different features stuffed into it.

Why Instagram marketing

Infographic detailing 3 reasons why Instagram marketing is important

Having an Instagram profile has become as important as having a website. That’s a big statement, but the fact is more & more people are turning towards Instagram for products & services they’re looking for, instead of Google. Your Instagram profile is actually an opportunity for you to make a good impression, get followers & then nurture them to become your customer. In fact, 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business, and 83% have discovered a new product or business using Instagram. That business could’ve been yours!

Another reason why Instagram marketing is important for your business is that Instagram followers aren’t just active like on many other social media channels. They’re engaged. About 60% of the active Instagram users visit the site daily and 21% check it weekly. That’s a lot of eyeballs.

Instagram also allows you to promote your brand in a friendly non-intrusive way. You can build genuine connections on Instagram, increase brand awareness, showcase your products or portfolio, let people contact your business, and even, create a shoppable feed to have people buy from you directly.

With so many benefits to reap, it’s clear that almost all businesses understand why they need Instagram marketing. What most small businesses are struggling with is establishing a clear Instagram marketing strategy, and finding a way to plan their content & strategy to maximize success despite limited resources & marketing budgets. We, at Hureka Technologies, have created this guide to help you understand the dynamics of Instagram marketing for small businesses better!

How to build your Instagram marketing strategy

Most businesses quickly jump into the tactics - creating content, posting frequently, and using all the recommended methods for Instagram growth but working without a clearly defined strategy is like building a house without a foundation. Should you ever do that?

Having a clearly defined Instagram marketing strategy is crucial and here are 7 steps to build your Instagram strategy!

1. Define your Goals on Instagram

What’s your purpose for joining Instagram? Why Instagram? If your answer is because it’s the most popular social media platform in the world, it’s the wrong answer. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. If you’re targeting working professionals in senior management positions, you should be focusing on Linkedin. If you’re on social media just to offer customer support, be on Twitter.

In fact, even if you join Instagram and continue using the same old voice & social media strategies that might have worked for you on maybe, Facebook, you’ll be making a big mistake.

You need a unique Instagram strategy and the very first step is to define your goals. Some examples of goals of Instagram marketing are

  1. Using Instagram to sell your products. Many e-commerce stores work on the same goal.
  2. Using Instagram to showcase your portfolio. Many service-oriented businesses like interior designers and makeup artists work on this goal.
  3. Using Instagram to build brand awareness. Many NGOs & non-profit organizations do this.
  4. Using Instagram to share user-generated content. Most franchise businesses follow this goal.
  5. Using Instagram to build relationships with Influencers. Many makeup brands have used this goal to grow their businesses.
  6. Using Instagram to drive traffic to your website.
  7. Using Instagram to inform your customers about the latest deals & offers. Many local brick & mortar stores, especially restaurants work on this goal.
  8. Using Instagram to showcase your work culture & team. Several B2B brands do this.

Remember, you can have more than one goal. For example, you could be on Instagram to showcase your portfolio as well as share user-generated content. The first step to building your Instagram marketing strategy is really about the ‘why’ and not about what type of Instagram posts you’ll be sharing.

Once you know what goals you’re trying to achieve, it’ll be easier for you to track your performance. As you’ll soon find out, you can track several KPIs using Instagram analytics tools but not all of those need your time & effort. Having clearly defined & SMART goals in your Instagram strategy plan will ensure you’re focusing on the KPIs that really matter for your business.

2. Define Your Instagram Target Audience

What’s your target audience? Even if you have got a generic product, an answer like ‘everybody’ is the wrong answer. While developing your Instagram marketing strategy, you can pull in data from your overall digital marketing strategy on who your target audience is.

Having an in-depth knowledge of your audience on Instagram is crucial to your Instagram marketing strategy.

Here’s how you can find your Instagram target audience:

Start with larger customer personas

While we strongly disagree with using the same target audience definition as you’ve for your overall digital marketing strategy, we do recommend you to not try to reinvent the wheel for every social media & digital marketing channel you use.

If you already have defined buyer personas for your business, reuse that information. Key questions to answer while defining your Instagram target audience are - what’re your products & what pain point it resolves for your target audience. Who is your target audience? What is your audience looking for?

Define the age, gender, location, interests, income, motivations & pain points. You can also search for popular hashtags in your industry and see the conversations going around these.

1. Gain some competitive insights

Look into your competitors' Instagram audience. Who are the people following them? What type of posts they’re doing & how their audience is responding to them. With this step, you can also point out if there are any gaps that you can leverage in your Instagram growth plan.

2. Use existing Instagram analytics

If you already have an Instagram account set up & running for your business, you’re at an advantage. You can actually analyze the existing demographic data to further refine your Instagram target audience. This could also be where you see if your Instagram account is reaching the right people. There’s no point in having a lot of followers from Canada when your business offers products or services in the USA only. Right?

3. Listen To Your Audience
Once you have an idea of what your audience looks like, you need to understand what they’re doing on Instagram. Having an understanding of the conversations and interest of your target audience would help you build a strong & effective Instagram content strategy

3. Conduct a Competitive Analysis

You have already spied on your competitors over who’s following & engaging with them. But that’s not it. There’s a lot you can learn from your competitors to have a solid Instagram marketing plan.

Here are the things you must document while conducting an Instagram competitive analysis!

  1. Find out your top competitors on Instagram. These may not be the same as your top competitors otherwise. It’s because Instagram is still new to several businesses & your top competition may already be behind in leveraging social media for business growth. This is actually a golden opportunity for you!
  2. Review the Instagram profile of your top competitors overall as well as your top competitors on Instagram.
  3. Find more industry-related similar accounts that may not have made it to your list of competitors but share the same target audience as yours.
  4. Analyze all these accounts to see which posts are getting the highest engagement.
  5. Document all the popular hashtags they’re using.
  6. Check how their captions look like.
  7. Check how often they post.
  8. Check their Instagram growth rate.
  9. What opportunities are they possibly missing out on?

Documenting these 9 things will give you a documented guide on what works in your niche & what doesn’t. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can find things that are being ignored by your competition and could be just what you need for quick growth on Instagram  & get ahead of your competition.

For example, several businesses at this time would reach a similar conclusion - lack of use of Instagram reels by their competition. Reels are a new & golden but limited-time opportunity for businesses that want to grow on Instagram. But because it’s so new, not every business is leveraging it yet. You can have the early-bird advantage if you start with reels now!

Likewise, there are many opportunities that you can find by conducting a thorough Instagram competitive analysis.

4. Develop an Editorial Calendar

Brands post 6 times a week on an average on Instagram. Add stories, reels, IGTV content to this and you have a number big enough to intimidate you right now. But it’s all easily manageable with a proper editorial calendar.

With an editorial calendar, you can create & manage your Instagram presence better. Collaboration & content creation is much easier with a properly defined Instagram calendar.

Ideally, an editorial calendar for Instagram must have the following things -

  1. Planned content types
  2. Captions, and hashtags for each post
  3. Posting frequency
  4. Time of posting

However, it’s definitely not that easy. First, you need to identify the key types of Instagram posts, what types of posts you can do, find a method to create these posts week by week like a well-oiled machine, find the right time to post and then, post the content on time and once it’s out, do everything you can to distribute this content efficiently & get the initial engagement that Instagram algorithm craves for as a fee to show your content to more people. We have discussed the details of all these further in this ultimate guide to Instagram marketing.

5. Plan What Your Brand Looks Like on Instagram

Branding your business is crucial for the overall success of your digital marketing strategy.

It’s even more important on Instagram. A consistent brand aesthetic is crucial for a successful Instagram account. In fact, Instagrammers obsess over the consistency of their content feed more than anything else.

As a business, you need an aesthetic that goes with your brand values, and personality. How do you want your customers to define your brand? It’s crucial to document this because this will be the guiding light for each piece of content you’ll create. The colors, the tone of the content, the type of content, the way you handle the engagement -  it all depends on this step in your Instagram marketing strategy.

For most businesses, this step would be obsessing over the colors of your posts and the font type. However, it’s also about the kind of stories you tell. Your brand narrative must also be consistent on Instagram.

6. Plan Out The Resources

Instagram is a platform for in-the-moment content. To stay relevant to your target audience, you’ll need to invest resources into creating regular content.

As a small business owner who’s already swamped with a million things to do, you may think of outsourcing your Instagram marketing to a digital marketing agency. This is good. However, to think that a digital marketing agency can handle your Instagram marketing 100% is a folly.

Would you let a digital agency do your business for you? Would you let an agency handle your customers? An agency or even an in-house marketing team working in a silo cannot guarantee the success of Instagram or any digital marketing tactic without your involvement. Keep this in mind!

Many business owners shy away from doing a video or would skip clicking that photo of the team meeting or office celebration owing to their busy schedule or imperfect photography skills. Marketing isn’t a one-person job. Each person in your business is responsible for marketing & hence, you can’t leave out all the content creation for an agency. They can help you with the strategy, with the content types & everything technical about content production & even create content for you, but you still need to plan out how you can use your existing resources to create content for Instagram.

It could be one of your employees who can take up the job of creating simple Reels answering FAQs related to your product or service or it could be you showcasing your product. A simple behind-the-scenes photo of how your team works or how your product is readied for customers is valuable content that you must not miss out on.  Be the face of your small business or find an employee who could be the face of your social media and can nurture real connections with your target audience.

An effective Instagram marketing strategy needs clear documentation of job responsibilities for whosoever is going to create the content, especially video, and how much content one can produce given their current job requirements & schedule. In case, you’ll need to hire a professional photographer for your sit-down videos, you need resource planning for that as well.

You need to put down how much it will cost to create content depending on what you can do in-house and what you’ll outsource.

Establishing your Instagram marketing goals

Graphic explaining top 6 Instagram marketing goals

First, let us see what you can use Instagram marketing for

  1. Brand awareness - An average person spends at least 2 hours a day on social media. Clearly, if you want to grab consumer attention online, you should be using social media. Metrics like your follower count, reach of social media & mentions, comments & reposts are useful for gauging the effectiveness of this objective
  2. Drive Traffic To Your Website - You could use Instagram to drive traffic to your website. Instagram allows only one clickable link in the bio. The platform also lets you put swipe links in the Stories once you have more than 10,000 followers and you can also put clickable links in the description of your IGTV videos. These can be used to get traffic to your website. For this, you’ll need to track metrics like website visitors from social media, their bounce rate, and their journey on the website.
  3. Lead Generation -  Social media is the means to warm up your lead and prepare them to buy from you. Companies with a long sales process can stand to gain a lot of organic leads via Instagram if their content strategy is done right. This is especially important for industries that find it difficult to generate qualified leads via paid marketing channels. For this, you will need to track how many people are sharing their personal information with you giving you permission to call and explain your product/service. You can also measure how many downloads of gated content you received through social media. Lastly, you’ll need to measure the effectiveness of these leads.
  4. Grow Revenue - Instagram offers ample opportunities to brands for social selling. In fact, Instagram shopping is a great way for e-commerce businesses to generate more sales via Instagram. You’ll need to track metrics like direct revenue or sign-ups from Instagram for this objective.
  5. Building Brand Advocacy - By using Instagram to build a strong community around your business, you not only achieve the ultimate objective of driving revenues but you can also enroll brand advocates that can bring you more business through brand advocacy.
  6. Effective Customer Service - Lastly, Instagram could also help you resolve customer queries and problems quickly.

Which one are you making to your Instagram marketing goals? Before you quickly jump to say ‘everything’, understand that not all these complement one another. For example, if you’re focusing on direct lead generation via Instagram, your primary objective would be to get the user information with minimum friction. In that case, having a goal to drive traffic to your website may make your marketing team confused.

You need to be very clear and specific about your Instagram marketing goals. We recommend you pick one, work on it for 3 months or more, and then think about adding another one into the mix (if you feel the need for it).

KPIs for Instagram marketing

Now that you’re clear about your Instagram marketing goals, you will need to understand what KPIs are important. As you’ll see in the next section, Instagram offers various analytics that you can track. In a way, each of these analytics is important but for your business goals, there are only a few metrics that precede everything else.

Below is the list of KPIs for organic Instagram Marketing -

1. Reach (Not Impressions)

While Instagram analytics allow you to see reach and impressions along with many other metrics, what you need to focus on is the reach.

What’s the difference between reach and impressions?

Reach means the number of individuals your content has reached in a given time frame while impressions mean the number of times your content has been seen. Impressions are always higher than reach and often picked by marketers as one of their KPIs.

Impressions in themselves aren’t a bad metric. But if your focus is on growing your Instagram account and generating business, impressions would be a vague metric that would just give you a vanity number. You can focus on the actual performance of your account only by seeing how many individual people you’re able to reach with your account as well as each of your posts.

2. Follower Growth Rate

Many business owners are obsessed with a number of followers. For some, 1000 followers are a must while for some, getting 10,000 followers is a must. Oftentimes, businesses often ignore their follower count after they reach a specific number like 10,000 or 100,000. It’s all wrong.

The number of followers you’ve is not important. What’s important is if your followers are growing consistently. The follower growth rate is an important KPI you must track. Here’s how you can calculate your follower growth rate - take the number of followers you got in one month and divide it by the number of your existing followers at the start of the month.

A good follower growth rate is an indicator that your Instagram strategy is working nicely but if the number is less than 1%, you need a major shift in your strategy.

3. Engagement Rate/ Engagement on Reach

In the early days of Instagram marketing, follower count was given more importance but more and more businesses are realizing that real value lies in the engagement rate. 

Here’s how you can calculate your engagement rate - track the number of likes/comments/saves/shares a post gets and divide it by the number of followers you have. An engagement rate of 3-6% is considered good for most companies.

A more accurate way to measure engagement rate is to actually track your engagement - likes/comments/saves/shares with the number of people your post has reached. This is more accurate because not all people that engage with your posts might be your followers. Engagement on reach rate is generally a bit lower than engagement rate.

Which is a better metric? It depends on your marketing goals. If you want to check your overall engagement rate, we would recommend engagement on reach because it’s more precise but if you want to check if your existing followers are resonating with your content, engagement rate would be the better KPI.

4. Website Visits or Email/Call/Get Directions Taps

The above 3 metrics help you with your social media marketing. They can be valuable to help you gauge if your Instagram growth strategy is working but the metrics that contribute to your business goal are these.

If you’re an e-commerce company, the most important KPI out of these 4 would be website visits. You want to check how many people saw your profile and visited your website. You also want to track their actions on your website, which you can easily do through Google analytics. There's an even better way to do this - using Google Data Studio

For a local business, get direction & call are the most important KPIs out of these 4, followed by email and then website visits. For a B2B business, call & email are more important.

But we recommend you observe all four of these, if they fit your business. Which ones you use as your KPI depend on your marketing goals. If your Instagram marketing goal is to drive traffic to your website, then website visits are the most important KPI you should be tracking.  Likewise, depending on your goal, the KPI may be different.

5. Sales Generated

Lastly, the end goal of any marketing campaign is sales. Hence, you’ll need to track this for Instagram. However, this may not be as easy to track as every other KPI. If you’re an e-commerce business, it’s definitely easy by using proper UTM tags and proper goal tracking but for any other business, your marketing team can’t give you a finite number of this as the ultimate sale depends on the sales team and they must look for ways to attribute the sales to correct marketing channels.

For example, if your business pursues a lead via a phone call as their first point of contact, your sales team should ask where the potential customer found you. Even though it’s manual and may miss out on  a few attributions, it will give you a general idea of whether your Instagram marketing strategy is working or not.

Keep in mind that there are several more metrics that you can track via Instagram analytics. Are these important? Yes. They’re very important to guide your content strategy in the right direction. With the detailed Instagram analytics, you can pinpoint what is working and what’s not, but they can’t be your KPIs as that would bring in too much redundant information and stop you from having a general idea of the status of your Instagram marketing. That’s why we recommend focusing on 5 KPIs to gauge the overall success of your marketing efforts on Instagram and leverage the rest of Instagram analytics to finetune your content strategy.

How to leverage Instagram analytics

Instagram analytics are quite limited unlike Facebook’s built-in analytics but still, they provide a huge opportunity to measure your Instagram marketing.  Here’s how you can leverage these Instagram analytics!

1. Get Access To Instagram Analytics

When you switch to a business profile, you gain access to basic Instagram analytics like followers, reach, audience, and content interactions.

If you’re running Instagram ads, you can gain access to additional analytics like impressions, ad spend, and engagement via Facebook ad manager. Keep in mind these additional analytics are limited to the promoted posts.

A genius way to access more in-depth Instagram analytics is to use third-party analytics apps like iconosquare, later, Simply Measured. These apps give you access to additional analytics like followers & engagement over time, performance comparisons with competitors, hashtag analytics, and the optimal time to post on Instagram.

2. Decide Which Instagram Analytics Are Important

Which Instagram analytics are really important? You need to approach this in two ways - one set of metrics will be important for your Instagram growth strategy and one set will be important for your overall digital marketing & Instagram strategy.

For example, metrics like followers & engagement rate are crucial to track while you’re trying to grow your Instagram account. These may not be essential metrics that directly impact your bottom line but they’re important for initial momentum on the platform.

Then there are metrics like website taps, Email button taps, get direction taps, and call button taps that are more important to see if Instagram marketing is working for you or not.

Our recommendation is to initially focus heavily on following & content interaction metrics while designing your Instagram marketing strategy but always keep in mind that the second set of metrics are more important. Both complement each other and require equal attention regardless of your current marketing strategy.

3. Explore Follower & Demographic Behaviour

You have access to four crucial metrics about your audience - top locations, age range, gender, and most active times. The first three metrics help you gain an understanding of who your audience is on Instagram and whether that aligns with your overall customer segments and personas. Most active times help you decide which day and time would be best to post content to get higher initial engagement.

4. Analyze Analytics Data For Posts

The way you can leverage Instagram analytics is by seeing metrics for posts and see which posts performed better than the rest and doubling down on such posts.  

Instagram actually lets you analyze data of multiple posts at once and also data of individual posts. You can filter post data by content type - all, photos, videos, carousel posts, metric - call button taps, comments, email button taps, follows, get direction taps, impressions, likes, post interactions, profile visits, reach, saves, shares and timeframe - last 7 days, last 30 days, last 3 months, last 6 months, last year, last 2 years. These filters let you access relevant data to measure your goals, content performance, and campaigns.

For individual posts, you can see content interactions as a result of this post - interactions - profile visits, website or email taps, etc, engagement- likes, comments, shares & saves, and discovery - follows, reach, and impressions.  In discovery, you can also see the percentage of people who are not following you but saw your content. You can also see a breakdown of how people discovered your posts - home, search & explore, profile, location, hashtag, and others.

5. Analyze Stories, IGTV Data

Just like posts, you can view insights for multiple stories at once and also see data of individual stories. You can see metrics - back, call button taps, email button taps, exited, follows, next story, get direction taps, impressions, link clicks, forward, profile visits, reach, replies, shares, text button taps, website taps, and story interactions and time frame - yesterday, last 7 days, last 14 days, last 30 days. These metrics actually help you understand if your Stories content is resonating with your audience or not.

Likewise, you can see IGTV data. For IGTV content, you can analyze metrics - average percentage watched, comments, likes, reach, saves, shares, video views, and IGTV video interactions and timeframe - last 7 days, last 30 days, last 3 months, last 6 months, last year, and last 2 years.

We expect soon you’ll have analytics for Instagram reels to help you gauge how your reels content is performing. Note that the timeframe for posts data as well as IGTV data is the same whereas, for stories, you’ve access to analytics of only up to the last 30 days.

All these Instagram analytics also help you check if your Instagram marketing strategy is moving in a positive direction or not. If the growth in overall metrics is in red, you need to change your content strategy. If it’s green, see what you’re doing right and how you can set up a method to do it better & more often.

6. Examine Paid Promotions Data

If you have a post that you’ve promoted or are actively promoting, you’ll have access to more data like visits to profile, number of people who viewed the promotion, number of engagements, number of impressions, audience demographics, and amount of money spent. We recommend you examine paid promotions data through Facebook ads manager instead of Instagram analytics.

We understand examining all this data can take a long time, especially when getting these statistics is just the beginning of a long process of evaluating the performance of your strategy. This is why at Hureka we have a system of offering a unified dashboard for all digital marketing analytics including Instagram analytics to help you save time in fetching all this information to drive your decision-making. Learn more about this here!

The goal of analyzing all this data and analytics is to understand the impressions and engagement ratio, and to see what’s working and what’s not.

Types of Instagram posts

We’re about to dive into more specific nuances of Instagram content strategy. We’re discussing what types of Instagram posts you can do.

First, let’s revise the mediums you have on Instagram to deliver these posts -

1. Instagram Feed - allows you to post images, albums/carousel - a set of 10 images, and 1-minute video

Illustration showing how Instagram Feed looks like using brands like Palatable, Hureka Technologies & Greenpoint Capital

2. Instagram Reels - allow you to post 15sec-30sec videos, with the ability to add music, captions & filters. This also shows up on your Instagram feed, if you choose.

Illustration showing Instagram Reels, how they look on the feed, how they look in Reels section and what Instagram Reels description looks like

3. IGTV - allows you to post videos between 1 minute to 1 hour. These also show up on your Instagram feed, if you choose.

Illustration showing Instagram IGTV, how IGTV videos appear on Instagram profile page, how IGTV videos can be viewed in the IGTV section and what the description of IGTV video looks like

4. Instagram Stories - allow you to post vertical images, reshare your feed posts including Reels & IGTV posts, add short videos of less than 10 seconds, and experiment with native stories features like polls, gifs, Q&As, music, quiz, countdown, stickers, use unique animated filters, do boomerangs or superzoom posts, and much more.

Illustration showing Instagram Stories

5. Instagram Story Highlights - allow you to save selected stories and showcase them in your Instagram feed.

Illustration showing where Instagram Story Highlights appear on an Instagram profile

6. Instagram Guides - allow you to create step-by-step guides, tips & recommendations. You can choose from three different Instagram guides formats - places, products & posts and leverage these formats to create content.

Illustration showing Instagram Guides - a new Instagram feature

Those are 6 types of Instagram posts you can deliver. But there’s another form of classification that you need to keep in mind before you dive into the content strategy for Instagram.

1. Images

The majority of the content on Instagram is images. There’s only one major rule to creating great images for Instagram - your images shouldn’t be ads. Audiences love to see authentic and interesting images. Try to capture your company’s culture & values with lifestyle shots & behind the scenes photos.

These are the five type of images you can post on your Instagram feed -

  1. Behind the scenes posts - These posts show the work culture of your company. It could be an image of one of your employees at work or a snapshot of a team meeting. You can use this post type to highlight the benefits you offer your employees and what makes your company a great place to work. For example, if your office allows pets inside, let the pet photo take over your account for a day or if one of your employees have faced a major crisis with their family and have benefitted through your employee-friendly company policies, let them take over and share their story. Remember to keep these posts authentic.
  2. Reposts - You can consider reposting the posts shared by your employees, if they’re related to your company and how you work. Make sure you’re tagging the original creator of the post and quickly review what the employee is usually posting to ensure you’re maintaining your brand image, while sharing an employee’s post. This is a great way to humanize your content. You can also repost images shared by your customers. This is especially effective if you’re a product-based business and have encouraged your customers to share images using your product. Such reposts not only bring authenticity but also act as social media testimonials for you! In fact when it comes to reposts, you can repost three types of content - posts of your employees, posts from influencers featuring your products and posts of your customers showcasing your product aka user-generated content.
  3. Educational posts - As a general rule of thumb, ensure 90% of your posts on Instagram are educational. When using images, try to create infographics with tips or use the caption to share valuable tips about your industry that your customers would benefit from. A word of caution - a lot of brands create infographics to meet their need for educational posts. It’s a good idea but when done in moderation. You’ll still need human faces on your feed to make it look authentic and well, human!
  4. Motivational posts - These are generally quotes that blend in with your brand values, in an attempt to inspire people. These are a good idea, especially when you’re talking of a social cause but make sure you use this post type sparingly to avoid looking cheesy.
  5. Trending holiday posts - These days there’s a holiday for everything. Apart from the major holidays like christmas, Halloween, & Thanksgiving Day, there are mother’s day, women’s day & then there are niche-specific events like ‘National Sibling Day’, ‘World Book Day’, & ‘World Pizza Day.’ These events are your opportunity to post fun & humorous content. Use these events to join into the fun & have more people connected to your brand on Instagram.

You can use these same ideas to create content for your Instagram stories & story highlights -  the only difference is these are going to be vertical photos rather than square(1:1), landscape(1.91:1) or portrait(4:5) that’s allowed on Instagram feed.

2. Videos

If there’s one thing that supersedes images on Instagram, it’s the video. Following are the type of videos you can do on Instagram:

  1. On Instagram feed, you can post videos of less than 1 minute. The feed videos can only be landscape, portrait or square.
  2. On Instagram stories, you can post upto 10 seconds long videos. These videos are vertical and created keeping in mind they’ll disappear after 24 hours, unless you plan to put these in story highlights.
  3. On Instagram reels, you can post videos between 15-30 seconds long. Reels often have music in the background. The key is to use popular & trending music and adapt to the Reels trends to get extra eyeballs. The videos are vertical but must be created with square proportions in mind. It’s because, while scrolling through the feed, the maximum part of the reel a user can see is 4:5, hence, the important content of your reel - text information or any subject should be placed within this frame.
  4. IGTV videos can be between 1 minute & 1 hour long. IGTV videos can be both vertical or horizontal. Even though Instagram has been pushing for vertical videos on IGTV as well, we recommend you use horizontal videos for you can reuse this same long-form content on your YouTube channel as well as on your Facebook page. This saves you time and generates awareness on all three platforms instead of just one.
  5. Instagram live videos allow you to interact with your audience in real-time. Live videos are great for engagement from your followers. Once you go live on Instagram, your followers actually get a notification urging them to interact with you while you’re live. Using regular planned live-events can be a great way to boost engagement & build stronger connections with your followers.
  6. Apart from the above 5, you can also consider using Instagram’s in-built software to create boomerangs (these are repetitive videos that loop forward and backward) and hyperlapse (that create a smooth time-lapse video shortening a lengthy piece of video). Using these two types of video can bring in extra engagement to your Instagram profile.

Content strategy for Instagram marketing

We’re quickly moving towards where a lot of action will happen. An effective content strategy is a key behind building an always-at-work content machine that’s churning out content as and when you need it.

So, what do you include in the content strategy for Instagram marketing?

1. Content Types

First, you need to decide the types of content your business will do. We recommend doing video more often than the photo, especially Reels as they’re a new Instagram product that Instagram itself is looking to promote.

As a brand, you may want to quickly say - all but you need to first consider your resources and bandwidth of creating content. Depending on that, pick what content types you can do - feed posts (image or video), IGTV, Reels, and Stories.

Another important way to look at content types is what you’re going to post -

  1. Behind the scenes content
  2. Product-centric content
  3. Customer-centric content
  4. Employee-centric content
  5. Educational content
  6. Motivational content
  7. Guest takeovers
  8. Giveaways and contests

Document all types of content you can make for your business.

2. Style Guide

The next thing in your content strategy must be your style guide. A style guide consists of 6 things -

Illustration describing key elements a style guide in a content strategy must have

  1. Composition - This is how the overall look of your Instagram feed and account will be like. What’s the overall vibe of your Instagram page - bright & peppy or dark & minimal? There are several combinations to do this, you need to pick what would fit your brand image.
  2. Colors - Next, you need to pick a set of colors you’ll use in your photos. Most obvious ones are the colours of your logo but there has to be more options to ensure even the background of your photos matches the overall composition of your feed. You must pick enough options to ensure your creative team isn’t crippled with the style guide but is rather empowered.
  3. Fonts - Next, what are the fonts you’ll use. Grab 1-2 font styles and stick with them throughout your feed.
  4. Filters - Make sure all your Instagram posts are edited using the same filters, to maintain the consistent vibe of your account - including all 6 types of Instagram posts we discussed.
  5. Captions - What’s going to be the tone of your captions? Are they going to be short or long with detailed descriptions? If you’re aiming for a combination, what takes the lead - short or long? What are the CTAs you’ll put into your captions? Make a list of at least 10 CTAs to test.
  6. Hashtags - Gather at least 30 hashtags, we explain how to find and use hashtags in the following sections, and ensure your team is selecting 5-10 of these hashtags for each post.

3. Frequency & Timing

Establish how many times you’ll post on Instagram. How many feed posts & IGTV videos in a month? How many Reels in a week? How many stories in a day? Decide the frequency and then ensure it’s implemented.

Ensure your content is going up on the right time - observe your Instagram analytics to find the right time to post.  

Lastly, don’t forget this content strategy is weaved together with your editorial calendar to create a smooth content creation process. You’ll be creating a lot of content for Instagram marketing. A smooth process and a clear strategy is a must!

How to optimize your Instagram profile

When using Instagram for marketing you must switch to a business profile. An Instagram business profile gives you added features like Instagram insights, promoted posts, and contact buttons. Once you switch to a business profile (you’ll need to connect your Instagram account with your business Facebook page as you do this), here’s how you can optimize it!

  1. Make sure your profile name is the same as your business name. As a general rule of thumb, try to maintain consistency in name & address all across your online profiles.
  2. For the profile picture, try having your logo as the profile picture but remember that Instagram profile pictures get cropped into a circle so there must be room for the logo to fit in properly while your logo is visible enough.
  3. Instagram allows you 150 characters maximum in your bio. In the bio, explain what your business is and what you do. Use this space to set yourself apart from your competitors. Try to include details that make you unique. You can also add a branded hashtag to encourage your customers to engage in conversations with you. Remember that this bio isn’t searchable so don’t worry about keywords. It’s the message you need to deliver effectively. Also, make sure your bio has an effective CTA.
  4. Choose the link you include wisely. Instagram allows only one clickable link. Most businesses use this space to link to the homepage of their website. But that may not be very effective. Instead link to an exclusively designed landing page for Instagram that introduces your followers to what products & services your business offers or link directly to your product page. The link you choose must be according to your business objective for Instagram.
  5. Try to incorporate a shoppable Instagram feed to optimize your Instagram profile better.
  6. Add contact information like email & phone number to make it easy for your followers to connect with you.
  7. Optimize story highlight cover pages to showcase your brand as well as build an overall consistent look of your feed.
  8. Make sure the look and feel of your feed are consistent. An amazing Instagram feed, regardless of the industry, will help you grow faster on Instagram growth.
  9. For a consistent Instagram feed, pick colors & filters that you’re going to use repeatedly to create a natural flow in your overall feed.
  10. When planning your Instagram feed, focus on the lighting. The lighting of the photos must also be consistent with the overall aesthetic of your feed.
  11. Space out your content in such a way that the feed blends together & doesn’t look too busy. A good way to approach this is mixing busy photos with clean and minimal photos for a proper balance. But make sure you don’t compromise with individual posts while planning this out.
  12. Instagram allows three types of posts within its feeds - normal photos, albums/carousel photos & 1-minute long videos. Use all these formats. In fact, now you can also do Reels & IGTV videos that will feature on your feed. Plan for these as well & ensure they all blend together into a consistent feed.
  13. Disallow everybody from tagging you in photos, unless you’re focusing on user-generated content & have assigned resources to monitor this.
  14. Make sure you’re maintaining a healthy followers & following ratio. As a general rule of thumb, try not to follow too many people. Your following count should always be at least 75% less than your follower count.
  15. Lastly, go to your settings and check each option and ensure it’s set properly. For example, in Story settings, we recommend you allow everyone to reply to your stories as this encourages conversations. You can also choose to hide offensive comments automatically, so your comments section never goes off-brand.

Ensuring that you’re utilizing all the Instagram features while maintaining consistent branding is the best way to optimize your Instagram profile.

How to beat the Instagram algorithm

Growing your brand on social media depends a lot on your deep understanding of what the algorithm wants. What does Instagram algorithm want?

Key Factors That Influence Instagram Algorithm

Infographic showing 6 key factors that influence the Instagram algorithm

1. Interest

Instagram algorithm historically displays content that the user has engaged with in the past or the accounts & types of content the user normally engages with.

This is why it’s important to build & execute a consistent content strategy on Instagram. Most businesses often try to reinvent the wheel by looking for an innovative content idea whereas this factor gives you an obvious clue - repeat and rinse what your competitors are already winning with. You’ll be able to reach your target audience easier that way. If you’re in an industry that doesn’t offer much content on Instagram, look for influencers that resemble your target audience and try to make content that appeals to them & they engage with.

Instagram algorithm focuses on engagement metrics like, comments, reshares, saves and video views to gauge how interested a user is in a piece of content.

2. Relationships

The algorithm wants to prioritize your relationships. So, if you’ve recently liked someone’s content or DMed them or searched for them or know them in real life, you’re most likely to see their content.

This is what invalidates the follower count, because the moment somebody follows you, Instagram starts testing your content and in case, it’s not generating engagement from users, they’re eventually going to stop seeing it. And that’s too soon! Each piece of content is a test and you have to pass each one with flying colors or you’re out of the race.

3. Timeliness

Instagram algorithm prioritizes recent content. Hence, it’s crucial to post when your audience is likely to be most active so the maximum number of people can see your post right when you publish it.

This is even more important for Instagram stories. Instagram stories algorithm always focuses on the latest content to a user, especially what they’ve engaged with previously. Even if they’ve seen stories from an account already (& engaged with it), the new stories from the account would be bumped to the top. Hence, it’s crucial to actively post on stories, more than once daily to ensure you always get bumped to top once a user engages with you and is in the cycle!

4. Frequency

For a person who is very active on Instagram, their feed looks more chronological whereas those who spend less time on the app, see a curated feed depending on their interest and relationships.

5. Followers

A user that follows a lot of people would not see posts from all the accounts they are following, unless they’ve recently engaged with it.

As a brand, what you must focus on is your followers to following ratio. Follow less people than your own follower count. Try to identify & remove inactive/bot followers you’ve, as even one irrelevant follower will reduce your chances of winning the Instagram algorithm. That’s why it’s very important to have your brand messaging very clear and focus on gaining genuine followers rather than bots or even your relatives who don’t match the description of your target audience.

6. Usage

How many and what posts an Instagram user sees also depends on how much they’re using the app. If Instagram runs out of content to show you from who you’re following, it suggests you related content.

How Explore Page Algorithm Works?

Did we introduce you to the explore page? It’s this page on Instagram that’s completely curated by Instagram, personalized to each user. You can access it by clicking on the magnifying glass icon on the app.

For most businesses, a major goal of their Instagram content strategy is to be on the explore page. But how does Instagram algorithm choose which account or content to put on explore page?

It’s mission is to curate best content relevant to the user who’s looking. As a brand, if you share strong content with effective CTAs and niche hashtags, you’re already working your way up to the explore page.

Finally, how to beat this algorithm?

Don’t.

How To Partner With Instagram Algorithm

The truth is any social media algorithm is actually the guiding light to what you should do. You and them have the same objective - to impress the users. So, stop trying to fight and start helping it. Here’s how you can do that!

  1. Create great engagement-worthy content.
  2. Use the latest Instagram features. For example, Reels.
  3. Focus on video and create stories more often.
  4. Make sure your captions are actionable and engaging.
  5. Encourage more interactions by asking questions, stickers like polls, emoji sliders & questions in stories.
  6. Talk to people. Be active in comments and DMs.
  7. Use relevant hashtags.
  8. Cross-promote your Instagram content. Share feed posts, reels, IGTV videos on stories. Try your best to gain more visibility for each piece of content.
  9. Use Instagram analytics to understand what’s working or not.
  10. Use Instagram to narrow down to the best performing content-type and best time to post.
  11. Understand that the aesthetic of your feed also determines how engaging your overall Instagram account is.
  12. Lastly, automate your Instagram Analytics and make them a more important part of your overall Instagram marketing strategy.

How to write captions for Instagram

Even though Instagram majorly relies on photos and videos, captions are highly relevant in your Instagram strategy. Strong captions can make the difference between an engaging post or a boring post. Here are a few tips to help you write strong engagement-inducing captions!

  1. Plan the captions: Most businesses focus heavily on producing the content - photo & video but rush the process when deciding captions. Carefully produced captions can make your post reach a wider audience, as the Instagram algorithm rewards engaging posts especially those with a lot of comments. Plan your caption in advance and add CTAs that ignite conversations.
  2. Plan the caption length: Instagram captions can be 2200 characters long. But the first 3-4 lines of captions are most important because they’re visible initially. To read the rest of it, the user has to click ‘read more.' They’ll do so only if the first few lines of the caption capture their attention. There’s no right or wrong with the length. For some brands, captions with short lengths work perfectly while for some, long captions with in-depth information about the topic of the photo/video work great. As a general rule of thumb, keep your captions as short as possible, but don’t be afraid of long captions if you have got a compelling story to tell. Make sure you’re using line breaks to make your caption easily readable.
  3. Use captions to offer extra information: One winning way to use Instagram captions is to add supplementary information in the caption. If you have a video discussing certain tools, mention these tools & their brief description in the captions. If you have got an infographic discussing certain food products, talk of their nutritional value in the caption. If you’re a photo of your employee at work, discuss their story at length in the caption. Treat captions as your chance to add more value to your existing content & not just to explain what you’ve already done with the image/video.
  4. Include a CTA: Your caption should always have a call-to-action, some question or statement that would compel the reader to comment or share. Ask a question, encourage users to share their viewpoints, encourage them to like or comment or tag a friend.
  5. Establish your Instagram voice: The way you write your captions is also important. Are you sounding professional, funny, light-hearted? Go back to your branding documentation and ensure your brand voice is being established in Instagram captions as well. Ideally, you should sound light-hearted on Instagram while avoiding hard-selling as it’s a social platform. Your tone on Instagram captions should be consistent with your overall brand & Instagram presence & relatable.

How to use hashtags for Instagram

Hashtags were originally popularized by Twitter, but now they’re a way to categorize content, discover content & gain more reach on several social media platforms. Your brand’s growth on Instagram is heavily dependent on the right use of hashtags.

Why Hashtags Are Important

There has been a lot of change in how Instagram marketing works over the decade, but one constant in the Instagram marketing strategy is hashtags. They’re a great way to get discovered by new audiences on Instagram amidst the tsunami of content. Once you add a hashtag to a post, your post will not only be discoverable by your existing followers but will also be displayed on the corresponding hashtag page. As hashtags are used with an intent to discover new content, your brand can get discovered by a newer audience if you get your hashtags and content on point.

How Hashtags work on Instagram

There are more than 80 million photos shared daily on Instagram. With so much content being produced on the app, it’s hard to get noticed. Hashtags offer a way for brands & content creators to get noticed.

A hashtag page basically aggregates all the posts tagged with a certain hashtag. The page is divided into 2 parts - the top part usually consists of the top 9 posts using the hashtag. After that, all the posts using the hashtag are displayed in chronological order. What’s important is that you strive to have your post be visible in the top 9 of a highly popular hashtag. This will give you a lot of visibility. However, doing so will require a solid Instagram strategy, the use of the right hashtags, and a consistent flow of high-quality & engaging content.

Also, when you search for a term or hashtag on Instagram, you’re shown a curated feed.

This curated feed is divided into four parts:

  1. Top posts - The first part includes top Instagram accounts (popular accounts or accounts you follow already), hashtags & locations that match your keyword.

  2. Accounts - This shows top accounts using the searched keyword.

  3. Tags - This shows popular hashtags using the keyword and how many Instagram posts have been shared using the keyword.

  4. Places - This displays the nearby locations that use the keyword.

You can use this system to discover relevant hashtags for your Instagram posts. For example, you can search for the main keyword - ‘digital marketing’ on Instagram and look for popular hashtags using these keywords in the Tags section. But the biggest question is how to choose which hashtag you should use?

Types of Hashtags

For Instagram, you need to pick hashtags from three categories - community hashtags, branded hashtags, and campaign hashtags.

Infographic detailing all the Types of Hashtags on Instagram

Community hashtags connect like-minded people around a subject. There are several types of community hashtags that you can use to connect with people interested in your product, get discovered, grow your community and engage in conversations.

Here are some types of community hashtags you can use:

  1. Hashtags indicating your product or service. For example - #digitalmarketingservices #digitalmarketingstrategy, #athleisurewear
  2. Hashtags that indicate your niche or industry. For example - #digitalmarketingagency #digitalmarketingcompany, #clothingbrand, #clothingstore
  3. Hashtags that indicate instagram communities from your industry. For example - #marketersofinstagram, #foodiesofinstagram, #bookloversofInstagram
  4. Hashtags that indicate special events or seasons. For example - #worldbookday, #nationalsiblingday, #nationalpetday, #autumnvibes
  5. Daily hashtags. For example - #mondaymotivation, #mondayvibes, #fridayfeeling
  6. Hashtags using locations.  For example - #madeinamerica, #newjersey, #nycbusiness
  7. Relevant phrases, quotes, or acronyms. For example - #behealthy, #beactive
  8. Hashtags with emojis.

We recommend using a variety of popular community hashtags, a combination from the above-mentioned 8 hashtags.

Branded hashtags are the ones that are unique for your company. It could be either your company’s name (for example - #hurekatek #palatableapp #nike) or a phrase or tagline that your company uses (for example -  #justdoit).

Campaign hashtags are short-term hashtags that can be used for promotion of a specific campaign. They’re usually tied to a product launch or special event or partnerships.

How To Find Best Hashtags For Instagram

It’s easy to find popular hashtags on Instagram like #dog #puppy #love #cat but using these doesn’t ensure you will get extra engagement. In fact, any hashtag on Instagram, popular or not, cannot help you unless you’re using them strategically and creating quality content that can eventually appear in the top results.

What you need is a box full of best hashtags for your brand and use them strategically while doing everything else perfectly, to unleash the enormous discovery potential hashtags have to offer.

To begin with, instead of using the most popular hashtags, it’s better to find smaller & niche-specific hashtags and win on them before you go for the rest. It works almost like SEO - you would want to win on the long-tail keywords first before you set your eyes on the toughest keyword for you, and it’s important because winning on the long-tail keywords is really the only way to win on the main keywords. It’s quite similar on Instagram.

Here are a few strategies to help you find the best hashtags for Instagram:

Infographic on how to find the Best Hashtags on Instagram

  1. Use Instagram Suggestions: Remember the curated feed we mentioned a few minutes ago? Search for your main keyword on Instagram and switch to tags to look for related hashtags. These hashtags suggestions not only give you an idea of the hashtags but also tell you how popular a particular hashtag is. You want to pick a few hashtags from three categories - hashtags with more than 1M posts, hashtags between 100k-1M posts, and hashtags between 10k-100k posts. Depending on your niche, you may not have much choice with the first category but this is just to get you more organized while documenting your hashtag strategy. Aiming for 10 hashtags from each of the three categories is less intimidating than documenting everything that’s available. You can always add and change this list depending on your results.
  2. Research What Your Audience Wants: The ultimate goal of using hashtags on Instagram is to reach your target audience. Consequently, look for hashtags they’re searching for and are using. These hashtags may not always be very niche specific but could help you connect with your target audience. For example, if your brand’s target audience is new mothers, they’re most likely to be searching for hashtags like #newmom #newmomlife.
  3. Research Your Competitors: You have already researched your competition in chapter 4. Use the information you gained there to see which hashtags they’re repeatedly using. Chances are you can win on Instagram using the same hashtags, providing you’ve valuable and engaging content.
  4. Research Influencers: Check what the influencers are using for their posts. For example, if you’re a publishing house, you’ll see the majority of the book influencers use hashtags like #bookstagram #bookstagrammers. You could use same hashtags to reach readers.

How To Optimize Your Instagram Hashtags

You understand the importance of hashtags on Instagram, how they work, types of hashtags, how to find the best hashtags for your Instagram. The last but most important thing about hashtags is using them the right way. Here’s how you do it!

Infographic on how to Optimize Your Instagram Hashtags

  1. Gain Insights From Instagram Hashtag Analytics: As a business profile on Instagram, you can tap into Instagram insights to see how many people are discovering your post via hashtags. However, these insights are quite limited for they don’t give you a breakdown of which hashtags are getting you more eyeballs. You can consider using third-party Instagram analytics tools to gain insights into that.

  2. Aim To Get in the ‘Top’ For A Hashtag: We’ve mentioned this before - the key to getting a lot of people to discover your posts is to land in the ‘top’ part of the hashtag page. This mainly depends on two things - how much engagement your post has got and how quickly it gets the engagement. The higher these two metrics are, the higher the chance of landing in the ‘top.’ To make this happen, creating great content with a highly engaging caption is crucial.

  3. Use A Combination of Hashtags in Every Post: Don’t try to use all 30 hashtags in every post. Aim at 5-10 hashtags per post and switch between various types of community hashtags that we mentioned above. It’s important you keep changing the hashtags and keep them relevant to your post to avoid looking spammy.

  4. Use & Promote Branded Hashtags: While you’re using community hashtags for greater discoverability, continue working on a branded hashtag. You can add your branded hashtag to your Instagram bio and even use it in your CTAs in Instagram posts. It’s also a good idea to run hashtags-based campaigns & promotions to encourage people to use your branded hashtag.

  5. Avoid Using Banned Hashtag: A few hashtags on Instagram are banned for violating their community guidelines. Using such hashtags defeats the point of using hashtags.

However, what you may not realize as a business owner is that simple hashtags like #thought #beautyblogger have been banned at a time. It’s a good idea to do a quick search of your hashtags every month to ensure you’re not using a banned hashtag.

Best Practices For Using Hashtags on Instagram

Here are a few more things to consider while using hashtags in your Instagram posts -

  1. Hashtags can have numbers & emojis but no special characters.
  2. Any private profile using hashtags doesn’t appear on the hashtag pages.
  3. You can use up to 30 hashtags on an Instagram post (including Reels & IGTV) and up to 10 on Instagram stories.
  4. We recommend using 5-10 hashtags for an Instagram post and not more than 3 hashtags per Instagram story.
  5. Using too many hashtags too often can make your profile appear spammy.
  6. Make sure your hashtags are visible. Don’t try to hide them in your stories behind text or colors.
  7. Whether you should put hashtags in the caption or in the Instagram comments is always a topic of debate. What should you do? As long as you use proper line breaks and keep your caption tidy, you can put them in captions, else put in the first comment.
  8. Try to use more faces in your feed. Pictures with faces get 38% more likes & 32% more comments. (source)
  9. Post to Facebook via Instagram. A Buzzsumo study analyzed 3 million brand pages to conclude that images posted to Facebook via Instagram get more engagement than natively published Facebook images.(source)

Instagram hacks & best practices

Almost every business owner would quickly realize the potential of Instagram as a social media channel but not even a fraction would actually be ready to do what it takes to use Instagram to grow their business. Are you ready to do it?

Here’s what it takes -

  1. A lot of content. You’ll need good photos, videos for Reels & IGTV, and then some more photos for the stories.
  2. You’ll need to put out content strategically while using the right hashtags and answering the right questions.
  3. You’ll need to be engaged with the audience and build connections, nurture them until they lead to a sale.
  4. While you can hire a digital marketing agency for the strategy, the hashtags, the posting, the engagement & even parts of your content, you must be actively involved in the process and take control of the video.
  5. It’s your business. Somebody from your team or you have to step in to build those relationships. Your marketing agency cannot do that for you. Your in-house marketer or you as a business owner are responsible for that.
  6. You need to pick the low-hanging fruits instead of wasting resources on the tough ones. So, prioritize Reels. Then focus on Instagram Stories. Then, on IGTV. And lastly, on the normal photos & guides. Use the same ideology for hashtags.
  7. You need a human connection in your content. So, prioritize having a face for your business rather than using animated stuff (which is usually much more expensive to produce anyway).
  8. Create content that’s a mix of education & promotional content. It should be 95% education & 5% marketing your product. It’s actually nothing different than what traditional businesses do. Let’s say your company sells mixers. Would you be able to sell those mixers without educating your customers on how amazing mixers are, how they’ll help them run their restaurant business smoothly? No, right? First, you’ll tell them what’s in it for them and then tell them about the Mixer you’re selling. Right? It’s the same way on social media.
  9. If you’re a product business, showcase your real products. If you’re a clothing business, show actual photos of your clothes. What business owners don’t realize is how simple it is. A brick and mortar clothing store can just have a corner in their store with good lighting & a camera/phone camera setup and click photos of the clothes on a dummy. Chances are most of your employees know how to click photos. They even know how to create short videos. Enroll them in! If you’re a restaurant, click foods and make videos of the food to get started. If you’re a service-based business, answer the FAQs in Reels. If you’re still confused about what type of content on Instagram your business can do, talk to us!
  10. Post content at the right time. Most users engage with content during off-hours on workdays. Post during that time.
  11. Link your Facebook and Instagram accounts. While automatic linking can also be done for Twitter & Linkedin, we don’t recommend that as these platforms require a completely different content strategy. But it’s a good idea to post your stories (automatically) on your Facebook stories.
  12. Hide posts you’ve been tagged in automatically. Once someone tags you in a post, the tagged post will appear in your account. Unless you consistently monitor t 24/7, we won’t recommend this as you want to showcase only carefully created and curated content on your profile. There’s a manual way to untag yourself from each post individually but for a business profile, the recommended option is to turn off tagging.
  13. Try to engage as much as possible. Do monthly AMAs with your employees or encourage users to ask you questions about your products. Make answering customer questions a major part of your content strategy on Instagram.
  14. There are endless types of content your business can do. What content is fit for your business? It’s a strategic decision that can be made by you & your digital marketing agency on the basis of your business type, your current competition, and the hottest thing on Instagram right now. Today it’s Reels and they’re the biggest opportunity on Instagram right now. Tomorrow, it can (and will) change. The question is can you grab this opportunity while it’s there?
  15. Lastly and most importantly, don’t use bots for any activities on Instagram. Don’t buy followers, don’t buy engagement, and don’t indulge in practices like engagement pods & follow for following. All these tactics are considered spam and can permanently damage your Instagram account and kill opportunities for business growth on Instagram.

Conclusion

As we reach the end of this ultimate guide to Instagram marketing, you should have a clear understanding of how to build your Instagram marketing strategy and what all are important elements for Instagram marketing.

Your next step is to use this information to build your Instagram marketing strategy, start creating & posting content on Instagram. There’s a lot left - you need to understand the nuances of how to create good content, what content topics to pick, and how to gift wrap it into a presentable and shareable manner… doing this over and over again while constantly upgrading your strategy based on the analytics you gather through the process. Are you ready for that?

If you need help, talk to us!