In 2021, Instagram is still the King of visual marketing tools. In this guide, you will find 25 must-know Instagram marketing tips to tell your brand’s story, engage your customers, gain leads, and drive sales.

1. Start using a business account

You can’t unlock Instagram’s full potential without a business account. Why? Because some of the social platform’s most powerful features are reserved for business users only, including:

How to set up an Instagram business account

Here’s how to set up an Instagram business account (if you already have one or are committed to your personal account, skip ahead to Tip #2):

2. Identify your goals

Using Instagram to market your business without clearly defined goals is like driving in unfamiliar territory without a map. Do not kick-start your Instagram marketing efforts without an objective, a North Star to guide your strategy and direct your activities.

Here are some example goals to get you thinking:

There is no right or wrong answer, but it’s critical to write down a goal and reverse-engineer your marketing success.

3. Understand your audience

Instagram may have more than one billion active users, but it’s not for everyone. Over half of users are aged 18 to 29, which means over 65 per cent of people in that age bracket use the platform.

That does not mean you shouldn’t target prospects in their 30s and 40s – it’s about understanding who your audience is, what their pain points are, and how they use Instagram.

Not only will your target audience’s demographic define your content strategy, but it will also play a central role in your sponsored advertising approach — more on creating and optimising ads in Tip #20.

4. Know your competitors

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right? You understand your audience; now, get to know your competitors. A detailed competitive analysis can shed light on how other successful marketers in your niche use Instagram to their advantage.

If you have already defined your top competitors, head to their Instagram pages. Find out the following:

If you haven’t defined your top competitors, search key terms related to your business or industry in the app. This should help you find similar accounts.

The aim of a competitive analysis is not to replicate what other marketers are doing – it’s about uncovering what resonates with your target audience and recognising untapped opportunities.

5. Enhance your profile

In a word, Instagram profiles are brief. Your profile must pack a serious punch if it’s to catch the eye of a scrolling user.

Here is a breakdown of the Instagram profile for businesses:

Effective profiles compel users to tap the follow button by communicating a brand’s promise, personality, and unique selling points. You might also like to include a call-to-action to prompt users to follow or tag your business or use a specific hashtag.

6. Select an eye-catching profile photo

One of the top Instagram marketing tips for small business: your branding matters.

Consistent branding is vital to building credibility and earning the trust and loyalty of prospects and customers. For most businesses, the profile photo should be its logo.

Instagram crops profile photos into a circle and displays them at 110 x 110 pixels. However, these images are stored at 320 x 320 pixels, so upload your logo at this size.

If your logo is square or rectangular, you will need to zoom out to ensure it is displayed in its entirety.

7. Follow an aesthetic theme

Your Instagram posts can be viewed in several ways, one of which is on your profile. Here, a user can see up to 12 of your most recent posts in one view. Establishing and following an aesthetic theme creates coherency and communicates a sense of professionalism. Plus, it helps users quickly and confidently recognise your brand’s posts in their feed.

How do you create an aesthetic theme? Try these tips:

Your aesthetic theme doesn’t have to be bold. A subtle visual thread that connects your posts is enough to boost all-important brand awareness and recognition in today’s flooded social media feeds.

8. Put visuals first

The best Instagram marketing tips are simple. At its heart, Instagram is a visual social platform. In short, that means your posts must look excellent. They must use visual elements to attract, engage, and inform your target audience.

The good news: you don’t need expensive photography equipment to inspire your followers. Professionalism is essential for brands leveraging Instagram’s power to market products and services, but a little authenticity goes a long way. People connect with people, and Instagram users want to see a slice of real life, albeit refined and curated.

Photos must be well-composed (following the rule of thirds is a great place to start), in focus, and eye-catching. Graphics must be crisp (no pixelation) and easy to read. Videos must be well-lit and, if the sound is included, audible. You might like to add closed captions to your videos, too.

9. Write compelling captions

Instagram may be a visual medium, but your captions still matter. Like the imagery you use, your captions should reflect your brand’s personality and maintain consistency across posts.

Captions can be quite lengthy – up to 2,200 characters – giving you enough room for both a witty one-liner or emotive storytelling. Typically, the optimal caption length is around 150 characters for organic posts and 125 for ads.

However, do keep in mind that only the first two lines of text appear in the feed. Users must click “more” to read the rest.

10. Use the right hashtags

Hashtags boost your visibility and are crucial to unlocking the platform’s full potential. Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post. Between five and nine seems to be the sweet spot, as it ensures discoverability without making your content look spammy.

There is a bit of an art to selecting the right hashtags. Here are several factors to keep in mind:

Finally, creating your own brand- or campaign-specific hashtag can be an effective way to increase engagement, reach new audiences, and boost your follower count.

For example, in their bio, clothing brand Dangerfield prompts users to add #dangerfield to their posts.

11. Engage with followers

You get out what you put in. If you want people to engage with your content, engage with theirs, too. It is social media, after all.

It’s a good time to engage with other users when…

How you engage with other users contributes to your brand’s voice. Be consistent and be appropriate. If things escalate, continue the discussion privately in your direct messages or via email.

12. Share user-generated content

Creating and publishing high-impact Instagram posts day in and day out is no easy task. But there is a strategy you can use that gives you access to excellent, authentic content without the time and effort.

Sharing user-generated content is a great way to involve your customers and build a sense of community on Instagram. The premise is simple: your customers publish a high-quality image relevant to your brand, and you use an app like Repost to re-share their image to your business’s profile.

You must clearly credit the original poster by tagging their username in your caption. You might also like to inform the original poster that you’ve shared their post.

Adore Beauty does a great job of this, using the camera emoji to give credit.

13. Experiment with Instagram Stories

Every day, 500 million Instagram users view Stories. Every month, four million businesses leverage Stories in their ad campaigns, and 50 per cent of surveyed users say they have visited a website to purchase a product or service after seeing it in their Stories.

The numbers paint a compelling picture: Instagram Stories are powerful, and you should be using them to connect with your following and promote your business.

Stories disappear after 24 hours (unless you add them to your highlights – see Tip #14 for more), so followers expect timely updates that are less polished than your brand’s feed.

There is no shortage of ways to use Instagram Stories – here are a couple of Instagram Stories marketing tips to get you started:

14. Highlight Stories

We broke down the components of an Instagram profile in Tip #5. But we left something out: Stories highlights. Stories disappear after 24 hours – unless you add them to your highlights. Then, they’ll stick around indefinitely.

Your highlights appear directly below your bio, so it’s important the covers are appealing and on-brand.

Use highlights to answer frequently asked questions, showcase a product range, or detail an important update to your services.

Here’s how The North Face displays its highlighted Stories.

15. Have fun with Instagram Reels

Want Instagram video marketing tips? Have fun with Reels.

Instagram Reels are a relatively new feature, giving users access to a suite of tools that enable the creation of short videos enhanced by music, text, stickers, and other special effects. In short, Reels are Instagram’s version of TikTok.

Although dance challenges abound, brands are using Reels to stand out from their competitors. Before and afters, how-tos, sneak-peeks, and day-in-the-life style content help businesses establish relatable brand identities.

16. Publish longer videos on IGTV

If Reels are Instagram’s answer to TikTok, IGTV echoes YouTube. IGTV allows you to publish videos up to one hour long. All 60 minutes won’t be viewable from your followers’ Instagram feeds, but the first minute will.

Why use IGTV? Here are three perks that might just convince you longer-form video is worth your business’s while:

Luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton has created several ongoing series using IGTV.

17. Convert followers into loyal customers

Lots of followers and high engagement levels are one thing, but when push comes to shove, you need to see a cash return on your marketing investment. Once you have established a following, it’s time to get strategic about converting users into loyal customers.

Here are several ideas to get you started:

18. Get strategic with Insights

Your business might be killing it on Instagram, but there is always room for improvement. And the best way to level-up your results is to learn from the past.

Instagram Insights gives you access to key performance metrics like engagement, post reach, follower demographics, impressions, and the number of views your Stories get. Use this information to refine your strategy. The more you know about your followers and what resonates with them, the more you can fine-tune your content to meet their needs and expectations.

For example, let’s say you experimented with a few new hashtags over the past week. Check your Insights to see whether recent posts reached more users in their Explore feeds.

19. Explore free Instagram tools

Third-party companies have created tools that enhance Instagram for business users.

Here are a few to explore:

You’ll also find many free photo editing apps you can use to achieve a consistent aesthetic across your posts, Stories, Reels, and IGTVs.

Instagram for Business 101

Grab our ebook Instagram for Business to take your Instagram game up a notch!

20. Pay for ads

Instagram ads are effective and suitable for businesses large and small, whatever their budget. Plus, they’re extremely versatile, appearing in both users’ feeds and Stories. You can showcase just one ad, create several using the carousel feature, or use a video.

You can target your audience using the following information:

Sponsored ads should be highly engaging, appeal to your target audience, and contain a call-to-action. You can either create a new ad or use an existing post (similar to ‘Boosting’ a Facebook post).

To help you get started with sponsored ads, here are three best practices:

21. Open an Instagram shop

You can set up an online shop containing your products directly on Instagram – but only if you’ve switched to a business profile. You can also tag products in your posts, so users can instantly purchase those pastel pink sunglasses or engineered hiking boots that caught their eye.

Users can access your shop via your profile, their feed, or Stories. Once there, they can browse and purchase products seamlessly through the in-app checkout.

Instagram shopping is not a feature you want to pass up – 130 million users tap on shopping posts monthly.

Here’s Sephora Australia’s Instagram shop.

22. Publish content at the right time

Although Instagram does not show users’ posts in chronological order, timing still matters. After examining more than 250,000 posts across several industries, the research found that the following times are the best for driving engagement:

23. Go live

Instagram Live enables you to connect with your followers in real-time. You can also save your live broadcast to your Stories highlights.

Here are a few Live strategies you can trial:

24. Partner with an influencer

How’s this for a statistic: one in two daily Instagram users have purchased because an influencer recommended the product or service. That’s half of Instagram’s 500 million daily users, or 250 million people spending their money because of what an influencer has said.

Influencer marketing is dynamic, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. First, you’ll need to decide who you want to target. What kind of influencers does your audience trust? Micro-influencers, who tend to have around 2,000 followers? Or bigger-ticket influencers, who might have 100,000 followers or more?

Of course, the more followers an influencer has, the more your marketing campaign will cost. Kim Kardashian, with 211 million followers, charges between US$ 300,000 and US$ 500,000 per sponsored post.

In 2017, Influence.co researched the cost of influencer marketing. You likely won’t need to spend more than $ 1,000 per post. Here are the results, keeping in mind several years have passed:

Do your research, and you might just unlock a fool-proof marketing strategy with epic returns on your investment.

25. Be consistent

Of all the Instagram marketing tips for business, this one is the most vital to sustainable success.

Consistency is by far the most important ingredient for effective Instagram marketing – and for effective digital marketing in general, for that matter. Post regularly (using a content calendar can help), engage with your followers, run ads, and continue building your following.

Growth takes time, but with persistence come rewards.

Make your mark on Instagram

You’ve got your must-know social media marketing tips. Instagram awaits.

Instagram has skyrocketed in popularity and is now a crucial facet of many businesses’ social media marketing ecosystems. With a strategic approach, you, too, can reap the rewards this versatile platform offers. Enhance your profile, build your audience, refine your advertisements, and crucially, be consistent.

It’s your turn to transform engaged followers into loyal customers. Happy Instagramming!

This content was originally published here.

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