Neil Patel

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Instagram Marketing Guide: 11 Tips That Actually Work

Do you want to learn some Instagram marketing tips?

Well, before I teach you, let me first give you an overview of Instagram.

Since its creation, it has become the ultimate platform for sharing photos, with over 1.318 billion active users worldwide on the app.

There’s also a large number of influencers on the site with massive followers; with the right plan, you can become an influential brand, too.

To succeed on Instagram, you need to post the right content to stay relevant to current followers while bringing in new ones.

However, knowing which kinds of posts work best for growing your audience can take a lot of work. With that in mind, I will teach you some of the best Instagram marketing tips around to help you thrive online.

What Is Instagram Marketing?

Instagram marketing refers to the process of brands harnessing the power of Instagram to reach their target audiences to generate brand awareness and share products. The platform offers marketers or businesses several avenues to connect with their desired audiences, including paid and non-paid options.

Instagram stats Instagram marketing tips

According to stats from Instagram, it’s the top platform for building relationships, and 70 percent of people surveyed by Instagram don’t mind viewing videos while they’re on the platform.

From those stats, it is easy to see how Instagram is an excellent place to be for marketers and business owners.

Why Should Marketers Care About Instagram?

While the platform hosts 31.5 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds, the photo-sharing app also hosts audiences of all ages, with 30.1 percent of 18-24-year-olds, 16.1 percent of 35-to-44-year-olds, and 8 percent of 45-to-54-year-olds actively using the Instagram platform.

These figures reveal that, despite incorrect audience perception, there is a large likelihood that your target audience is logging onto Instagram, and you need to be greeting them with content when they do.

In addition to the sheer size and diversity of users, 90 percent of Instagram users follow at least one business. This organic interaction with companies stands in stark comparison to other social platforms.

Outside of these metrics, Instagram is also a marketer’s dream for various other reasons. We break those down below.

  • Narrative: Although Instagram doesn’t focus on conventional written storytelling, the platform is about sharing a narrative through images, which is at the core of marketing. The platform is perfect for bringing your brand’s story to life through aesthetically appealing posts, stories, and ads.
  • Reach: A billion plus accounts use Instagram every month. One billion. The platform provides nearly unlimited access to audiences, allowing you to widen your reach drastically.
  • Community Engagement: We discussed Instagram’s high engagement rates with brands above. Outside of that figure, Instagram provides marketers with unique opportunities to connect with community members, fostering conversation and engagement.
  • Competitive Lens: Even if you’re not currently using Instagram marketing as a strategy, there’s a high chance your competitors most likely are. Take advantage of the platform’s visibility to assess what your competitors share, what’s performing well, and what isn’t. Establish best practices for your community by seeing what fails and succeeds for your direct competitors.

When coupled with the usage statistics, these four benefits of Instagram marketing make your presence on the platform a must.

How To Get Your Brand Started on Instagram

While this may all sound great in theory, how do you enact the actual practice of marketing your brand on Instagram? We’ve got you covered.

Instagram business account Instagram marketing tips

In the following section, we break down everything from building your business account to demystifying Instagram marketing analytics.

Customize Your Instagram Business Account

After establishing yourself as a business, you can optimize your profile for success.

Instagram offers businesses a variety of unique features unavailable to personal accounts; you’d be wise to take advantage of all of them.

  • Contact information: Include your physical address, email address, and phone number so followers can contact you directly. When you include this contact information, Instagram automatically builds related buttons (Call, Get Directions, Email).
  • Category or Categories: These groupings appear as circular topics under your name and are a simple way to showcase what your brand is about. Check our page out to see how we do it.
  • Call-to-action buttons: You can tailor these buttons to your business offerings to allow visitors to take specific actions, like making an appointment or booking a reservation. To incorporate these buttons into your profile, select Edit Profile, Contact Options, and add an Action button.

Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy

Whether you’re a beginner or looking to boost your Instagram marketing strategy, the following four steps can help you craft deliberate, successful campaigns.

1. Set some goals. These vary from business to business, depending on your ultimate aim. Whether you’re looking to get new leads or position your brand as an industry leader, you need clearly delineated goals that your campaigns work toward achieving.

2. Keyword research is a must for any successful digital campaign. Instagram is no different. Although Instagram is home to stunning visual images, much discovery occurs through hashtag usage. Since the platform relies so heavily on hashtags to help users find relevant content, keywords operate as the basis of discovery on the platform.

3. Define your audience. We’ve already established that Instagram’s audience is massive, but that doesn’t mean yours is. A clearly-defined audience increases the chances of reaching individuals most likely to take your desired action.

4. Run competitor research to learn about best practices for your particular market. When building your Instagram marketing strategy, dive deeper into competitor data to gain a granular view of their performance. By comparing competitor data to your own, you can gain a realistic view of performance and tailor your strategies accordingly.

Start Posting Content

After establishing a measurable strategy and building your profile, it’s time to post content.

However, you should carefully consider what you post, when you post, and the aesthetics of your post before you select Publish.

On any social platform, your business must convey a brand voice. That voice doesn’t just refer to the actual written text: It includes the color palette, post type, and theme of your posts and hashtags.


Color psychology plays a significant role in content marketing as specific colors trigger an emotional reaction in the viewer. When selecting a color palette for your Instagram posts, choose hues that embody your brand’s overall message.

Check out this grid from the travel site Le Postcard.

The company highlighted blue hues that make the viewer dream of vacation.

When selecting your color palette, be sure to choose hues that embody the essence of your brand. Then, pull that color palette across your content.

Post Type

Instagram offers marketers many post types, including standard image posts, reels, IGTV, and much more. The post type you choose is also relative to a business’s brand.

For example, is the business you promote fun and casual or formal?

For more relaxed businesses, engaging, funny videos are a surefire way to draw an audience’s attention.

Conversely, jocular videos are most likely a route to avoid for more buttoned-up organizations.


We have already discussed how hashtags could help you grow your community. Instagram allows a lot of room for hashtags, with space for 30 per post. However, a general best practice is to avoid using too many as it won’t aid distribution; 3-5 should suffice.

Your hashtags should also reflect your brand’s voice and identity, allowing would-be community members to find your business by searching their interests.

Additionally, you’ll want to:

  • Avoid generic hashtags
  • Use established, niche-specific hashtags to help discoverability
  • Include relevant hashtags

Moving on from hashtags, let’s discuss the importance of interacting with your followers.

Interact With Followers

Everyone wants to be heard, and your Instagram followers are no different. So ensure they know you hear and appreciate them by liking their posts and replying to their comments.

This practice builds goodwill toward your business and encourages followers to interact with you again.

Check out this post from Supergoop, a sunscreen brand that responds to followers and encourages followers to tag their friends in the conversation. This tactic furthers both reach and recognition.

Track Your Analytics

Instagram has some pretty comprehensive analytics that lets you gain both a bird’s-eye view of your performance and a granular view. While there are multiple metrics you can explore, here are the top ones that we recommend you get very familiar with.


Through reach metrics, you learn how many unique accounts viewed your post.

If your post scored an uncommonly high or low reach score, you could assess what factors went into the result. For example, which hashtags did you use? When did you post? Was your call-to-action (CTA) clear?

Asking these questions based on reach metrics can help you optimize future campaigns for better performance.

You can measure your reach rate by dividing the total reach of your post by the number of followers you have.


Instagram reach Instagram marketing tips


In addition to Instagram’s shopping features, drive people to your website by adding UTM parameters to links.

This function lets you track conversions, including how much revenue you earn via Instagram. These metrics are stored in your chosen web analytics program and can provide tangible insight into how much traffic your Instagram marketing strategy drives and what content converts into actual sales.


Instagram saves allow users to “save” posts for later by choosing the “bookmark” item at the bottom of the post.

By tracking saves over time, you can determine which content pieces drive the highest number of saves and adjust your Instagram marketing strategy to reflect this.

While there are many other metrics Instagram marketing strategists can dive into, these three provide a clear view of content that performs well, informing current and future strategies.

Top Tips For Instagram Marketing

With millions of active users, Instagram is a major platform for businesses to market their products and services. However, with so many brands vying for attention, it’s often challenging to stand out from the crowd.

If you need help getting started, here are our top tips for marketing on Instagram.

1. Use Free Instagram Marketing Tools

Business profiles on Instagram aren’t all that different from Meta business profiles.

Through Insights, you can view statistics like impressions, engagement data, and more.

You can even get a breakdown of the demographics of your followers, including information on their age, gender, location, and most active hours.

Insights aren’t just generalized, either. For example, you can get specific insights on posts for the week that show you how many impressions you earned for that period and what your top posts were.

These free tools are priceless because you can use them to understand exactly how users interact with your content.

The more you know how users interact with your posts, the better you can adjust your content to boost engagement.

One category of posts that is almost always attention-grabbing is product teasers.

2. Post Product Teasers That Will (Gently) Urge People to Buy

What if you could sell more products by posting product teasers on Instagram?

Well, you can.

Instagram is a great place to advertise your products. And if you play your cards right, you won’t annoy or scare users off with advertisements, either.

If you’re too pushy, followers will drop like flies. However, product teaser posts are a simple way to talk about your product and increase excitement without looking like you’re trying too hard.

Here are some posts from Gilt’s Instagram page that don’t directly try to sell a product but provide a link for followers to their Instagram shop feature where users can browse all of the brand’s inventory.

Gilt store Instagram marketing Instagram marketing tips

When you use the link and click on an item, you are directed to their website, where the brand offers a 70% discount while showing you photos of other available products.

The ads work because they aren’t pushy. They’re laid back. They tease users with the discount and product images to download the app and shop around.

This works for almost any industry. For example, Starbucks teases its audience by announcing seasonal drinks with sharp imagery without trying to force people to buy them.

Instagram post of Starbucks of a christmas themed coffee. IInstagram marketing tips

When you tease people about products they are interested in and don’t push them into buying anything, they’ll be more likely to pull the trigger and buy something.

If not, they’ll at least engage with your post by liking it, commenting on it, or sharing it with a friend; don’t be afraid to show off the goods by posting product photos. Just do it gently.

It also helps to create some sponsored ads.

3. Create Sponsored Ads

Instagram ads have become commonplace on the platform. The best part? You can control how much you want to spend on them by setting an ad budget.

You can showcase just one sponsored Ad or multiple Ads with the carousel feature.

This allows brands to target their audience in a whole new way. Before sponsored posts, only users following your account could see your updates and photos.

Now, brands can promote their photos to anyone that fits their target audience to increase their reach further than ever before.

For sponsored ads, use engaging content to appeal to the target demographic you want to entice.

You can also turn existing posts into sponsored ads, so keep an eye on your top posts.

You can push these high-performing posts out later to potential customers through sponsored ads.

Run multiple posts to different audiences simultaneously for even more engagement. Keep in mind that there are many other forms of sponsored ads that you can post, such as:

  • Photo
  • Video
  • Reels
  • Carousel/Dynamic Ads
  • Stories
  • Stories Canvas

Whether sponsored or not, Instagram Stories or Reels is another excellent way to connect with followers.

4. Use Instagram Stories

If you want to generate leads, Instagram Stories are here to help. This feature is very similar to Snapchat Stories (and is even a direct competitor).

Rather than appearing in the news feed, Instagram Stories appear in a small area above it.

An image of instagram highlighting where stories can be found. Instagram marketing tips

Once a user clicks on your photo at the top, a window will pop up where they can view your Story.

3 examples of Instagram stories Instagram marketing tips

Instagram Stories differ from regular posts because they come in a “slideshow” format.

They’re only live for 24 hours, but you can save to any of your devices and reuse them later.

The benefits of Instagram Stories for brands are truly endless. For starters, Stories are displayed at the top of follower timelines, where users look daily.

Brands can use stories to capture behind-the-scenes insider posts that may not be as “high-quality” as regular posts.

Also, you don’t have to worry as much about posting content that aligns with the “aesthetic” of your brand or your Instagram page regarding Stories.

Instagram also makes it easy to experiment with different types of content in the Stories feature, like photos, short videos, rewind videos, live videos, Reels, or Boomerangs. In addition, you can use tools like Canva and InVideo to create amazing images and videos for your stories.

Instagram Reels are short videos that are up to 60 seconds long. Unlike stories, these do not disappear after 24 hours. Much like TikTok, you can also use a set of built-in editing tools to enhance the video.

You can also tag other accounts in Stories, which is great if you collaborate with another brand or influencer.

Face filters, text, or stickers make it easy to edit images or create fun, eye-catching visuals. However, many useful apps integrate with Instagram to further enhance your posts.

An example of Instagram app integration Instagram marketing tips

Every photo and video you add will play in the same sequence that you added it.

The number of posts you can add to Stories at any given time is unlimited, and the feature is available to all businesses globally.

Stories are accessible from your computer and the Instagram app, and you can share them as direct messages depending on the page’s privacy settings you’re viewing.

If you haven’t partnered with influencers already making a killing on Instagram, find a few you want to work with and reach out to them.

If you want variety in your Instagram marketing, there are plenty of opportunities away from Instagram Reels, including:

  • Dual camera (which allows the use of the front and rear-facing camera simultaneously).
  • Photo remix (lets users remix publicly available videos)
  • Interactive stickers (customizable graphics you can add to your Instagram stories and allow viewer interaction)
  • Grid pinning (lets users showcase three images/reels on their profile page)
  • Partnership Inbox (where brands approach influencers/users about potential collaborations)
  • Find creatives (helps you discover creatives on Instagram)
  • Auto captions for Reels and Stories (speech text transcriptions)
  • Calendar tools and subscriptions
  • Visual replies via Reels (allows you to add user comments to video)

You can use some of these tools, like the ‘Partnership Inbox’ and “Find Creatives,” to help forge relationships with influencers and further build your brand.

5. Partner With Influencers For a Wider Reach

If you want to reach potential customers on Instagram, the fastest way is through influencers who have already built an audience with a large following.

More and more people buy services or products based on what they see in their feeds from the influential people they follow. They trust them.

Implementing influencer marketing within your strategy has a strong possibility of success, with Instagram being the most popular channel for influencer campaigns.

If you partner with the right industry influencer, you can get your brand out in front of those users.

The first step is identifying a few influencers with an audience relevant to your product or service.

Here’s an example of how Gravity Blankets used influencer Jessi Smiles to promote their product on her Instagram page.

The post has thousands of likes.

Instagram post from Jess Miles.

The brand sells weighted blankets for sleep and stress. Their Instagram page has over 78k followers.

Gravity Blankets Instagram page.

However, Jessi’s page has over 390,000 followers who likely trust her recommendations.

Jessi Smiles Instagram page.

Without too much effort, the brand has put itself in front of thousands of potential customers (and new followers) through one post.

If you throw aside the short-term gains and direct sales that you can make from an influencer campaign, there are even more long-term benefits.

These days, authenticity is crucial for brands and resonates most with customers.

If you build a relationship with each influencer, you’ll build lasting brand awareness with a new audience. Further, if you play your cards right, you could even work with a top influencer to gain millions of likes, like Coca-Cola, did with this post from Selena Gomez.

An Instagram post from Selena Gomez of her drinking Coke.

Your existing customers might not be influencers, but you can still use their posts to influence people to buy your products by collecting user-submitted photos.

6. Come Up With an Interactive Branded Hashtag

If you want instant engagement, interactive hashtags are a great way to get it.

Red Bull has racked up almost 500,000 posts featuring their tag, #givesyouwings.

Customers can then use the tag to post user-generated content. This allows users to search through all posts relating to your brand.

It also lets you easily search through images you might want to consider reposting on your page.

Creating a hashtag your company (and other users) can search for is essentially free advertising.

Whenever someone posts a photo using the tag, they expose your company to their followers.

If you already have a popular brand slogan or phrase, consider making that your branded hashtag. For example, Coca-Cola successfully accomplished this with its hashtag, #ShareACoke.

However, no matter what you’re posting, you must post at the right times and refrain from over-posting.

7. Post at The Right Times (and Don’t Over-Post)

Over-posting on Instagram is a surefire way to turn off your existing followers.

If all they see is your brand on their news feed, they will probably unfollow you as fast as possible.

However, you want to post consistently to stay in their news feed regularly.

One of the best ways to do this is to only post during peak days and hours when your followers are online.

According to Later, the worst days to post on Instagram are Saturday mornings, while every day between 12.01 AM and 9 AM is the best day to post.

According to their research, the best time of day to post is 4 AM in relation to your time zone.

These hours correlate with when people are getting ready for work or commuting to their jobs (and checking social media for the day).

Later best times to post on social media Instagram marking tips

Finally, midnight or a little after is when most folks are scrolling through Instagram when they should be sleeping, so this makes sense as the second most popular time to post.

You can find when your followers are most active in Instagram Insights, so your best days and times to post may differ depending on your specific audience.

Schedule your posts to go live during these days and times with a tool like Hootsuite, Later, or Sprout Social.

The research also shows that you should post between one and two times per day, but no more or less.

If you’re tempted to post more, use Instagram’s carousel album feature to post multiple images or ads in a slideshow format.

That way, you won’t overwhelm your followers’ feeds.

After you’ve made these changes, track your metrics to keep an eye on areas where you can improve your Instagram marketing tactics.

8. Make Sure You Track The Right Instagram Metrics

While monitoring your follower count is important, other key metrics can give you a more comprehensive understanding of your audience and how they interact with your content.

One of the best Instagram marketing tips I can give you is measuring the right metrics. That means:

Engagement rate. How many users interact with your content through likes, comments, shares, saves, or direct messages? Is there a content type that performs best?

Follower growth rate: A measure of how quickly your audience grows. This metric can be an important marker for success on the platform, as it shows how much traction you’re gaining with your content.

Website traffic: How many of your customers are from Instagram and directly to your website? Use analytics to understand how much of your Instagram traffic converts.

Link clicks per post: This is the number of times someone clicked on the hyperlink in your Instagram post. The higher the number of link clicks per post, the better it indicates that people are interested in what you have posted and want to learn more.

Engagement rate by followers on Instagram: Refers to the percentage of followers who engage with your posts through likes, comments, shares, or saves. A high engagement rate means that your content is resonating with your audience, and it can lead to increased visibility and growth on the platform.

Away from metrics, another feature worth paying attention to is tagging. Read on to learn more.

9. Got Products In Your Content? Tag Them

With this feature, Instagram users can buy an item from the social media site. When users click on an Instagram tag, they get additional information about the product and can buy it there and then.

tagging products on instagram Instagram marketing tips

The benefits of Instagram product tagging are numerous. It:

  • Provides a seamless shopping experience for customers who want to buy products they discover on the platform.
  • Saves time for both customers and businesses by eliminating the need for manual searches and multiple clicks.
  • Allows brands to track sales from their Instagram accounts more effectively.

In addition, adding tagging can increase visibility and conversions while improving the customer experience.

That’s tagging covered. Next up are some Instagram marketing tips to help you with reels.

10. Learn How To Make Instagram Reels Work For Your Audience

As mentioned earlier, Instagram Reels allows users to create short videos. These can be up to 60 seconds long and share them with their followers.

Instagram Reels provide a great platform for businesses and individuals to engage their audience.

Instagram reels Instagram marketing tips

The site now lets users insert adverts into their reels. Instagram calls them “Boosted Reels,” and they feature in the following:

  • Feeds
  • Stories
  • Explore
  • The Reels tab

Instagram has some marketing tips to help you get more from boosted reels, including:

  • Reels must be less than a minute and have a 9:16 aspect ratio.
  • After running an ad, check your “Insights” tab to see how your ads perform.
  • Then, continue boosting your reels to connect with your audience and gain potential leads.

Remember, per Instagram rules, content, including third-party IP content, aren’t eligible for boosting.

11. Keep Track of New Updates and Features

Want a simple way to keep ahead of the competition and maximize your marketing? Of course you do!

It’s one of the most basic Instagram marketing tips I can give you: Keep up-to-date with Instagram’s features and updates.

I can pretty much guarantee many of your competitors won’t do that. They might:

  • not have the time
  • get complacent
  • think their current approach is working for them just fine

Whatever their reason is, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to do things differently and take advantage of recent/new features like:

  • The Creator’s Marketplace, where your brand can reach out to creatives and send proposals.
  • Subscriptions, where you create exclusive content and charge subscribers to access it if you want to make money on Instagram.
  • Grid pinning, which enables you to pin three of your posts at the top of your Instagram grid.

Want more Instagram marketing tips? Let’s move on to some frequently asked questions.


How do I market my small business on Instagram?

Whether you’re a multi-national company or a small business starting out, you can effectively market yourself on Instagram. Here are some steps you can take today:

  • Change to a business account: If you haven’t already, set up an Instagram account. Alternatively, switch your regular Instagram account to a business one.
  • Create a strong profile: Your Instagram profile is often the first impression potential customers have of your business. Ensure it accurately reflects what you do and includes key information such as contact details and website links.
  • Connect your product catalog: Go to “Commerce Manager” and follow the steps from there.
  • Set up Instagram Shopping: Here’s a guide to help you.

Now you can start work on building your community. As a business owner, you should already have a good idea of the content that appeals to your customers.

Here are some Instagram marketing tips direct from Meta to further promote your business:

  • Interact with your community. Start a user-generated content campaign and get your shoppers to share images and other content on Instagram.
  • Consider boosting top-performing ads
  • Follow other accounts in your niche; they might follow you back!
  • Use Instagram’s various tools to start marketing. Remember, variety is the spice, so select a combination of images, reels, etc., and measure what performs best.

That’s enough to get you off the ground running, but if you need more tips on Instagram marketing, check out the Neil Patel blog for more posts.

What is the best posting strategy on Instagram?

What works for one person may not work for another. However, there are a few general guidelines that apply to everyone.

Identifying your target audience and determining what times they are most active on the platform is essential. Once you know this information, schedule your posts accordingly to ensure maximum reach and engagement.

Another crucial factor is consistency; aim to post at least once or twice daily, but keep quality over quantity.

Additionally, use hashtags relevant to your brand and content in each post. This helps increase visibility among people who aren’t following you yet and might find your content appealing.

Is Instagram marketing effective?

Instagram marketing can be incredibly effective when done correctly.

According to Hubspot, it has the highest return on investment in 2023, and experts agree Instagram marketing will continue to perform well.


While wading into the world of social media marketing may seem overwhelming, employing these Instagram marketing tips makes your descent simple.

As you work on growing your following and interacting with your target audience, be sure to keep an eye on your metrics, both those available from the app itself and those from an external platform like Google Analytics.

With those metrics, monitor and adapt your posts constantly. In digital advertising, things move quickly; you must be able to shift your best practices accordingly.

What are your favorite Instagram marketing tips? Share them below.

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