Neil Patel

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Instagram Marketing Guide: 10 Tips That Actually Work

instagram marketing tips

Do you want to learn Instagram marketing?

Well, before I teach you and give you some Instagram marketing tips, let me first give you an overview of Instagram as it will help you.

Since its creation, it has grown into the ultimate platform for sharing photos.

Over 2 billion active users worldwide are on the app. Daily users spend almost 30 minutes on the app and 500 million use Stories daily.

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

You need to post the right kind of content to stay relevant to current followers while also bringing in new ones.

But it can be hard to know which kinds of posts work best for growing your audience. So I am going to teach you how to become an expert Instagram marketer.

How to Market on Instagram

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram is still on top today as one of the most downloaded apps. With this popularity, you can’t afford not to have a strong strategy in place.

Here are ten powerful Instagram marketing tips (that actually work) that you can use to milk the popular platform for all that it’s worth.

1. Switch to a Business Profile ASAP

Before you start thinking about your Instagram marketing plan, be sure that you have an Instagram Business Account.

It’s easy to switch your current profile to a business account.

Instructions on how to switch to a business profile on Instagram.

Just head to your settings and click on “Switch to Business Profile” to get started.

There are some clear benefits to having a business profile.

For example, followers can click on your contact button to get in touch with you right from your Instagram page, just like they would from your website. Additionally, you’ll gain credibility as an established brand amongst your audience.

A business profile allows you to create and publish Instagram ads without needing to use Meta’s advertising tools.

You can also access Instagram analytics tools, called Insights, that provide stats about the impressions and reach of your posts.

Once you’ve unlocked the free perks that come along with a business profile, you need to start using them to track metrics and understand your audience.

2. 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.

Use Instagram's insights to gain information.

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

A look at the insights from an instagram post.

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

The more that you know about how users are interacting 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.

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

What if you could sell more products just 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 users or scare them off with advertisements, either.

If you’re too pushy, followers will drop like flies. But 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 two posts from Gilt Man’s Instagram page that don’t directly try to sell a product, but a way for followers to use a like to buy social ecommerce feature where users can shop all of the brand’s inventory.

An instagram post from Giltman and Gilt showing professional shoes.

The brand offers a 70% off discount while showing you photos of some of the items that are available to purchase.

And the posts received thousands of likes each, which is huge in the advertising world.

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

This works for almost any industry. 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.

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

If not, they’ll at least engage with your post by liking it, commenting on it, or sharing it with a friend.

So 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.

4. Create Sponsored Ads

Instagram ads have become commonplace on the platform. The best part? You can control exactly 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 gives brands the ability 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.

Instagram post from Michael Kors of a gold watch.

For sponsored ads, use content that is engaging while also appealing to the target demographic you want to put the ad in front of.

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

You can push these high-performing posts out later to potential customers in the form of sponsored ads.

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

  • Photo
  • Video
  • Reels
  • Carousel/Dynamic Ads
  • Stories
  • Stories Canvas
A lineup of Iphones showing different types of Instagram posts.

Instagram Stories or Reels, sponsored or not, are another great way to connect with followers.

5. Use Instagram Stories

If you want to generate leads, Instagram Stories are here to help.

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

They’re only live for 24 hours, but Stories can be saved to any of your devices and reused at a later point.

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.

A image of instagram highlighting where stories can be found.

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.

The benefits of Instagram Stories for brands are truly endless. For starters, Stories are displayed at the top of follower timelines, where users already 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 when it comes to 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. 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. Boomerangs are GIF-like images that play on a loop.

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

Face filters, text, or stickers make it easy to edit images or create fun, eye-catching visuals.

Different types of effects you can use on Instagram stories.

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

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

Stories are only available on the mobile Instagram app, and can be shared as direct messages depending on the page’s privacy settings you’re viewing.

But since most Instagram users access the site via the smartphone app rather than the website, this isn’t really something to worry about.

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

Neil Patel showing is Instagram content strategy.

6. Partner With Influencers For a Wider Reach

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

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

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

Influencer marketing growth has boomed when many thought it would be just a fad. Now, companies are investing more of their annual marketing budget on influencer marketing campaigns, according to Big Commerce.

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

The first step is to try and identify a few influencers that have an audience that is 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.

But Jessi’s page has over 400,000 followers that will likely trust her recommendations.

Jessi Smiles Instagram page.

That means that the brand just exposed itself to 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.

And if you play your cards right, you could even work with a top influencer in the future 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.

7. Collect User-Generated Content

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to create great content for your Instagram page without doing any of the hard work?

Through user-generated content, there is.

You already have an engaged audience. Whether it’s hundreds of people or thousands, you can leverage your audience to generate useful content for you.

And your followers will probably enjoy user-generated content even more than they enjoy yours because it’s authentic and unpredictable.

Cosmetics brand MAC uses tons of user-generated content that they promote on their Instagram page to show off products.

Here’s a photo one of their users posted that they then added to their Instagram page. Notice how they used the hashtag #regram and tagged the user in the image.

An Instagram post from Mac Cosmetics showing a makeup pallet.

You might be wondering exactly how you can get your users to create engaging content without being pushy.

It’s actually fairly simple. Your audience probably wants to grow their own following, just like you do.

Just let them know that you’ll tag them in your post if you choose their photo to regram, then they’ll have an incentive to post user-generated content on a consistent basis.

It’s a win-win for you and your customers.

GoPro is notorious for this. The brand chooses a #FeaturedPhotographer every week.

An Instagram post from Go Pro of a skier.

The brand (and its followers) treat this like a weekly competition.

If you try something similar, you’ll probably be surprised at just how eager your followers will be to participate.

Remember to choose the photos you want to post wisely. This can be difficult, but try to remember these things when considering a winner:

  1. Does the photo fit in with the brand image you’ve already created or are trying to create? Or does it go against it?
  2. How big of a following does the person whose photo you want to share have?
  3. Is the photo appropriate for your current audience and following?

When you’re running a business, you have to be sure that everything you post is in tune with your brand’s message (and audience). Even on Instagram.

If someone shares a user-generated image with a large following, those followers will probably be interested in checking your page out, too.

Look at how this user-submitted photo from Boosted Boards aligns with the brand’s aesthetic. It’s high-quality, intriguing, and unique.

An Instagram post from Boosted Board of someone skateboarding.

Choose images that successfully mimic your brand’s tone, like this one.

Neil Patel's Instagram Followers Beginners Guide.

That being said, try not to be too biased about the content you want to post. Mix it up and watch your follower count and engagement grow.

It also helps to come up with some kind of branded hashtag that encourages Instagram users to be more interactive with your company.

8. Come Up With an Interactive Branded Hashtag

If you’re looking to create instant engagement, interactive hashtags are a great way to get it.

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

An overview of the Instagram hashtag #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 that you might want to consider reposting on your own page.

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

Every time someone posts a photo using the tag, they’re exposing your company to their followers.

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

An overview of the Instagram hashtag #shareacoke

But no matter what you’re posting, you need to post at the right times and refrain from over-posting.

9. 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’re probably going to unfollow you as fast as possible.

But you want to post on a consistent basis so that you 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 Wednesday afternoons and Thursday evenings, while Saturdays or Sundays are the best days to post.

The chart showing when people are on Instagram.

According to their research, the best times of day to post are between 5AM and 6AM in relation to your time zone.

A chart showing when the best times to post on Instagram are for every time zone.
A chart showing the recommended amount of posts a day and when to post them.

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

And 12:00 AM or a little after is the time of day 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 might be a bit different depending on your specific audience.

A chart showing the best times to post on instagram based on the day of the week.
A chart showing engagement on Instagram based on hour of the day.

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, then 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.

10. Make Sure You Track The Right Instagram Metrics

You can’t improve your Instagram performance and optimize it unless you know how well your page and posts are performing (or underperforming).

When you have measurable results, you’ll know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

Begin by tracking your follower growth rate.

The total amount of followers you have is commonly seen as a vanity metric. And it is.

But your follower growth rate isn’t.

When you keep an eye on what the growth rate of your followers looks like, you can see how the kind of content your posting (or your posting frequency) is affecting things.

Next, measure engagement rates. This includes likes and comments.

You want to find out the average engagement percentage of your total followers as well as the average engagement rate of each post to get a clear picture of how your page is performing.

If you’ve got a smaller following, your engagement rate should be higher. Here’s what your rates should look like based on your follower count:

Engagement Rate = (Likes +Comments)/Total Number of Followers

A chart of average engagement based on influencer follower tiers.

Finally, you need to track your URL click-through rate.

If you don’t already have a link to your website in your Instagram bio, add one ASAP.

Jeeps Instagram page.

Then, measure how many people are clicking through to your URL.

The average CTR on Instagram is 0.94%, according to Conversion XL.

A chart of average CTR by social media channel.

The more effective your Instagram marketing techniques on your audience, the higher your CTR will be. If it’s low, work on improving your approach.

A tool like Sprout Social will measure just how many clicks your link is getting in comparison to impressions and engagements.

FAQs

How do I improve my Instagram marketing?

Make sure you use a business account, get to know your audience, make sure to completely fill out your profile, and try features like Instagram Stories or Reels that help increase reach. Short-form video content has been a great vehicle for brands to get their content in front of followers.

How do I market my small business on Instagram?

Start by setting up a business profile and filling out your bio. Then set goals — do you want to sell products, increase brand awareness, or something else? Use your goals to guide your Instagram marketing strategy.

How do I grow my Instagram followers?

Aim for quality over quantity. Run contests, use relevant hashtags, create a regular posting schedule, and sharing your Instagram handle on other platforms, like email, can also help grow your followers.

How effective is Instagram marketing?

With more than 2 billion monthly active users, Instagram is the ideal platform to reach your audience and grow your business.

Conclusion

Instagram has dominated the social media world. It’s the go-to place for image sharing, with over 2 billion monthly users.

Billions of likes are handed out each day, so you need to do your part to scoop some of them up.

So, follow this checklist of Instagram marketing strategy tips:

1. Switch your profile to an Instagram Business Profile if you haven’t already. This will give you tons of free tools and insights.

2. Start taking advantage of those free tools. Check out your audience’s demographics, like their age or top locations.

3. Post product teasers to urge people to buy your products or services without being overly pushy. They’ll be more likely to buy if they don’t feel pressured.

4. Turn your posts into sponsored ads to reach target audiences that may not be following you yet. One post might just have them hooked.

5. Use Instagram Stories to post behind-the-scenes photos or videos. Followers will appreciate the insider posts, which builds your relationship with customers.

6. Partner with influencers that have a wide reach in your industry. Their followers trust their recommendations, and in turn, will trust you.

7. Be sure to leverage the power of user-generated content by reposting images that your customers share. You can turn this into a contest with an interactive branded hashtag.

8. Choose a photo to share every week or every month that aligns with your brand’s message.

9. Post at the right times and avoid overposting. Post one to two times every day and check out when your followers are most active. Schedule posts to go live during those days and times.

10. Be sure that you track the right metrics to see how your Instagram marketing efforts are paying off.

Keep an eye on follower growth rate, engagement rate, and your URL click-through rate.

If you need help with your Instagram ad campaigns, reach out to our agency to help!

What Instagram marketing techniques work best for you and your brand?

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