10 Instagram Marketing Tips That Can Work for You

Depending on the product you sell, there is a reasonable likelihood that many of your potential customers spend a great deal of their time on Instagram. The social network now claims well over 1 billion active monthly users. And people certainly like what they see on the platform, with 4.2 billion likes per day on Instagram. But Instagram marketing can be hard. Instagram keeps changing its algorithm, and the adjustments are rarely to marketers’ and brands’ benefit. Here are ten Instagram marketing tips that can help you navigate through the changes and make them work for you.

As you have seen from multiple articles on the Influencer Marketing Hub, there are many influences on Instagram. Indeed, it is probably the most popular social network for influencer marketing. Influencers manage to market their personal brand successfully. Many of these tips are the habits that influencers follow daily.

Probably the most significant marketing tip that will work for you on Instagram is actually very vague and generic – but once you figure it out for your brand, you will succeed admirably. The secret of Instagram success is to post the right content for the right audience at the right time on the right days. Get that right, and you will be an Instagram superstar.

10 Instagram Marketing Tips That Can Work for You

1. Change Your Instagram Account to a Business Profile

Obviously, if you are a business, it should be an easy decision to turn your Instagram account into a business profile. However, any serious Instagrammer should have a business profile, whether they consider themselves a business or not.

This may seem counter-intuitive, with some people claiming that the Instagram algorithm favors personal profiles over business ones, but it is crucial. Most serious Instagram management tools are limited to business profiles.

Instagram has recognized the incongruity of this situation and is currently experimenting with Creator Accounts for serious influencers, but everybody else, apart from the casual personal user, should have a business profile.

We have previously written in detail on 4 Benefits of an Instagram Business Profile {and how to switch over]. The benefits we see are:

  • Access to Instagram Insights
  • Ability to add a Contact button
  • Your industry will show on your profile
  • Able to advertise on Instagram and make Promoted Posts
  • Ability to add links to Instagram Stories

The first and last benefits are vital to Instagram success, particularly if you wish to use the platform for marketing purposes. And of course, you can’t advertise on Instagram if you remain as a personal profile.

2. Use Instagram Insights as a Serious Tool

As its name indicates, Instagram Insights provides a highly useful insight into the operations of your account. Instagram Insights allows you to view a plethora of statistics about your account, including vital stats such as impressions and engagement data.

It shows you a detailed demographics of your followers, which will help you determine whether you have promoted your Instagram account to the right kinds of people, i.e., the same types of people as your target customers (or whomever else you target in any marketing goals).

Instagram Insights also gives you data for each post you make. It shows you any impressions and engagement. It also highlights your top posts over a period, which can give you ideas on how to replicate their success.

There are also many other Instagram analytics tools available to meet your needs. Some are free Instagram analytics tools, although most others require a subscription.

3. Don’t’ be Too Salesy with Your Posts

The biggest mistake that many brands make is that they treat their Instagram account as a conventional sales platform. Most of the posts they make are sales pitches for their product.

There is little value in these posts. Most people will ignore them, and the Instagram algorithm will quickly discover their lack of popularity, shoving further posts by the brand further down the queue.

Never forget. People don’t generally go onto their Instagram or other social accounts with the aim of buying your product. They have limited time and look at Instagram to catch up with their family and friends, be entertained, and occasionally to learn something new.

To make things worse, you can’t even include a clickable link in a standard Instagram post. People will have to be dedicated if they’re to follow through to your site from a salesy post.

However, you can mix some product teasers into your posting mix. People will accept you talking about your product in some of your posts, emphasizing the product benefits. You can use product teasers to build excitement about your product without any attempt to hard-sell it.

You can make offers for ancillary items in your posts. For example, you could promote a free app that makes buying your products easier. However, your posts need to be low-key, and certainly not pushy. You could also consider offering discounts, using a coupon code.

Many brands successfully make Instagram posts where they showcase items from their product range. This works particularly well in fields like fashion, beauty, and food. You can upload enticing photographs of your product without sales copy.

4. Use Sponsored Ads to Build a Bigger Audience

Once you have signed up to a Business Profile, you can create sponsored ads on Instagram, in much the same way as for Facebook. While you can be bolder with your sponsored ads than your organic posts, you still don’t want them to look too blatantly like banner ads.

The key advantage of using sponsored ads is that you are reaching people who are not already your existing followers. You have most of the same targeting ability as with Facebook ads (it is all part of the same interface), and you can get quite granular in your targeting. Ideally, you want to target your ads at Instagrammers who best represent your target customers. If you haven’t already created customer personas, now would be a good time to do so.

If you target your ads well, you should be positioning them in front of the type of people who would take some interest in your product. However, even these people don’t jump onto Instagram to shop. Your sponsored ads need to attract their attention and feature content that appeals to them.

One possible way to create sponsored ad content is to repurpose your most successful posts (as shown in Instagram Insights), with small changes in content to reflect the more targeted audience.

If you have more than one target audience, you could push different sponsored ads out to each distinct audience grouping.

5. Use Your Own Branded Hashtags

Some of the best Instagram campaigns use custom branded hashtags. The more people you can encourage to make posts using your custom hashtag the broader the reach, and obviously engagement, will be higher.

Some brands keep their custom hashtags simple. It’s clear which brand encourages people to use #nationalgeographic. Yet, despite clearly promoting a brand, this tag has been used in 4,787,298 posts to date. The National Geographic Instagram account can now boast over 100 million followers, surely the envy of most brands.

Other brands use catchier, if obscure, custom branded hashtags. Red Bull uses its marketing slogan as a hashtag - #itgivesyouwings. So far, 349,265 posts have included this hashtag. Some of these posts will be from official Red Bull Instagram accounts (they have a few). Others will be from Red Bull’s influencers. Quite a few of the posts, however, will have been made by fans of Red Bull and its activities.

6. Encourage Your Fans to Create User-Generated Content

If you’re stuck for ideas for content on your Instagram account, you can encourage your users to create material for you. User-Generated Content (UGC) has increased in popularity phenomenally over the last couple of years.

If you create a suitable custom hashtag, you could encourage your followers to upload relevant photos using that hashtag, and then you can regram the posts to the rest of your followers.

Your followers will often be happy to create content for you if you promise to tag them in your regrams.

Some brands, such as GoPro, even make a competition out of user-generated content.

Of course, when you choose posts to regram make sure that they fit the style and tone of your Instagram account. Don’t just regram every mention of your business or use of your custom hashtag.

7. Post at the Right Times on the Best Days

Although logic may suggest that the more you post on Instagram, the more success you are likely to have, data doesn’t support that view. You can annoy people if you overpost on Instagram. There is little point making a post if it doesn’t provide benefit to anybody.

CoSchedule analyzed the research and discovered that the best times for B2C firms to post on Instagram were 8am, 1pm, and 9pm. Their B2B analysis was similar, but their best times were 12-1pm, 5-6pm, and 8-9pm. They found that Friday was the best day to post.

Importantly, they also found that most brands should stick to a single post per day on Instagram, consistently using a single filter.

8. Create Instagram Stories

Although Snap Chat was the first social network to feature stories, Instagram has found the most success with the concept. We have previously covered the feature in great detail, including How to Use Instagram Stories Like an Expert.

Instagram Stories are an excellent way for brands to tell more of their story than any album of individual photos on Instagram can. They offer great flexibility, as a brand can tell its own story, pay influencers to do so, or create an Instagram Stories sponsored ad.

Source: @JennaKutcher

Instagram Stories allows a brand to tell its story using a combination of pictures and videos. They feature at the top of Instagrammers’ feeds, so don’t get lost by the Instagram algorithm. And they disappear after 24 hours, so you don’t have to worry about outdated information turning up in online searches. Best of all, they’re the one pale on Instagram where you can include a clickable link.

Although your stories “disappear” you can save them on any of your devices and reuse them for future promotions.

9. Partner with Influencers for Greater Reach

We are, of course, the Influencer Marketing Hub so it would be remiss of us not to mention the gains you can make through working with influencers on Instagram.

These people have already discovered the secrets of success on Instagram. They employ many of these tactics daily and have probably done so for years.

Some firms use influencers to improve their own Instagram accounts. Their campaign goals usually relate to increasing either their brand account’s followers or engagement. Successful influencers can help share posts from official brand sites and promote the accounts. They can even do a takeover, when they operate the official account for a short period, in the hope that some of their followers will follow them over to the brand.

Alternatively, influencers can help brands in a myriad of ways, depending on the aims of the influencer campaigns. For instance, they can carry out product reviews for their followers (perhaps even in a live Instagram video).

10. Track the Right Metrics

One of the principal uses of Instagram for any business is as a tool to meet the business goals. It is essential, therefore, that you fond the correct Instagram analytics to match your goals. That way, you can see how successful you are in meeting your Instagram goals.

Every firm with a business profile has access to Instagram Analytics. As we referred to above, you can gain even more data, with the more professional paid packages.

The statistics that most interest you directly relate to your goals. CoSchedule nicely summarizes these as follows. If your goal is increased engagement focus on:

  • Comments
  • Saves
  • Engagement
  • Website clicks
  • Top followers

If you aim to grow your audience, focus on:

  • Followers
  • Likes
  • Impression
  • Reach
  • Top posts
  • Active hours
  • Active days

If your goal is to promote team culture, focus on:

  • Story impressions
  • Profile views
  • Location
  • Comments
  • Top followers

It is essential that you don’t get stuck on vanity metrics. For instance, you shouldn’t put too much attention to raw follower numbers. These don’t mean much to your firm in themselves. Your follower growth rate is far more critical. Similarly, engagement rate statistics will usually prove to be more valuable than raw engagement numbers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you use an Instagram business profile?

Any person who is serious about Instagram should have a business profile, even if they do not view themselves as a business. Business profiles offer a lot of advantages. These pros include access to Instagram Insights and the ability to add a contact button and links to Instagram Stories. With a business profile, your industry will also be shown on your profile and you will be able to advertise on Instagram and create Promoted Posts.

What are Instagram Insights?

Instagram Insights offer very useful insight into your account’s operations. It allows you to view what your top posts were over a period and also shares many statistics about your account such as vital stats that include engagement data and impressions. With Instagram Insights, you will also get detailed demographics of your followers. This information will help you to identify if you have promoted your account to the right type of people (in other words, the same type of people as your target audience).

How can you encourage your Instagram followers to create UGC?

You can encourage your Instagram followers to create user-generated content (UGC) by creating a suitable custom hashtag and asking them to upload any relevant photos using that hashtag. You can then regram the posts to the rest of your followers (in other words, take the photo from the user’s account and post it to your own account). Though, just make sure that the posts you decide to regram fit the style and tone of your brand. Another idea is to launch a competition using UGC.

When is the best time to post on Instagram?

CoSchedule analyzed the research and determined that the optimal times for B2C companies to post on Instagram are 8 a.m., 1 p.m., and 9 p.m. For B2B companies, these times are 12 - 1 p.m., 5 - 6 p.m. and 8 - 9 p.m. With regards to the best day of the week, their research has identified that Friday is the best day to post on Instagram.

You can also check our detailed guide about the best time to post on Instagram.

What is the best tip for marketing on Instagram?

Arguably, the top marketing tip that will work well for you on Instagram is to post the right content for the right audience at the right time on the right days. While this advice is actually really vague and generic, it will help you to become a superstar on Instagram if you get this right. Other marketing tips that can deliver results on Instagram are using Sponsored Ads, creating Instagram Stories, using your own branded hashtags and partnering with influencers.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.