Instagram is a social media platform that allows users to upload photo and video content, which can then be edited with filters, organized by hashtag, and geotagged. As of February 2022, Instagram reported 2 billion monthly users. It’s one of the most popular social media platforms and the fifth most visited website in the world.
The importance of Instagram as a marketing tool cannot be understated. In fact, an Instagram marking strategy is considered an essential piece of any social media marketing plan. Put simply, Instagram is where consumers are, so it’s where you should be too.
Why Market on Instagram
Roughly 50% of Instagram users are Millennials or members of Generation Z, which are shaping up to be the wealthiest generations in U.S. history. Nearly 90% of these users follow business accounts, including at least one major brand. Digital marketing has been proven extremely successful, especially on Instagram. Social media marketing today is simply not complete without an Instagram strategy.
How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy
1. Determine Your Target Audience
Before you begin to post on Instagram, determine who you want to reach. Keep Instagram’s user demographics in mind as you pull from other marketing strategies. One of the best ways to narrow your target audience is to research popular events and hashtags related to your business. See who is engaging with these pages and determine whether a similar audience could benefit from your product or service.
2. Conduct an Analysis
Next, you need to decide what to promote on Instagram and how to go about creating those promotions. Once you know who you’re targeting, review what others, with a similar target audience, are posting. What hashtags are they using, which Instagram content strategy yields the most engagement, what types of posts perform best, and so on? As you conduct this analysis, be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities your competitors are overlooking and any gaps in their content.
3. Create an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is your posting schedule. It includes the date, type of post, caption copy, and of course the photos or videos you intend to use. Editorial calendars create structure and encourage posting consistency. Plus, planning your calendar in advance can help prevent missed opportunities and ensure you leverage the best type of content for each social media platform.
Aside from just posting about your products or services, don’t forget to include posts about major business milestones (launches, special offers, etc.), national holidays, current events, and anything else that may be special to your followers.
4. Be Consistent
As with any form of digital marketing, an Instagram marketing strategy will be most effective when consistent. Post often, always respond to comments in a timely manner, and interact with other accounts on the platform.
Consistency is also one of the most important branding tips for Instagram. This covers everything from the colors of your photos, to the voice used in your captions, to the message you convey. As your followers become familiar with your brand, they’ll look to your Instagram page to serve a specific purpose. This is when you’ll really start to gain traction on the platform.
5. Grow Your Following
Growing a following is much easier once you have a solid foundation. Which is why we suggest waiting until you’re well established before launching Instagram campaigns to increase followers. In this case, as new users find your page you’ll have credibility due to the number of posts and the way you engage with users. Furthermore, consistency teaches users what to expect from your brand and keeps them coming back for more.
Instagram Marketing Best Practices
6. Use a Business Account
Want to know how to promote your business on Instagram? Start with the basics and make sure you’re using a business account. Instagram business accounts offer features that aren’t accessible to personal accounts such as insights and analytics, ads, shopping, primary and secondary message inboxes, contact info and calls to action directly in your profile.
7. Optimize Your Profile
Your Instagram profile has to make a great impression in 150 characters or less. This is your first opportunity to convey your personality and convince users to follow your account. That’s a big job for a few words. Also included in your profile, but not in those 150 characters, is your name, username, website, category, contact information, and call to action. Don’t forget to choose the right profile photo. Unlike Facebook, Instagram profile photos can’t be enlarged, so aim for something simple and recognizable.
8. Create Visually Compelling Content
Instagram is a visual platform, so your posts should be aesthetically pleasing. That doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer, but it does mean that you want to put a little bit of thought into your photos or videos. Keep the backgrounds simple, make sure images are clear and well lit, and ensure the focal point fills as much of the frame as possible. And of course, make sure your content is compelling. It doesn’t matter how great the photo if it doesn’t inspire a user to stop scrolling and engage.
9. Create Captivating Captions
Yes, Instagram is more of a visual platform, but captions are always included in Instagram posting tips for business. Just like any other ad medium, captivating copy converts users from followers to customers and advocates. Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters, which provides a significant amount of space to tell your story, describe your product, or share your service. Users tend to scan the first few lines of a caption, so make sure you use an engaging opening sentence to grab their attention and get them reading more.
10. Use a Simple, Searchable Username
Skip the extra characters in your username on Instagram. Social media tips rarely mention this, but we think it’s worth discussing. Consider how you will promote your Instagram page when speaking about it.
It may be more visually appealing to separate words in your username with dots, dashes, or underscores. But the more special characters you include, the more difficult it will be for potential users to remember your username. What rolls off the tongue easier: at hungry media (@hungrymedia) or at hungry underscore media (@hungry_media)? Not only is the latter more difficult to say, it’s also more challenging to remember.
11. Use Hashtags
Social media marketing on Instagram is very hashtag driven. Hashtags are an easy way to gain followers and engage users with interests that align with your business. There are several approaches to hashtag usage, and we’d argue that as long as it’s working for you, there’s no “wrong” way to hashtag. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post or comment, so take your time to research hashtags that connect users to other accounts within your niche. These will be the best place to start.
12. Engage, Engage, Engage
Instagram marketing for beginners: If you want others to engage with you, you’ve got to engage with others. Post quality content, promptly respond to comments, and bring value to others’ posts and pages. This makes you more recognizable and accessible to anyone who may want to connect down the line. Not to mention that most social media algorithms favor accounts which generate and offer engagement throughout the entire platform.
13. Utilize Instagram Stories
Nearly half of business conducted on Instagram begins via Stories. These are 15 second clips (photo or video) which disappear after 24 hours. Because of their short lifespan, it is acceptable for stories to be a little less polished than photos or videos in your feed. We love incorporating them into an Instagram marketing strategy because they connect you to your followers without the pressure of perfection. If a story isn’t your best work, there’s no harm. It disappears before too long, and you’ve engaged your target audience in the meantime.
14. Create Reels
These are Instagram’s response to TikTok. Reels are similar to Instagram Stories in that they are short clips to which effects such as filters, stickers and music can be added. The difference between Reels and Stories is that Reels do not disappear. They remain in your feed unless and until you delete them.
15. Encourage Sharing
Every once in a while, create content that lends itself to sharing. This could be a simple post that makes people smile, something useful users will want to share with others, a cute meme, a funny joke, a link to a helpful product. When users share your content, your brand earns facetime with a new group of potential followers.
16. Leverage Influencer Marketing
We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t mention influencers in our list of Instagram marketing tips. Working with influencers helps to build credibility, and similar to generating sharable content, ensures your brand gets in front of users you wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. This is in opportunity to build credibility and promote your product or service.
17. Take Advantage of Analytics
Regardless of how great your Instagram marketing strategy, there’s always room for improvement. This is where analytics come into play. Analytics offer the opportunity to learn from what you’ve already done and refine your strategy from there. You’ll learn what types of content perform well, the best time of day to post, demographic information of those who engage with page, and more.
A Great Instagram Marketing Strategy Starts with a Great Website
A digital marketing strategy that leads to an engaged social media following isn’t an end to itself. Rather, it’s a tool to help grow your business over time. And you won’t grow your business without a website to effectively serve your client or customer base. That’s where we come in. Hungry Media’s expert team will design the perfect place for your followers to land when they hop off social media and decide to make a purchase.
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer