Have you dismissed Instagram as a marketing tool for your business? If you have done so till now, maybe it is time to change. With over a billion active users and almost 850 million advertising audience, Instagram is the new playground for marketers.
This guide will provide you with the A to Z of Instagram marketing. You will be provided with the steps to make a strategy, tips to capture and edit photos and using ads and Insights to improve results.
1. What is Instagram Marketing?
Instagram is a photo and video sharing app that is quite popular with millennials and the Generation Z. Founded in 2010, it reached 1 million users within two years. Facebook acquired this highly popular app in 2012 for a whopping $1 billion dollars.
Instagram marketing is all about businesses and brands using this app to reach users. More than 25 million businesses have a presence on Instagram. Even government agencies and nonprofits like NASA use the platform for raising awareness and engagement.
2. Why do you need to market on Instagram?
Here are some of the stats behind why you should market on Instagram:
- There are one billion active users on Instagram!
- 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business page
- 72% of Instagram users buy a product from a brand who have a presence on Instagram
Besides brand awareness, Instagram offers a high engagement rate which is absent in other social media platforms. Instagram has an engagement rate of 4 percent whereas Facebook and Instagram each have an engagement rate of less than 0.1 percent.
So for raising awareness and engagement, Instagram is the right place for marketers. In addition, Instagram has a shopping feature which allows users to buy directly from the platform. These features make this photo sharing platform a must for social media marketers.
3. Getting started with Instagram Marketing- creating an Instagram account
To get started with Instagram marketing, you need to create an account for your business first. To create an account, download the app on iOS or Android.
3.1. Signing up
Once you have downloaded the app, open it. Click on Create a New Account (for iOS) or Sign-Up With Email Address or Phone Number (for Android).
Next, create an account for your business by providing your business email address. Do not enter your personal email address as Instagram will link your personal Facebook account otherwise.
3.2. Enter Account Name and username
The next step is to enter your account information. You need to provide your account name and a user name.
The Full Name box will be your account name. This is the name that will be displayed on your profile page. Use your business’s name as the account name.
The user name is the name that will appear on users’ feed whenever you post something. It is also a name that will be used by Instagram users to interact with you. Choose a username that will be easy for users to find your business (you can always change the user name later if you want).
3.3. Adding profile picture and bio
The third step is to optimize your profile. At the basics, you should add a profile picture and a short bio about your business.
The profile picture can be your logo or an image that helps people recognize your business. Instagram’s profile pictures are displayed at 110 by 110 pixels and shown in a circle.
The bio helps give users a quick introduction to your business. With only 150 characters, it is important for you to write a short but compelling bio that will let people know about what your business represents.
A profile picture and the bio are the basics for optimizing your profile. In the next section, you will get to know more about optimizing your account further.
3.4. Switch to a business account
The last step is to switch to an Instagram business account. As you will see later, a business account enables you to have a lot of features that are unavailable in the personal account. These features will help you in your marketing efforts.
To switch to a business account, click the settings icon (the gear icon on the top right corner). Then click on Switch to Business Profile.
You will be asked to connect your Facebook page in order to make the switch. Make sure you are an admin for your business’s Facebook page.
And that’s how you create an Instagram account for your business. In the next section, we take a look at how to design an Instagram marketing strategy.
4. Creating an Instagram Marketing Strategy
Success in marketing will require a strategy. Thriving on Instagram does not only require uploading good quality images but requires an approach that will help you in your marketing goals. This section will help you create a marketing strategy for your business’s Instagram account.
4.1. Identify your goals
Like any marketing strategy, the first step is to identify your goals. The main reason for defining your goals for Instagram is to answer the question- “Why are you here?”
Although Instagram is a lucrative marketing platform, it might not be the right one for your business. So identifying goals is the first step in creating a successful Instagram marketing strategy.
You can have one or more than one goal for marketing on Instagram. Here are some goals worth considering:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Generating leads and sales
- Sharing products and company updates
- Building a community
Whatever your goal(s) is, goal setting will help you identify metrics that you will use to measure success.
4.2. Define your audience
Marketing is all about providing value to your customers. And you can only provide value to your customers if you know your customers first. Therefore, define your target audience for Instagram.
Define your audience base by researching their age, demographics, location, and interests. You can search popular hashtags, posts, or even do a competitor analysis (more on this next) to define your target audience.
4.3. Analyze competitors
As part of defining your target audience in the previous step, you can conduct a competitor analysis. Competitor analysis can also be done to understand what type of posts are successful with your target audience and to identify hidden opportunities.
Search for the Instagram pages of your competitors. You can also search for posts containing hashtags popular with your target audience to identify your competitors.
Analyze your competitors by reviewing their posts. See what kind of posts are getting favorable responses and what kind of posts aren’t. Try to find opportunities missed by them which can be offered by you.
4.4. Switch to a business profile ASAP
As part of creating an Instagram account for your business, you must have switched to a business account. If you haven’t then, DO IT NOW!
Here are the reasons why you should switch to a business profile if you haven’t done so before:
- Allows you to post ads without the need to use Facebook’s advertising tools
- Able to use Insights that help you measure metrics such as impressions, views, and engagement data.
- Place a contact button and a call-to-action button in the bio of your profile
- Use Instagram Shopping
4.5. Optimize your profile
When you were creating the profile page for your business, you added a picture and a short bio. Optimize your profile further so that your target audience can interact with your business in a lot of different ways.
Here are additional things you can add to your Instagram profile to optimize it:
- Website: Add a URL which will lead to your business’s website. Use bit.ly or Goo.gl or other link shortening tools to make short URLs.
- Category: Add the category your business is in to allow people to understand your business
- Contact Information: Add the physical address of your business. Users can click on it to search for the location of your office.
- Call to Action button: Use the call to action button to allow users to take the action you desire them to take
4.6. Scheduling posts
Brands post almost a new post every day on Instagram! Considering this, the competition on the platform is immense. You also need to post on a regular basis to be relevant in the eyes of your audience.
Posting regularly can be quite exhausting. Therefore to ease your pain, create a schedule calendar.
Use the schedule calendar to time when you are going to upload, the text description and the hashtags you are going to use. Use the schedule calendar to also determine what kind of content you are going to post.
4.7. Making consistent appealing content
Whatever your goal may be, people will identify your brand through what you post on Instagram. Each of your posts will convey the message of what your brand is about.
If the messages are not consistent, people will have a hard time identifying your brand. They will get confused, irritated, and will stop following your page.
Therefore, create consistent content that appeals to your target audience. Decide on a theme that will define what your content will be about. Using the theme as a guide, you can create consistent content that will help your target audience associate your brand and connect with it.
4.8. Write captions wisely
Although the main focus of Instagram is on the image you upload, the images must tell a story. The caption that accompanies those images can help you tell the story if it is not obvious.
While the word limit to captions is huge (up to 2200 characters), keep the wording to a minimum as very few people read longer threads. Like other social media sites, write in a compelling way to make your readers take a break at your post while scrolling through.
4.9. Use hashtags
Hashtags allow content to be categorized in a way that makes it easier for users to search for content they like. Instagram hashtags are very popular- you can also search for content based on the hashtags used.
Marketers encourage the high number of hashtags for every post on Instagram. This is because the more the hashtags you use, the more ways users can find your content.
Use hashtags popular with your industry. You can also create a new hashtag based on your company’s slogans. You can also create new hashtags based on a marketing campaign.
4.10. Try Instagram Shopping
One reason why you should choose a business account is that you can use Instagram Shopping. The feature allows you to sell products directly from the platform.
You cannot place links on your Instagram posts. Therefore, Instagram Shopping is a great tool for marketers to sell their products.
Try Instagram shopping ASAP to avail of a new medium for making sales and earning revenue.
4.11. Post at the right times
As mentioned before, you need to post regularly on Instagram to be relevant. However, over-posting can be seen as a nuisance by your audience. They might unfollow you.
To balance between over-posting and under-posting, try to post at times when your followers are active the most. Different industries have different times when their followers are active. To find out the perfect time, use Insights to find the most appropriate time for you.
4.12. Try Instagram influencer marketing
Instagram is a hub for influencers- social media users with huge fan followings. Followers often blindly adhere to influencers and do whatever the latter do.
Use the power of influencers to reach a wider audience. Influencers tend to have a greater following than many brands. Use their influencing power to raise awareness for your business and its products.
4.13. Use Insights to improve your strategy
Another reason to use a business account is that you can measure key performance metrics for them.
Using Instagram Insights helps you measure metrics such as impressions and engagement rate for your uploaded photos and videos. Although not as comprehensive as those of Facebook, Instagram’s Insights tool can help you improve your results.
To access Insights, click on the View Insights option below your uploaded posts.
4.14. Convert your Instagram followers into customers
As you have seen, the key advantage of Instagram’s marketing is that the social media network generates more engagement than others. So once you have a following around your business’s Instagram page, you can focus on engaging them.
Engage your followers with contests, promotions, and teaser videos. You can also conduct polls and ask feedback on Stories to engage your audience. Another way to engage is through hosting live videos.
You will find all about the content types you can use to engage your followers in the section- Types of Content on Instagram.
5. What can you post on Instagram?
Instagram is primarily an app for uploading photos and sometimes, videos. But Instagram also allows you to post Stories, Live Videos and broadcast on IGTV. All these diverse types of posting makes Instagram a creative playground for marketers.
The most common type of post on Instagram is photos. Every day, 95 million photos are uploaded to this social media network!
With such a high number of photo uploads everyday, your competition is fierce. You need to upload high quality images and at the same time, the content of the image must be something unique.
You can upload a single image or even multiple images in one post. Instagram allows you to upload 10 photos and 1 video in one post.
You can learn all the types of content you can upload as images in the section- “Types of content” on Instagram. To learn how to upload high quality images, go to the section “How to capture and edit photos for Instagram.”
The next common type of post in Instagram is videos. Instagram allows you to upload videos that are under 1 minute in duration.
Like photos, videos also need to be of high quality to capture the attention of your viewers. You can learn all about quality video making in the section- “How to Capture Videos for Instagram”
If you want to learn more about Video marketing, Check out our Ultimate Guide on Video marketing.
Stories are posts that appear on the top of an user’s Instagram homepage. They exist for 24 hours.
Stories allow you to upload photos and videos without the need to think much about their quality. You can also add just text as Stories.
You can edit and add filters to your Stories. You can add features like emojis, a music track, polls and even ask a question on Stories- the possibilities are endless.
To start with Stories, click on the camera icon on the top right corner of your Instagram homepage or swipe right.
5.4. Live Videos
Instagram allows you to record videos in real time. Instagram’s Live Videos appear on the top of the user’s feed (just like Stories).
Live Videos are great ways to encourage engagement with your audience. You can use it for product launching or for a question-and-answer session.
To start with Live Videos, click on the camera icon. Then swipe to the Live setting and click on the button to start a Live Video.
Instagram TV, or IGTV are vertical videos that can be viewed on Instagram or the IGTV app. The videos run from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. Verified accounts can run videos for upto 1 hour.
IGTV is a great tool for businesses that create educational content. In fact, most of the videos on IGTV are educational in nature.
You can also edit your IGTV videos. To get started with IGTV, download the IGTV app, create a channel for your business and then upload videos.
6. Types of content on Instagram
As the number of photos, videos and types of posts uploaded on Instagram is a lot, it is necessary for your business to stand out among the crowd. People on Instagram are not seeking to be sold something. Therefore, you need to find creative ways in order to market to your audience.
Here are some types of content which you can use to post creatively on Instagram:
As a marketer, you might be tempted to use Instagram as a medium of sales for your products. But as mentioned above, people on Instagram do not like to be sold something.
So do not just upload posts showing your products and mentioning their features. Instead, try to use product posts as customer testimonials or to impart some inspirational messages. That way, you can get a favorable impression from your audience.
6.2. Motivational quotes
Another type of posts that blend imagery with text- motivational quotes can be used by both businesses and celebrity personalities. In this type of post, you add an uplifting message on the top of an image.
You can use Canva or apps like Quipio and Typic to produce motivational quotes with texts on top of images.
In Teaser posts, you upload glimpses of your product that will be released soon. Teasers can generate a high amount of engagement with your audience.
6.4. Product Launch
Product Launch is another great type of content that you can use to generate engagement. Record your product launch using Instagram Live and add a purchase link to the product. This can also drive sales.
You can run contests as both photos and Stories. Offering give-aways, run contests where you ask your audience to share the post or upload a post of their own using a contest hashtag. Contests are yet another source of driving engagement.
6.6. Crowd-sourced Instagram images
Crowd-sourced images are posts created by users. If such crowd sourced images tags your business account, you can share it from your own account as well.
Sharing crowd-sourced images shows to the user who posted the image originally that you care. At the same time, crowd-sourced images are signals of how loyal your followers are to your brand.
While sharing crowd-sourced images, make sure you mention them in your post caption.
6.7. Day in the life Instagram posts
Instead of focusing on your products, you can post on Instagram with posts focusing on your company’s employees and culture. These day-in-the-life Instagram posts can also be conducted by asking employees to upload on their own.
Authenticity should be the main theme of such kinds of posts. Just like product posts, people will not like to be seen as being sold.
6.8. Influencer Instagram posts
As mentioned before, influencers have a high level of power that even brands do not have. Use their power to drive awareness and engagement for your business.
Use the power of celebrities and Instagrammers who have a high level of followers to upload posts from their accounts. This will expose you to a new set of audience.
6.9. Tutorial posts
You can use tutorial posts as photos, videos, Stories and on IGTV. Post short tutorial videos on doing or making something related to your product offerings. That way, you can garner engagement.
7. How to Create Great Content For Instagram
With the main focus of users on the image/video being shown on their feed, quality of content is more important for Instagram than the quantity. Therefore, the photo or video that is being uploaded must be of high quality and eye catching.
This section will teach you how to capture and edit photos for Instagram.
7.1. How to capture photos
Although the photo should be of high quality, it is not necessary for you to take photos using a high quality camera. A mobile phone is enough to capture a good quality photo.
Here are some tips you can follow to capture photos for Instagram:
– Use 3×3 grid lines
When taking photos, artists, photographers and illustrators often turn on grid lines on their camera. This helps them take better photos.
Use your phone’s camera settings to turn on grid lines. Place your subject at the intersection of the lines.
– Focus on one object
Too many objects can confuse the attention of users. Your image should concentrate on only one object.
Provide a lot of free space surrounding the focus object. That way, users’ attention will go towards it and nothing else.
– Try a different angle
We all are accustomed to seeing stuff from one angle only. That is, seeing upfront.
Try grabbing the attention of your audience using a different angle. Even using a different angle for a common image can also attract users.
– Natural light over flash
Lighting is the foundation of a photo. Instead of using flash (which flattens out the photo), use natural lighting.
When shooting indoors, try to shoot photos near a window. When shooting at night, use street lamps for lighting.
7.2. How to Edit Photos
A reason why photos on Instagram look good is because they are edited after being captured. Fortunately, Instagram provides you with editing tools to help you make better photos. You can use third-party apps for this as well.
But no matter how much you edit a photo, editing does not matter if you take a poorly captured photo in the first place.
– Instagram’s editing features
After you upload a photo, Instagram gives you a ton of editing tools to make the best picture:
- Picture size: Whatever size you upload your image, Instagram displays it as a square after uploading. To revert to the original shape, press the icon containing the two outward arrows.
- Lux: After setting the size, click on next. At the top, you will see a wand icon. This is the lux feature that adjusts the exposure and brightness of the photo.
- Filters: Instagram provides a wide array of filters for you to try out. Be careful while using the filters as they can greatly change the view of the image.
- Edit: Besides the Filter tab, you will find the Edit tab. The Edit tab allows you to make changes to photo alignment, and adjust brightness, contrast, and structure.
– Third party tools
Before you upload your photo or video on Instagram, you can edit it using third party tools. Here are some of the popular and free editing tools out there:
- Snapseed: Snapseed is a free photo editing app from Google. It allows you to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and apply effects like HDR.
- VSCO: VSCO is another free photo editing app. It offers a wide range of free filters.
- Splice: Splice is a free video editing tool that allows you to join multiple clips, and add titles, clips, and background music.
8. Getting started with Instagram Ads
Unlike ads on other social media platforms, ads on Instagram appear like any other uploaded posts. As a result, Instagram Ads are not seen as obtrusive and irritating like those of other platforms.
You can place ads of your previously uploaded posts or create a completely new post. Also, you can place ads as images, videos, carousel and even on Stories. The following section shows how to get started.
8.1. How to start?
To place ads on Instagram, you need to connect your business’s Instagram account with your business’s Facebook account. Here’s how you do it:
- Go to the Business Manager of your Facebook page and click on the “Claim Instagram Account” section found by scrolling the left bar.
- Then, click on “Claim Instagram Account” and add your account information.
- Finally click “Next.”
8.2. Placing ads on Instagram
Once you have connected your business’s Instagram account with your business’s Facebook Business Manager account, you can start placing ads on Instagram.
The steps of placing ads on Instagram includes:
Step-1: Pick an ad objective from the options provided.
Step-2: Name your ad campaign
Step-3: Provide parameters (age, demographics, location, interests etc.) for your target audience. You can also use saved parameters from the “Use a Saved Audience” option
Step-4: In the placement options, select “Edit Placements” and then choose Instagram as the platform. If you forget this step, you won’t be placing ads on Instagram.
Step-5: Set the budget and timing of your ad campaign.
Step-6: Select the content you want to place as ad.
9. Track your performance
As you continue your marketing efforts with Instagram, you will find the need to improve over time. By learning from your past experience can you improve for the future. Track the performance of your Instagram posts and find areas where you can improve.
Use analytics tools to track your performance and refine them over them. Analytics tool will provide you with data driven insights so that you can deliver better results on Instagram.
9.1. Instagram Analytics
Instagram provides business accounts with a free analytics tool to track their performance. Called Insights, the analytics tool allows you to measure metrics such as impressions, reach and engagement. You can also view performance metrics of individual posts and ads.
Here are some metrics that you should keep track of:
– Follower growth rate
The number of followers you have on Instagram is a vanity metric- you will not get much information from it. However, follower growth rate is a better metric tool as it helps you understand how the kind of post you upload is affecting your follower base.
– Instagram comments received
On Instagram, users can mindlessly scroll through posts and double tap to give hearts (likes in Facebook’s terminology). However, posts that are attention grabbing are the ones where users stop scrolling and comment. So keep a track of the posts where you are receiving a good number (and good quality) of comments.
– Engagements per Instagram follower
Engagement is usually the number one goal for businesses marketing on Instagram. So calculating engagement per follower is the right thing to do.
To calculate engagements per follower, take the number of likes plus comments and divide it by the number of followers you have at the time of uploading a post.
Compare the engagement rate with your competitors based on the size of your follower. Usually pages with less number of followers tend to have higher engagement than pages with higher number of followers.
9.2. Third-party analytics tools
Instagram’s Insights is quite limited by the number of features it provides. Even if you use Facebook’s Business Manager to track your Instagram account’s performance, your ability to derive insights is very little.
Instead, you can use third-party analytics tools to measure your metrics. Here are some of the widely used analytics tools for Instagram marketing:
Not only is Iconosquare an Instagram analytics tool, it also allows you to schedule posts and monitor conversations. It also offers you a free Instagram account audit for your business page.
Iconosquare’s analytics tool allows you to measure reach, engagement and impressions. It also allows you to measure performance of your posted Stories as well.
Iconosquare comes with a free 14 day trial. Its Pro package is priced at $29 per month for 2 users and 3 accounts.
Pixlee’s free Analytics tool allows you to measure progress using visual data. It also allows you to share these visuals with the rest of your marketing team,
Pixlee also allows you to search for Influencer so that you can increase your awareness and reach.
Squarelovin’s free Insights tool allows you to see the progress of your posts over time- broken down over days, months and even years.
Squarelovin also provides you with insights on your followers and the best time for you to post with the free Insights tool.
Start Marketing on Instagram
With such a huge audience and a great number of features, Instagram is a great tool for marketers. So, start marketing your business on Instagram today!