With an estimated 800 million active monthly users (depending who you read), Instagram represents a massive potential audience for your business. Even if it’s a couple of hundred million fewer than that, who’s complaining?
Yet, with such a high-profile social platform comes more competition from a marketing point of view. That makes it harder for your business to stand out.
To help you make a winning start, we’ve assembled 25 of the top Instagram marketing tips that are must-haves for you.
These are practical tips, instantly applicable and designed to help you grow your following fast, engage followers with more powerful content and, ultimately, drive more traffic to your store to boost sales. Many of these tips will cost you nothing but time.
Together, they make up a powerful Instagram strategy that has the power to potentially transform your presence on Instagram.
Enjoy reading for the next 10 minutes or so but be sure to apply the tips to your business. Then watch your results on Instagram improve. Here are the 25 tips…
1. Optimize your bio
Getting your bio right is the starting point for all else that follows on Instagram. Unlike most social media profiles, it can only contain very limited information – so you need to be very economical.
Here are the basics of what you should be doing:
Treat your bio like a value proposition – tell your followers what they stand to gain from your business;
Include a call to action – tell your followers clearly what to do next;
Include an optimized image – perhaps a high-quality version of your business logo?
Include a link – you can include one link in your bio: rather than simply linking to your homepage, direct visitors to a sales page or to a specific promotional landing page.
2. Start looking the part…
The content you publish on Instagram – whatever it is – is an extension of your brand. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn or many other popular social networks, Instagram is almost entirely visual.
So start looking the part with a unique post style: decide on the form (video/images), the size, the font, the colors you use, and the content topics.
Develop a brand style that helps you stand out and makes your posts instantly recognizable…just like Frooti above.
3. Work with a content calendar
Social media marketing is best when it’s frequent, relevant, personalized, and automated wherever possible.
SkedSocial is a tool that helps busy store owners automate the process of uploading images and video and to schedule content posts for later.
You should work to a posting schedule on Instagram. Long periods of inactivity mean followers don’t interact with you and this will ultimately harm your performance on Instagram.
While it’s quality not quantity that will turn heads and get you noticed, who’s to say you can’t do both?
4. Display your Instagram feed on your store
Content is smartest when it is sharable and viewable across your website and multiple social platforms.
By displaying your Instagram posts on your website, they get seen by more pairs of eyes,
SnapWidget enables you to automatically share Instagram images or video to your website for free – or for a low monthly fee.
5. Get creative with your product showcasing
Don’t view your Instagram feed as a conveyor belt for product images. While it’s perfectly fine to highlight products, it needs to be:
- Balanced with other content
- Creative in the way you use your products
- Engaging for your audience
- Focused on showing how products are used in real life (lifestyle shots)
If your product-based content fails to tick these boxes, your following might not hang around for long…
6. Think education, personality, inspiration & entertainment!
It should be encouraged to show personality on Instagram.
If you want to shock people or show some attitude, that’s OK – within reason!
If your goal is to inspire people with motivational quotes or wonderful photography, that’s great too!
And if you can make people laugh, do it. You will win a lot of friends and good sentiment.
People don’t come to Instagram to be blatantly sold to. Use your Instagram feed to delight, amuse, inspire, inform, and entertain.
Just remember to tune into the expectations of your target audience – and always be respectful of others.
7. Go heavy on UGC
Why tell the world how great you are when you can get others to do it?
The best people to showcase the values of your brand and what you stand for are the people who follow you. So make user-generated content (UGC) a key part of your Instagram content strategy.
In social media, a high value is placed on authenticity and social proof. Whether you highlight positive customer stories, request creative images of your product in use, or simply ask your followers to share interesting shots, you are adding authenticity to your brand. It also allows your followers to be the ‘stars’ temporarily – which creates good sentiment.
The Yotpo app makes it easy to increase the amount of reviews and other UGC.
8. Go behind the scenes
We mentioned authenticity and humor above.
Another great way to demonstrate this is to show your followers what goes on behind the scenes at your offices, your factory, your warehouse, or wherever. Make it more real and give people glimpses of what it’s really like to work in your business.
It’s a great way to show personality, humor, character, and values.
And meeting the team helps to put a face on your business. This is important: images with human faces increase engagement levels.
9. Identify your favourite filters & use them consistently
Filters are part of the whole Instagram experience and are also a big part of what made Instagram big.
For your brand, filters help you create an instantly identifiable vibe and feel to your posts.
As well as adding consistency to your feed, they can help you catch the eye and increase likes and comments: warm tones with high contrasts are especially known to help with this.
10. Add text to your images
Text overlays are a great way to add personality, meaning, and intrigue to posts.
Simply adding an inspirational quote can increase engagement levels many times over, compared to image-only posts.
Most likely, you’ll have your favorite photo editor that can help you do this. One of the best is Typic.
As well as adding text, it helps you to add filters, effects, and design elements to help your posts stand out: that’s becoming more and more difficult with almost 100 million images uploaded daily to Instagram.
11. Post during optimal days/times for followers
When it comes to selecting the times to post content on Instagram, how do you know what works best?
This will largely come from experience: the more you post and monitor engagement rates, the more adept you’ll become at timing.
It’s generally accepted that 1-2 times per day is adequate in terms of frequency. CoSchedule also reports that the following general rules apply to posts:
- Mondays and Thursdays drive the most engagement
- 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern drives the most engagement
Here’s more info on the best times to post on Instagram.
12. Engage followers with comments, @mentions etc.
Instagram is interactive. The idea is to communicate with your followers and to interact with them.
You can do this in a number of ways.
Most obviously, you can reply to comments and questions in the feed to the right-hand side of your post. Even if comments are negative, be sure to respond in a timely manner and always respectfully. Remember – all feedback is useful and can help you improve products and services.
Interacting with followers can be more proactive too. You can ‘like’ and comment on others’ posts; you can even seek out competitors and their followers and start engaging with them to bring them over to you.
There are also @mentions for customers and followers, which temporarily gives them the spotlight and demonstrates appreciation. A good example is when you use UGC for a post.
13. Ask questions
People love to be asked questions. It gives them a chance to show their knowledge, express opinions, state preferences, and so on.
Ask them product-related questions by all means, but try to mix it up. You are building a community on Instagram and life doesn’t simply revolve around your business!
It’s fine to ask followers whether the blue one or the grey one looks best, or about how they use your products. But it doesn’t hurt to ask them what their favorite one-line joke is – or whether they know any other dogs that like Vegemite! It all increases engagement levels.
14. Run competitions & contests
Another fool-proof engagement technique is to run contests and competitions. People love the chance to win something and outdo others!
There are several ways to arrange these.
A simple fill-in-the-blanks message where you start a sentence and get followers to fill in the blanks with their own opinions or ideas on the subject (maybe on a particular product) often works: you can award a prize for the most creative answer.
Alternatively use Wyng to run unique, creative competitions and promote user-generated content by offering perks or freebies.
Photo caption competitions or ‘best photo’ contests also seem to work a treat.
15. Experiment with guest takeovers
This is a strategy sometimes used by larger brands on Instagram but you could experiment with it if you have some heavy-hitting followers.
You simply ask one of your guests to take over your account temporarily and to manage posting of content for a while. It works best if they have some influence or ‘sway’ in your niche as the idea is that their presence will help attract others to your brand.
Try it with one of your most passionate fans and see how it goes.
16. Cross-promote with shoutouts
Get smart with promoting your business by working on win-wins with other brands.
You can use Instagram shoutouts to increase your following. The idea is to contact brands with similar audiences to yours. For instance, if you sell women’s shoes, brands selling women’s bags would probably have a similar target audience.
Set up an arrangement whereby you agree to shoutout their brand in return for them doing the same for yours. This way, you can both expand your potential fan-base by ‘cross-pollinating’ your followings. It’s most effective when you contact similar-sized businesses to yours.
17. Make Instagram ‘shoppable’
Your Instagram feed is now open for business.
For a while now, it’s been possible to make your Instagram feed ‘shoppable’ using third party apps.
You can create shoppable galleries using Foursixty, whereby followers can directly access and buy the products you post about. This has the potential to greatly boost your traffic and sales.
18. Retarget customers who leave without buying
A customer departed is not gone forever. It’s possible to win them back with the right retargeting strategy – and tools at your disposal.
In fact, every ecommerce storeowner should be doing this to maximize opportunities and ROI.
If a customer clicks through to your store and leaves without purchasing, you can automatically get in front of them again with ads reminding them what they were previously looking at.
Retargeting in this way is far more effective than random display ads.
19. Use Iconosquare to measure performance
All marketing strategies need measuring and adjusting as you go. It’s almost impossible to get everything right from the get-go.
The Iconosquare app can help you analyze your Instagram performance all in one place, highlighting what’s working and what can be improved for better results: it’s a great time-saver and revenue-maximizer.
20. Get smarter with hashtags
You’ve probably noticed that hashtags are important on Instagram. It’s how people find you and your content. So are you making the most of the opportunities?
Firstly, perform keyword research (like with SEO) to identify popular hashtags that you can use. These should be the ones that are the most active in your particular niche/market; they will enable you to attain maximum reach for your posts and expand your community.
Secondly, identify trending hashtags in your industry and simply add them into your captions, wherever relevant to your posts. By catching the right trending hashtag, you can get in front of many more sets of eyeballs.
21. Use what’s trending in pop culture
Use the immediacy of social media to speak to your audience about what interests them.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, staying across what’s creating buzz for your target audience can help you shape posts around it.
For instance, if your followers are the outdoor/adventure/winter sports types, what’s the latest talk amongst snowboarders or the best place in the world for kitesurfing?
Can you shape a post around it?
22. Aim for Instagram’s EXPLORE tab
Instagram includes an EXPLORE tab in every member’s feed that highlights interesting, relevant, and popular Instagram posts.
If you can get your photos or videos featured on these, it’s a free ad: the exposure that results can give your business a huge boost via a whole new audience of followers.
How do you do that?
Focus on posting high quality, original, engaging posts that stick to the Instagram rules and attract ‘likes’ and comments. Then pray that Instagram notices.
23. ‘Emojify’ your posts
Instagram is visual – you already know that.
So break text up with emojis wherever possible. This adds a visual ‘splash’ to the typical text-based captions that accompany your images and videos.
Emojis make them easy to digest, more colorful, and more likely to provoke a reaction: that means more engagement, more ‘likes’ and more comments.
Emoji use has tripled since 2014 – an indication that they work!
24. Attract influence to your feed
Industry influencers can bring instant credibility to your business – if you can get them on board.
Credibility, authority, and social proof are valuable currencies in online marketing so any association with influencers can give you a boost.
Start by @mentioning them whenever appropriate in your post captions. You won’t be the only one of course – top influencers get approached all the time.
But get the ball rolling and see where you might end up. It takes a little effort but the potential rewards are huge.
25. Connect Instagram with your other social accounts
If you’re serious about social media marketing, it’s unlikely that Instagram is your only social account.
Connecting your Instagram account with Facebook (Facebook owns Instagram after all!) enables you to create ads and cross-pollinate followings.
It also helps you create a consistent, united presence online that starts to build a brand rather than just a business.
Where do you go from here with your Instagram marketing?
Instagram marketing is not just about uploading a load of cool product photos to your account and adding a few hashtags. That’s not going to get you very far.
Use the 25 Instagram marketing tips above to help you start using Instagram smartly – at least smarter than the competition. Few ecommerce stores are getting Instagram marketing spot on at present.
Take the actions that help you stand out: then measure the results and tweak your strategy until you get where you want to be. It’s the recipe for success.