With an advertising audience of more than 1.16 billion people, Instagram offers dramatic reach for brands. The potential reach of Instagram marketing has grown significantly this year, increasing by 76 million people in the most recent quarter.
90% of Instagram users follow at least one company. Not only consumer goods benefit from this. More than 36% of B2B decision-makers use Instagram to find new products or services.
This Instagram Marketing Tips 2021 Cheat Sheet will help you improve your Instagram strategy whether you're just starting out or a seasoned pro.
Bonus: 14 time-saving hacks for Instagram power users. Get the list of secret shortcuts that the Hootsuite's own social media team uses to create thumb-stopping content.
Set up an Instagram business account
Before you can start Instagram marketing, you need an Instagram Business account or an Instagram Creator account. If you already have one, continue with the tips below. If you already have a personal account, you can go to step # 3 of these instructions.
If you're new to Instagram or creating a brand new account, here's how:
Step 1: Download the Instagram app
Step 2: Sign in
- Open the app.
- Tap Create a new account (on iOS) or Sign in with email or phone number (on Android).
- Enter your email address or phone number and tap Next.
- Create your username and password.
- Fill out your profile information (more on this in Tip 4) and tap Next.
Step 3: switch to a business account
- Go to your profile and tap the hamburger icon in the top right corner.
- Tap the settings, then account.
- Tap Switch to the professional account.
- Tap Store and follow the instructions.
21 Instagram Marketing Tips For Businesses That You Can't Ignore
1. Use a business account
Just in case you've skipped the section above and are planning on delving into the rest of the Instagram marketing tips while using a personal account, this is where you should reconsider.
With a business account, you have access to features that you can't use with a personal account, including:
- Instagram insights (see tip 21)
- Instagram ads (see tip 20)
- Instagram shopping (see tip 16)
- Primary and secondary messaging inboxes
- Contact information and a call to action on your profile
A creator account has its own set of benefits for influencers and content creators. For most marketers, however, a business account is where it's located. Return to the beginning of this post and convert your account if you haven't already.
2. Clearly define your goals
All social platforms are tools. However, you can only use these tools effectively if you know what you are trying to create.
Instagram marketing can mean different things to different marketers. Are you looking for:
- Create an online presence for your company?
- Increase brand awareness?
- Get new leads?
- Are you establishing your brand as an industry leader?
- Sell products directly from the app?
You may even want to combine several different results. But if you don't know where your Instagram strategy is supposed to take you, it's unlikely to get you there.
We have an entire blog post on Goal Setting to help you decide what is most important to your business.
3. Know your audience
A little preliminary research can help you figure out who is the best to reach out to when you think about how to market on Instagram. For example, our post on Instagram Demographics shows that:
- The most active Instagrammers are between 18 and 29.
- The United States is the largest Instagram market.
- More city dwellers use Instagram than their suburban counterparts.
But that doesn't mean you should only be using Instagram to reach urban Americans in their twenties. Instead, you need to define your target market so that you can create content that speaks directly to that audience.
This also becomes important when it comes to choosing targeting options for your Instagram ads.
4. Optimize your profile
In just 150 characters, your Instagram bio needs to make a great first impression, convey your brand personality, and tell people why they should bother to follow your Instagram account.
That's a lot to ask of a small room.
Fortunately, you also get a few other fields on your Instagram profile to show what your brand is about and to make it easier for people to find you. These include:
- Your name: 30 characters, included in the search.
- Your username: AKA your handle. Up to 30 characters included in the search.
- Your website: A clickable URL that you can change as often as you like.
- Category: A business function that tells people what your business is about without going through organic characters.
- Contact information: tell people where to find you.
- Call-to-Action Buttons: Give Instagram the ability to interact with you right from your profile page.
Tourism Vancouver does a good job of getting the most out of all that the profile has to offer.
Source: @Inside_Vancouver on Instagram
For more profile strategies, see our blog post on Optimizing Your Instagram Profile for Business.
5. Choose the correct profile photo
For most brands, your Instagram profile photo should be your logo. This adds credibility and allows visitors to see who you are at a glance.
Your Instagram profile photo will be displayed at 110 x 110 pixels and cropped to a circle with a diameter of 110 pixels. However, it is saved at 320 x 320 pixels. So, you should upload such a large file to make sure it will still look good if Instagram changes how profile pictures are displayed.
If your logo is a square, you'll need to zoom out to make sure it all fits inside the circle:
Source: The Home Depot on Instagram
6. Create visually engaging content
Instagram is a visual medium, so your posts just have to look great. You don't need professional photography equipment, but your photos and videos must be at least sharp, well-lit, composed, and sharp.
If you use images other than photos, such as B. Infographics or animations, make sure that they are crisp, clear, legible and eye-catching.
More importantly, your visual content needs to be compelling. Great photos are beautiful, but if they don't tell a story or excite viewers, they won't get followers.
Not sure what to post? Here are some ideas:
- Posts behind the scenes: Give your followers a look at your office, store front, or manufacturing process.
- Quotes and text-based images: Play with text to create visually interesting content without the need for photos.
- Regrams and UGC: User-generated content is inherently authentic and compelling.
- Apprenticeship positions: Teaching followers how to achieve a goal is as compelling as it gets.
- Videos: The maximum length of a video posting on Instagram is 60 seconds, but you can work much longer with IGTV.
- Roll: For more information on this multi-cut video format, see tip 17.
Beauty Brand Glow Recipe uses IGTV videos to showcase skincare routines for different skin types with their products. You publish a preview of the longer videos in the news feed, so followers always know when a new tutorial is ready to watch.
We have a whole blog post of content ideas for Instagram if you need more inspiration.
Remember, compelling content can expand your reach when it inspires people to share your newsfeed posts for their stories. So, when thinking about how to market your business on Instagram, focus on creating content that is worth sharing, not just a quick one.
7. Determine the "look" of your brand on Instagram
Once you've decided what type of content to post, you need to decide what it should look like. As we explain in our post on Creating an Instagram Aesthetic, color influences buying decisions and brand awareness.
Your Instagram look should be consistent across your posts so that followers can easily identify your content in their feeds.
A good example of this is the @themindfulmaison Instagram account. The photos have a consistent color scheme, look and feel.
Source: @themindfulmaison on Instagram
An easy way to achieve this type of consistency is to use Lightroom presets. We have five free Instagram presets that you can download to get started.
Whenever you find a creator on Instagram who you really like the look of, be sure to check out if they sell their own presets. The creator of @themindfulmaison does.
8. Write great captions
We just said that Instagram is a visual medium. However, this doesn't mean you can neglect your subtitles. Your brand voice is just as important as your brand look. Like your graphics, it should be consistent across all posts.
Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters long, so you can use them for anything from a quick joke to detailed storytelling. However, only the first two lines of text are displayed in the newsfeed without tapping on them More.
Since people tend to scan subtitles instead of reading them carefully, you'll want to put all of the important information in these first two lines.
In our post on the Best Subtitle Lengths for Any Social Network, we recommend the following Instagram subtitle lengths:
- Organic contributions: 138–150 characters
- Instagram ads: 125 characters
If you have more to say, say it. But make sure the extra text is worth it.
National Geographic is the classic example of long-form Instagram content. If you can get to the level of storytelling, don't be afraid to stay long.
See this post on Instagram
Photo by Cristina Mittermeier @mitty / Through a layer of visibility they emerged, their mouths opened in a quiet gulp. I held my case still and watched them pass silently, fascinated by the constellations that covered their velvety skin. Even around noon, life under the sea surface is constantly interrupted at dusk. For a while I felt like I was floating with these heavenly giants of the deep in the cosmos. Spending time in the company of whale sharks is an otherworldly experience, and while I would prefer people to leave them alone, the opportunity for tourists to swim with them might actually save their species from becoming extinct due to unsustainable, Preserve illegal poaching. Many nations are now realizing the value of keeping these animals alive and allowing tourists to dive with them, creating both the demand and the resources to expand protection for whale sharks through ecotourism, as we do in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Follow me @Mitty and my team @paulnicklen and @sealegacy as we work to protect these beautiful animals and their marine habitats.
Your lettering should be relevant, entertaining or informative, compelling and brand-related. For more information, see our post on Writing Great Instagram Captions.
9. Use hashtags wisely
Hashtags are an important way to increase your visibility and findability.
You can use up to 30 hashtags in an Instagram post. But realistically, you probably don't want that.
We recommend using five to nine hashtags per post. More than that can look like hashtag fill, a spam tactic that turns off followers. Worse, if you use irrelevant or repetitive hashtags, users can choose not to show your content for that tag.
To get the most benefit, choose hashtags that:
- Are relevant
- Are specific to your niche
- Don't encourage follow-or-like swapping (think # like4like or #followme).
We have a complete guide on the latest hashtag strategies for Instagram if you want to dig deep into this
10. Get involved
If you want to get involved on Instagram, you have to get involved too. Posting quality content is great. However, if you ignore comments and never interact with other profiles, you will have a lonely existence on the network.
At a minimum, respond to comments that users post on your feed. But also find popular accounts in your niche, follow them, and like and comment on their posts. Do not make yourself visible in advertising.
If someone tags you on a post, check it out and find ways to get involved. Can you re-share their post on your feed or story?
Pinning comments from top fans, or just comments that are likely to lead to conversation, is one way to encourage more engagement with your posts.
This also makes it more fun (and productive) for you to get involved, as you have a greater chance of responding to real people rather than bots or trolls.
11. Make the most of Instagram Stories
Half of the businesses on Instagram use stories. And they get great results: a third of the most viewed stories are published by companies. Stories are an integral part of a good Instagram marketing strategy.
Instagram stories disappear after just 24 hours. Followers expect to be more real and raw than your curated Instagram feed. They provide an opportunity to connect with followers and build relationships.
Our post on The Best Ways To Use Instagram Stories For Businesses highlighted the following strategies:
- To tell a story: Even with this current format, think of a message.
- Think quickly: Use several short “scenes” and deliver your message in the first 3 seconds.
- Specify value: Provide viewers with valuable information or links to useful resources.
- Use a call to action: Don't rely on the little Instagram overlays for external links. Use text to let followers know why to swipe.
- Use a unified brand identity: Like your Instagram feed, your stories should align with your brand voice and aesthetic.
If fans tag you in their stories, you can turn the content into your own story. This can be a simple and seamless way to share user generated content while thanking your top fans at the same time.
Pro tip: Save time by planning your Instagram stories in advance with Hootsuite.
12. Use story highlights and covers to enhance your bio
In Tip 4, we covered all of the official components of your Instagram bio. There is one bonus component, however, that we didn't mention: stories highlight covers.
You can create highlight albums to keep your Top Stories content so that it doesn't go away after 24 hours. Your highlight albums appear just below your bio, and you can create custom covers for each album.
Used effectively, this adds an extra component to your bio so that potential followers can get more information about your business and know why they should be following you on Instagram.
For example, Sephora uses Highlights albums to showcase their different product categories.
Source: Sephora on Instagram
We have 40 free Instagram highlight covers to get you started.
13. Test the sticker and button on the gift card
You can now sell digital gift cards right from your Instagram story or profile. This is a great way to build relationships with fans and support them through difficult times.
You can add a gift card button just like any other call-to-action button:
- Tap edit profile
- Under Business Public Information, tap Action buttons
- Under Choose a button, choose Gift cards.
To add a gift card sticker to your story, select the photo for your story, then add the gift card sticker. If you don't see it in your sticker drawer, do a search for "gift cards." It is shown when you have a company profile in an eligible country.
Either way, you'll need to use an affiliate vendor to sell the gift cards like Square. The options will appear when you try to add the gift card sticker or button.
14. Create anticipation for a product launch with the countdown sticker
Another interactive story sticker allows you to create a stir before a product launch or special event. The countdown sticker tells your biggest fans to mark their calendars when you have something new to offer.
Brujita Skincare uses the countdown sticker to announce their bi-monthly product releases. Since they are always sold out, it's important to make sure the top fans are up to date for first-time access. It also ensures that a flood of orders is ready to go as soon as a new product is available on its website.
15. Go live
Instagram Live offers countless opportunities to connect with fans in real time. In our post on how to use Instagram Live effectively, we suggest the following strategies:
- Collaborate with an industry expert or influencer using the "Add Guest" option to go live together
- Offer a live look behind the scenes of an event
- Host a workshop or share a tutorial
- Host a Q&A.
- Interview a team member
- Talk to a client or client
Matthew McConaughey invited Dr. Anthony Fauci to chat with him on Instagram Live. For Dr. For Fauci, it was a great way to share vital information about COVID-19 strategies with McConaughey's 4.3 million followers.
16. Set up an Instagram shop
Do you remember how we said you should get a business profile? Here's another reason: you need a company profile to set up an Instagram shop.
This feature, not available for personal accounts, allows you to create your own online store in Instagram.
You will also see a "View Store" button on your Instagram profile page so fans can access your store without viewing a specific post.
Even better, there's now a Shop tab on the Explore page where users can search for new products or see products from brands they already interact with on Instagram.
130 million Instagram users tap shopping postings every month, so a large audience of people is interested in the brands they follow. You can mark purchase products in posts, stories and IGTV.
Tip: When you tag products in Instagram Stories, turn on automatic highlighting. This saves all posts with product tags in Stories Highlights so that potential customers can view them for more than 24 hours.
17. Experiment with Instagram roles
There is another new tab on the Explore page: Roles. These multi-cut videos are Instagram's response to TikTok. But they're not just intended for dance challenges. Brands use roles to stand out from the crowd.
Second Shot Coffee used Instagram roles in both organic and paid posts. The ad had nearly 40,000 impressions and the organic post had nearly 2,000 views.
18. Post at the right time
Did you know that the best time to post on Instagram varies by industry?
We analyzed 258,956 posts from 11 different industries and found that the best time to post really is, even though Instagram feeds are no longer chronological.
Here are the best times for each industry we analyzed:
- Travel and Tourism: Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Media and entertainment: Tuesday and Thursday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Food and drink: Friday, 12 noon
- Retail: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 12 noon
- Professional services: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 or 10 a.m.
- Not for profit: Tuesday, 10 a.m. or 4 p.m.
- Ecommerce outside of retail: Thursday, 4pm or 9pm
- Pharma and Healthcare: Wednesday and Sunday at 9 a.m.
- Personal hygiene: Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.
- Technology: Monday and Tuesday at 2 p.m.
- Training: Thursday, 4 or 5 p.m.
For more information, including the worst times for each industry, check out our blog on when to post on Instagram.
19. Try an influencer partnership
Working with an influencer can help build your credibility and bring your brand to a new audience. A survey by CivicScience found that almost half of daily Instagram users made a purchase based on an influencer recommendation.
An easy way to start influencer marketing on Instagram is to do an Instagram acquisition. This means that you invite an influencer to use your Instagram account for a set period of time, e.g. B. a weekend or a special event to take over.
Tasting Table regularly invites chefs and home cooks to take over their accounts and share recipe contributions in the news feed and in stories.
This expands your reach and at the same time gives the influencer access to a new audience.
20. Grow your audience with Instagram ads
The safest way to get your content out to a new audience is by running an Instagram ad.
Back in tip 3, you defined your target group. Now you can use this information to target your ads based on:
- Location: State, Province, City, Country, etc.
- Demographics: like age, gender, and language
- Interests: Like other accounts that users follow, apps that they use, and ads that they click
- Behavior: Both on and off Instagram
You can also upload custom audiences of people you already have relationships with and use them to create similar audiences.
You can advertise in the Instagram feed, in stories or in Explore.
21. Refine your strategy with analytics
No matter how good you are at Instagram marketing already, you can always be better. The best way to improve your results is to learn from what you have already done.
And the best way to do it is to study all of the information available on Instagram Insights.
Here's an introduction to everything you need to know about refining your strategy with Instagram Analytics:
We have a full blog post on Using Instagram Analytics if you want more information.
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