10 Instagram Marketing Tips to Help You Grow Your Business
Marketing your business on Instagram is becoming more competitive by the day -- it's currently the go-to social media platform for most users, and while many businesses ignored it at first, they are now all fighting for the valuable consumer attention found on the platform.
In order to find success on Instagram you need to know how to cut through the noise and develop a strategy that will deliver the results you are after.
To help you, I asked a handful of experts to share their best Instagram marketing tip. There isn't a cookie-cutter strategy that will work for every business, but these tips should help you get on the right path.
Note: If you don't have an Instagram Business account for your business you can set one up in a matter of minutes.
- Download and launch the app: Download the Instagram app for iOS from the App Store, Android from Google Play store or Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Store.
- Register: Tap 'Sign Up,' then enter your email address and tap 'Next,' or tap 'Log in with Facebook' to sign up with your Facebook account.
- Set up your free business profile: Within the app, find settings, then scroll down to 'Switch to Business Account.' Once you have a business account, you can add your business information like hours, address and phone number. You can create a business profile here.
- Post content, follow users and engage with your customers: Start posting content you'd like to see in your feed using relevant hashtags, and start following similar accounts.
Let's jump right in...
1. Take advantage of the 'Stories' feature.
"Instagram Stories are building brands. For 2019, the best Instagram marketing strategy is to post stories that reflect you and your brand -- talk to your followers and be authentic. Educate them and share info that is relatable to their needs. Taking time to post Stories and utilize the location tags, hashtags, and mentions pull in new viewers who only see your content because you posted to Stories. The more Stories you post, the more opportunities you have to be seen." -- Stephanie Lucas, South Lumina Ave
2. Use a community approach to grow followers and engagement.
"Liking photos, commenting and engaging with other accounts has grown one client's account from 40 followers in February to over 1,000 in April, with an average 20-30 percent engagement rate on each post." -- Khaleelah Jones, Careful Feet Digital Agency
3. Focus on engagement.
"Everybody is talking about engagement, but it's very hard to connect with people and force them to engage with your content. That's why you have to start with the little things to get them to engage with your posts -- like including a call-to-action such as, 'Comment your most used emoji to this photo,' or 'Describe this photo with an emoji' and when they do engage, you have to reply fast to keep the conversation progressing.
Also the best engagement is not only in public -- use the DM feature and send a message thanking them for following you. Make them feel apart of your brand." -- Robert Katai, Bannersnack
"Make sure that you're focusing on engagement-based content. Utilizing an engagement focused piece of content is an important style of social media marketing, more specifically; Instagram marketing. Having overly promotional posts will simply put people off and they're less likely to take an interest to your brand. With this, you should be looking at your target audience and turning the focus onto them.
Creating a 'spot the difference' post the falls in line with your brand guidelines is a great way to not only promote your brand but get people interested in your social media profiles. It acts as a subtle promotion just showing your target audience your brand while asking them to complete a fairly quick and simple task." -- Charlie Worrall, Imaginaire Digital
4. Use Instagram's paid advertising option.
"Although organic seems attractive since it is 'free,' most businesses should be focusing more attention on paid advertising. The beauty of paid ads on Instagram is the available targeting tools. As an example, I am currently running a campaign in Indianapolis that targets 30 to 45 year old female dentists that are interested in learning more about marketing. My content is tailored directly to them, which isn’t possible organically." -- David Hamilton, Oppilo
5. Focus on quality over quantity.
"For posts and hashtags, quality is better than quantity. Keep a minimum of two hours between posts. If you post too frequently the algorithm detects you are creating too many posts and works against you by automatically pushing them down on the feeds of your target. To make these posts more effective, use a 'call to action' on every post, which is a directive to visit your store, website, or the link in your bio. For hashtags on your posts, although Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags per post, you shouldn’t.
Your post will appear to be spam and Instagram’s algorithm will 'shadow ban' the post, which means your content won’t appear on a person’s feed unless they already follow you. This prevents you from reaching new followers and growing your audience. Eight hashtags is the sweet spot for getting the best results." -- Christian Lovrecich, Lovrecich Media
6. Post content that has a purpose.
"One mistake small businesses tend to make on Instagram is not creating value. Your Instagram account is similar to a resume. A potential customer will spend seconds on your page and will see your first few Instagram posts and decide if they want to scroll through your pictures and eventually follow you. If your initial photos aren't providing value, then you just lost a potential follower. Every photo you post has to have a purpose, otherwise, why post it?" -- Brian Meiggs, MeiggsMedia
7. Use well thought-out hashtags.
"To find success on Instagram, it takes many tactics working together, but if you were to single out just one, it would easily be using the right hashtags when you post.
Researching hashtags to find where your content will show up in a cross-section of relevancy for what you posted and a high level of interest means you'll be found by the right people and engagement will most likely be higher.
We saw this firsthand when working with a client. We found a hashtag that was the perfect cross between culture and interest in their product. It lead to engagement from an influential buyer which lead to several publication deals. We were able to track the future success of their product back to that one post using that one hashtag." -- Lee Murray, Signal Media
8. Create user-generated content (UGC).
"I’ve noticed that User-Generated Content (UGC) does consistently well, especially on more B2C-oriented company profiles. When you’re creating an Instagram profile for a business, make sure to tie in photos and video from your customers and fans to show that you’re engaging with them.
Using UGC is a simple, easy way to keep your brand’s Instagram presence current without having to produce original photo or video content of your own for every single post. When done effectively, UGC that matches your brand’s aesthetic and industry can enhance the visuals of your profile, allow for greater engagements, and make your account feel more authentic--more like another Instagram user, and less like a capital-B Brand trying to sell something. With the idea of “community” being such a significant concern for social media audiences in 2019, consumers want brand accounts that don’t feel like brand accounts. Sourcing content from regular people, not just professionals, can achieve that goal.
Finding UGC is as simple as searching the location tag (if you’re a physical business) of your company, looking through your tagged photos (as applicable), and most importantly: searching hashtags relevant to your company, industry, location, or target audience. You can go into searching for UGC with a specific visual in mind, which I generally recommend to stay focused, but feel free to keep an eye out for anything that might be useful later on, too. You can always save posts to your account with Instagram’s Collections feature.
Then, the most crucial step: asking the user’s permission to share the photo on your profile(s). You should not be using any photos that you don’t have permission to use, and you should always be crediting the original user who gave you permission to share their photo.
Used in moderation and with permission, UGC is an excellent way to keep your account active, curate relevant visuals, and engage communities by featuring real people and fans of your brand." -- Mei Ellis, Online Optimism
9. Put time into your brand, who you are, and why.
"We run into countless companies that start social media pages because they feel they have to. Social is a chore and photos go up from obligation rather than enthusiasm. We always champion taking a step back. Why did you start your business? Wo is your customer? What images to they want to see, how immediately are you answering engagement, etc? While social media is a sales tool, more so, it’s brand awareness and relationship building. Take time to engage, educate, and interact with your customers, showcase who you are, and create repeat business." -- Emily Rowe, Social Sensei
10. Use the ALT tag feature.
"The most unique tip I have for client Instagram accounts -- and my personal account -- is using the ALT tag feature. Instagram rolled out the feature late last year, and I haven’t seen too many business accounts really make the most of the feature. Like ALT tags on websites, ALT tagging your Instagram content does more than make it accessible to users with disabilities. It gives more relevant data for the platform to use to index your photos. ALT tagging won’t replace using relevant hashtags, and it definitely won’t make up for boring content. However, it’ll make your posts more ‘visible’ to the Instagram algorithm.
How to succeed with Instagram ALT tagging: treat it like you should treat an ALT tag on your own website. Describe what’s going on in your picture. If there are relevant keywords that naturally fit with the image, all the better. Do not force keywords into your ALT tags because you think the platform will treat them like hashtags. Instagram is first and foremost a visual platform. Engaging content that’s relevant to your following has to be the first priority. However, improving your ALT tagging skills expands your audience by making content accessible to visually impaired users. It takes virtually no time at all to add a one-sentence tag to each post, so there’s really no excuse why your business shouldn’t be doing this.
You can even add ALT tag text to older posts. Just click on the '…' at the top right of your screen, click Edit, and select 'Add ALT Text.'" -- Shelby Rogers, Digital Us