Instagram marketing is a type of social media marketing, which involves promoting a brand on Instagram. This social media platform helps brands connect with an enormous audience, increase brand awareness, and boost sales.

Lean back in your chair and check out our marketer's guide on Instagram promotion.

Why is Instagram marketing important for businesses?

Instagram is the perfect channel to reach an enormous audience – over 1 billion active users monthly. On average, users spend 53 minutes per day on Instagram, which makes this platform the second most visited social network after Facebook.

Instagram facilitates maintaining your relationships with customers and prospects. People enjoy being connected with brands through this network – 90% of users follow at least one company on Instagram.

Another point to consider is Instagram’s selling acceleration opportunities. According to Facebook research in 2019, 65% of people polled visited a brand's website or app after seeing it on Instagram. 46% of interviewees purchased from a brand online or offline.

Access to a vast audience, which actively interacts with brands and wants to buy from them, is a core advantage of Instagram marketing. However, this social network has a handful of other benefits.

4 Benefits of Instagram for Business

  • Brand strengthening
  • Improved engagement
  • Enlarged sales
  • Audience growth opportunities

Over the past few years, Instagram has evolved from being a place for flexing wealth or achievements to a helpful platform for business purposes. There are four ways Instagram can affect your business positively.

Brand strengthening

Instagram marketing works wonders for brand awareness. 83% of users confess that this social network helps them discover new products or services. Better yet, people show more trust in the brands presented on Instagram.

74% of users consider brands with Instagram accounts relevant and 78% perceive them as popular. In contrast, brands that do not have an Instagram account are likely to be avoided by potential customers.

Improved engagement

Social networks are one of the best channels to maintain relationships with customers. They allow you to get feedback from your audience through likes or comments, engage them with captivating content, notify them about special offers, and more.

In turn, Instagram works for customer engagement even better than other social platforms. Usually, a photo on Instagram gets 23% more engagement than a post on Facebook, though the latter platform has twofold more active users.

Enlarged sales

We already know that the Instagram audience makes purchases willingly. This buying audience is gigantic – 11% of social media users in the US shop on Instagram.

Knowing this peculiarity, Instagram lets businesses make the most of their platform. Instagram offers a robust set of tools that allow users to shop right from Instagram. Among them are links in Instagram Stories, shopping tags, ads, and more. Consider reading the full list on the Instagram website.

Audience growth opportunities

Instagram boosts your business’s reach by letting you define your target audience precisely. This opportunity is available on Instagram ads manager thanks to its targeting options. With them, you can pinpoint the most suitable audience according to demographic data, interests, behavior, and more.

Better yet, Instagram ads manager provides you with robust retargeting options. Targeting and retargeting coupled allows you to not only drive more qualified Instagram leads but also nudge leads from other channels down the sales funnel effectively.

The Instagram analytics tool allows you to measure your ad performance. You can track outreach, total campaign spending, the number of purchases, cost per purchase, conversions, and more.

To sum it up, Instagram marketing strengthens your brand, brings you a willing-to-buy audience, and keeps them engaged with your business. Read on if you want to get maximum value from this channel.

Instagram Marketing Strategy

  1. Set your goals
  2. Define your target audience
  3. Analyze your competitors
  4. Get a business account
  5. Design your content
  6. Build a consistent aesthetic
  7. Configure an editorial calendar
  8. Grow your follower base
  9. Turn followers into customers

Every marketing channel needs a well-designed strategy to drive amazing results for your business. To build a strategy for Instagram marketing, follow our step-by-step instructions.

1. Set your goals

Start crafting your Instagram marketing strategy by setting goals. Goals will underlie everything you do on Instagram, from defining your content formats to using advertisement mechanics. Popular objectives brands try to leverage through Instagram are increasing brand awareness, reputation management, building a community, sales acceleration, getting customer and market insights, and more.

Your goals should correlate with your business needs. If your financial results are more or less good there is probably no need to boost sales through Instagram. Try focusing on getting customers or market insight instead.

For higher efficiency, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. They may sound like “We need to yield a 20% increase in sales through Instagram in 5 years.”

2. Define your target audience

Determining your audience is an essential step; miss it, and all your efforts to achieve business goals will fall flat. A pro tip here is to craft a buyer persona. Learn who your typical customer is, their age, gender, occupation, location, income level, and so on. The better you know your customers, the better results you will get.

A major mistake to avoid here is crafting a make-believe persona. Use a data-driven approach instead of guesswork. To get information about your potential customers, you can explore Instagram hashtags related to your business. For instance, if you are marketing an event agency, you can examine #eventplanner, #events, or #eventstyling.

Take a closer look at profiles that use these hashtags. Then try to learn more about the people who interact with these accounts – what reactions they share, what comments they write, what they love and loathe about the profiles. To learn more about creating customer profiles and other techniques, follow our comprehensive guide.

3. Analyze your competitors

To get your head around Instagram marketing, research your competitors’ profiles. Find out who they are, what kind of content they post, how they interact with their audience and other brands or influencers. You can also research your rivals’ branded hashtags to get a hint of how popular they are.

Try to focus not only on successful tactics but also spot the things your competitors might be missing. This will help you come up with effective and unusual tactics for your brand promotion. Imagine that you are marketing a psychologist’s practice through Instagram. Typical doctors on Instagram publish static images with instructions on diagnosing psychological conditions. Thus, to stand out, you can entertain your audience and post videos with interesting psychological experiments.

Researching competitors through Instagram is painstaking work. Luckily, you can alleviate some of it with social listening services or CRM systems. For instance, Sprout Social can compose competitor research automatically. Follow our compilation of great CRM systems for more information.

4. Get a business account

Instagram offers its users two types of accounts: personal and business. The latter gives you a lot more benefits and opportunities. For instance, you can track your performance in real time, learn more about your followers' behavior, add information about your company, and more.

Follow our precise step-by-step guide to switch to a business account, and then return here for some non-technical marketing tips on setting up your profile. Here they are:

  • Create a perfect bio. Make a 150-character description of your business, focusing on why it stands out.
  • Optimize your profile photo. It should be recognizable and reflect your business. You may opt for a logo, but remember that Instagram shows it as a 110 x 110 pixel photo.
  • Link to your website. This is crucial for lead generation – your profile description is the only place, apart from Stories, where you can add a link.
  • Use business options. You can add a category, contact information, and CTAs in business mode. Do not neglect this opportunity to get in touch with customers.

Here is an excellent example of an Instagram bio from Beautyblender. The brand squeezes every bit of value out of this account section.

Instagram bio

Beautyblender bio

5. Design your content

Content is king anywhere on social media, and especially on Instagram – users are finicky both for visual and text parts of it. So, the platform provides a wide variety of content formats and opportunities to win the audience.
Start by thinking up the main theme and the message you want to deliver. You may opt for showcasing your products, focusing on your company’s culture, or entertaining your customers.

The next step is to decide which content formats to use to leverage your goals. You can make use of static pictures, galleries, short videos, or longer video formats with IGTV. Bear in mind that images receive 27.55% more likes than videos, but both of them gain almost the same amounts of comments. However, it might not work for you the same way, so play around different formats and monitor engagement statistics.

6. Build a consistent aesthetic

No matter what type of content you choose, keep it beautiful, eye-catching, and high-quality. To get your head around the best visual style, we’ve picked some statistics on popular Instagram images:

  • Light tones generate 24% more likes than dark ones;
  • Blueish images get 29% more likes than the red ones;
  • Users like pictures with a high level of texture 79% more.

Avoid using this data thoughtlessly; remember your visuals should correlate with your brand personality. You can stick to your brand colors and guidelines – it will make you recognizable from platform to platform.

Another point to consider is your visual consistency. The pictures on your Instagram profile should make an impression of unity. You can achieve this by using certain Instagram filters or presets. Look how Hootsuite uses its branded style for Instagram and creates consistency with visuals.

Hootsuite Instagram profiles

7. Configure an editorial calendar

An essential condition of your Instagram success is delivering content consistently. Your audience expects you to post updates regularly. To keep the pace without going insane, create an editorial calendar.

For higher efficiency, keep your calendar in special post scheduling services. They allow you to not only be aware of what and when to post but also keep the visuals, posts, and hashtags on hand. Better yet, these tools automate your posting, provide useful insights on the posting time, help obtain in-depth analytics, and more. Read our list of scheduling and other tools for social media to get more information.

8. Grow your follower base

Make time to grow your audience and keep them engaged. One organic way to do so is by following relevant influencers. For instance, if you market kitchen supplies, it’s a good idea to follow food bloggers, kitchen interior designers, and so on. Remember to engage with their content – like their posts, leave meaningful comments, share their stories.

Another option is to use hashtags, which help you reach your target audience, attract followers, and boost your engagement rate. Be careful here – not all hashtags are useful for your business. The most popular ones are used in millions of posts. So, you’d better go for niche hashtags. You can find them on your followers’, competitors’, and market leaders’ accounts.
Apart from that, you can make use of paid promotion options, such as influencer marketing or Instagram advertising campaigns. Here is a guide to promotional formats and mechanics Instagram offers to businesses.

9. Turn followers into customers

An increase in vanity metrics, such as likes and comments, is good, but it doesn't affect your sales directly. So, take care of converting your followers into customers. Publish promotional posts, showcase your new products, run teasers, offer deals and discounts. Remember to include calls to action in your promotional posts. Although you can’t add a link to your CTA in the publication, you can always encourage subscribers to tap the link in your bio.

You can create a link page for your Instagram bio with the help of SendPulse drag and drop landing page builder. It provides the options to create your page from scratch or use a pre-designed template and design it to your liking. You don't need any technical skills and much time — it will take your 15 minutes to create a responsive page. Add buttons, links, useful resources, subscription widgets, and integrate with a payment system to convert leads into customers. The service is completely free. Follow this step-by-step guide to get started.

Use the different formats of shopping posts Instagram has created for you. They allow a user to start a sales funnel right from a specific post and move the journey towards a purchase, which leads to an increase in conversion rates. Check out Instagram’s guide on shopping formats and opportunities.

Once your Instagram marketing strategy is ready, start applying it and monitor its effectiveness day by day. Keeping an eye on your performance will help you make timely changes and adopt new techniques to boost your KPIs. Let’s discuss some tricks in the next section.

5 Instagram Marketing Tips

  1. Embrace user-generated content
  2. Share your Instagram posts on Facebook
  3. Use stories and highlights
  4. Collaborate with influencers
  5. Launch an Instagram shop

Applying ready-made tactics is better than reinventing the wheel; it saves you and your marketing team precious time and effort. Master the following techniques to take your Instagram marketing to the next level.

Embrace user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is a magic wand for Instagram marketing. It helps you get images and videos to post without lifting a finger. Better yet, UGC has a positive effect on Instagram promotion. It drives a 4.5% higher conversion rate, boosts engagement, improves cost-per-click metrics and click-through rates for paid advertisements.

The reason is that UGC works similarly to word-of-mouth and social proof. People believe recommendations from other customers way more than paid advertising. To get UGC for your account, encourage your audience to share their photos and videos with your branded hashtag. Repost the best pieces, but avoid overusing UGC – it works better in combination with original branded content.

Learn to work with user-generated content from Benefit Cosmetics. The brand encourages people to use their hashtag, #benefit, to be highlighted on the brand’s account. For better results, the company not only shares its users’ content but also adds shopping tags to the products used for creating makeup looks.

User-generated content

User-generated content on the Benefit Cosmetics account

Share your Instagram posts on Facebook

Well, it’s not exactly Instagram marketing, but this tip will help you boost your overall social media performance. Instagram allows you to share photos and videos on your Facebook instantly. All you need is to switch on the Facebook slider in the “Also post to” section while you’re publishing your content.

This feature is not only convenient and time-saving but also great for your performance. According to Buzzsumo, images posted on Facebook via Instagram get 23% more engagement.

GoPro uses this trick to achieve amazing results. In the example below, the brand posted a new product teaser on Instagram and Facebook simultaneously. Thus, the company received over 1.5 million views, 13.7 thousand comments, and roughly 260 thousand likes on both channels in total.

An Instagram post shared to Facebook

A GoPro post shared on Instagram and Facebook

Use stories and highlights

It’s easy to downplay the importance of Instagram Stories as they vanish 24 hours after publication. However, this format is too good for your marketing to leave it on the table. According to Instagram data, 62% of people said they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.

Stories are a perfect way to create emotional proximity with your customers. While your feed should be flawless, Stories are best for unpolished lifelike content, such as backstage views and behind-the-scenes content. They are also a format for posting detailed product reviews with shopping links. The cherry on top is you can keep your stories forever. All you have to do is to add them to a special section on your page, which is called Highlights.

Topshop provides an excellent example of making the most of Stories and Highlights. The company uses Stories to garner interest in new items on their website. At first, the brand announces a discount on their new garments and then shows some of them. Each story contains a link to the website section with new clothing.

Topshop Story with a link

Highlights keep a bundle of Stories divided into several categories. In Topshop’s “New in” highlight, visitors can see new items with a link to the specific website section. The “On the blog” highlight features the best publications on the company’s blog and leads viewers there.

Topshop Highlights

Collaborate with influencers

79% of marketers consider Instagram the most important channel for their influencer marketing campaigns. The point in it is that businesses are making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. To create an effective influencer marketing campaign, stick to several rules:

  • Choose the influencer whose audience resembles yours. Otherwise, your marketing efforts will fall flat – people won’t have an interest in your offer.
  • Check the audience – there should be no bots or fake subscribers. Make sure followers are engaged with the influencers you work with. To check this, use special tools, such as trendHERO.
  • Determine the audience’s feelings about an influencer. Some bloggers with a huge follower base provoke more hate than love. Promoting through them won’t get you new subscribers or sales, so check the comment section carefully.

Dior used influencer marketing to promote their Spring/Summer 21 fashion show. The brand's choice fell on Jisoo – a Dior ambassador and blogger with over 20 million followers. Jisoo announced the show in her Stories and went live several times during the event to share her opinion on it. This tactic not only attracts an audience but also keeps them engaged with the show.

An influencer on Instagram

Screenshots from Jisoo’s Stories before and during the Dior fashion show

Launch an Instagram shop

In 2020, Instagram increased selling opportunities and launched a new format. The Instagram shop is a separate account section, which resembles a website storefront. People can get there through their feed or Stories, explore products, and make purchases without leaving Instagram.

With this tool, businesses can create product catalogs, craft collections, and curate products into themes that tell their brand story. To set up your shop, follow instructions on the Instagram website. If you need a dose of inspiration for arranging your products, look at Etsy's profile. The company not only showcases some of its best products but also gathers the recently viewed items into a separate category. This move provides users with easy access to the products they liked.

Etsy Instagram shop

The tactics listed above have proven their efficiency for improving a brand’s presence on Instagram, growing a follower base, engaging audiences, and driving sales. If you're looking for more inspiration, check out this guide to Instagram marketing for eCommerce brands on Insense blog.

Read on to see some interesting examples of Instagram marketing.

3 Instagram Marketing Ideas and Examples

Instagram marketing is a long journey with a lot of pitfalls and rapidly changing conditions. Thus, promoting your brand through this platform requires all of your creativity. To encourage your imagination, take a sneak peek at some techniques brands successfully use on Instagram.

Starbucks – promotional hashtags

The coffeehouse chain Starbucks knows a little something about promotion through Instagram hashtags. The company employs user-generated content for half of its posts, and it brings amazing results. On average, such publications get 28% higher engagement compared to the company’s standard posts.

To encourage UGC, Starbucks is constantly launching campaigns using a handful of branded hashtags. The latter helps the company inspire followers and promote new products. For instance, Starbucks used #icedcaramelmacchiato, #IcedCoconutMilkMochaMacchiato, and #pinkdrink to market new drinks. People added these hashtags to almost 500 thousand publications in total.


Posts with the #pinkdrink hashtag on Instagram

IMAX – Instagram ads

The entertainment company, IMAX, used a creative approach to market the The Rise of Skywalker with Instagram ads. The brand turned regular passively viewed sponsored Stories into an interactive space. For this purpose, IMAX added polling stickers to its ads; they allowed viewers to choose one of two answers.

The company created three different versions of similar posts, two of which contain a poll. The polled versions asked viewers whether they would join the dark side or use the Force for an IMAX ticket. At the end of the ad, people could tap on the Book Now CTA and buy tickets to the cinema. It turned out that this version saw a 12-point higher ad recall than their stories without a polling sticker.

IMAX Stories ad. Source: Instagram

Lord&Taylor – Influencer marketing

Though clothing retailer, Lord&Taylor, went out of business, it left us with an inspirational Instagram campaign. The brand collaborated with 50 fashionistas and invited them to style the same dress in different ways. The idea behind this challenge was to make followers puzzle over why their favorite bloggers are dressed the same way.

The campaign showed staggering results. The dress from photos sold out by the end of the weekend. Better yet, Lord&Taylor attracted interest in its Design Lab collection, which was the real purpose of the campaign.

Influencers on Instagram

Influencers wearing a Lord&Taylor dress

Instagram marketing can provide outstanding outcomes for your brand awareness, customer loyalty, sales, and lead acquisition. To amplify your ROI and nurture leads, combine Instagram promotions with email and messenger marketing, web push notifications, and SMS. Register with SendPulse to add these channels to your marketing strategy.

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