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Instagram Marketing: An In-Depth Guide

Instagram is a powerful social media channel with considerable marketing potential to grow an audience and reach your customers.

Instagram Marketing Guide

Does your brand have a presence on Instagram? It should.

The social media site has more than 2 billion monthly users.

That’s billion, with a “b.” And 90% of those people are following at least one business on the app.

With this in mind, it should be no surprise that Instagram bills itself as the “#1 media platform for building relationships with brands.”

Instagram is a powerful social media channel with considerable marketing potential to grow an audience and reach your customers.

So, if you don’t have an account for your business, go and create one right now. We’ll wait.

Once you have your business Instagram account all set up and ready to go, it’s time to start using it to elevate your brand.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at how Instagram marketing works, why it’s effective, and walk you through a strategy that can help you start getting new followers and sell more on Instagram.

How Effective Is Instagram For Marketing?

More than a platform for sharing photos and videos with your social circle, Instagram’s visual format makes it a valuable part of any ecommerce strategy.

Whether you’re using organic content, paid ads, or a hybrid strategy, Instagram is a great way to build a visual presence and showcase your offerings.

Even better, as a platform, it generates far more user engagement than Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, over 47% of U.S. social users between the ages of 16 and 34 have purchased products or services on Instagram.

Even without a calculator, it’s easy to recognize that’s millions of people buying things on this one social media platform alone. And you need to claim your share.

That’s all fine and good, you may be saying, but how do I do that?

First, you need to understand how this Meta-owned platform works.

Types Of Instagram Marketing Content

Let’s start by looking at the different types of marketing content you can use.

There are four main types you may choose to employ, either individually or in conjunction with one another: organic marketing, paid content, influencer marketing, and shopping.

Organic Content

There are several different types of organic content you can use on Instagram: photos or static images, videos, Stories, and Reels.

The first one is easily understood, but what’s the difference between videos, Stories, and Reels?

Aren’t they all video content? Yes, they are, but they’re all used in different ways.

Videos are shared on your profile and show up in the feeds of people who follow you. These can be up to 60 minutes long for some accounts.

Instagram Stories are short clips also shown on your profile. They appear in the feeds of your followers as small circles at the top. These clips, which disappear after 24 hours, can be up to 60 seconds long.

Instagram Reels, on the other hand, is Meta’s answer to TikTok. Used on both Facebook and Instagram, these are videos of up to 90 seconds that can be easily enhanced with music, text, and visual effects.

In addition, you can opt to go live with the aptly named Instagram Live. For marketing, this lets you personally connect with your audience, showcase your personality, and answer questions from followers.

Paid Content

You can also pay to have your content placed in front of Instagram users on their feeds, in their Stories, or under the Explore tab.

Paid content is similar to normal posts, with one exception: it has a “sponsored” label. It can also have features like buttons, links, and catalogs, which are not available in regular content.

There are a number of formats you can choose from, including images, videos, Reels, Collections, and Explore, which allows you to use the best type for your specific goals.

You can boost normal posts to expose them to a targeted audience, for a specific duration, as well as create and run full campaigns.

Like most paid digital ads, the pricing on these paid ads is variable depending on targeting, competition, and scheduling.

Influencer Marketing

Social media has given rise to a new type of celebrity: those who are famous for being famous. In other words, influencers.

With loyal followings in the thousands or even millions, these individuals provide a huge opportunity for businesses that are looking for a way to authentically market their products or services.

Known as paid posts, influencer marketing usually involves some sort of compensation from the brand to the influencer, in return for a feature on their profile, posts, Story, or Reels.

Instagram Shop

Instagram allows you to integrate your product catalog with your profile, allowing you to directly sell to customers via your posts, Reels, etc.

The Shop tab can be found at the top of your profile, underneath bio information, which upon being clicked, will direct visitors to your shop on the platform.

You can also tag your Shop products in posts in the same way you would tag another user.

How To Build An Instagram Marketing Strategy

As a marketer, you know the futility of trying to attract an audience without a strategy.

To get the most from your Instagram marketing, you need to have a well-thought-out plan.

Build your strategy using the following steps:

1. Determine Your Goals

What are you hoping to achieve on this platform? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Are you looking to make sales? Maybe you want to showcase your product line? Or show off user-generated content (UGC)?

There’s no wrong answer and you can have multiple goals, but what you’re trying to achieve will change how you measure your performance.

2. Identify Your Audience

Instagram allows demographic targeting, so you can be very precise about who you want to target. Keep things like age, gender, location, income, and interests in mind when deciding who to target.

If you’re not entirely sure who you should be targeting, see who is engaging with popular posts and hashtags related to your field.

Then, take a look at their profiles to gain some insight into their demographics and the things they’re interested in.

3. Check Out the Competition

Your competition can be one of your best sources of information about what does and doesn’t work on Instagram.

Perform a thorough competitive analysis that includes:

  • Identifying top and secondary competitors.
  • Collecting information about their followers and the types of posts they’re making.
  • Analyzing their activity to determine which kind of posts are getting the most engagement.

4. Create A Content Calendar

By this point, you should have a pretty good idea about what kind of Instagram content you want to make. And that means it’s time to develop an implementation strategy.

Build your editorial calendar using as much detail as possible.

It will save you a lot of time down the road if you clearly outline the date and time you want to release content, the type of post (static images, Reels, Live, etc.), the hashtags you’ll use, and the captions that will accompany them.

Experiment to find the best times for you to post on Instagram.

This is also a good place to record important holidays and events in your industry, or highlight sales or new product releases.

5. Make Your Content

Okay, you’ve set your goals, identified your audience, examined your competition’s Instagram strategy, and created a thorough content strategy.

There’s only one thing left to do before you start posting: Make the content.

Remember that everything you post on Instagram, or any social media site, is a reflection of your business. As such, you need to make sure it’s fully in line with your brand’s personality.

Be sure to consider color schemes, the type of language you’re using, and your audience’s specific needs.

Make sure every post has a goal that it’s trying to achieve and include calls to action (CTAs) wherever possible.

Types Of Instagram Posts

Not sure what kind of posts you should be making?

The beauty of Instagram is that it allows you to be as creative as you like.

To inspire you, here are some of the more common things posted by businesses:

  • Images and videos of products and services.
  • Trending topics (a.k.a. newsjacking) to help build brand relevancy.
  • User-generated content (reposts, reviews, etc.).
  • Behind-the-scenes shots sharing things the public normally wouldn’t see.
  • Inspirational posts to boost brand reputation and engagement.
  • Educational information (recipes, how-tos, etc.).
  • Contests to generate excitement, shares, and data.

Instagram Marketing Best Practices

Hopefully, you now have at least a basic understanding of how you can use Instagram marketing to promote your brand.

Offering incredible flexibility, this social media platform lets you experiment with new approaches and ideas to find what works for your specific situation.

That said, here are some best practices you can employ to maximize your impact:

  • Optimize your profile – Find a great image for your profile picture, take some time writing your bio, and be sure to include a CTA.
  • Tell visual stories – People love a narrative, even in a single post. Make sure your content is captivating and tells your brand’s story.
  • Post when your audience is active – This may take some experimentation, but there is generally a best time to post for every field.
  • Use the right hashtags – Your posts should always include relevant hashtags to make them more discoverable. Use niche or industry hashtags instead of generic ones when possible.
  • Engage with your followers – Don’t be stingy with comment likes, and look for opportunities to respond to your followers.
  • Stick to your schedule – Like any other marketing campaign, your Instagram campaign should have a consistent flow. Spur-of-the-moment posts can be fun, but they should be the exception in your strategy.

Make Instagram Work For You

Instagram is a great platform for building rapport with your targets, educating customers about your brand, and expanding your audience.

And because it provides clear metrics, you can quickly get a feel for what is and isn’t working.

What works for one company is not guaranteed to work for another, especially as Instagram continues to evolve. But that’s the beauty of it.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Just make sure you’re always keeping your targets and goals in mind and you’ll be an Instagram superstar in no time.

More resources:

Featured Image: Cristian Dina/Shutterstock

Brian Frederick

An expert in all things digital marketing-related, Brian has been writing about SEO, social media, integrated campaigns and PPC for ...

Instagram Marketing: An In-Depth Guide

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