At this point, you should know that Instagram is one of the biggest and most important social media platforms for any online businesses. Right now, Instagram has over 1 billion active users. This is a gigantic audience, and it’s one that is constantly growing. Through 8 key lessons, let’s look at Instagram Marketing Secrets to help you figure out how to master Instagram and how it works; Instagram tips and strategies.
One of the biggest reasons that many marketers overlook the importance of Instagram is that they assume it is less flexible due to its purely visual nature. How can you sell something with just a picture?
Instagram’s visual nature is in fact what makes it so valuable. Because of how visual it is, Instagram allows creators to minimize the amount of time and work that they put into projects.
It takes only a matter of minutes in some cases to snap a great photo – a few more if you’re going to edit it – as opposed to the much larger amount of time it takes to compose a blog post or longer video content. You can easily take large batches of photographs and then upload them on a schedule, or even use stock images and just add an inspiring quote, tips or other content on top to make it yours.
The point is that the amount of time and effort you invest in your account is relatively low, considering the amount of value you will get out of it. It has a great return on investment.
There are other unique advantages to choosing Instagram over another platform too that we will get into in a moment. It is enough to say that choosing Instagram over other options will give you a platform that can build a HUGE amount of engagement and turn your followers into real fans who are willing to buy the items you recommend and become customers for life.
Introduction to Instagram Tips
Instagram is a tool that will allow you to build brand awareness and brand loyalty in a manner that other channels just can’t match.
Instagram should be considered an absolute focus for any marketing strategy, and it becomes even more powerful when you combine it with a general marketing plan that incorporates other platforms and forms of media.
In short, Instagram might just be the missing piece of the puzzle for your online marketing strategy. If you have already conquered Facebook, consider adding Instagram as the next focus of your strategy. Many companies that have struggled to successfully market on other platforms have even found Instagram as the place where they have runaway success, and many factors make this likely.
With these 8 key lessons and Instagram tips, you will learn how to do all of that and how to absolutely maximize the potential of Instagram as a marketing tool. You will learn:
- The unique advantages of choosing Instagram in your marketing strategies
- How to set up an Instagram account
- How to create a business account
- How to create consistent, high-quality content that will build loyal followers
- How to use tags, timing, and other strategies to accelerate your growth
- How to create a strong brand and mission statements for your accounts and your business
- How to use tools and advanced features to grow your Instagram
- How to take amazing photos
- How to run an Instagram account with no photography necessary
- Monetisation for your account
- How to use video, Instagram Live, Stories and more
- Advertising on Instagram
- And must more!
If you’re looking for a way to gain more visitors, build more engagement, and increase your profit, then Instagram is the answer.
Instagram Tips Lesson 1: The Value of Instagram
What makes Instagram tick? Why are people drawn to Instagram? What are its unique selling points? By understanding this, you will better be able to thrive on the platform and reach the fullest potential for your audience.
Knowing the Instagram Audience
Instagram’s visual nature is one of its biggest advantages, and this also changes the game for creators. That’s because it will force them to think differently, and to change their approach. This also affects what kind of audience will be most engaged with your type of content and your products.
For example, did you know that 80% of Instagram’s audience is based outside of the US? This makes it a fantastic choice for any business that is looking to increase its scope, or for businesses commonly selling outside of the US.
At the same time, Instagram has an audience that includes more females and a younger demographic than many of the other platforms. It is thought of as being more ‘trendy’ than the likes of Facebook, which has become overrun by Mums and Grandmas at this point.
Knowing Your Niche and Value Proposition
It should come as no big surprise to learn the top niches on Instagram:
- Health and fitness
- Business/Making Money Online
These niches are all – with the possible exception of making money online – particularly visual. You can create eye-catching imagery with these niches.
But there is something else that all these concepts have in common, and that also helps to explain the popularity of the cultures we’ve seen emerge on the platform: they all have a very clear value proposition, or to put this another way, they all very clearly sell a dream.
While it’s easy to point a finger at Instagram and blame it for a more shallow generation, obsessed with food, good looks, abs, and fake Rolexes, the truth is that this is simply a reflection of what most of us want.
And this is the crux of all business.
The saying goes that you don’t sell hats, you sell warm heads. What that means, is that no one buys a product for its physical properties. You don’t buy a computer for its weight in plastic and silicon. But likewise, you don’t buy a computer for its processing power and performance. Not really.
The real reason you might spend so much on a computer, and the reason that Apple has enjoyed such phenomenal success, is that you are interested in what that computer can do for you – how it can affect your life.
A powerful computer is a status symbol that you can show off to friends. A great laptop is something you can feel cool about when you bring it to Starbucks (especially if you snap a shot and share it to Instagram).
Likewise, a computer lets you create art or be productive: hopefully leading to more money and more respect.
The most successful products understand this. They are marketed in an aspirational way. They promise their buyers that the product will help them to feel more successful, wealthier, happier, sexier…
And this is what Instagram is so perfectly suited to do. You can say with a picture what would take a thousand words. If you are trying to build an audience interested in fitness, nothing is going to engage them and mobilize them as well as a picture of someone in the gym with incredible abs, looking focused and determined.
This inspires people. It makes them think: “If I buy that t-shirt/supplement/training program, then I could look and feel like that too.”
People like looking at these things because it makes them feel excited about the future and encourages them to hit the gym. That’s why they subscribe and follow. And then they buy it because they are so motivated by the emotions that have been stirred up.
This is what we’re going to try and accomplish with your Instagram account: getting people excited for the value you offer. Helping them to feel inspired, and ultimately motivated into making a purchase.
Identify your niche, and then ask how you can communicate your value proposition in a manner that will appeal to your target demographic within the larger audience of Instagram.
Instagram Tips Lesson 2: Getting Set-Up and Creating a Plan
So that’s the big picture, now let’s focus in on the details. It’s time to actually build your Instagram account. Let’s check out these Instagram tips to help you with your profile.
How to Set Up a Profile
First things first: decide if you want a personal account or a business account. If you are just using Instagram for personal use, to show your life or interests with your friends and family, then you can go with a personal account.
But, a business account will make the most sense in the vast number of cases – and even if you create a personal brand, you will likely want to switch to a business account at some point down the line. That’s because it will give you more access to analytics and different features that will help you to grow your account.
All of that said you can change a personal account into a business account at any time. So if you are on the fence for any reason, then starting with a personal account might make more sense.
There’s very little difference in terms of what the user sees between a business account and personal account, so for the remainder of this section, the assumption will be that you’re starting or maintaining a business account.
Getting set up is extremely easy.
When deciding on the name of your Instagram account, keep in mind that this is one of the only searchable assets you have on your account. When people are still not familiar with you, they will be unlikely to type in your name in the search. However, they might type their problem or the niche they are looking for. So if you want to be able to reach your target audience organically, then consider putting your niche, your title or your target audience.
For example, if your name is Mary and you are a fitness coach for millennials, consider putting “Mary | Fitness coach for millennials” as your name. So when your target audience types “fitness coach” in search, they will be more likely to find you.
The username @yourusername is another asset you have, which your target audience might search for, and what they will use to tag you using.
For the sake of consistency, it’s a very good idea to choose a username that matches your branding across your other platforms. The aim is to try and make sure your brand is everywhere. So someone can enjoy your content on Facebook under one name, then visit your Facebook page under the same name, and then see you on their Instagram feed under the same name. This looks more professional, it avoids confusion, and it helps more people to find your content when they are looking for it.
From here, you’ll also be able to add your bio and your profile image. In both cases, the objective is to ensure that people know from a glance exactly what you’re all about. You can include a link to your website here too. The profile picture should be representative of the kinds of images you’ll be posting, a headshot of you, or the logo of your business.
Switching to a Business Account
At any time, you can switch to a business account. To do so, hit the settings button in the top-right while you are on your own profile page. Now choose ‘Account’ and then ‘Switch to Business Account’. Here, you will be given the scoop on what this means for your profile. Basically, you’ll be able to get stats and metrics from your users, as well as using the promoted posts option.
You’ll be given the opportunity to pick a category for your business and to choose your business name and number. You can also connect to a Facebook page and other plugins for people to be able to reach you.
Instagram Tips Lesson 3: Building Your Instagram Page
Now you have an account it’s time to start growing it. You’ll begin with your very first post, and from there the most important thing is consistency. If you go two weeks without posting a single thing to your Instagram, then any momentum you build up will get lost. You’ll find that your posts don’t show so highly and that you might lose the followers you had previously gained.
How often you post is going to depend on your goals, the nature of your content, and more. But the basic rule for this is to post pretty frequently. The ideal is to show up on Instagram stories every day. You should consider the absolute minimum to be five times a week, but you should definitely aim to go higher.
In short, posting more frequently means creating more opportunities for new followers to discover your page. Not only that, but it means that your existing followers will feel more engaged with your brand as they keep seeing it come up and keep getting reminded that you exist. Engagement is absolutely critical to success when it comes to online marketing.
Choosing What You Want to Be
That is not all we mean by consistency though. It is just as important to be consistent in what you upload. What kinds of videos and images? What is the theme? How will you make them look?
Aim to have a consistent look AND a consistent tone.
One piece of advice that is shared often is to try and make your images look as consistent as possible on your page. That means that you should have a particular style, particular colours, and fonts that you stick with.
Take a look at the feed of a particular photographer that you like or a fitness brand. What you’ll notice is that all their pictures use a similar filter, that they are composed similarly, and that they’re on the same topic.
Sticking to just one topic is essential. This is why it is important to have a business account that is separate from your personal account. If you don’t, then people who follow you for your fitness pictures/motivational quotes/business advice will quickly get fed up of seeing photos of you in the pub or photos of your dog. That will turn people away and lead to people unfollowing.
This is somewhat acceptable for a personal brand. If you have a very successful blog or YouTube channel and people are interested in you personally, then occasionally showing a little bit of your lifestyle and personality won’t hurt. On the whole, though, you should absolutely aim to post predominantly on the precise topic you have chosen.
Think about your target audience and the demographic you will ultimately be selling to. What are they interested in and what will they respond well to?
And think about what you are passionate about. There are lots of angles you can choose for most niches, so pick the one that speaks to you AND your audience. Then stick with it.
Instagram Tips Lesson 4: Growing Your Audience – Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks
At this point, you should now have a business account that you are posting high-quality pictures on a consistent basis. Simply doing this will not guarantee success though, because as at this point we still aren’t really providing an audience with any way to find our page!
There are a few different tricks that can help you to ensure that your Instagram account isn’t just a great one, but one that grows organically. We’ll talk more about promotions shortly, but for now, these are some easy things that you can do regularly to ensure you see consistent growth.
Instagram marketing is a form of content marketing. For those that don’t know, that means that it’s all about bringing more people to your page by providing them with value. Typically we think of content marketing in relation to posting to a blog, but, it simply means providing some kind of value via content in order to encourage people to listen to you and to keep coming back. Usually, that content is going to be advice, entertainment and news.
In the case of Instagram marketing, things get a little different. That’s because the main value you provide is particularly abstract: it’s ‘inspiration’. How can you quantify inspiration?
Keep in mind that this isn’t the only form of value you can provide through Instagram. Just as important is how you provide entertainment and information, which you can do with your visual content and your written content.
The word limit for Instagram is huge: up to 2,200 characters! That means you can get away with writing a short essay or story. The image here is the hook, and the text then provides information and entertainment, along with context for the image that provides even more value.
A great example of an account that does this is @LondonHistorian. As the name suggests, this is a British account that posts historical content about London. A follower or user might see a picture of London that catches their eye because they like history, architecture, England and London. But they will then learn something by reading the description, which will make them feel as though they got something from the interaction.
Keep in mind too, that a lot of growth on Instagram is the result of word of mouth.
To provide tips, information, stories, and more and you will offer more value from your posts. You don’t need to write an essay every time, but try to provide value through your messages, so people will likely stick around to engage, and that will likely make the Instagram algorithm happy.
Make sure to always have a CTA (Call to action). Ask people to share, comment, save or follow. It costs nothing and if it leads to a few more actions, then it’s more than worth it! Engagement is very important in the Instagram Algorithm’s eyes, so make sure to always encourage your audience to take actions.
Mention and Tags
Consider mentioning businesses and users in your descriptions and tagging the relevant accounts in your posts. You can do this as simply as using the @ symbol in your post and typing the name out. If you trained at a particular gym, then mention the Instagram account of that gym. If you are recommending a certain brand, then mention that business too. This will potentially lead to a re-post or a shout-out, either of which can be hugely beneficial! It also has the benefit of creating a relationship between you and that brand in the eyes of your followers and visitors.
The best advice is only to do this if you have a good reason. If you actually have a photo with that person, then make sure you tag them in it. But otherwise, don’t just go and tag a bunch of accounts in your posts randomly. This will likely put them off.
Instagram Hashtags Strategy
So we’re halfway through the guide and we’ve just gotten to hashtags! That’s because it’s crucial to lay the groundwork, but as you can imagine – hashtags are also a HUGE part of what will lead to your success.
Hashtags are basically search terms. By using a hashtag, you can help more people to find your content, and quickly define what your page is all about.
Hashtags help people find your posts through search, but also by looking at the suggested posts provided by Instagram. Instagram will base these on hashtags that are relevant to the user, as well as the feedback from other similar users.
Here are some useful tips on what you need to know when it comes to using hashtags on Instagram:
Use a lot of hashtags
You are allowed up to 30 hashtags and each one of those could bring new visitors searching for what you have to offer. Think about it this way: each one of your hashtags is like entering into a lottery. Why would you only enter once if you could enter thirty times for free? People have different opinions about how many hashtags to use per post, but ideally, you can aim for anywhere between 25-28 hashtags.
Choose a balance of hashtags
The best hashtag will be one that is somewhat popular but not overwhelmingly so. Post an image with the hashtag #babygirl and you’ll be going up against 50 million other posts! That means that your post isn’t going to stick around in the search results long at all, and will soon be drowned by the volume of new posts using that hashtag. On the other hand, a hashtag with 10 posts likely isn’t getting searched much. Something with 80,000 or so searches will hit that sweet spot of being popular, but also specific.
Note that you can see these numbers as soon as you start typing out the hashtags when posting your post. Instagram will suggest relevant terms and show you the volume of posts for each one.
Use a range of hashtags
As well as having balanced popularity for your hashtags, you should also think about using a variety of tags. Including a few massively popular hashtags won’t hurt and there’s always the odd chance one will go virtual. But by including some smaller ones as well. An example of an Instagram hashtag strategy is to include:
- 5 large hashtags with over 500,000 posts
- 10 medium hashtags with 100,000-500,000 posts
- 10 small hashtags with 50,000-100,000 posts
- 5 niche hashtags with under 50,000 posts
Be trendy with your hashtags
Think about trending topics and the most trendy subjects within your niche. You can look at the trends using Google Trends. For example, fitness is popular all the time, but ‘functional fitness’ and ‘mobility’ are topics that are currently hot in this field. Likewise, food is always a hit, but ‘avocado’ is winning. There are also common hashtags used within any niche that you can ‘borrow’ for your own purposes. Of course, if you can use a trending hashtag that is linked to certain campaigns.
Be consistent with your hashtags
Consistent use of the same hashtags is a good strategy for communicating what your brand is about to Instagram’s algorithms.
Don’t use hashtags in your bio
This won’t make your bio searchable through those hashtags. In fact, adding hashtags in your bio could lead to people clicking and leaving your profile. If you have your own branded hashtags, you can add them here, but otherwise, avoid using hashtags in your bio.
As well as using hashtags you should also make sure to use geotags. These tag the location of your posts, and that can help a lot of people to find your content. To do this, just choose your photo and click ‘Add Location’. If lots of people attend an event then they might look to see other photos from that event and this creates another new stream of visitors for you.
Medium and Presentation
You may think that Instagram is all about the pictures rather than the videos, but in fact, video posts will receive more engagement than images! So you know what you need to do: get your camera out and film!
Keep in mind that your videos will need to be short since you can only post up to one minute for posts and up to 10 minutes for non-verified accounts and that you should always choose a good thumbnail from the video that will help to communicate instantly what it’s all about and get people excited to check it out.
Other specific formats also work really well. We’ll get to memes and similar options later in this guide, but one good example is Boomerang – which creates a short ‘bouncing’ video that lasts just a couple of seconds. You can download Boomerang as a seperate app, or use it directly on your Instagram.
If you’re going for arty, then you could consider using a pictogram – a still image with just one element moving.
For images, also consider using a collage. You can make these using Instagram’s own tool (Layout From Instagram) or a third-party solution such as Pixlr.
Finally, keep in mind that when it comes to images, taller tends to work better. That’s because the feed is vertical and by using a taller image, you actually take up a larger proportion of the screen so your posts stay on the screen for longer. This also increases the chances of your audience clicking through to see what else you have to offer!
The time you post your images can have a surprisingly big impact on their success. There is no one-size-fits-all rule to when you should post on Instagram. Rather than giving you a standard time to post, I suggest you check out your own analytics. You can do that by going to “insights” then “audiences”. Post when your audience is online and engaging.
If you are just starting and don’t know exactly when to post, then try testing, and post your content when your audience is not working or sleeping in their local timezones.
Remember: Instagram is a social media account. That means that it is a form of communication, and it works best when you remember that. Follow accounts, like them, comment on their posts with valuable comments, and be sure to answer any messages or comments you receive. Engagement is very important in helping you grow your social media accounts.
Instagram Tips Lesson 5: Create Engaging content
Try as hard as you can and beat the system by approaching Instagram marketing smartly and logically, but at the end of the day, there is simply no way to succeed without being able to create and share images and videos that people want to see… So how do you go about doing that?
Taking and Editing Better Photos
We’ve already talked about the importance of selling the value proposition with your content, where you promote the ‘dream’ that will mobilize your troops to follow and engage. I won’t go into that in-depth here other than to say that you should consider trying to tell a story with your photos. Don’t just take a photo of your product or service, show it just after it has been used. Show it in action. Show it in a context that raises questions.
Think about the Mona Lisa, people like it because there’s a story behind it: the smile. Try and get your audience engaging with your images through their thought processes and they will be more effective as a result.
Related to this concept is trying to create more dynamic compositions. Placing objects and subjects flat in the middle of a frame can look boring and flat. Instead, get them to look off into the distance at an angle, or use an upshot to make them look bigger and more dramatic. Think as well about creating depth: is there something of interest in the foreground, middle ground, and background? Where is the central focus point, and how does the rest of the image lead the eye there?
Can you add other objects to help to provide a sense of scale? What is in the background, and what does it tell people about the story?
All these things have an impact on whether you are taking a photo of a pet dog, a computer, or an incredible view from top of a mountain.
Lighting is extremely important too. The best lighting should ensure your subject is well lit, but also provide a little extra dynamism by creating shadows and highlights. For people, ‘Rembrandt Lighting’ means taking photos where light is coming from an angle from one side. This helps to create a more flattering profile.
Don’t shoot directly into the light, and don’t let your photos be over or under exposed.
This is where it can be useful to learn just a little about the basics of photography and the exposure triangle. You don’t need to be an expert, but knowing your shutter speed will help you to create dramatic bokeh effects (a wide aperture and shallow depth of field will let you focus on an item in the foreground with the background blurred out nicely), to capture things moving quickly without too much blur (using a faster shutter speed), and to avoid a picture looking too dark when you shrink the aperture for landscape photography (which means tweaking the ISO and making the sensor more sensitive to light).
A camera’s ‘Auto Mode’ will do most this for you, but as you advance, learning these basics will help a great deal. So will experimenting with your camera.
Owning a good camera is, of course, a smart move. This doesn’t need to be extremely expensive, but if you can find a high-quality DSLR, then it will serve you well. That said, the quality of phone cameras has increased so much to the point that you can take some truly incredible photos that are perfect for Instagram just on your smartphone.
As you develop, you may wish to invest in other tools as well: such as RGB lighting sticks (which can create some amazing effects), a white balance card, lightboxes, backdrops (particularly for product shoots) etc. You can also get affordable phone accessories to take amazing photos quickly.
Shooting Great Video
For the most part, all the same things apply when creating the best videos. Video cameras likewise have options like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. At the same time, you’ll need to keep your subject focussed in the shot as they move around, try to minimize shakes by using optical or digital stabilisers.
I love the DGI stabiliser. It is a great investment to help you start shooing stable video footage by simply attaching your phone. Although I haven’t played around with it much, you can also use different effects and functions that come with the device.
Sound and lighting can also help to make your content more compelling.
Once more though, a great video is more about the composition, the lighting and the storytelling. Even more so than with photos, this is about what you film rather than how you film it. Editing will play a big role here though but don’t get too caught up in it.
Smart Use of Filters
Filters are one of the key features of Instagram that set it apart from other platforms and that helped it to grow in popularity in the first place. These are effects that can be applied to photos or videos and quickly make them appear more artistic.
The key to successfully using filters, is not to go overboard. If you tap one of the filters and then hit it again, you can then tone it down slightly by dragging to the left. This is generally better as it means the photo won’t look artificial, but can still benefit from a little extra style and punch.
Keep in mind that it is commonly advised that profiles should aim to create content with a consistent look and that translates to over 60% of businesses using just a single filter consistently across all photos. This not only results in a more impactful profile page when viewed as a whole, but also ensures that followers know precisely what to expect.
You can also use apps such as VSCO, Snapseed and Abode Lightroom to help edit your content. You can get these apps on your phone and even get presets to make sure your content always looks aligned.
How to Succeed on Instagram Without Taking a Single Photo or Video
At this point, some marketers might be feeling stressed.
If you are someone that likes showing up in front of the camera or taking photographs and videos, then you might consider yourself perfectly suited to creating content for your Instagram account. You can take your camera out with you, grab some shots, and be done with it.
But what if you aren’t so confident in your looks? Or if you aren’t confident with your camera? In those cases, there are still ways you can generate content for your account. Here are some examples:
Share Graphic content
You might have seen more and more graphic content online these days. These are content where people share tips, quotes and inspirations through text on images or videos. This kind of content is great especially now since Instagram algorithm favours when visitors “save” or “share” the content. By creating informative and inspiring content, people are more likely to share with their friends and save it so they can come back and check them later on.
To create these kinds of content, you can simply use design tools like Canva to create your own graphics. You can always repurpose your blogs or other content and create short snippets of your tips through these graphics.
Use Stock Images and Videos
You can always share stock images and videos on your profile. There are free options like Pexels and Unsplash. You can also head to a site like Envato Elements and you can download unlimited stock photos, video, and music – even Photoshop Plugins for a certain fee a month.
From here, you can then make the photos unique by applying an additional filter layer for example, or by adding text. A common setup is to post images of people standing in exotic locales and then add text on top that is inspiring or thought-provoking. People love motivating content on Instagram!
Share Other Photos
Another option is to repost the content of others. This way, they get a free shout-out and more exposure, and you gain access to a free and steady supply of constant content! If you grow large enough, people will fight to get on your page, using your hashtags!
Photos that you have acquired can be used to create an account as long as you ask permission or check the legality. Make sure to always credit the original content creator. This way, your account becomes a kind of aggregator of the best content within a certain niche.
If you are an artist or designer, then you can share your designs on Instagram. There’s also a thriving market for comics on Instagram.
Instagram Tips Lesson 6: Instagram Live, Stories, and More
We’ve discussed in depth the best ways to go about creating engaging images and videos for your Instagram account. But Instagram has grown a lot since its inception to now include videos, live streaming, and stories. All these things provide new ways for you to interact with your audience and can help you to grow even faster.
We’ll tackle each of these features:
Instagram stories are posts that aren’t shown on the feed, but rather appear at the top of the page next to a profile picture. Stories will then be shown for up to 15 seconds before moving on to the next one. They can’t be saved unless the user uses a screen capture, and they will only last 24 hours before they stop being available. Essentially, this was a response to the success of Snapchat at the time – but has gone on to become successful in its own right.
There are a number of unique advantages to using stories. For one, they allow you to reach a larger audience. Because they aren’t shown in the feed but at the top of the page, the engagement tends to be fairly high.
Another advantage of an Instagram story is that it can include images and videos that are less presentable and might not belong on your main feed. This is the perfect spot to show some of your daily life, without ruining the theme and consistency of your feed.
If you haven’t posted a story in a while and you post one, then your followers will receive a notification. This is another great feature, as it means you can re-engage with followers who haven’t seen any of your content in a while.
Finally, Instagram Stories gives you the option to add an action for swiping up – if you have over 10,000 followers, or if you have a verified Instagram account. That will then take the visitors to a link of your choosing. This, of course, has huge potential for directing traffic to a website or directly monetising your Instagram following.
To post to your Instagram Story, tap the camera in the upper left, tap ‘Your Story’ above the feed, or swipe right from anywhere to access the camera. You can also share a photo from another app and choose to share it to your Instagram Story rather than your feed.
You’ll be able to write on the image, to apply filters and AR elements, and more.
To use Instagram Live, you access the camera as before by swiping right and choose the Live Setting and clicking ‘Start Live Video’.
Anyone using the app at that moment who follows you will then receive a notification to watch, which makes Instagram Live an excellent way to get eyeballs on your channel. Your followers will be able to comment on your video and add reactions, and you can discourse with them real-time.
Live has a ton of unique benefits, allowing you to share exciting moments with your viewers and to engage in a whole different way. It’s also a great way to show your personality and to let your audience feel as if they’re gaining unique insight that they wouldn’t get if they weren’t following you on Instagram – they ultimately will feel as though they know you a little better. Through Q&As you can answer questions about your business or products which is a brilliant way to build trust too.
Make sure to use this relatively sparingly when you have something genuinely interesting to share, live videos (like stories) have a short shelf life on the platform. If you have an interesting announcement, IGTV may be a better outlet.
IGTV is another new option from Instagram that incorporates video. This essentially allows users to record video in a more long-form format, lasting 15 seconds to 10 minutes. Verified accounts can run much longer – up to hours in some cases.
The videos are all vertical in orientation and will be viewable using the Instagram app or IGTV app. While this is a relatively untested and young marketing tool, it has the potential to grow – and the lack of competition there right now makes it a great way to gain a foothold early on.
Instagram Reels is the latest addition to the Instagram family. Similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels are short 15-seconds vertical videos. They are usually entertaining and fun to watch. It can be recorded in a series of clips, all at once or one at a time, or using video uploads from your gallery. Although Instagram Reels is still very new, many business owners have started using it to feature their products and services.
You can do so by appearing on screen and showing off small messages, providing value to your audience. If you don’t want to show up on screen, you can also use footage of your products, services or even stock videos.
Promotions on Instagram are another form of advertising and will allow you to reach a larger audience to try and convert that audience into sales.
Promotions will appear very similar to organic posts but are different in a couple of unique ways. For one, they will have the word ‘Sponsored’ beneath your username, which will tell people that the image is paid. They also can include a call to action button, which means you can direct your visitors straight to a checkout or sales page. Of course, these posts will also be given some additional ‘oomph’ to help them reach a wider audience than a regular post.
To create a promoted post, you’ll need a business account. You can then click on ‘Create Promotion’ which will take you to a page where you can select one of your previous posts – one of these will ‘become’ your promoted post. Choose a post and click the right arrow at the top of the screen. You can now choose a target audience and pay for your ad to remain promoted for a set period of time. This is a very simple way to market to a wider audience in just a few taps.
While you can use the new promoted posts option to quickly get the word out about your business, another option is to go through the Facebook ads manager. This will let you create an ad that will target an extremely specific audience with a number of controls.
Simply create an ad as you normally would on Facebook, and then just choose Instagram as the location for it to be shown.
As with many other forms of marketing on the web, Instagram ads are charged on a CPC (Cost Per Click) and CPM (Cost Per Impressions) basis. You can set your max spend per click and in total, and you will then be entered into a ‘bidding war’ with other advertisers any time an appropriate slot becomes free. You can choose an even more precise target audience for a Facebook ad this way and get a lot of useful data and information back.
This is a more drawn-out process, but it gives you more control – so whatever you decide, there are pros and cons.
It’s also worth noting that Instagram ads typically cost a lot more than Facebook ads (as much as $3 per click!) but also have much higher engagement. Keep in mind that if no one clicks the ad, then you’ll be gaining exposure for your brand and not paying a cent.
Another Way to Promote
While you can pay Instagram to promote your products and your page, another option is to pay other creators. Contact Instagram influencers and ask them to post a sponsored image with a shout-out, or even an Instagram story.
This can be an expensive strategy: reportedly the going rate for these kinds of posts is $1,000 for every 100,000 followers. That said, by choosing the right influencer, you have the potential to not only reach a gigantic audience but also to gain a large amount of good will. If someone hangs off of every word their favourite content creator says, and that creator then says how much they love your products or your brand, then this can be huge for your business.
Better yet, why not approach a smaller creator and agree to work together? Collaborate on a post or do an ‘ad swap’ (it’s like it sounds) and you can each get a boost to your audience for free!
Instagram Tips Chapter 7: Integrating Instagram With Your Larger Marketing Strategy
The key to success when it comes to Instagram marketing and indeed any social media campaign is integration. That means that you need to think about how all the different facets of your business are going to work together. In turn, that means thinking about your blog or website, Facebook account, Twitter, and more.
Because on its own, Instagram doesn’t typically make much money. We’ll see some ways it can in a moment, but for the most part, building an audience alone is not enough to run a business.
The true measure of success when it comes to your Instagram account is how many people you can direct from Instagram to purchase your offer. This requires you to have an engaged audience filled with people who actually like your brand and want to buy your products or services.
You will at least need a website and ideally a checkout in order to sell your products if you’re going to capitalize on the traction you build via Instagram. You should make sure this uses a consistent branding with the same name and logo as your social accounts. This way, you’ll also be able to engage with the same audience between channels and ensure that you are on their radar. The worst thing you can do is to be forgotten for months at a time. Remember: the aim of social media marketing is to be everywhere.
You can also use your website to promote your Instagram, thereby cross-promoting the two. One great way to do this is by installing a widget on your website which will show your Instagram feed in the sidebar on every page. This way, people who enjoy reading your website regularly will be prompted to check out your Instagram and will be able to see precisely the kind of thing you post there.
Linking your social accounts is a good idea too. You can do this automatically with Facebook, seeing as Facebook actually owns Instagram. But you can also automatically post your Instagram posts to Twitter and other platforms using tools like IFTTT (If This Then That). This allows you to create relationships so that posting with a certain hashtag, for example, will automatically post your Instagram images and text to other accounts.
Again, this cross-pollination means that anyone who adds you on one account is more likely to see you on others – therefore they will be more likely to follow you in multiple places and increase their engagement over time. This also maximizes your output on each platform while minimizing the amount of content you need to create.
You can also try sharing short snippets from YouTube videos on your Instagram if you have an account! Be sure to use those opportunities to plug your YouTube channel and vice versa.
Instagram Tips Chapter 8: Monetisation
The last piece of the puzzle is to monetise Instagram directly. As mentioned in the last chapter, the true barometer of success on Instagram is profit. While that might sound a little cynical, this is the truest indicator of real engagement, reach, AND persuasion.
And after all, if you are investing time and money into your Instagram marketing, then it is only right that you get something back. Here’s how.
Shopping on Instagram
Shopping on Instagram is a tool that will allow you to tag items in your post with a price that will then link directly to your store. If a user clicks on that tag, then they’ll be taken to a listing page where they can learn more or follow another link to go ahead and buy. This is a relatively new feature and it is game-changing for Instagram marketers. They no longer need to awkwardly direct buyers to their bio or get them to copy and paste URLs into their address bar. One of the limitations for Instagram is the inability to use live links in stories.
The rub is that your business will need to be approved, and not all regions are viable (the US is good to go though!). To get started, you’ll need an Instagram Business Account, you’ll need to connect your Facebook Page with a Shop and Facebook Catalog. These can be created using the Facebook manager, or via Shopify or Big Commerce. Your Instagram account also needs to be primarily a business that sells goods in order to qualify – so lifestyle bloggers aren’t quite catered to just yet.
For those not able to set up shopping yet – or who aren’t selling physical goods – the other way to monetise your account or to direct your traffic is to place a link in your bio using a URL shortener as described in an earlier chapter.
Some creators will place links for their products in their bios and constantly update these. Each new post then promotes a specific item with the words ‘Link in the Bio’ in the text. Alternatively, this could link to an online catalogue which means you won’t need to constantly update your link.
Another option is to sell a service this way. This works extremely well for counsellors, coaches, personal trainers, website designers and more. Show your ethos and your expertise in your posts and then let visitors follow the link in your description to get buying!
As mentioned, you can also use an Instagram story to link someone directly to a website, article, or product – as long as you have 10,000 subscribers or a verified account. This is another easy way to generate direct traffic for a product, though it does of course have its limitations.
Finally, you can also make money from Instagram by promoting sponsored goods. As mentioned, the going rate for this is $1,000 per 10,000 followers, meaning this has the potential to be extremely profitable.
For some, this is the business model. There’s no need to create an additional website or to sell a product – the aim is to become a successful Instagram celebrity and then to make money by wearing nice clothes and getting paid to wear them. It’s a dream for many, but it takes a long time and a lot of savvy marketing to accomplish – hopefully, I have given you all the tools you need!
For the rest of us, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of sponsored posts. While this is a useful additional source of revenue, it also potentially means stabilizing your own sales with competing services and products. What’s more, is that it could harm the trust you’ve built in your audience if they think you have ‘sold out’.
So there you have all the Instagram tips, everything you need to know to get started with Instagram marketing! There’s so much to unpack here that in all likelihood, you’ll probably need to do some more reading and experimenting before you find a set-up that works for you.
There are countless tools you can use to generate more clicks. There’s lots more to unpack when it comes to ads and promoted posts.
But the most important thing is your value proposition and your brand. You need to be consistent with high-quality images that speak to your audience and that make them feel something. Aspirational, inspirational, motivational, or moving content will speak for itself. If you can get your audience to feel something with each picture – they’ll start to follow you.
It’s about what your images say then, more so than how they look. You don’t really need the best quality camera in the world, or even paid ads. You just need a message and a strong brand identity. Couple that with consistency and patience and the momentum will come with time.
From there, if you are consistently impressing with your imagery and inspiring those followers, it will be relatively simple to grow further, to convert your audience into paying customers or to monetise your page directly.
And the best part? It’s actually a very rewarding and fun process! Take your phone out and start exploring Instagram!