11 Best Practices for Instagram Marketing
Users can post photos and videos on the platform, and their followers can like and comment on those posts. They can also share them privately with other users.
Instagram is a unique platform because it focuses on visual content. This means that to use it effectively, you have to get creative with your photos and videos. And because the entirety of the Instagram news feed is photos and videos, you need to make sure your content stands out to users.
So, how can you make the most of your Instagram presence?
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1. Make your posts interesting
Your brand’s Instagram account shouldn’t be filled with photos that are obviously advertisements. Your photos need to be interesting enough that users enjoy looking at them, which requires a more creative approach than a traditional advertisement.
You want to build brand recognition, but you can do that with content that is genuinely interesting to look at.
FedEx is a great example of a successful Instagram account. Their approach is simple: They post user-submitted photos with FedEx planes or trucks in the photos. The focus of the photos often isn’t the vehicles themselves, but the area around it.
People will take photos of FedEx trucks and planes in various locations. The photos include the company’s brand, but are visually appealing in a way that can catch users’ attention.
While you don’t need to take FedEx’s exact approach, you’ll want to be just as creative. Their approach made it easy for them to integrate their brand into their photos, without making it the only focal piece in the photo.
You can check out well known companies that are similar to your own and have a similar target market. Look at their Instagram pages and see what kind of content they post. This can help give you an idea of what your target market likes.
2. Mix it up
It is important that you don’t keep posting the same content. You want to keep your followers interested in your posts and if you’re constantly posting the same kind of photos, they’ll scroll right past your content in their feed.
It’s a good idea to post both photos and videos. This will give you a nice flow of content that isn’t always in the same format.
When you post pictures or videos, you can maintain a distinct style, but be different from one another in content.
Many companies use people and animals in their photos to grab people’s interest. You can mix up your posts by using a variety of these on your account. You can also post holiday and sale related posts that will get people interested in your posts.
Variety keeps people interested and makes them more likely to remain followers.
3. Encourage followers to engage
You don’t post photos simply to share them — so you need to take time to think about how your posts engage users. One of the most important elements of creating engaging posts is an interesting caption.
Your captions shouldn’t be thrown together at the last minute for the sake of publishing a photo. Think about what you want your followers to know about the photo and if there’s a specific action you want them to take as a result. If a user sees a photo or video they like, they’ll stop to read the description — and you should make the most of this opportunity to hold their attention.
For some of your posts, you might include calls to action in your captions. These can be something like “tag three friends who would like this!” Or “tag someone you would take with you on this trip!” These are descriptions that encourage people to take action and engage with your photo.
When you encourage people to tag friends, you expand your reach and have the chance to earn even more new followers.
You can also encourage your followers to use a branded hashtag in their own posts. For example, Target posted a photo of a child wearing clothes from their Cat & Jack clothing line, then encouraged other people to use their #TargetLittles hashtag on their children’s first day of school photos.
Hashtags are a great way to get people to engage with your posts. Plus, if you use commonly searched hashtags, they can help other users find your account.
4. Create branded hashtags
Hashtags are an important part of Instagram because they help users search for and find content they’re interested in. And while Twitter users have to fit their hashtags into a character limit, it’s common to see Instagram posts with up to 11 hashtags.
While using hashtags that are already popular is a great start, you can use them to build your brand by creating one that’s related to your brand or a specific campaign. Include them in your captions and encourage your followers to do the same.
When you create hashtag, aim for something that’s simple but unique. Long hashtags are difficult to remember, but a generic one won’t stand out — and there are probably thousands of users already using it for posts unrelated to your brand.
You can create a new hashtag whenever you launch a new campaign or host a contest. They can help you categorize your posts by topic and see which campaigns drive the most user engagement.
That being said, be consistent with your hashtags and make sure that each one you create will be relevant for multiple posts. Creating a new hashtag every week won’t help you establish your branding goals and users are unlikely to incorporate it into their own posts.
As you encourage users to use a branded hashtag, spend some time searching it and seeing what they post. Like and comment on their posts and consider re-publishing some of them on your own page with permission.
When you feature users’ photos, this encourages other users to use your hashtag. They know that having a post re-published on your page will drive users to their account and earn them more followers — which is all the motivation many people need to use a branded hashtag.
5. Use trending hashtags
Aside from your branded hashtags, you can also consider using trending hashtags on your posts. Many people utilize these hashtags every week.
Some of the most popular hashtags include #motivationmonday, #transformationtuesday, and #tbt (throwback Thursday). These are all hashtags that people use in any number of ways.
You can take advantage of these hashtags by posting your own relevant photos with them. When users search that tag, they can find your post and consider following you.
If you’re considering this strategy, it’s important that you only use tags that work for your brand. Irrelevant posts and hashtags can be annoying to users and end up costing you followers.
6. Cross-promote your social accounts
If a user follows you on one social media platform, there’s a strong chance they’d be interested in following you on others. You can make this happen by occasionally promoting other channels on your social accounts.
For example, you may have followers on Facebook that aren’t following you on Instagram, simply because they’ve never come across your Instagram account in their news feed.
An easy way to remedy this is by cross-posting a recent Instagram post to your Facebook page. This will give your Facebook followers an idea of what kind of content they can expect to see if they follow you.
This is especially helpful if you are new to Instagram. If you already have a solid following on another platform, sharing an Instagram post is an easy way to earn your first followers.
7. Don’t overdo it
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is posting too much. You don’t want to post so frequently that you annoy your followers.
If you post too frequently, people may unfollow your account — so you’ll need to space out your content in away that isn’t overwhelming or irritating.
Test out a few post times and frequency intervals and see what generates the most engagement. You want to publish new photos when users are most likely to see and engage with them.
You can also take this time to figure out which kinds of posts earn responses and which ones do not. Testing this up front makes it much easier to understand how to get the results you want from Instagram and create an effective strategy early on.
Once you’ve determined some posting times and a frequency level that work for your brand, you can establish a schedule for new posts. Some businesses publish multiple times per day, while others aim for 3-4 posts per week.
Establishing the right frequency is essentially a game of trial and error. If you find that four posts a day causes you to lose a few followers, you can safely assume that your posts should be less frequent.
Even if you don’t lose followers, you may see less engagement overall. This can indicate that people do not like the frequency of your posts and you could benefit by scaling down.
Once you’ve achieved the right schedule, you’ll see more engagement and interest in your posts. For more information, check out this infographic to learn more about how you can maximize your results on Instagram!
8. Include calls to action (CTAs)
Many businesses neglect to include calls to action, or CTAs in their posts. This is a mistake you don’t want to make, since CTAs tell your followers what to do after viewing a post and can encourage them to take action.
There are many ways you can encourage your followers to take action. You can encourage them to click a link in your bio, leave a comment, or post their own photo using your hashtag.
Whether you want them to make a purchase, use your hashtag, or increase your brand awareness, you need to give direction. Otherwise, they may like your photo, then just keep scrolling without really engaging.
9. Interact with followers
One of the biggest advantages of social media marketing is that it gives you the opportunity to engage with your audience — but it’s your responsibility to drive that interaction.
When users comment on your photos, take the time to thank them for their comment and answer any questions they ask. Many people use the comments section to ask for additional information on specific products.
You can address these questions by responding directly to individual users. This helps you build relationships with your followers that can eventually turn into conversions.
Some users will vent their issues with your brand in the comments of your photos. You should also take the time to address their concerns and direct them to the correct place to have them handled by the appropriate person. This builds a positive relationship between your customers and your brand.
People love when companies interact with their comments. As your account grows, you may not have the ability to comment back on every single comment, but you can pick the ones that stand out to you to address.
You can also interact with anyone that partakes in your contests or uses your hashtags. It is important to track your hashtags not only to repost photos on your own page, but to interact with people who use your hashtag. This is another way to build a good relationship with your customers.
10. Monitor your performance
You should monitor your account’s performance on a regular basis to see which posts are working and which are not. Instagram provides a few basic metrics you can use to analyze your results.
These analytics enable you to see how many impressions you make, how much engagement you generate, and which posts earn the most responses. You can use this information to adjust your strategy accordingly. It also enables you to try new posts and see how they work for your audience
You can even compare photos and videos to see which work better for your audience. The better grasp you have on what you audience responds to, the more effective you’ll be in using Instagram for marketing.
11. Use Instagram to advertise
Although you can use Instagram to reach new customers without spending a cent, the platform also offers advertising options for businesses. You can use their advertising services to reach new users and improve your results on the platform.
Instagram’s advertising options let you appear in your target audience’s news feeds based on very specific ad targeting.
There are numerous formats available for advertising on Instagram, and you can run ads with both photo and video posts. You can also create carousel ads, which feature multiple pictures.
These advertisements are a great option because they seamlessly integrate into a user’s newsfeed. They are labeled as an advertisement with the word “sponsored” on the post. These advertisements are a great way to gain more brand exposure for your business.
This is another instance where you’ll want to use a CTA. These appear in a blue band on the photo and make it easy for users to see what action they’ll need to take to learn more about the item in your photo.
Advertising on Instagram is a great option for your business if you want to increase your brand exposure, increase your followers, or get users to take an action.
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