How to use Instagram as a marketing tool

Instagram is the world’s most popular image sharing app

Instagram on a smartphone screen

One of the main tenets of content marketing is promoting your website through various social media platforms. These platforms should be carefully considered as they need to be relevant to the type of work you do.

Instagram is the world’s most popular image sharing app, with 800 million active users and rising, it was the fastest-growing social media channel in 2017. Tapping into this resource and creating an account for your brand will allow you to reach people around the globe with beautiful images of your products and ideas.

Social media users generally love the interaction and discovering new accounts to follow, and Instagram is no different. If you can grow and engage with your Instagram followers, the app can become a powerful marketing tool for your business.

A successful business on Instagram

The most successful accounts on Instagram are actually brands as they have an identity to which followers can relate. Their target audience is loyal and more likely to engage with posts by liking or commenting and tagging their friends.

Whether you sell products or services, consider using Instagram to reach a wider audience. If you offer products, you can post high-quality images of your products and show off your range – a popular marketing tactic that works for clothing brands, beauty products and more.

If you offer services, you may need to spend some time thinking about how you can exemplify these services through images. For example, a tourism company could easily post stunning images of the destinations they work with, an ad agency can post examples of their work (be it graphics, posters or short video clips).

Don’t ignore the Instagram Stories feature – this can be a great way to spread the word about your product or service without having to actually post anything to your grid. These stories only last 24 hours and appear at the very top of your followers feeds. They can be used to collect data, run polls or notify your followers of important developments in real time.

The right business for Instagram

B2Bs tend to struggle with social marketing efforts, especially on Instagram, as their target audience is other businesses. If you’re marketing to consumers, the key is to make sure that your images are professional and high-quality – this is important if you want to build a large, organic following.

Remember, Instagram was not created for businesses; it was made for people to show off their photography skills, holidays, artwork, designs – it’s designed for creators. If you want to use it as a marketing tool, you have to use it properly to get the right feedback.

Popular posts are the ones that look clean and professional, and the successful accounts are the ones that are curated, well thought out and planned precisely. All their posts look cohesive when you look at their grid, gelling together like a wall of an art gallery.

What makes an Instagram-worthy post?

There are a number of factors that influence the popularity of a post, most of which are the main elements of good photography and design. The number one trait of a successful post is aesthetics – the image or design must be eye-catching and beautiful. As people scroll down their feed, your post should stop them in their tracks.

Other elements to utilise include interesting compositions, negative space, a clear focal point and complementary hues. Some of the most liked posts have orange and teal hues, although this is becoming a cliché. Try to make all your images on your account’s grid work cohesively by using similar colour palettes and styles.

Whether you decide to use Instagram’s in-built filters or not is entirely up to you, but if you do, use the same filters for your posts to keep them cohesive. Try to avoid throwing in black-and-white images if you tend to post colourful ones, this will disrupt your grid and the aesthetic of your account.

Driving the success of a post

Although aesthetics are a big part in determining the success of the post, it doesn’t end there. You need to make sure that your image is seen by a wider audience, not just your followers (the aim is to attract more followers, remember).

One factor that can help is constant posting – the more you post, the more likely Instagram is to feature your posts in the ‘Discover’ tab. Posting three times a week is a great benchmark for more engagement and building a solid following. Even if you have a limited range of products, you can still market them repetitively and see results.

Another vital factor for reaching a wider audience is the hashtag. Hashtags can be used to boost your posts and make sure you’re targeting the correct people, so they matter. Using the right hashtag for your post is important, so use hashtags such as your product, your brand’s name, your industry, your location and anything related to the image itself. Have a look at some of the big brands on Instagram and see what they are tagging.

Use a combination of short and long-form hashtags. Short tags are used more often (often tens of millions of times) so you can reach a vast audience but you also risk being lost in the sea of similar posts. Long hashtags are less common but more specific, which means you can target specific communities who are interested in your precise offering.

To further boost your post, you can tag other accounts or celebrities directly in the image. Your post will then feature on these accounts’ alternative tagged photo grid. Don’t forget to also add a location in the location tab. Many Instagram users look at locations for inspiration and to discover new accounts.

Be proactive and engage with your audience. If they comment on your post, reply and thank them for any compliments. Ask them questions in your captions, share useful information and start building a reciprocal following.

Unlike Facebook, which tries to prioritise friends and family on people’s timelines, Instagram favours new posts so your feed is always fresh. This means that your brand will be current and relevant to your followers. A good social marketing plan will include an Instagram schedule, and the results can be well worth the effort.


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