Need to have a picture-perfect Instagram strategy? Check out these tips for how you can make the absolute most out of the popular social media channel. 

Instagram is now one of the top social media platforms with over 1 billion+ monthly active users and 200 million business profiles. Which tools are available to marketers on the platform and how can you utilize them effectively?

In this article, I’m going to show you how to create an Instagram strategy that hits your KPIs.


In this article, I’m going to show you how to create an Instagram strategy that wins 2021.

1. Recap on Your KPIs

Before we get into your Instagram strategy, let’s recap on your KPIs (key performance indicators). Often, marketing departments will set generic KPIs without understanding how each social media channel can help you to achieve them (or not).

So, what do you want your Instagram marketing to achieve?

Grow an engaged online community

If your KPI is to grow an engaged community, then which channels do you want to focus on?

Growing an engaged community on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest is possible but will require a lot of resources.

If you want to grow an engaged community on Instagram, you can monitor this by tracking likes and comments on your Instagram posts and Stories.

What is your engagement rate? (likes + comments ÷ no. of followers x 100).

The point is to see growth, replicate successful posts, and fine-tune your approach.

Can’t be bothered working it all out? The Agorapulse report does it for you.

How to Create Power Reports That Shine

It tells you your followers, engagement, impressions and brand awareness score. Plus, you can benchmark month on month or year on year changes.

Here’s a snapshot from my personal IG account, Charli Says.

agorapulse report

Increasing brand awareness

You can monitor this KPI by tracking shares and listening for mentions of your brand. You can do this easily in your Agorapulse panel using the “listening” tab. Increasing brand awareness can be done organically without spending your budget.

Agorapulse’s easy-to-use Power Reports allow you to pull off impressive data each month or quarter to show your client or boss. This takes all the guess work and stress out of social media KPI reporting!

keyword/listening search list for instagram strategy research

Driving sales

To drive sales on Instagram, you can track web traffic via Google Analytics, landing page views, or Instagram Checkout, which lets users buy products from brands directly on Instagram without leaving the Instagram app.

For paid advertising, you will want to be on top of your KPIs and ROI (return on investment) because this costs money. Instagram Checkout fees are significant, especially for small businesses. The selling fee is 5% per shipment or a flat fee of $0.40 for shipments of $8.00 or less. You keep the rest of your earnings.

Instagram has temporarily waived these fees but bookmark this date when they will ramp up again:

instagram strategy screenshot for article

Brands have seen great success with the Instagram Checkout feature. MAC cosmetics boasted these incredible stats with a goal to drive sales.

instagram strategy

Kiehl’s, a personal care brand specializing in skin, hair and body care products drove great sales, too. This was via a combination of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Instagram Direct.

instagram strategy screenshot

“Since Instagram is often used as an online destination to discover beauty products and inspiration, we had the perfect opportunity to connect virtually with customers on the platform. Despite the travel restrictions, we were able to encourage people to explore Kiehl’s curated range of products and buy directly via our Instagram Shop, reducing friction and easing the path to purchase,” said Jesslyn Foo, Marketing Manager, Kiehl’s Malaysia

Translating your KPIs for each platform will help you choose the content you post, the budget you will spend on advertising and the outcomes you need to achieve.

2. Make Sure Your Target Client Fits the IG Demographic

Does your ideal client fit the IG demographic? It’s so important to know your demographic. While Instagram is one of the top social media platforms, it doesn’t mean you have to be on it.

As of July 2021, 31.4% of U.S. Instagram users were between 25 and 34 years old. The second-largest user group was 18- to 24-year-olds, with a 25.7% share. Overall, 58% of Instagram audiences in the United States were female.

Taking it a step further, Research by Facebook on Instagram highlights the following as top interests on the platform.

instagram highlights example for instagram strategy

Think of it as a meeting of minds.

Instagram users want to dive deeper into their interests and discover new ones. They’re eager to learn, connect with a community and hear from the people and businesses that inspire them. Meanwhile, you as a business and content creator can use your messaging, copy, and creative to help immerse people in their interests.

You can excite your audience, create a community and drive sales.

Of course, there are tons more popular categories on Instagram including parenting, design and pets.

But if your brand really doesn’t tick any of the demographic boxes then you might need to rethink. You could also take a sneak peek at your competitors. Do they have Instagram? What hashtags do they use and what engagement are they getting?

Once you have established that your target client fits the IG demographic, do a little research on their behavior. To produce great content, captions, hashtags, and campaigns, you need to know what your followers like seeing in their feeds.

If you have an Instagram account already, it’s easy to check up on your followers by running an Agorapulse report. There you can check the best times to post, the most popular hashtags, top posts, most engaged fans and much more. You can see below that my most popular hashtag is #amwriting for example.

Audience research doesn’t take a long time and can uncover some very interesting insights that will help build your strategy.

conquer social media inbox with agorapulse social media management solution header image

3. Assess Your Resources

Here’s where you need to be very realistic about your brand’s resources. That’s time, budget, and people to work on this strategy.

Researching other brands and their strategies is great. Aspiring to their success is awesome. But, there’s no point trying to copy Starbucks ’ Instagram strategy when you don’t have its resources.

Let’s check in on what you need.

Designs/photos

Instagram is all about visuals, so you need to have a plan. Are you going to post branded JPEGs or actual photos? This will depend on whether you have physical products to display, events to attend, a large team, a physical location, or clients you can feature.

Example: Contentworks Agency IG is predominantly photos of our team, clients, partners, and events. The vibe is fun, carefree without too much styling or filtering.

We post lots from events, lunches, parties, and meetups and never include infographics or promotional videos.

contentworks' instagram strategy

Meanwhile, brands like Paperchase focus on product only. Nothing is by accident on this IG with symmetrical lines, stunning visuals, desirable colors, and pleasing arrangements. Stationery is HUGE on Instagram, but it’s all about the layout and aesthetically pleasing designs.

Equipment and resources

The good news is you don’t need a huge design team to succeed on Instagram. A high-quality smartphone and someone committed to managing the channel is enough to begin. You will, however, need a writer or a social media manager who can write great captions. This is key.

If you have a designer and videographer, this is a huge plus for creating engaging video Stories, Reels and gifs. (Check out my article winning at social media on a budget for more hints and tips.)

4. Meet the Suite

Now you know your KPIs and resources, which of Instagram’s great tools will you be focusing on and what will you need for them?
Instagram Posts: Permanent posts that form our profile grid. You can add multiple images and videos to each post and your audience can swipe to see them all. This provides a great opportunity to tell a story or describe a product in more detail.

Here’s a great example from AirBNB, one of my Instagram favorites:

airbnb instagram strategy
First the “get you interested” pic and summary.

Then a deep dive into some of the property’s stunning features or a photo taken from another angle like this one.

instagram strategy

If you’re selling products or experiences, the more detail you provide, the more likely you are to make a sale.

Carousels

Utilize Instagram Carousels to showcase your product range like Ted Baker . This beautiful Carousel saw a 2-point lift in ad recall and 22% increase in sales to 18-24-year-old buyers. Not surprisingly.

instagram strategy example

Carousels are a great way to show how things work together. For example, a dress with a matching bag, shoes and coat. Or a beauty range used on different skin types.

Instagram Stories

Brand Stories have an 86% completion rate. That’s huge compared with other forms of communication like blogs and long-form videos. IG Stories offer brands so many choices. These revolve around styling and effects and mean you can really add your brand stamp.

For example, you can:

  • Change your text to your brand colors.
  • Create a “revealing” story series.
  • Layer photos on video.
  • Add a link sticker.
  • Unlock secret GIFs.
  • Save your favorite stories filters.
  • Save your stories to highlights to keep them visible.

One to watch for innovative and engaging Stories is National Geographic (NatGeo). Their Stories cover live events around the world, educate and explain all about nature and wildlife. Of course, we don’t all have NatGeos budget for travel and filming, but the core principles remain the same. Great photos/videos, good use of stickers, nice explanatory text and a good presenter.

IGTV/ Instagram TV

Instagram finally acknowledged that IGTV wasn’t working out and in early 2020, Instagram dropped the orange IGTV button from Instagram’s home page due to lack of traction. It’s rebranded IGTV as “Instagram TV,” and got rid of the exclusive IGTV video format. Videos posted to the main Instagram feed can now run up to 60 minutes long. You also don’t need to leave the main app to view them.

A spokesperson for Instagram says the IGTV app, now called the Instagram TV app, will remain as a “destination for people to visit with the intent of watching video.”

  • Instagram TV is not designed for professional videographers. Most of the platform’s hit successes have been crafted by talented social media managers.
  • Instagram TV is a vertical video platform. That means you can’t always reuse your horizontal videos! The platform is optimized for 9:16 vertical video but it will support 16:9 horizontal video.
  • Instagram TV is a great place to showcase your events, seminars, company parties and launches. Especially now they can be up to 60 minutes.
  • The IGTV app isn’t going away. It is rebranded as “Instagram Video” and will host the “Instagram Video” formatted content and Instagram Live videos. But it won’t host Reels.

Instagram’s official account publishes 3-4 minute long takeover videos by famous characters, such as Dolly Parton or Pontus Jansson (a popular rock balancer). You can steal their style by inviting micro influencers, partners, clients or friends to share a takeover video. This will expand your audience reach and wake up your followers.

Reels

Create fun 15-second videos. Instagram’s answer to TikTok. Reels is Instagram’s answer to TikTok.

What Instagram Reels Mean (and Don’t Mean) for Social Media Managers

With Reels, you can record and edit 15-second videos, add sounds and effects, and then share the videos. Instagram Reels includes a wider range of video editing tools, effects, and speed controls than Stories.

Reels are more than just a cool sticker you can use to embellish your Instagram Story. They have outstanding visibility. The top video on many “explore” feeds is Reels content, which is displayed much larger than other posts on the page.

10 Instagram Reels hacks for creating engaging and click-worthy Reels

  • Create creative original content.
  • Share popular TikToks to your Reel. (you can remove watermarks)
  • Use Music from the Instagram library or create your own audio.
  • Include Closed Captions to be inclusive.
  • Write great captions.
  • Utilize daily trends and plan for seasonal trends.
  • Share your Reels to your feed.
  • Share educational content and how to’s.
  • Research and include the right hashtags.
  • Share the Reel to your Instagram Story.

Reels still has one major flaw though. It doesn’t offer a consistent way for creators to get paid. Not like YouTube and TikTok do anyway! Facebook plans to pay $1 billion to creators by the end of 2022.

Instagram now has so many tools for marketers to play with. Your strategy might also include micro influencers, user generated content, and brand collaborations. The key is to remember your demographic, keep your account on brand, be consistent, and most importantly, have fun!

5. Document Instagram Brand Guidelines

Brand guidelines include colors, fonts, logo presentation, and other key elements of your visuals. If your brand is established, you may already have brand guidelines, which is great.

Having documented brand guidelines means any member of your team or an external agency can manage your online presence and maintain seamless consistency. However, you might need to annex a few extras for your Instagram account.

Here are some additions to include.

Filters

The filters you use on your posts (if applicable) can really create your Instagram brand. Noting them down along with any edits on brightness, color, and saturation is a good idea. In fact, the type of filters you use can really contribute to brand recognition and brand awareness.

Color palettes matter. You need to choose brand colors and stay consistent with them when posting your content. Plan and design content in advance, so your images look aesthetically pleasing in the grid like Halo Top.

Your top hashtags

Whilst product and campaign hashtags will vary, there may be a core set of hashtags that define your brand and sector. Keeping a note of these in your brand guidelines makes it easy to add to them into posts. If there are hashtags you don’t want to use, add them in a “banned” section of your guidelines.

You will need to watch out for relevant trends too. If it’s #CupcakeDay and your bakery doesn’t use that hashtag you could be missing out!

Your fonts

Your Instagram image font doesn’t have to be the same as your Web or email font. It’s Instagram. Have some fun! That said, it’s a good idea to keep a note of the main fonts you use on your posts. If you use Canva, you can save these in teams. Canva Teams makes it easy to stay on-brand with logos, sharable color palettes, and font. Using the same font on all your images makes your Instagram page look tidy and helps to cement your brand.

A good example is Sainsbury’s who use their brand colour and font to stay consistent.

Your tone

Your TOV (tone of voice) should be consistent with your brand overall. However, it can be tweaked for Instagram. For example, if your brand voice is formal and professional on your blog, it might use emojis and a friendlier tone on Instagram.

Your reply policy

The way your respond to comments, Story mentions, or tags is all part of your branding. Do you acknowledge tags? Do you share Stories featuring your brand? What about how you handle complaints?

Don’t Do That!

If you want to succeed with your Instagram strategy, avoid these 5 mistakes:

  • Posting random or poor quality image
  • Not using hashtags properly
  • Posting boring content or repetitive content
  • Not following seasonal trends
  • Not engaging with your audience

Instagram Stats Marketers Need to Know 

  • There are more than 200 million business accounts on Instagram. 90% of Instagram users follow at least one brand.
  • 2.54 billion people use Facebook’s family of apps (Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp). This allows for an even bigger paid cross-platform reach
  • Instagram engagement is currently the highest for image posts at 1.03%, followed by carousel posts at 0.86%. Videos receive the third-highest engagements on Instagram at 0.75%. Organic engagement on Facebook averaged just 0.27% in 2021 for reference.
  • 70% of shoppers looking to Instagram for their next purchase and now brands can sell directly on the platform.
  • 58% of Instagram users become more interested in a brand/product after seeing it in Stories. A further 50% of them have visited a website to buy a product because of seeing it in Stories.
  • Brand stories have an 86% completion rate.

In Conclusion

An Instagram strategy, as with your other platform strategies, should be reviewed and adjusted yearly.

Take note of what worked well, what didn’t, and keep running those reports.

Get started on saving time and energy on your own social media management! Check out our free trial of Agorapulse to help you schedule, track, and measure all your social media efforts.

How to Create an Instagram Strategy That Wins