Need to create a winning Instagram marketing strategy? Instagram is now one of the top social media platforms with 1 billion+ monthly active users and 25 million business profiles.
Instagram Stats Marketers Need to Know
- 70% of online shoppers use Instagram for product discovery.
- One-third (1/3) of the most viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses.
- Instagram’s potential advertising reach is 1.16 billion users.
- 2.54 billion people use Facebook’s family of apps (Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp). That allows for an even bigger paid cross-platform reach.
- Instagram users spent 30 minutes per day on the platform in 2020, an increase of 4 minutes from 2019. In fact, the platform saw 17.0% user growth in Western Europe in 2020. This is largely due to enforced lockdowns and a rise in online activities.
- Instagram is the 9th most popular Google query after Facebook, Google, YouTube and Amazon—making Instagram a hot place to be for SEO (search engine optimization) reasons.
This article will walk you through the essentials and get you #InstaReady.
Let’s do this!
Targeting and Demographics on Instagram
Does your ideal client fit the Instagram demographic? Though Instagram is one of the top social media platforms, that fact doesn’t mean your brand has to be on it.
Here are a few quick checkpoints before we get started:
- 75% of 18–24-year-olds use Instagram.
- 57% of 25–30-year-olds use Instagram.
- 47% of 30–49-year-olds use Instagram.
- 23% of 50–64-year-olds use Instagram.
If your target market is in the 50-64 category, you might choose to utilize Facebook, which is more popular with this age group. The same principle applies to Interests.
Instagram is all about images, and this translates better to some sectors than others.
That fact doesn’t mean you can’t have a brand account if you’re selling virtual products like home insurance or Internet services. But you will need to get creative with the images you show in your Instagram marketing.
These are the top 5 interests on Instagram based on hashtags and search history.
You will find all the top fashion brands on Instagram and for good reason. The Instagram crowd loves to scroll the latest trends. Now with Instagram Checkout, they can easily buy them too.
Are we all foodies at heart? Perhaps. Food maintains a high spot on Instagram. Photos range from tasty pub lunches and cool beers to artisan bakeries and intricate cake making.
If your brand has anything to do with food or drink you need to be on Instagram. Even if it doesn’t, there’s space for a few #Foodies posts.
Designers can easily showcase their work on Instagram because it’s so visual. Before and After photos are especially popular. There’s something satisfying about seeing transformations.
Design can mean:
- Interior design
- Product design
- A whole lot more!
All right—we haven’t been traveling much in 2020 and 2021.
However, travel remains a top niche on Instagram. Even people unable to travel abroad have been traveling in their own country or region. Photos related to the great outdoors, camping, nature, staycations, hiking, and AirnBs have ramped up between 2020–2021.
Brands related to travel could be:
- Much more!
Travel is also one of the spaces where you will find the most influencers if you want to partner up.
Gym pics, before and afters, fitness inspiration, hiking, marathons, and athletics are big on Instagram. The channel is packed with toned bodies, fitness coaches, and health gurus.
A word of warning here, though: Instagram has come under fire in recent years for allowing brands and influencers to promote unrealistic expectations, fad diet drinks, and potentially damaging weight loss messaging.
So-called Skinny Teas promising improbable weight loss results have featured Kylie Jenner, Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea, singer Jordin Sparks, and fitness influencers like Katya Elise Henry.
Additionally, filters should not be applied to social media ads if they exaggerate the effect of the product, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled. Denmark also stated that advertisers must clearly disclose filters in their adverts.
There’s definitely a place for health and fitness on Instagram but brands should be inclusive and mindful.
When you are done with your targeting and demographics, you should come away with the following insights:
- What niche (or niches) your brand belongs in
- At least 20 popular hashtags associated with your space
- The best times to post for your brand
- What’s working for your competitors and who are their followers
- Whether the competition partners with influencers and other brands
- What other brands are they interested in
- What content works well and what fails hard in your space
Instagram Marketing Tip: If you have an Instagram account already, it’s easy to check up on your followers by running an Agorapulse report.
Align Your KPIs for Instagram Marketing
You probably already have KPIs (key performance indicators) set for your other social media channels. You know where we’re going with this.
What do you want your Instagram marketing to achieve?
Your Instagram KPIs will depend on your product and sector. But loosely speaking, they fall in these categories:
Grow an engaged online community
- 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 finetune your approach.
- You can manage messages and ad engagement for your Instagram account with Agorapulse. All in one easy dashboard. That makes it perfect for agencies managing multiple accounts!
- Can’t be bothered working it all out? The Agorapulse social media report does it all for you. It even tells you your brand awareness score and increase month on month.
Increase brand awareness with Instagram marketing
- 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 budget.
- Increasing brand awareness will require you to expand beyond your existing fan base. Think micro-influencers, brand collaborations, tagging fans, contests and giveaways, Instagram takeovers, and user-generated content (UGC).
- To drive sales on Instagram, you might 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 fees due to Covid-19 but you should be aware of them for when they return.
Brands have seen great success with the Instagram Checkout feature. Brands like MAC cosmetics boasted these incredible stats. The key is to stay on top of your numbers.
To make sure you’re hitting your goals, make sure to regularly review your Instagram metrics.
Essential Resources for Your Instagram Marketing
Researching other brands and their strategies is great. But there’s no point trying to copy Starbucks ’ Instagram strategy when you don’t have its resources. And by resources, we don’t just mean budget.
Let’s check in on what you need.
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: Google is a brand we all know. We know what they do and as it’s mostly digital, it would make for dull photos. So instead, Google features partners, team members, locations, clients, charitable projects, and community initiatives like this one.
Meanwhile, brands like Paperchase focus on product, with stunning visuals, desirable colors, and pleasing arrangements. The vibe is beautiful, colorful, and aesthetically pleasing.
Equipment and resources to include when planning your Instagram marketing strategy
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 rolling GIFs. (Check out winning at social media on a budget for more hints and tips.)
Time for regular posting
Committing to taking great photos or videos and writing good captions is something you need to decide on. You can learn how to schedule posts on Instagram as you do on your other channels.
Content on Instagram should be unique as often as possible, so avoid copying images from Facebook and Twitter. You should also be mindful of sizing because incorrectly sized images or videos from other channels won’t look good.
Branding Your Channel
Brand guidelines include colors, fonts, logo, 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 things to include.
The filters you use on your posts can really build your Instagram brand. Noting them down along with any edits on brightness, color, and saturation is a good idea.
For example, “Always darken brightness by 10 points, increase saturation by 20 and add filter Clarendon.” By documenting this, anyone uploading photos to the channel can achieve the same look and feel.
Check out the official channel for Gucci, where all the photos have a sepia, nostalgic vibe which fits with their classic, established brand.
Product and campaign hashtags will vary, but 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 them into posts.
If there are hashtags you don’t want to use, add them in a “banned” section of your guidelines. Some of the bigger, more established brands like Dunkin don’t use hashtags at all. They are optional of course.
You should have a basic strategy for your Instagram hashtags.
Try these out:
- Research hashtags relevant to your brand and industry. Always look to expand and explore new ones too as trends change.
Always, always, always research a hashtag before you use it. You don’t want to venture into a dark or controversial topic by mistake.
- Vary your hashtags to reach a wider and more diverse audience. People who are looking for #weddingcakes might not be searching for #cupcakes, but they could still be a target client. Using different hashtags in each post gives you the opportunity to see what will attract new engagement.
- Keep a list of the hashtags you’re using and plan to use different hashtags for each post. Then you can check your insights to see what works and what doesn’t.
- Decide if you will add hashtags at the end of each post. Save your popular ones in sets so you can easily copy them in.
- Be aware of geotagging. Instagram says, “Geotagging is a technical term for storing the latitude and longitude of your current location with your photo” Disclosing your location is really important for physical businesses like cafes or boutique stores that want to attract people in their area.
- Use branded hashtags that are evergreen. Like #JustDoIt and #Nike
- Choose campaign-specific hashtags like this one from McDonalds: (Remember to monitor campaigns and run reports on your hashtags.)
And follow trending days that are relevant to your brand. Like #NationalFryDay for KFC
Always write your hashtags in CamelCase. That means capitalizing each letter so that text-to-speech readers can pick them up. It also makes it clearer for longer hashtags. Example: #EatChocolateDay instead of #eatchocolateday
Your fonts for your Instagram marketing strategy content
Your Instagram image font doesn’t have to be the same as your Web or email font. It’s Instagram. Have some fun!
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.
Accessibility Tip: Try to avoid using different fonts and colors in your captions. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 2 billion people worldwide have some form of vision impairment and 1 million people in the world are completely blind.
Screen reader software also known as text-to-speech, reads web pages aloud and is ideal for those with visual impairments. The problem is, if you use colored text, replace words for emojis, and overuse symbols, this software can’t do the job. That means you’re accidentally excluding a large percentage of potential fans.
The following fonts and colors look pretty, but they might not be accessible to everyone.
This is another style point to include. Do you plan to brand all your IG images with your logo? If so, are you going to brand them all in the same place, such as the bottom right of your image?
You don’t have to if you don’t want to.
Costa Coffee takes a different route by featuring its brand name on cups and signs rather than adding a logo and text.
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. There’s room for maneuver. Finance brands that traditionally stayed away from Instagram are discovering that they can be fun and friendly as well as offering financial services! Loving this friendly people-focused post from HSBC bank.
Remember: Even if you’re considered a B2B brand, you’re still B2C on social media as it is people who read your posts and make purchasing decisions or choose to join your team.
These are the circles that appear at the top of your Instagram page. This is where you can save stories under different categories. They should be branded for your IG channel, identifiable with your brand font or colors, and named accordingly.
Here are mine at Charli_Says.
Instagram Reels and Stories
Let’s go play with some Instagram toys! Creating on Instagram is super-fun and allows brands to find the sweet spot to get maximum engagement and ROI.
Let’s look at some native tools.
Instagram Reels are right up there (almost) with TikTok for their engagement, popularity and appeal. They have a large choice of AR effects, stickers, and music to experiment with, and are a must-try for brands on Instagram.
If you’re stuck on how to showcase your brand or product on Reels you can try out ideas like:
- Meet My Team
- Explainer Videos
- Behind the Scenes
Check out @romeosfashionfix for behind-the-scenes Reel inspiration
And @themermaidscales for fun and engaging Reel effects.
Your winning Instagram marketing strategy should feature Reels, so here are some tips to get started:
- 30 seconds is better than 15 (or 60)
Instagram Reels used to allow just 15 seconds per video but creators asked for more and got it. In fact, they can now have 60 seconds for each Reel. But 30 seconds is the sweet spot! Tap on the circle button at the top of the camera tools to switch between 15, 30, or 60 seconds.
- Less is more for effects
There are tons of stickers and effects to play with, but don’t get over-excited. If you add too many, it will be overwhelming for viewers and could distract from your message.
- Align your Instagram Reels
Presentation matters so check out the alignment tool on Reels. It lines up objects from your previous clip before recording your next to create seamless transitions. This works for outfit changes or adding new friends into your reel. You can also choose to speed up or slow down part of the video or audio.
- Keep your captions short
Reels are not the place for long essays. There isn’t the time or space for that! Utilize short and clear captions, hashtags, or slogans that get the message across without compromising on style.
- Design covers
As with highlights, you should design brand covers for your Reels. Both App Store and Play Store are loaded with highly-rated photo editors you can check out.
Brand Stories for Instagram Marketing Strategy
Brand Stories have an 86% completion rate. That’s huge compared with other forms of communication like blogs and long-form videos.
Instagram Stories offer brands so many choices in regards to styling, effects, or how they choose to utilize them. Stories are highly effective for educational purposes as shown by National Geographic.
To promote other fans and aspiring chefs like Jamie Oliver. Jamie is the culinary king of Stories so check them out for inspiration.
Or to prompt some FOMO with a flash sale like Tatti Lashes who neatly showcase their offer and how it can be used at checkout.
Tips for Your Instagram Stories
The great thing about Instagram is that you can experiment with its inbuilt tools to see what works best for your brand.
Here are some you can try out for your Instagram Stories.
Add Instagram Stories highlights
You can choose stories to save on your profile that can be viewed longer than 24 hours. (Remember we talked about designing them earlier?)
Categorize your highlights, so people can easily find what they’re looking for.
Add a poll to your Instagram story
The poll template allows you to ask a question and alter the choices to whatever you want. This is a fun way to get engagement by asking your audience for their opinion.
Try out the Photobooth tool
This tool allows you to create a Photobooth-style reel by capturing four images in succession. There’s a countdown timer of three seconds for the first capture, then you get 1 second to move your phone in between each photo. Lots of fun for fashion and beauty brands to showcase their collections!
Mention others in your Instagram Story
When sharing a photo or video to your story, you can mention someone by typing @ followed by the person’s handle.
People you mention will get a push notification telling them that you’ve mentioned them in your story. You can mention up to 10 people in each photo. Using this tip will really boost your engagement and expand your reach.
Add a Boomerang
You can add a Boomerang (a looping short video) you’ve already created to your Instagram Story by selecting it from your gallery. Or create a new Boomerang directly from the Instagram app.
Add stickers, GIFs, and music to your Instagram marketing strategy
Stories allow you to experiment with different styles and techniques. Try not to overdo it in one video though!
Keep it real
Nobody said Stories need to be perfect. In fact, the unpolished outtakes are often the funniest to watch!
Don’t Forget Instagram 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 now has so many tools for marketers to play with.
Your Instagram strategy might also include micro-influencers, IG takeovers, and brand collaborations. The key is to remember your demographic, keep your account on brand, be consistent, and most importantly, have fun!
With Instagram, you can boost your brand visibility, get better engagement, sell more products, and gather your loyal fans around you to form a strong social media community.
An Instagram Strategy, as with your other platform strategies, should be reviewed and adjusted on a yearly basis. Take note of what worked well, what didn’t, and keep running those reports.
Check out our free trial of Agorapulse to help you schedule, track, and measure all your social media efforts.