Instagram Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide – | Transform your financial management with Ottilie Blog Details Blog

Instagram Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

Instagram has long been a key participant in the field of social media marketing platforms. This is especially true for e-commerce companies, who have access to a platform that focuses on visual content and has enthusiastic users and strong engagement. Instagram has developed and flourished in recent years at a rate comparable to Facebook's, embracing new features like Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels with lightning speed and increasing its value to both users and businesses. We'll go over everything you need to know about Instagram marketing in this beginner's guide, including how to optimize your profile, how to produce captivating Instagram content, how to increase engagement with both feed and story content, and how to put the ideal Instagram marketing strategy into practice.  

What makes Instagram a good marketing tool?

For good reason, Instagram is a mainstay of many small businesses' marketing initiatives. With a big and diverse audience of 500 million daily Instagram Stories users and over one billion monthly active Instagram users, it has a high level of engagement overall.     The advantages of an Instagram marketing plan have been amply established by research and case studies, which show that they instantly transfer into leads and sales.
  • On Instagram, about 11% of social media users in the US make purchases.
  • Every month, 130 million users tap on Instagram Shopping posts.
  • With 81% of users utilizing Instagram to research goods and services, people are accessing the social media platform early in the purchasing process.
  • 72% of users claim to have bought a product they saw on the site, and 80% of Instagram users follow at least one company page.
  • Approximately 62% of individuals claim that seeing a brand or product on Instagram Story increased their interest in it.
Because they are actively browsing and buying things on Instagram, users of the platform are generally more than happy to follow brands there. It's also important to note that Instagram keeps spending money on assisting e-commerce firms and merchants in converting interaction into sales. For instance, when done properly, Instagram advertising frequently produces outstanding results and delivers high engagement. Instagram sales are streamlined by online shopping. Previously challenging to perform on the platform, business profiles with over 10,000 Instagram followers can now post Swipe Up links to Instagram Stories to bring visitors to their website. Instagram keeps growing, increasing its value to retailers and eCommerce companies, particularly if they sell goods that have a high visual appeal. What's best? Users are shown your content by Instagram's algorithm based on their app usage and interests. This makes it simpler for you to connect with Instagram users who are likely to interact with your business and increases the effectiveness of your Instagram marketing campaigns.  

How to open a business account on Instagram?

You'll need an Instagram Business or Instagram Creator account to start using Instagram for marketing. You only need to change to an Instagram business profile in the Instagram app if you already have a personal Instagram account. This is how you do it:
  1. Select the hamburger menu icon () in the top right corner of your profile.
  2. Tap Settings.
    • There may be a Switch to Professional Account option available for some accounts. If not, carry on with the subsequent steps.
  3. Tap Account.
  4. Tap Switch to Professional Account, then Continue.
  5. Select a Category for your business, then tap Done.
  6. Tap Business and follow the prompts.
After setting up your Instagram account, you'll want to add a bio and contact information, which we'll talk about next.  

The best Instagram marketing advice

Follow these tips to build a successful Instagram marketing plan for your brand.

Optimize your Instagram profile

Before you can start using social media to market your business, you'll need to set up your Instagram account. You need to fill out your contact information, have a keyword-optimized description (don't forget emojis! ), and choose a profile picture that stands out, like a logo. This is a good beginning. But if you want to get the most out of your Instagram marketing plan, you'll need to take your account to the next level. This is how.
  • Clickable hashtags. You can now add these to your profile description by typing # followed by the phrase you want, just like you would on an Instagram post. Focusing on your branded hashtag can help you build a community around your business and find content that other people are making about you. Also, adding popular and relevant hashtags to your Instagram posts can be an easy way to get more people to see them without doing a lot of extra work.
  • Clickable profile links. This can be used in a few different ways. One way is to use a tool like Linkpop or Linketree to set up a "link in bio" page where you can show off your products and online store with just one link. You can now add links to other Instagram profiles that people can click on in your own bio. You can use a clickable link to send people to a second profile for a sister company. If you're running a contest with another business, put a link to them in your bio when you talk about the contest. You can also use this feature to send people to your personal profile if that fits with your brand.
  • Story Highlights. We'll talk more about Story Highlights in a few sections, but for now, know that this fairly new feature lets you add "expired" Stories to different featured categories that will be shown on your profile above your Instagram feed. This makes your profile look more complete and lets you show off important Instagram content, such as user-generated content or posts that tell the story of your brand.
  • View Shop button. If you turn on Instagram Shopping on your profile, you can also add a button that sends followers to your in-app store.
Here's an example from Fashion Nova of a well-optimized Instagram bio and profile that has all three of these things.  

Make your content strategy

63% of Instagram users log in at least once a day, making it one of the social media sites with the most active users. They also use the app for an average of 28 minutes. If you want your Instagram marketing to work, you need to know what kinds of posts get the most attention. Do most of your followers like Instagram Stories? Or do they like Instagram photos that aren't too fancy? Even though every group is different, there has been a lot of research done that can help us figure out where to start. Instagram users enjoy many different kinds of posts, such as ads, motivational quotes, photos of products, DIY or how-to content, and images shared by other users (i.e., user-generated content). Users want to see different things, though. If you only use one type of Instagram post for too long, they will get bored or annoyed. Users can get more information from Instagram videos, which makes them useful. Still, if you use video on Instagram, even on IGTV, make sure it's short. Most Instagram users access the site on their phones, and they usually don't stay for more than 10 to 15 seconds at a time. Many of the most creative brands and artists in the world are, of course, pushing Instagram Stories to its limits. Keep an eye on how your competitors are marketing on Instagram to get ideas. In a lot of ways, the way the pictures and videos look is much more important. After all, Instagram is mostly about pictures. Here's what we know about the best content for Instagram:
  • Lighter images perform better than darker ones.
  • It's better to have more background or white space.
  • Images with mostly blue colors do better than those with mostly red colors, and images with mostly one color do better than those with mostly more than one color.
  • Images with textures that are different from each other tend to get more likes.
  • Adding creative and interesting captions to your Instagram posts can help people find them. You can tell people to go to your website or a blog post, or even to enter a contest, in an Instagram caption.
From product carousels to interactive content like Reels, there are many ways to interact with an Instagram audience and spice up the feeds of your followers. You just need to know how. In the end, you should be open to trying new things with your Instagram marketing. Not every picture or video will be a hit. But by trying out different kinds of content and Instagram Stories, you can figure out what kind of content your audience likes best.  

Use hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags were first used on Twitter. They never caught on on Facebook, but using relevant hashtags is a key part of marketing on Instagram. You can make any word or phrase clickable by putting text after the # symbol in an Instagram caption, bio, or Story.     When Instagram users click on a hashtag, they will see a list of all the public posts that use that hashtag. Even more important, Instagram users can now follow hashtags that they are interested in. This gives them a stream of content, even if they don't follow a certain Instagram profile. Hashtags are a great way for people to find the content they're interested in and for businesses to get their content in front of more people.  

Different kinds of hashtags you should use

You need to use the right kinds of Instagram hashtags to reach as many people as possible and get the most out of your Instagram marketing. There are six main types of hashtags that are important for eCommerce businesses to use on Instagram:
  1. Branded hashtags. Most brands will have their own hashtag, and they should. They'll add this to each post, put it in their profile, and encourage other users to do the same when they share user-generated content in their own posts. It can have your brand name, but it doesn't have to. One example is the #NovaBabe hashtag from Fashion Nova.
  2. Contest hashtags. These are a type of branded hashtag that was made for a contest. They are often used to find contest entries in photo contests and to make people aware of contests in general. You should also use general contest hashtags like #instacontest and #giveaway along with the main branded hashtag contest. Hashtags for contests are also a great way to get people to make their own content.
  3. General appeal hashtags. There are some hashtags that are popular with a wide range of people. Because people are more likely to look for these, they can help you get a lot of people to see your Instagram posts. Some common hashtags are #puppylove, #nofilter, #antiques, and #ilovemyjob.
  4. Niche-specific hashtags. Each industry has phrases and keywords that only make sense for the people they want to reach. These hashtags won't get you as much traffic as hashtags with a broad appeal, but they will get you more traffic that is interested in what you have to say. For example, if you're selling jewelry that's based on the Harry Potter series, you might want to use both #harrypotter and #harrypotterjewelry.
  5. Timely hashtags. Current events and seasonal holidays, like Valentine's Day or Christmas, can also make great hashtags. This is especially true for holidays that are focused on selling, like those two. People are probably looking for relevant content right now, so use a few #valentineformyvalentine and #stockingstuffer hashtags. Even though it might be tempting to put hashtags on your Instagram ads, this is not a good way to market on Instagram right now.
  6. Entertaining hashtags. These won't help you reach more people, but they will keep your audience interested and help you find your brand's voice. They are just meant to be funny or smart, and nothing else. You could use the hashtags #iknowit's too early for Christmas stuff and #thisiswhyweallhatemonday as examples. Many times, a story can be told by stringing together several funny hashtags, like #toobad #itshereanyway. This kind of hashtag is a great way to really connect with the people you want to reach.
For the best results, you should look up each of these Instagram hashtags and use a mix of them in your posts. This will make your brand stronger and help you reach the most relevant and largest audience possible. To help you get started, we've put together a list of the most popular Instagram hashtags.  

Best practices for using hashtags

Hashtags are one of the most important things that will determine your success on Instagram, but they can be hard to use correctly, just like any other social media marketing strategy. Here are some best practices to help you get the most out of your hashtags:
  • Your profile should include your branded hashtag. Your brand's Instagram business profile is the best place to spread the word about your own hashtags.
  • Use only a small number of hashtags. Officially, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but studies have shown that between 8 and 11 hashtags are the sweet spot, especially if you use different kinds of hashtags. Still, the Instagram algorithm is always changing, so make sure you're always up to date on the best ways to use Instagram.
  • Change up the hashtags you use. Don't always use the same hashtags. Set up groups of hashtags that you can use in your Instagram posts. This will not only make you more visible to more people, but it can also keep Instagram from marking your account as spam.
  • Spend some time with each hashtag. This can help you find new hashtags to use and make sure you don't use a banned hashtag by accident or jump into a conversation without knowing what it's about.

Post Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories started out as a way to share short-lived photos and videos with your followers that disappear after 24 hours. This was inspired by Snapchat. On average, 86% of brand Stories are finished. This is a great number by any measure. Instagram Stories have become an important part of any marketing plan for Instagram. Stories led to Story ads, and now Instagram has added Highlights so that Stories can live on forever. Here are some tips for using Instagram Stories to promote your business.
  • Share Instagram posts that your followers have made
You can show off user-generated content on Instagram Stories, which is always popular and will help you get more Instagram followers. People love to see that you care enough about them and their content to share it on a brand's social media account. It also saves you from having to make the content yourself and is a strong form of social proof.    
  • Acquire Instagram content from your audience
You can also get user-generated content from Instagram Stories in a number of ways. For example, you can ask users to share pictures of their latest purchases by adding calls to action, or you can use poll stickers to get feedback and get social proof right away.    
  • Be yourself
Instagram Stories are quirkier than feed content, so it’s a great place to showcase your fun side and get creative with Instagram marketing. Use pictures and videos to tell the story of your brand, and if you can, add some behind-the-scenes content. In general, brands that are authentic do well on social media.    
  • Go live
You can broadcast live from your Instagram app with Instagram Live, and your followers can interact with you in real time. You can do Q&As, talk about a certain topic, or talk to a special guest or influential person. After the livestream is over, you can set it to play with the rest of your Instagram Stories. Use Instagram Live to show your followers how your brand and business work behind the scenes.    

Change Instagram Stories to Highlights

At first, Instagram Stories were like Snapchat Stories in that they disappeared after 24 hours. But Instagram realized that this hurt the return on investment (ROI) of that content, so they added the Highlights feature to keep Instagram Stories alive. Highlights live on profile pages, and after 24 hours, you can add Stories to them. For the most impact, you can make more than one Highlight. For example, you could use one for user-generated content ("What You've Said"), one for brand storytelling ("About Us"), and one for events ("Conference 2021"). This makes it easier for people to find the content they want when they visit your profile for the first time. This can help them get to know you and trust you faster. To add Highlights to your profile, click on the black plus sign above your gallery in the Instagram app.     You must give your Highlight a name and choose the Stories you want to add to it. You can change them whenever you want.    

Set up a shop on Instagram

You can put a link to your store in your Instagram bio, but you can also use Instagram Shopping to make your Instagram posts feel like online stores. A business can set up an Instagram shop with product detail pages, collections, and the ability to accept payments. Also, users can tap on a product in a post or story, get more information, and go to the site to buy it by using product tags and product stickers.     When you set up an Instagram shop, you can use eCommerce features, such as:
  • Shoppable posts
  • Shoppable Stories
  • Influencer tagging
  • In-app checkout
  • Explore Shop
Shopify helps merchants create this seamless shopping experience by letting brands tag products in posts and Stories and letting potential customers buy them without leaving the platform. This option is not only very convenient for users, which makes it more likely that they'll buy, but it also solves Instagram's biggest marketing problem, which was making it easy for users to click on links in a post and buy something. Even better, setting up the Instagram sales channel for your Shopify store is easy. Merchants can also put an Instagram gallery or even a blog post right on their website. This makes a full integration where you can show both your Instagram feed and your Instagram posts. This can get people to check out your Instagram, where they'll see social proof and great reviews, and product tags can get them to buy more.   With Shopify Apps like Instafeed and shoppable Instagram galleries, it's easy and quick to set up Instagram galleries on your website.  

Hold an Instagram contest on your Instagram profile

  Contests are one of the most common ways to use Instagram, and for good reason. People love the chance to win something, so they can be very successful.

Instagram contest rules

Before you start your Instagram contest, it's a good idea to quickly review Instagram's rules for contests:
  • Don't make it sound like Instagram has anything to do with the contest.
  • Don't ask people to tag themselves or other people in photos where they aren't.
  • Follow the rules and laws in your area, such as restrictions on age, eligibility, or prizes.
  • Make the rules for entering and taking part clear.

Different kinds of Instagram contests

You can run many different kinds of contests on your Instagram page. Each has its own benefits, and many merchants combine different contest ideas to get the best results and return on investment. Use a mix of Instagram posts and Instagram Stories to run contests and see what works. Here are a few different ways to hold contests on your Instagram business profile.
  • In the comments, mention a friend. This is done so that your new followers will tell their friends about your business, who may be interested. It doesn't work for every brand, but it's easy to use and doesn't take much work. It will also get a lot more people interested. Tagging a friend is a tried-and-true way to market on social media sites.
  • Follow us. Even though it's often just one part of an Instagram contest, merchants often want to get more followers as the main goal. After all, a one-time comment isn't bad, but long-term support is better.
  • Leave a comment. These contests could be caption contests or they could just ask users to share their thoughts or experiences. These contests are very easy to keep track of, and because they are easy to enter, you are likely to have a lot of people take part.
  • Contests for photos. Even though they require the most time from users, these contests pay out the most (and require the most appealing prizes). People who want to enter a photo contest are asked to send in an original photo or video, either by attaching it to a contest hashtag or by using contest software. They give you the best content made by users, which you can then use on your own profile.

Contest software: Do you need to use it?

Before you start your contest, you should decide if you want to use contest software, which has both pros and cons. Due to the need for landing pages, contest software will cost more money (usually between $30 and $50 per month) and take more time to set up. Most of the time, this means that your contest won't "live" on Instagram. Users also can't comment directly on a post to enter; they have to click on the link in your profile and interact there. Still, there are a lot of good reasons to use contest software. It's much easier to keep track of who entered and when which makes it much easier to pick a winner. Some software can even pick a winner at random for you. You can also get great analytics, which are often updated in real-time, to see how your content is doing in relation to its goals. Last but not least, using contest software gives you more freedom. Do you want the contest to have a voting part? You can now. Thanks to the secure contest landing page, you can also get real lead information, like users' phone numbers or email addresses. This gives you real, quantifiable information about your leads that you can use to follow up with them or show them ads again in the future. If you think contest software is right for you, try these services:
  • ShortStack
  • Wishpond
  • Woobox

Use Instagram automation

In June 2021, Facebook opened up the Messenger API for Instagram so that brands could use Instagram to make automated messaging. As we've talked about so far, Instagram has changed a lot since it was just a way to share photos. People can find brands and connect with them there. Today, 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business, and a big part of that is messaging. Interacting with brands, whether through a direct message, a mention, or a Story reply, is fun for customers and important for your business. Instagram Automation by ManyChat is a tool that can help you manage conversations from one place. Brands that use it can interact with potential customers from different entry points, like the Instagram feed, Stories, mentions, and direct messages (DMs), all in one place. The Story Mention Trigger is a popular piece of automation. When someone tags your Instagram business profile in a Story, you can automatically send them a direct message. This makes customers feel like they are important, which makes them more likely to stay with you and helps you make money on Instagram.    

Use Instagram Reels

The big news for Instagram in 2020 was the release of Reels. Reels are vertical videos that last between 10 and 60 seconds. They can be posted to your Instagram feed and have a chance of showing up on the Explore page, where they could be seen by thousands of potential customers in your target audience. Reels are a unique way to get your brand in front of people who don't already follow you. The algorithm will show your Reels to more people in their Instagram feeds if they are more interesting. This can help you grow faster on Instagram than traditional formats like posts in your feed or Stories. Reels should be a big part of how you market on Instagram. Reels are another fun and personal way to introduce yourself to your audience. It can give you a chance to show who you are and get creative. In general, when people watch Reels, they don't expect overly styled or professionally made content. Here, you can connect with your audience in an easy and low-effort way by using Instagram reels. Reels can be used by e-commerce companies to:
  • Show product how-tos
  • Inspire viewers
  • Show behind-the-scene content
  • Launch product teasers
  • Curate user-generated content
There are a lot of options. What's the best? The set-up time for reels is five minutes.  

Work with Instagram influencers

A person with a lot of followers in a certain niche on Instagram is called an "Instagram influencer." Think of them as your business's brand ambassadors. Instagram influencers have built up large followings of people who trust what they promote and will share your product with their followers in exchange for free products, experiences, or money.   A recent report by HypeAuditor found that for every dollar you pay for influencer promotion on Instagram, you get $4.87 in earned media value. This means that influencer marketing campaigns can give you a better return on your money than traditional advertising. Influencers have many different numbers of followers, from nano-influencers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers to mega-influencers with more than 100,000 followers (over one million followers). You can find influencers who charge anywhere from $25 to $100,000 per post. It depends on your budget. Even if you don't have a lot of money to spend on Instagram marketing, you can usually find one or two influencers to try out for a few hundred dollars.  

Use Instagram ads

Did you know that one-third of Instagram ads lead to direct sales? Nearly eight out of ten of these shoppers have bought things on the platform from brands they have never heard of. There are many different kinds of shoppable ads on Instagram that let the people you want to reach buy right in the app. It also gives creators and businesspeople:
  • Scalable pricing
  • Easy to use self-service ad creation
  • Refined audience targeting
  • Detailed reporting

Analytics tools for Instagram

When it comes to marketing on Instagram, you should keep track of your strategy and results to see what works and what doesn't. Instagram has its own analytics tools that can give you a lot of information about how well your posts are doing. Analytics are only available for Instagram for business, which can be linked to your Facebook business page. Go to your profile page and click on the graph icon in the top right corner to see your analytics. Under your Instagram Insights, you can see important performance metrics like:
  • Total number of profile visits
  • Total number of website clicks
  • Total reach (the number of unique accounts who saw your posts)
  • Total impressions (the total number of times your posts were viewed)
  • The performance of every post, including engagement and impressions
  • Total number of views on your Stories
  You can also see important details about your audience, such as:
  • Number of followers and recent growth trends
  • Gender and age breakdown
  • Where do your followers live
  • Follower activity broken down by day and time can help you figure out the best times to post.
With Instagram Insights, you can see if your impressions, reach, and engagement is going up or down from month to month, as well as how these numbers compare to your number of followers, which may be going up or down. By comparing this information to the most popular posts and looking at how they did, you can find trends and patterns that will help you market your Instagram profile better. Early in 2021, Instagram also released the Professional Dashboard, which lets creators and businesses track their performance, find new sales and marketing tools, and access educational materials that Instagram has put together.    

Create a full Instagram marketing plan

Instagram is a must-use social media platform that eCommerce businesses and marketers should add to their marketing arsenal if they haven't already. You can use Instagram to boost sales, keep customers coming back, and give them a world-class experience. Explore all of Instagram's features, post different kinds of content regularly, and interact with your followers to get the most out of it. You might even be surprised at how quickly you start to see results.  

Instagram marketing FAQ

Instagram marketing

Instagram marketing is the process of using Instagram to get more people to know about a brand and introduce new products. Creators and entrepreneurs can use Instagram to build their brands, connect with their followers, and grow their businesses in a natural way.

How do I start Instagram marketing?

Set up an Instagram Business account or an Instagram Creator account to start marketing on Instagram. Start by making a personal account, then follow the steps above to make a profile for your business.

How do I use Instagram to market my business?

  • Use hashtags for discoverability
  • Launch giveaways and contests
  • Respond to messages and comments with automation
  • Publish Reels and Stories
  • Work with Instagram influencers
  • Launch Instagram ads

What is the best way to use Instagram for marketing?

You can build a whole sales funnel on Instagram with shoppable Stories, Instagram shops, and in-app checkout. Find ways to keep people talking about your brand on Instagram, and then give them deals and shoppable posts to get them to buy.

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