When I first started using Instagram back in 2015, it was an absolutely different place.
At that time, I doubted whether Instagram would be suitable for a tech-focused business that wasn’t primarily focused on sharing aesthetically pleasing photos. However, as time passed and I gained experience with the platform, my perspective evolved significantly.
Now, eight years later, I have worked with numerous clients, developed various strategies, and witnessed the dynamic changes on Instagram.
Today, I can confidently share what I have learned about why Instagram can be an incredibly valuable marketing communication channel.
Why brands love Instagram and why you should love it too
Instagram is a highly visual platform that allows brands to showcase their products or services through captivating images and videos. Visual content tends to be more engaging and memorable, making it an ideal platform for brands to create a strong visual identity and connect with their target audience.
Large User Base
Instagram has a massive and diverse user base, with over 2 billion monthly active users as of 2023. This provides brands with a vast potential audience to reach and engage with. Brands can target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors to ensure their content reaches the right people.
Instagram is a hub for influencer marketing. Influencers with large and loyal followings collaborate with brands to promote their products or services to their audience. This form of marketing can effectively reach a brand’s target market, generate brand awareness, and drive sales.
Storytelling and Authenticity
Instagram allows brands to tell stories and convey their identity visually and compellingly. Brands can share behind-the-scenes content, user-generated content, and authentic moments that resonate with their audience. This fosters a sense of authenticity and connection, which can help build consumer trust and loyalty.
Engagement and Interaction
Instagram offers various features that encourage user engagement and interaction, such as likes, comments, and direct messages. Brands can actively engage with their audience, respond to comments, and create conversations around their products or services. This level of interaction helps build relationships, gather feedback, and gain valuable insights into consumer preferences.
Explore and Discoverability
Instagram’s “Explore” feature allows users to discover new content and accounts based on their interests and behavior. This will enable brands to reach a wider audience beyond their existing followers. By creating engaging and relevant content, brands can increase their discoverability and attract new followers and potential customers.
Instagram has integrated e-commerce features such as shoppable posts and the ability to tag products in posts and stories. This enables brands to showcase their products and drive direct sales within the Instagram app. The seamless shopping experience enhances convenience for users and can lead to increased brand conversions.
Building a brand on Instagram involves strategic planning and consistent effort.
Here are seven steps to help you establish a strong brand presence on Instagram:
- Research and Analyze Competitors: Start by researching your competitors’ Instagram accounts. Analyze their content, engagement levels, and overall strategies. This will provide insights into what works well in your industry and help you differentiate your brand’s communication approach.
- Identify Relevant Hashtags: Hashtags play a crucial role in increasing your visibility and reaching your target audience on Instagram. Research and identify popular and relevant hashtags for your industry or niche. Incorporate these hashtags into your posts to improve discoverability.
- Plan and Prepare Content: Create a content strategy that aligns with your brand identity and resonates with your target audience. Prepare high-quality visuals, engaging captions, and compelling storytelling elements. Consider mixing different types of content, such as product shots, behind-the-scenes glimpses, user-generated content, and educational posts, to keep your feed diverse and interesting.
- Set Up a Publishing Calendar: Maintaining consistency on Instagram is essential for building a brand. Develop a publishing calendar outlining when and what content you will post. This will help you stay organized and ensure a regular presence on the platform. Utilize scheduling tools or Instagram’s built-in scheduling feature to simplify the process.
- Engage with Potential Customers: Don’t limit your Instagram activity to just posting content. Actively engage with your target audience by responding to comments, direct messages, and mentions. Like and comment on posts from potential customers, industry influencers, and relevant accounts. Engaging with others helps build relationships and fosters a sense of community around your brand.
- Be Actively Involved: Consistency and activity are key on Instagram. Regularly post content, engage with your followers, and participate in relevant conversations. Utilize Instagram’s features, such as Reels, stories, and live videos, to showcase different aspects of your brand and connect with your audience in various ways.
- Utilize a Trackable Link in Your Bio: Instagram does not provide built-in analytics for links in captions, but you can work around this by using a shortened link from services like Bit.ly. By doing so, you can track and measure the incoming traffic from your Instagram bio link. This helps you understand the effectiveness of your Instagram efforts in driving website traffic or conversions.
With the immense popularity of Instagram and its active user base, brands must establish a presence on the platform.
Building a brand on Instagram requires careful consideration of your competitors’ strategies and utilizing hashtags effectively.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you with these aspects:
#1 Check what your competitors do
Research your competitors on Instagram to understand their communication strategies. Look for brands that list their social media channels on their website. Analyze what they are publishing, how frequently they post, and the number of followers and followings they have. This will provide ideas and insights for your own strategy and help you differentiate your brand.
How to find your competitors on Instagram
Focus on a reasonable number of competitors that you can analyze effectively. It can range from a few accounts to a dozen or so, depending on your industry. Keep in mind that your list of competitors may evolve over time, so continue to monitor and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Things to look for
- What is your competitor publishing — you will find ideas for you
- How often do they publish — you will know how often you have to publish to be better
- How many followers and followings they got — find out if it is an essential channel of communication for them
How many accounts should I analyze
It depends on how fast you can find your idea for communication to be better than your competitors. Sometimes it is just a few accounts; sometimes, it’s a dozen or so.
Remember, you will find more competitors as time goes by, so your strategy can change over time.
Even if you are not an expert today, this research is the easiest way to understand what’s the best to communicate with your target group.
#2 How to find suitable hashtags
Utilize hashtags to increase your chances of being discovered on Instagram. You can add up to 30 hashtags to each post. Ensure that the hashtags you choose accurately describe your post content. Going beyond 30 hashtags will cause your post to appear without any caption or hashtags.
Note: if you add more than 30 hashtags, your post will appear without any caption or hashtags.
How to find the best hashtags
- To discover suitable hashtags, type them directly in the Instagram app on your phone. This will show you the number of posts associated with each hashtag and the users who are publishing them. Through this process, you may uncover new competitors, potential customers, or influencers in your industry.
What to focus on when looking for hashtags
When selecting hashtags, pay attention to the following factors:
- A number of posts associated with a hashtag: Choose hashtags with a significant number of posts to ensure sufficient activity and exposure.
- User activity: Evaluate the engagement and interaction generated by the hashtags. Look for hashtags that attract your potential customers or competitors.
Two types of hashtags
There are two types of hashtags to focus on:
- Hashtags related to your business, services, category, or product: Use these to align with your overall brand identity and industry.
- Hashtags specific to each post: Always select hashtags that accurately represent the content of your picture or video.
Remember, Instagram is a dynamic platform, and it’s essential to continuously adapt your strategy based on your findings and changing trends. By analyzing competitors and effectively utilizing hashtags, you can improve your brand’s visibility, reach your target audience, and enhance your overall Instagram marketing efforts.
#3 Prepare the right content with the right tools
I still remember my first posts and the first hashtags I used. I was really doubtful about the outcome, even though I was doing everything possible to make posts look nice. Luckily, it was unnecessary as first likes, comments, and traffic appeared.
Another big concern was that I didn’t know what to post next and I had to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Well, beginnings are never easy, but once my skills improved over time, this task has become one of the most pleasant ones.
Here are a few tools that can help you skyrocket your content creation on Instagram:
Canva is a popular graphic design tool that offers pre-designed templates and easy-to-use features. It allows you to create stunning visuals, including Instagram posts, stories, and highlight covers, even if you don't have advanced design skills.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud provides a suite of powerful design software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom. These tools offer extensive capabilities for photo editing, graphic design, and creating unique visuals for your Instagram content.
VSCO is a photo editing app that provides a wide range of filters, editing tools and presets to enhance your images. Its minimalist and user-friendly interface makes it a favorite among Instagram content creators.
Unsplash is a platform that offers a vast collection of high-quality, royalty-free images. You can find stunning visuals that align with your brand's aesthetics and use them to create compelling content for Instagram.
Later is a social media scheduling tool specifically designed for Instagram. It allows you to plan and schedule your posts in advance, manage multiple accounts, and preview your Instagram grid to maintain a cohesive and visually appealing feed.
InShot is a mobile app offering various editing features for photos and videos. It enables you to trim, merge, and add filters, text, music, and effects to your videos, making it ideal for creating engaging and dynamic content for Instagram.
Splice is a mobile video editing app developed by GoPro. It offers a range of features for editing videos, including trimming, cropping, adding transitions, text overlays, music, and sound effects. Splice is known for its user-friendly interface and intuitive editing tools. It is popular among content creators who want to edit and enhance their videos directly on their mobile devices. It's an excellent tool for creating professional-looking videos for platforms like Instagram.
Remember, while these tools can significantly enhance your content creation process, it's essential to balance efficiency and a unique, authentic brand presence. Experiment with different tools and find the ones that best align with your creative vision and workflow.
Setting up a publishing calendar for your Instagram content is indeed a valuable practice.
#4 Set up your calendar and be consistent.
Here's a step-by-step guide to help you establish and organize your publishing calendar effectively:
- Determine your posting frequency: Decide how often you want to post on Instagram. Consider factors like your resources, content availability, and audience engagement. It could be daily, a few times a week, or on specific days.
- Choose a calendar tool: Select a calendar tool that suits your preferences. It can be a physical planner, a digital calendar app like Google Calendar, or a social media management tool with scheduling capabilities. Now you can even plan your post in Meta Business Account in your browser for free.
- Define content themes: Identify key content themes or categories that align with your brand. This will help you maintain consistency and keep your content focused. For example, you might have themes like product showcases, behind-the-scenes, customer stories, or educational tips.
- Plan your content in advance: Use your calendar to plan and schedule your content in advance. Allocate specific days and times for each type of content theme. This will provide structure and ensure a consistent flow of posts.
- Create a content pipeline: Establish a content pipeline to ensure a steady supply of content. Brainstorm ideas, gather resources, and create a bank of images, videos, and captions. This allows you to avoid last-minute rushes and ensures you have content ready to go.
- Consider peak posting times: Research and analyze your audience's behavior to identify the best times to post on Instagram. Take note of when your audience is most active and engaged. Schedule your posts during these peak times to maximize reach and engagement.
- Monitor and analyze results: Regularly track the performance of your posts using Instagram insights or analytics tools. Assess which types of content and posting times generate the most engagement and adjust your calendar accordingly.
- Stay flexible and adaptable: While having a publishing calendar is essential, be open to adjusting and experimenting with different strategies. Monitor trends, listen to audience feedback, and adapt your content plan accordingly.
By implementing a publishing calendar, you'll save time, maintain consistency, and have a more precise overview of your content strategy. It allows you to be proactive, organized and focused on creating impactful content for your audience.
Determining the best time to publish on Instagram can vary depending on your specific audience and location. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:
Posting in the morning, between 8 am and 10 am, can be effective as people often check their phones and social media platforms shortly after waking up. This can help you reach early risers and those who browse Instagram during their morning routine.
Posting around lunchtime, typically between 11 am and 1 pm, can be advantageous as people take breaks and scroll through their social media feeds while having lunch. This timing can capture the attention of individuals looking for distractions during their midday break.
Posting in the afternoon, specifically between 2 pm and 4 pm, is another popular time when people tend to dip in productivity and turn to social media for entertainment. This can be an excellent opportunity to engage with your audience during these leisurely moments.
To determine the most effective posting times for your brand, consider the following strategies:
- Analyze Instagram Insights: Switch to an Instagram Business account to access Insights. This feature provides your followers' activity data, including their most active days and hours. You can use this information to identify patterns and optimize your posting schedule accordingly.
- Experiment and analyze engagement: Test different posting times and monitor the engagement metrics for each post. Take note of when you receive the highest likes, comments, and shares. This data can help you refine your posting schedule.
- Know your audience: Understand the demographics and behaviors of your target audience. Consider factors such as age, occupation, and lifestyle to predict when they will most likely be active on Instagram. If you have an international audience, adjust your posting times to cater to different time zones.
Remember, consistency is critical. Once you've identified the best posting times for your brand, aim to maintain a regular schedule to keep your audience engaged. However, don't be afraid to experiment and adapt as you gather more insights and data about your specific audience's behavior.
#5 Engage with potential customers.
Finding potential customers on Instagram is a crucial step in growing your follower base. Here are some effective strategies to help you identify and engage with potential customers:
Engage with users using relevant hashtags
Search for hashtags that are relevant to your business and target audience. Explore posts using those hashtags and engage with the users by liking their posts, leaving genuine comments, and following them if their content aligns with your brand. This can help you connect with individuals who are already interested in the topic or industry related to your business.
Engage with followers of your competitors
Identify your competitors' Instagram accounts and explore their followers. Engage with these users by liking their posts, leaving comments, and following them if they are interested in your niche. By targeting your competitors' followers, you can reach an audience with an affinity for similar products or services.
Hire ENGE Team to do it for you
ENGE Team will be responsible for finding and engaging with the right people on Instagram (wanna know more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Remember, building a genuine and engaged follower base takes time and consistent effort. Focus on providing value, building relationships, and being active on the platform to foster a loyal community of potential customers.
#6 Engage, engage, engage.
Attracting and engaging with your audience is crucial for successful Instagram marketing. Here are some effective strategies to engage on Instagram:
Like posts on Instagram:
Liking posts is a simple and effective way to get noticed by potential customers. You can search for relevant hashtags in the Instagram mobile app and like photos that align with your target audience. This activity increases your visibility and may lead to users following your account.
To like posts, you have several options:
- Instagram mobile app: Search for relevant hashtags and click on the heart icon under the photos you want to like.
- Web browser: Log in to your Instagram account and like pictures of people who have interacted with your posts or engaged with your brand.
- Hire ENGE Team to work on your behalf (send an email at Joanna@goenge.com).
Follow people on Instagram:
Following relevant users can attract attention to your account and increase the likelihood of them following you back.
Send Direct Messages (DMs):
Direct messages on Instagram can be a powerful tool for communication. You can send personalized offers, engage with influencers or potential customers, and make a lasting impression. It's worth noting and direct message recipients don't necessarily have to be your followers.
Comment on posts with emojis and gif:
Commenting on Instagram with emojis is a popular and effective way to communicate with your audience. Simple phrases like "cool," "awesome," or "beautiful" accompanied by relevant emojis can create a friendly and engaging atmosphere. Instagram users often respond positively to this form of communication.
To comment on Instagram:
- Instagram mobile app: Click on the speech bubble icon below a photo to leave a comment. Remember, you can comment on users' photos even if you don't follow each other. Don't forget to use emojis to add personality to your comments.
- Web browser: Log in to your Instagram account and comment on photos directly. If you want to use emojis in your comments, consider using browser plugins that offer emoji support.
Engaging with your audience is crucial for building a strong presence on Instagram. By actively liking posts, sending direct messages, and commenting on photos and videos, you can create meaningful interactions and attract more attention to your brand.
#7 Utilize a Trackable Link in Your Bio.
Creating a shortened link for your Instagram account in your bio is an essential step that often gets overlooked.
By using a shortened link, you can track and measure the traffic coming from Instagram, which helps you understand the effectiveness of your Instagram marketing efforts. One of the simplest ways to create a shortened link is by using bit.ly.
When deciding where to point your link in your bio, consider your goals and the current focus of your Instagram strategy.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Special offers or sales: If you are selling products and have a special offer or a sale running, set your link to direct users to that specific offer. Additionally, when posting a new photo, make sure to mention the offer in your caption and encourage your followers to check it out by clicking the link in your bio.
- Newest article or blog post: If you want your followers to read your latest article or blog post, change the link in your bio to that specific article. In your post captions, entice your followers to click the link in your bio to access the full content and engage with it.
- Events or contests: When planning an event or hosting a contest, change the link in your bio to direct users to the event details or contest entry page. Use your post captions to promote the event or contest and encourage your followers to participate by clicking the link in your bio.
It's important to note that you can add up to 5 links to your bio and change them as frequently as you need. This flexibility allows you to adapt to marketing campaigns, promotions, or content updates. By strategically updating the link in your bio and aligning it with your current objectives, you can maximize the impact of your Instagram marketing efforts.
Building a successful brand on Instagram goes beyond follower counts. Focus on attracting and engaging your audience through likes, direct messages, and comments. Use a shortened link in your bio to track traffic and optimize your marketing strategy. By implementing these tactics, you can establish a stronger presence on Instagram and drive meaningful results for your brand.
Ready to take your Instagram strategy to the next level?
We're here to help :) In Enge, we can help you grow your brand awareness and engagement on Instagram.
If you have any questions, just email me at email@example.com or book a consultation with our InstaStrategist to find out how you can take your business to the next level.