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Ahron BurstinThe Ultimate 2017 Instagram Idea List: 80+ Tips for Effectively Marketing Your Brand

  • Tuesday, April 25, 2017   - Get post updates via email + a special bonus growth hack here
80+ Instagram Marketing Ideas & Tips

With its 500+ million active users, Instagram is the world’s second-biggest social network. This is a remarkable achievement considering the app is exclusive to mobile phone users.

Even more remarkable than this is the vast number of brands marketing on Instagram. From socialites like Dan Bilzerian and Kim Kardashian to corporations like Mercedes and Warner Bros, just about everyone is now tapping into this network to grow their business.

🐐

A post shared by Dan Bilzerian (@danbilzerian) on

Case in point: as of 2016, 48.8% of all brands were already on Instagram. In 2017, this number is expected to reach 70.7%. Marketers are talking with their money, and they’re saying that Instagram is an essential part of the marketing mix (And a major reason for Facebook’s increased revenue!)

The question is, how can you use this growing platform as an effective marketing tool?

We found that there’s no single answer, but rather a long list of things you can do to succeed on Instagram. In this post, we’ll be sharing 80+ of them with you.

These tips will cover:

After reading through this comprehensive list you should be ready to take your Instagram account to the next level! So let’s get started.

Setting Your Account Up For Success

Your account is the basecamp for your marketing operations. It’s where you engage your audience and convert users to take action. If it sucks, it doesn’t matter how great you are at everything else – you won’t get anywhere.

That’s why these next 10 points are so important, starting with #1 – which is to…

1. Make an Official Business Account

An official business account means you get a little blue “verified” badge and a “contact” button that allows users to message you directly.

This is a simple way to increase credibility and authority with users without paying anything. Instagram makes it dead easy to sign up with detailed instructions available here, and the direct-message function is helpful for customer service, too.

Instagram Business Account Example

2. Use a Relevant, Memorable Name

Your screen name is the first thing people see – and the first place you can deploy effective marketing messages. This means you should avoid names like “RockerGuy99” or “ElephantZeppelin”.

Instead, find an Instagram name that matches your brand, matches your other social media accounts, and is easy to remember.

Take Fortune Magazine for example, getting @fortune would have been ideal however it wasn’t available so they chose @fortunemag.

Fortune Magazine

And you may need to do the same if you can’t get the name you want, take us here at Gleam for example. @gleam isn’t available so we might need to go for something like:

  • @gleamapp
  • @gleamio
  • @gleamcompetitions
  • @teamgleam
  • @usegleam
  • @getgleam

And speaking of your other social media accounts…

3. Cross-Promote Accounts in Your Bio

Did you know that 56%+ of all adults use multiple social media platforms? It’s surprising, but true – and it means that you can engage your users much more effectively by reaching out to them across a multitude of platforms.

All you need to do is drop social media links in your Instagram bio. Highly engaged users will want to view more of your content and click through, allowing you to further promote your brand and increase audience engagement.

A great example of cross-promotion comes from Gretta Rose, who uses her Instagram bio to promote her Snapchat account as well as several of her businesses.

Cross Promoting Instagram Accounts

4. Use Your Bio to Grow Your Email List

Your bio can also be used to house links to your website’s landing page, and with Gleam’s Capture app you can create personalized and targeted opt-in forms to add visitors to your email list.

Check out an example on @thegyppo, he shortens the link below via Bit.ly which has a unique identifier on the end:

https://blog.gleam.io/25-growth-hacks/?source=instagram-profile

Our Capture app, looks for this string in the URL and fires the appropriate opt-in form. The beauty of this technique is that it works on both desktop and mobile.

Building Your Email List on Instagram

Given that Instagram won’t allow you to share links in image caption, including links in your bio is incredibly valuable, it’s the only clickable link on your entire Instagram.

You can also share links to any current promotions or contests via your bio, but we’ll talk more about that later.

5. Connect to Facebook

95% of all Instagram users are also on Facebook. Connecting your accounts on the two networks allows you to take advantage of this through cross-platform promotions, enhanced targeting with the Facebook tracking pixel and the ability to cross-post or share at the click of a button.

Sharing Instagram Posts on Instagram

This can be especially useful when you want to quickly add a successful Instagram post onto your Facebook Business page.

6. Make an Instagram Tab on Your Facebook Page

You’ve linked Instagram to Facebook – now do the same in reverse. It’s a free way to cross-promote via different platforms, so why not?

All you need to do to create an Instagram tab is to use our Gallery app. It provides a beautiful way to show off your Instagram images and videos inside Facebook.

Here’s an example of the end result for Victoria’s Secret, you can’t even tell it’s a 3rd party app:

Create an Instagram Facebook Gallery Tab

7. Tell People About Your Page

Now that you’ve setup your page and have some nice posts up there it’s time to start promoting yourself.

If you have an existing audience the best way to approach this is by using existing social accounts, email lists and personal contacts.

8. Invite Friends From Facebook / Contacts

Ask your informal acquaintances if they’d like to follow your page. Don’t be pushy, and don’t assume that people owe you anything, but who knows? If people like you personally, there’s a good chance they’ll enjoy your content!

The best way to get this started is within the Instagram app itself, you can import your phone contacts (and follow them all), import your Facebook contacts or direct message users about your page.

Invite Contacts & Facebook Friends to Instagram

9. Keep an Eye On Your Competition

If your competition is successfully engaging with their audience it can be worth checking out what they’re doing to get an idea of what your audience is looking for.

Spying on Competitors Instagram

You have a whole range of ways you can do this:

  • Create a separate Instagram account and follow all your competitors
  • Use a tool like Keyhole to see which posts from competitors perform the best
  • Your competitors might not be who you think they are, look at popular posts on specific #hashtags

Being aware of how your competitors post, engage with fans and launch promotions is something worth adding to your weekly checklist – it can provide inspiration and insight beyond your own plans.

10. Create an Instagram-Specific Strategy

Something we often see is people posting random content to Instagram. This is a mistake that’s indicative of not understanding what you’re Instagram page is trying to achieve. What you want to have is a clear call to action, consistency in marketing messages, and a single vision for your images. This will help you engage users, maintain a consistent position in their minds and ultimately drive growth.

keep an 👁 on @beaconband – new music arrives this Friday.

A post shared by Ghostly (@ghostly) on

Once you’re done with all of the above steps you can move on to figuring out…

Hashtags

Adults don’t get them. Millennials can’t live without them. (Most) marketers still don’t use them effectively.

We’re talking about hashtags, of course!

These short words and phrases can make or break a marketing message’s success – and in the next few minutes you’ll learn how to use them correctly. Step #1 is to…

11. Create and Use Branded Hashtags

Creating a brand hashtag makes it easy for users to find your marketing messages – and for you to find people talking about you. These tags are also convenient for tagging contest submissions, customer service questions and much more.

For example, take a look at this MercedesAMG post with several brand hashtags, including #Mercedes and #MercedesAMG

Rise and grind – there is no better motivation than starting your day with a Mercedes-AMG GT R. ☀️ #MondayMotivation #MercedesAMG #Mercedes #AMG #DrivingPerformance #GTR #Performance #Power #Passion #Luxury #Lifestyle #Cars #CarsofInstagram [Fuel consumption combined: 11.4 l/100km | CO2 emission: 259 g/km]

A post shared by Mercedes-AMG (@mercedesamg) on

12. Research Relevant Hashtags

Outside of your brand hashtags, you want to use whatever’s hot and relevant in your niche. See which hashtags are popular with brands like yours using the ‘discover’ function, then add them to your own captions.

A good way to do this is to search the Instagram web interface for a more general tag like #travel.

Then start drilling down into the top posts for the #hashtags they use and compile a list.

Spent sunrise this morning roaming through glowing slot canyons with @annacalla & @tczech. It was nice to revisit this place after a few years, and it's just as awesome as the first time 😭🤘🏻shared a few shots in my story from this morning as well • @newmexicotrue | #newmexicotrue

A post shared by Garrett King (@shortstache) on

13. Use Daily #hashtags

You can easily use some #hashtag that relate to days of the week in order to keep your posting on Instagram consistent.

Quiet morning with #CafeBustelo. Hope everyone has a great start to the week! #BlakeScott #BusteloPartner

A post shared by Blake Scott (@blakescott_) on

Try these:

  • Monday: #monday, #mondays, #mondaymorning, #mondaymotivation, #mondayblues, #mancrushmonday,
    #musicmonday
  • Tuesday: #tuesday, #tiptuesday, #takemebacktuesday, #tunesday, #transformationtuesday
  • Wednesday: #wednesday, #humpday, #wednesdayworkout, #woofwednesday
  • Thursday: #thursday, #throwbackthursday, #thursdaythoughts
  • Friday: #friday, #followfriday, #ff, #fridaynight, #afterworkdrinks
  • Saturday: #saturday, #weekend, #saturdaynight
  • Sunday: #sunday, #weekend, #sundayfunday, #selfiesunday

14. Take Up Trending Hashtags

If you see that a hashtag’s trending, use it to get free exposure from thousands (or tens of thousands) of users. Just be sure to keep it relevant and avoid spamming; nobody likes that.

GoPro found away to take advantage of #NationalPetDay while it was trending and they were met with hundreds of thousands of views. The power of trending hashtags is undeniable, so don’t be afraid to put them to work for your brand.

Photo of the Day: Smile, Bilbo – it's #NationalPetDay! 📷: @mannu1415 • • • #GoPro #GoProPets #GoProEs #shibainu #dogsofinstgram

A post shared by gopro (@gopro) on

A trick that some people use here is go back and comment on their own post with extra #hashtags.

Time to enjoy nature from above!!! An ocean with many colours!!! Pure air, pure peace! Yea mon!!! Mystic Mt, Jamaica 🇯🇲 #chbaroundtheworld #DecameronAdventure

A post shared by Christian Byfield Travel (@byfieldtravel) on

15. Use Evergreen Hashtags

Over time, you’ll notice that some hashtags work for you consistently. These are evergreen hashtags and they’re all but guaranteed to put your images in front of your target audience. Make sure to track and deploy them regularly.

Student Flights Australia found that #neverstoptravelling consistently garnered the attention of their target market, so they began using the hashtag with great regularity.

Where will your adventurous spirit lead you?…… 📷 by @maxkrusecreative #neverstoptravelling #adventure #nepal #travel

A post shared by Student Flights Australia (@studentflightsau) on

🌸 Blossom time 🌸 #neverstoptravelling via. SF legend @okennoo

A post shared by Student Flights Australia (@studentflightsau) on

16. Track Branded Hashtag Use

Last year the #YourTaxis hashtag was created to promote the Victorian cab industry in Australia. However everyone ended up using it to share their bad experiences with Taxis.

Seems road rules only apply to car drivers not taxis…this selfish guy ignored the half dozen parking spots across the road in Audley St Petersham and deliberately parked in a handicapped parking spot before leaving the vehicle. Hey @mikebairdmp when is the taxi industry going to be made to follow the rules like the rest of us? If you like this please repost it. #yourtaxis #roadrules #handicapped #handicappedparking #ignorant #ignorantpeople #selfish #selfishpeople #governmentatwork #whatlicense #thankgodforridesharing #uber

A post shared by Nigel Culshaw (@intheframe1972) on

We mentioned this in passing above, but a recent trend is for people to address organizations via social media. As many as 67% of all consumers have done so in the past – so you want to stay on top of things by following your own brand hashtag and making sure you…

17. Respond to Hashtags

A mere 2% of all brands respond to social media messages consistently. You don’t want to be one of the unresponsive brands because it’s basically wasting a P.R. opportunity as well as burning out a lead due to inactivity.

Nature Box have managed to build a rapport with their customers by staying on top of branded hashtag use and responding to users who have mentioned them, even if it’s just to say something as simple as “enjoy”.

Responding to #hashtags

Now that you know how you’ll be using hashtags, it’s time to move on to Instagram’s core function…

Pictures

Instagram is limited in what you can do text-wise – but in terms of visuals the world’s your oyster. Since a person remembers 65% of the information they see, compared to only 10% of what they hear, the visual component of your content is critical.

Here’s how you can do it right.

18. Think First, Post Later

Once something’s on the internet, it’s there forever. Always make sure to double (or triple) check anything you’re posting. You don’t want a single snafu undoing the great marketing work you’re doing.

Be Careful What You Post on Instagram

19. Contextual (In Use) Images

Showing products in use is a great way to educate users and visually advertise the benefits of what you sell. It’s a strategy commonly used by sports brands, but it is really applicable for any brand.

Where heat screams from the skies. Steam rips up through the ground. #NotMadeForNormal #Climachill

A post shared by adidas (@adidas) on

20. Industry-Relevant Books and Publications

Letting people know you’re up to date with current events and information boosts your authority and credibility. It may seem a little cheesy – but it’s working for Tai Lopez in his garage 😉

Joseph Pilapil @joestang84 $10,000 cash instead of the car last night. Did he make the right choice? – I'm picking another $10,000 cash or free car giveaway winner of this month. Keep watching and following more of my different social media account so you get a better chance of becoming one of the semifinalists. – Follow my @tailopez Snapchat and twitter and Youtube channel. The more you follow the better your chances…

A post shared by Tai Lopez (@tailopez) on

21. Post High Quality Photos

Grainy, blurry, low-res, or over and under-filtered photos have no place in the digital era.

Yes, some people feel that overexposed photos hide skin problems or that soft images look “mysterious” But from a marketing perspective, nothing’s going to beat high quality, so just keep things simple (and awesome).

If you need any proof about the power of high quality photos look no further than this awe-inspiring photo from Murad Osmann.

#followmeto San Francisco with @NatalyOsmann for an afternoon at the Golden Gate Bridge. @beringervyds #BetterBeckons.

A post shared by Murad Osmann (@muradosmann) on

22. A.B.D. = Always Be Deleting (Bad Photos)

Once in a while, you’ll slip up and post a photo that doesn’t do well or perhaps the description didn’t do it justice.

When this happens, give it a grace period of 7-14 days, then delete it. There’s no reason to have ineffective marketing messages hanging around.

Deleted Instagram Images

23. Re-Use Images / Marketing Messages

Odds are, Instagram isn’t the only place you’re marketing – so why not re-use materials from ads and other social networks? It’s free, it saves time and it’s something you can do instantly with apps like Buffer.

And we’re back. Tag the crew that's getting you through the week. #SummerLikeAnAngel

A post shared by Victoria's Secret (@victoriassecret) on

You can see in this case Victoria’s Secret re-use the image, but try a different message. This is a good way to see which message works better.

Long lines, high necks, flirty lace—and it’s only going to get hotter.
http://i.victoria.com/La9

Posted by Victoria's Secret on Monday, April 24, 2017

24. Create and Maintain Consistent Guidelines

Having guidelines for what you post is a major part of maintaining consistency. Create rules for what can and can’t be posted; this will help you build a consistent visual experience for your users.

To be honest, we have a hard time not drooling over our Ginger Almondmilk, too. #CalifiaFarms

A post shared by Califia Farms (@califiafarms) on

This visual consistency will increase brand recognition and aid in the development of a consistent and dependable brand image.

25. Create Memes/In-Jokes

Memes don’t always have to be humorous. They simply have to be shareable, consistent and and – if possible – simple enough for fans to riff on. Just be careful with this one, as you don’t want to come across as pandering to a younger audience.

For excellent meme use, check anything related to Twitch.tv #kappa

At the #twitchxreddit house we've unlocked the mysteries of the KappaLisa! #sxsw2017 – painting created by @theladymea

A post shared by Twitch (@twitch) on

26. Share Behind-the-Scenes Content

Behind-the-scenes content, whether it be a picture or a video, is a bonus for your loyal followers. It’s free, it’s fun, and it builds rapport between your team and your audience – so if you’re not doing it yet, consider getting started in the very near future!

Get a behind-the-scenes look at @prattprattpratt's diet while filming #JurassicWorld2. #WhatsMySnack #JW2

A post shared by Jurassic World (@jurassicworld) on

27. Post Quotes

You may not always have the time to create fresh visual content. When that happens, quotes that are relevant to your industry or audience provide a reliable, time-tested way to pique users’ curiosity and drive engagement. (Statistics and interesting facts work too).

Consider sharing quotes which embody the essence of your brand, much like Flyte Socks have done with this quote that conveys their stylish and expressive brand personality.

Style, attitude, personality. #flytesocks www.flytesocks.com (📷: @iamgalla)

A post shared by Flyte Socks (@flytesocks) on

Foundr grew their Instagram account to 110k followers in just 6 months with this strategy alone.

28. Remix Old Content

Got old visual content? Then “remix” it by using a filter, adding a new caption, discussing it or using a video application like Boomerang. This way, you get “fresh content” without having to make any.

Here’s Apple remixing Drake’s album cover for one of their posts:

More Life. 🌺🦉@champagnepapi ✏️ #creatrs @robineisenberg

A post shared by Apple Music (@applemusic) on

29. Use Photo Editor Apps

Apps like Apple’s native Camera Roll and the iOS/Android VSCO make it easy to improve photo quality above and beyond Instagram’s native filters. Use them to get a small but noticeable advantage against the competition.

One of my favourites at the moment is called Prism, it allows you to turn regular photos into artwork.

"Look tough" "I'm trying…"

A post shared by Stuart McKeown (@thegyppo) on

30. Make a Collage

Collages allow you to deliver multiple messages, show a timeline of events and generally engage your audience. Making them only takes a few seconds with the Instagram Layout app – so use this tactic often.

If you need some collage inspiration just take a look at how YouTube sensation Zoella used a collage to highlight an array of products while personally interacting with her audience.

I love seeing all your photos of the products you decided to pick up & try from my new range! 😊 keep them coming, and don't forget to let me know which one is your favourite. ✌🏼️

A post shared by Zoella (@zoella) on

31. Hide Something In Your Photos

Gareth Pon hides a small rocket in every one of his Instagram photos, it provides a fun way for his followers to engage with all his posts.

Brighter days // @christinajengel #spotthegprocket #whatchicagolookslike

A post shared by Gareth Pon (@garethpon) on

32. Maintain a Story

Remember ‘Follow Me’ – the series of photographs where a girl leads her photographer boyfriend through a variety of exotic locations? It’s a great example of powerful visual storytelling – and its creator, Murad Osmann, built a long-term brand off the strength of his story. The story itself has since become a genre unto itself.

Take a page from Osmann’s book and tell a story with your images. Users will love you for it.

Tell An Instagram Story

33. Post a Carousel

Instagram has recently added a feature that allows you to group up to 10 photos or videos together in a single post. Much like a collage, these image carousels, or albums, allow you to group together related images, and they also serve as an excellent way to tell a story with your photos.

An early adopter of this feature is SkinnyMe Tea, who have taken full advantage of Instagram Carousels by using the feature to share recipe ideas, customer success stories and also show giveaway prizes.

Detox Water Goodness 💦 What better way to stay hydrated with these delicious recipes by wholefully.com 🍉🍓🍑🌿🍍🍇

A post shared by SkinnyMe Tea Health Club ➕ (@smtofficial) on

We love our happy customers 💕

A post shared by SkinnyMe Tea Health Club ➕ (@smtofficial) on

34. Create a Mosaic

Some more creative accounts like @thesocialkat have turned all of their photos into a mosaic that spans multiple rows of images.

Instagram Profile Mosaic

35. Everyday Moments/Updates

Got a minute while you’re standing in line, commuting via public transport or taking a break? Take a photo and voila, you’ve got free marketing content that will allow you to connect with your audience on a more personal level.

Faves on a plane

A post shared by Zoella (@zoella) on

36. Include People In Your Photos

Instagram is a personal service in the sense that people view images alone and through their personal devices, personal smartphones and personal computers. As a result, people prefer to engage with photos that feature people – so make sure you use them often.

“My mother was cold, harsh, and demanding. But she was the best cook ever!” (Santiago, Chile)

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

37. Tag People In Your Photos

Tag potential customers, work partners and influencers. This will show your channel to their followers in the ‘tagged photos’ section and (potentially) get you a co-sign from someone important in your industry.

Here’s Ethan from h3h3 dropping some knowledge bombs with Tai Lopez:

Man behind the meme , more vids droppin soon boi 🙏

A post shared by Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) on

38. Throwbacks

Sometimes old images don’t need to be remixed. Everyone loves a little nostalgia. Take advantage of this by keep an album of old photos related to your industry, then posting them on Instagram when you’re out of ideas.

Hello, beautiful. 😍 📸: @gavinkleinschmidt #ThrowbackThursday #FordTBT #TBT #ShoeboxFord #VintageFord #FordHotRod #HotRod #ClassicFord

A post shared by Ford Motor Company (@ford) on

39. Announcements

Instagram may feel like the ‘wrong’ platform for announcements. Having said that, people will pay attention to the captions and image text you post. This makes Instagram a viable platform for making announcements, which is a terrific way to get free promotion when you have something to say.

You can use Instagram to announce anything from product launches, organisational changes, or, like Starbucks, the addition of almond milk.

Almondmilk is now in all our US stores. Cue the almond fireworks! 🙌🎆🙌

A post shared by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on

40. Ask Questions

Ask a question in the photo itself, or in comments below, and watch user responses roll in. Asking questions is an effective way to gain free promotion or conduct marketing research with your user base whilst allowing your audience to be actively involved in your brand activity.

There are many ways you can use questions to help the development of your brand. You can simply use them to engage your audience and promote discussion, or you can ask a question that will encourage tagging and spread your message. The NBA’s Instagram page has taken to asking their audience for game predictions in posts which incite discussion and captivate fans.

Let us know Who Ya Got in today's Western Conference #NBAPlayoffs action… with #KiaWhoYaGot + #Sweepstakes for a chance at winning 2017 #NBAFinals tix!

A post shared by NBA (@nba) on

In addition to generating discussion and encouraging sharing, questions can also be used to…

41. Ask Users for Feedback

Social media isn’t just a great place to answer questions – it’s also the easiest way to connect directly with your audience. All you need to do is ask them for feedback and they’ll tell you how you can improve your product and marketing going forward. This is also an excellent way to make your audience feel more invested in your brand.

For an excellent example of asking users for feedback look no further than Loot Crate. They have asked for user feedback as a means of generating ideas for future products and engaging their audience in the process.

If you had the ability to pick the theme & franchises, what would they be? 🙂 April's Loot Crate theme is #INVESTIGATE featuring Stranger Things, Batman, Jessica Jones, and The X-Files! (Link in Bio)

A post shared by Loot Crate (@lootcrate) on

42. Post Fan-Made Content

Collecting and sharing content produced by your fans is an outstanding way to post quality content without having to make it yourself. This type of post is a great way to engage and interact with your audience, and content can be easily collected by running contests, offering a reward, or even just asking.

Contiki excels in this regard as they constantly use #contiki to collect and share customer travel photos.

Pizza is always a good idea, especially when it's in #Amsterdam. 🍕 📷 @sarahh_eats on #contiki. To be featured, don't forget to #contiki on your travel pics!

A post shared by Contiki (@contiki) on

43. Client Feedback

Studies have found that 84% of users trust an online reference as much as a real-life friend’s. Take advantage of this by sharing snaps of positive feedback from buyers via your feed.

SkinnyMe Tea uses this tactic effectivly, as can be seen by this post which shares a glowing review from a satisfied customer.

All of the favourites ☕️ @champagnemamis 🍃 "There's really nothing better than @smtofficial tea after a long day of work/school/life. And I love drinking their morning cleanse tea during my early-morning lectures, it gives me enough energy to deal with people's bs all day" 😉

A post shared by SkinnyMe Tea Health Club ➕ (@smtofficial) on

44. Client Success

Another way to capitalize on feel-good client stories is by sharing photos of them. Here’s an example of Kayla Itsines doing it with a collage:

Amazing women from all over the world ❤️❤️ Results using my #bbg program 💛💛 www.kaylaitsines.com/app

A post shared by Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) on

45. Stimulate Desire

If you can stimulate a desire or pain point your audience has they will feel more inclined to engage with your marketing messages (or make a sale instantly). Case in point: try looking at this delicious photo and not thinking about food and/or your current body shape:

Summer fruits 😍💛😁🍏🍎🍐🍉🍊🍌🍉 What's your favourite fruit !!?? www.kaylaitsines.com/app @the_sunkissed_kitchen

A post shared by Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) on

46. Make Current Events-Themed Pictures

On holidays and around important events (e.g. presidential elections), people always look for thematic content. Provide it and remember to attach appropriate tags to get oodles of free views.

Here’s how BirchBox did it:

Are you wearing your green today? This is how we wear ours 💚 🍀 #stpatricksday

A post shared by birchbox (@birchbox) on

47. Show Advanced Examples

Realistically, most people will never be able to replicate advanced/expert results. Still, images like this one are perfect for showing people what they might achieve – and they make for great eye candy:

Have some fun with it 😉 Shop for #StPatricksDay greens by clicking the link in our bio: Eye Shadow in Chrome Yellow, Technakohl in Sourpuss, and Chromacake in Primary Yellow and True Chartreuse. #Regram from MAC Artist @jessicaaaml in the U.K. 🇬🇧 #MACShop #MACArtistChallenge #MACGoGreen #Green #GreenMakeup #MyArtistCommunity_UK

A post shared by M·A·C Cosmetics (@maccosmetics) on

Okay, so that’s that for effective marketing with photos. Now, let’s look at videos: a media type that Instagram’s focusing on particularly hard now that Vine’s dead.

Videos

Facebook – Instagram’s owner – is big on videos right now. As a result, they recently upped Instagram’s video length limit to 60 seconds; a 400% increase from the old 15 seconds. This means you can do stuff like…

48. Incite Curiosity

The product below is a little odd – but try watching this (slightly mysterious) video and not feeling curious enough to read the caption!

The only way to celebrate #PiDay: Chocolate chunks #pizza FTW! 😍🍕🍫

A post shared by Max Brenner (@maxbrennerusa) on

49. Explainer Videos

If your potential customers don’t know what your offer is, they won’t buy from you. Use Instagram’s new 1-minute limit to show people exactly what you do with videos that explain or show what your product does.

Lush Cosmetics frequently post explainer videos, like this one detailing how to use their solid hair conditioners:

Not sure how to use our solid conditioners? Let Sean show you how! #welcometothejungle #junglesolidconditioner

A post shared by Lush Cosmetics North America (@lushcosmetics) on

50. Partner Up

Partnering up with another brand allows you to tap into their audience (and vice versa). As a result, making a video that features you and another Instagram user (as well as the appropriate hashtags) is always a savvy move.

An example of this came when Lululemon teamed up with LoveYourBrain, a group devoted to using yoga as a means of helping those who have been affected by traumatic brain injuries. This partnership lead to the two parties producing videos together which were shared around both of their Instagram pages, giving each page additional exposure.

Watch the full film—link in bio. In 2009, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) ended elite ambassador @kevinpearce’s snowboarding career, and shifted his life’s focus. With his brother @adam_pearce, he founded @loveyourbrain, a national #heretobe partner that improves the quality of life for people affected by TBI through yoga programs that build resilience and acceptance of themselves—exactly as they are.

A post shared by lululemon (@lululemon) on

"Sit quietly and notice what is arising in the mind." . We had the most incredible trip with @lululemon and #HereToBe as we made our way up the West Coast for #MindfulMarch. We are full of gratitude to everyone who was a part of the journey, who supported the cause, and to those who made it all possible! #LoveYourBrain

A post shared by LoveYourBrain (@loveyourbrain) on

51. Have Fun

Positive emotions are far more shareable than negative ones. Take advantage of this by creating fun, positive videos – like this one from Oreo.

Open up with Oreo and share a new view on the world together.

A post shared by OREO (@oreo) on

52. Run Ads / Promo Materials

With the longer time limit, Instagram is now a place to run more traditional ads, too. Just remember that Instagram is still a social place, so try to post ads that focus on entertaining your audience rather than just trying to sell to them. Check out this B.A.-Nicole Scherzinger crossover to see what we mean:

It’s official #BAlovesNOLA! Watch the highlights from our #MardiGras party flight from #London to #NewOrleans

A post shared by British Airways (@british_airways) on

53. Use Boomerang, MSQRD, etc

Apps like Boomerang and MSQRD allow you to add creativity to your videos, increasing their visual appeal. Use them to spruce up old content or make new recordings.

Boomerang has been adopted by some of the worlds most popular Instagram users such as Kim Kardashian West, and it’s time you got on board as well.

Wonderland Magazine is out now! 📷 @petrafcollins

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Just remember – images and videos are important, but you’ve also got captions to work with!

Captions

Now that you’ve got the images and videos down pat, let’s take a look at how you can turn the blurbs that accompany your content into quality marketing material.

54. Use Geo-Tags

Adding geo-locations makes you easier to find for people in your area. It has the possibility of trending for that location or attracting the attention of others browsing photos nearby.

Geo-tag Instagram Photos

Use this guide to learn how to add Instagram Locations for your business.

55. Add Calls to Action

If you don’t tell people what you want them to do, they’ll likely do nothing. Add a mix of subtle and explicit CTAs to maximize conversions – same as you would with other marketing channels.

Nature Box incorporates calls to action into many of their captions by encouraging users to visit their website to find out more about their range of products.

Love the corner pieces when it comes to brownies? Our new Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies are for you. Click the link in our bio to find out more!

A post shared by NatureBox (@naturebox) on

You can combine this strategy with Number 4 to rapidly grow your email list and convert Instagram users to email subscribers.

56. Speak to Your Audience

Always be on the lookout for comments that may engage users. Ask questions, make provocative statements, preach; anything and everything you think your followers might enjoy. Airbnb excel at captioning their posts with questions to prompt discussion, as can be seen by this post:

AIRBNB TRADITION No. 26: Contemplate your next adventure from bed. What are your travel goals this year? Photo cred: @thedoubledenim

A post shared by Airbnb (@airbnb) on

57. Hashtag in Comments

#hashtags count even if you add them in comments. A strategy that we see often is users posting an image with a description, then they comment on their own photo with up to ~20 #hashtags.

So blessed to be able to live in such a beautiful country 💕

A post shared by Giulia Speziali🍍 (@giuliaspez_) on

By now you should be full of ideas for your photos, videos and captions, but we still need to talk about one of the best weapons in your Instagram arsenal…

Contests

Instagram contests are an outstanding way of gaining brand awareness, growing your following and actively engaging your market.

The ease with which content can be created and shared with the help of geotags and username tags make Instagram a wonderful contest platform, so be sure to remember these next five points when crafting your Instagram contest strategy.

58. Announce Your Contest

No matter what type of Instagram contest you decide to run, if you don’t properly announce it, chances are it won’t take off. Make sure you share a captivating post announcing the contest. Showing people the available prizes is a great way to entice entry, and don’t forget to let people know how they can enter the contest.

If you’re running a contest on your website as opposed to Instagram, remember to include a link to the contest in your bio, as Instagram won’t allow you to share a link in a caption.

A terrific example of announcing a contest comes once again from SkinnyMe Tea, who used a photo carousel to announce a contest, highlight the prizes, and refer people to their bio where a Gleam link to the contest was provided.

TIME FOR THE @SMTOFFICIAL SUPER $700 GIVEAWAY 🎉🎁💰 TAG YOUR FRIENDS SO THEY DON'T MISS OUT 🙋🏽DETAILS BELOW – We are having our biggest giveaway to date with some of the best brands in on social media @TRIANGL @FRANK_BOD @BALIBODY @DROPBOTTLE @STYLERUNNER @THE5THWATCHES @SKINTOXCO – To win just CLICK THE LINK IN OUR BIO @smtofficial @smtofficial @smtofficial & complete the tasks listed. The more tasks you complete the higher your chances are of winning – Good luck 💕to you all // Winner will be announced on Monday 3rd April 🙌🏽

A post shared by SkinnyMe Tea Health Club ➕ (@smtofficial) on

With this strategy they maximise their exposure on Instagram then further grow their reach via the contest app (after the user leaves Instagram).

Now that you have some ideas on how to announce a contest, let’s take a look at some of the different types of contests you have at your disposal.

59. Double Tap to Enter

Double tap (or like) to enter contests simply require users to like an image to enter. This type of contest is well suited for newcomers, as they are easy to administer and have low barriers to entry which will help maximise participation.

It's #FinallyFriday!! Double-tap and follow us to automatically be entered to win a bottle of Drinkwel. BONUS: tag a friend for a 2nd entry. No purchase necessary, 21+, etc. #drinkwel #hangover #hungover

A post shared by Drinkwel.com (@drinkwel) on

60. Comment to Enter

Comment to enter contests are another fairly basic form of contest that require users to comment on a post to enter. Much like double tap to enter contests, comment to enter contests have low barriers to entry which will increase involvement, however, comment-based contests have the added advantage of being able to make participants think about your brand or even get others involved through tagging.

For a little bit of inspiration just take a look at this Wet Shave Club contest which gets users to think about the brand and it’s products, and for an added bonus, the post also encourages entrants to spread the message to friends.

— G I V E A W A Y — A little motivation to start your week! WIN this box of WSC's newest product "DAPPER" with a custom hand-made brush from Dean and a high-end razor from Tampa Shave Company! Be sure to comment and let us know why you should win this box! Tag a friend along!! Here's the link to enter: www.wetshaveclub.com/giveaway or link in our Bio. #giveaway #wetshaveclub #wetshaving #wetshaveloyalist

A post shared by WetShaveClub (@wetshaveclub) on

61. UGC (User Generated Content) Contests

Another type of contest to consider running is a UGC contest. This will involve getting users to submit photos tagged with a specific hashtag for a chance to win. These contests will not only engage your users, but also spread your message and supply you with ample user generated content to share.

Starbucks has consistently excelled at crafting content contests, with notable examples being their Red Cup and White Cup contests. The Red Cup Contest required contestants to post a photo involving one of their red Christmas cups adorned with a #redcupcontest, with winners chosen based on creative merit.

Shine bright like a (red cup) #RedCupContest

A post shared by Maddie J. Albert (@madelinejalbert) on

Starbucks’ White Cup Contest was a very similar campaign, with the key difference being the White Cup Contest specifically focused on the decoration of cups.

My cup is cooler than yours 😛 #whitecupcontest #starbucks

A post shared by Maia (@amaialife) on

62. Landing Page Contests

One other type of contest that we’ll talk about here is a landing page contest. These are a little bit different, because while the other contests we’ve discussed localize participation to the Instagram app, these contests require users to leave Instagram. You can run these contests on your own site and use an array of social media platforms to promote and drive their growth.

This outstanding form of contest can be easily run through Gleam. Check out how Slyde Handboards used Gleam + Instagram to propel their brand after their appearance on Shark Tank.

Another excellent example of a landing page contest comes from Beardbrand:

GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY! Beardbrand and Whipping Post have teamed up to bring you some awesome gear. Sign up for a chance to win a Whipping Post Role Top backpack filled with premium Beardbrand grooming supplies. All together this package is valued at over $491. Don't miss out, sign up now! • Link in bio • #beardbrand #whippingpost #teambeardbrand #beards #leather #urbanbeardsman #style #grooming #lifestyle #menswear

A post shared by Beardbrand (@beardbrand) on

When users followed the link in the bio they would be met with a widget presenting a variety of ways they can enter the contest, similar to this:

Instagram Example Competition

These contests are subject to different rules and regulations, you can’t ask users to Follow your profile, comment or like a post. So you should ask for that sort of activity inside the Instagram post first.

The beauty of this type of contest is that in addition to garnering likes, comments and shares on Instagram, you can also ask for email addresses and other actions across other social media platforms which will promote much more widespread growth and engagement.

These are just some of the many ways contests can be used to promote your brand on Instagram, for our comprehensive guide to running Instagram contests click here.

And remember – you should be thinking of ways to market effectively even when you’re not creating and publishing content. Here’s why (and how).

When You’re Not Posting

Something old-school marketers don’t get is that Instagram is a social network. This means your success there is predicated on the actions of other people.

As a result, it pays to make an effort to ingratiate yourself with thought leaders, competitors, partners and followers via the methods below.

63. Like Other People’s Stuff

When you like someone else’s content, they get a notification. That’s why liking photos and following channels is the #1 way to boost Instagram visibility and (eventually) get more followers.

Instagram Like Notifications

64. Reply To Questions

When people reach out to you, reward them by replying – no matter what they said. Answering user questions is a great way to engage your audience, communicate additional brand information and provide customer service solutions.

Reply to Comments on Instagram

65. Delete and Block Trolls

Aggressive and rude people detract from your channel’s value. Block their access as soon as you identify someone who is trying to be consistently destructive.

Coming right at ya, Tuesday. #TravelTuesday 📷: @unitedflyerhd

A post shared by United (@united) on

66. Participate in the Instagram Blog’s Weekend Hashtag Project

Instagram’s Weekend Hashtag project is an opportunity to get massive exposure. Chances of winning are low, but the payoff is worth it. You can find the contest rules here.

Ashley Jennet, who operates a parenting blog called ‘The Stork and the Beanstalk’ as well as an online clothing store entered and won the Weekend Hashtag Project, gaining a tonne of exposure for her brands in the process.

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPthisishome The goal this weekend is to make photos and videos that capture the essence of home. Here’s how to get started: Show what makes a place feel familiar or comfortable — whether it’s your morning routine at your favorite coffee shop or details of a house that remain unchanged for years. Who are the people in your hometown that bring it to life? Take portraits of family, neighbors, friends or small-business owners who always make you feel welcome. Try using Boomerang or video to capture homespun traditions like playing a favorite board game or the antics of a family pet. PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPthisishome hashtag only to photos and videos taken over this weekend and only submit your own visuals to the project. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged photo or video taken over the weekend is eligible to be featured next week. Featured photo by @thestorkandthebeanstalk

A post shared by Instagram (@instagram) on

67. Comment on Other People’s Posts

After liking folks’ photos, this is the best way to get their attention. If you want a followback from an influencer or celebrity, make sure to leave constructive comments on their stuff.

whyyyyyyyyy

A post shared by telefontelaviv (@telefontelaviv) on

68. Follow Suggested Users

Instagram’s always suggesting users for you to follow – and many of them are potential fans or influencers.

Follow Instagram Suggested Users

69. Follow Back Users That Follow You

Following users that follow you doesn’t cost anything and is a nice way to say “thank you”. Just make sure to unfollow any channel that’s consistently irrelevant to you.

Follow Users Back on Instagram

70. Follow Accounts That Your Competitors Follow

If your competition’s following someone, they may be a fan, an influencer or someone else you want to know. Keep tabs on what’s happening by following their followers.

Follow Users Your Competitors Follow on Instagram

71. Follow Accounts That Follow Your Competitors

The above point works both ways. The people following your competitors can be of interest to you. You won’t be able to follow all of them, but doing so selectively will deliver results.

Follow Accounts That Follow Your Competitors on Instagram

72. Instagram Channel Swaps

An Instagram channel swap or “influencer takeover” is a cool way to diversify your marketing content. Here’s an example of BirchBox doing it:

Hooray! 🎉 Today we are swapping Instagrams with Birchbox in honour of #TheTig’s Birchbox for the month of June. Happy you are hanging out with us today! xx — @MeghanMarkle & @_thetig #BBxTheTig

A post shared by birchbox (@birchbox) on

73. Cross-Promote with Influencers

Big brands are paying influencers hundreds of thousands of dollars to market their products. Why not do the same thing on a smaller scale by exchanging smaller sums of money (or favours) for features?

Target employed this strategy by partnering up with Instagram juggernaut Zach King to produce an advertisement which shared Target’s message with King’s enormous following.

Who else does this to speed up their shopping? My friend @taza and I just figured out the fastest way to unload your cart! We're getting ready to celebrate an awesome Easter, all thanks to @TargetStyle. #ad

A post shared by Zach King (@zachking) on

74. Know When to Post

A well timed post can be the difference between moderate and huge success. Experiment with different posting times and see what gets you the most engagement.

A great way to figure out what posting times work for you is with the help of an analytic service. Below you can see how Iconosquare, an Instagram analytics tool, can aid you in your search for the best time to post.

75. Know When Not to Post

Posting at certain times can get you ignored (due to timezones) or result in poor performance.

Just think of how the media reacted to Trump’s mid-night tweets. Use common sense, testing and analytic services to figure out what the best times and days are for your content.

At the same time don’t be afraid to test your posts at different times of the day to see what works best for your business.

Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable. #MondayMotivation #Bodybuildingcom #Bestself

A post shared by Bodybuilding.com (@bodybuildingcom) on

76. Schedule Future Posts

Even when you’ve figured out when you should be posting, actually being online to do it can be a challenge. Use apps like Buffer and Later to schedule ahead and make sure your content always comes out when you need it to.

Here’s a look at how your post scheduling will look with Buffer:

Schedule Instagram Posts With Buffer

77. Be Consistent

It’s better to have 1 post each day than sporadic bursts of 5-10 images every other week. Images will drop off the people’s feeds quickly, so as we mentioned in the previous point, schedule regular uploads.

What's your and your besties favorite color from the new collection? 👯

A post shared by Monday Swimwear (@mondayswimwear) on

78. Understand Your Audience

If you sell a non-GMO, organic body scrub, many of your customers are likely to be vegan. If you sell a kosher food item, many of your customers might not use the internet on Saturdays. Keep details like these in mind at all times if you want to be an effective marketer.

OMG how delicious do these vegan maxibon's look, by @healthsynergy 😍 we're going to give them a try over the weekend!

A post shared by The Vegan Box (@theveganbox) on

79. Keep an Eye On What Works For You

Once you’ve gotten into the rhythm of consistently making high quality posts you’ll probably notice that some of your posts engage with your audience much more successfully than others.

Pay attention to the types of content your audience responds best to, and keep this in mind when generating future posts. You don’t want to waste time on images your audience has no interest in.

Open up with Oreo and take a ride with a new friend.

A post shared by OREO (@oreo) on

80. Use Advanced Analytics Services

Analytics services can be a great way to keep on top your Instagram performance. Analytic tools can help you identify what content is working best for different segments of your following, what days and times your posts are most successful, patterns in your growth, and much more.

If you want to get high-powered tools that will greatly support your Instagram marketing efforts, consider trying out a service like Iconosquare, Crowdfire or Simply Measured.

Below you can see a quick example of Iconosquare’s dashboard from Buffer’s account:

Bonus Instagram Tips

81. Display Instagram Photos On Your Website

Remember the Facebook Gallery we showed you earlier? Well you can embed that on your site too, create a curated Instagram feed (or include other sources in there) of your best products.

82. Create Unique #hashtags For Each Product

If you run an E-commerce store you can use #hashtags to show social proof for products. Black Milk generates a unique #hashtag for each product, then shows user generated photos on the product page.

Unique #hashtags For Instagram Products

83. Embed Your Photos On Your Website / Blog

You’ve probably noticed the huge amount of Instagram photos embedded in this post. Well you can do that with your own photos, embed them in articles, guides or blog posts to further your reach and get more engagement.

Spot on! Tag a friend that needs to see this!

A post shared by Foundr Magazine (@foundr) on

84. Ask Users to Caption a Photo

Want a fun way for users to engage with your brand and your Instagram profile at the same time. Take a funny or interesting photo and ask users to caption it using the #captionthis hashtag.

Take it to the next level by turning it into a competition and giving away some of your products.

CAPTION THIS 💬 What's happening here? Write a caption in the comments ⬇️ #captionthis #mondaymood #bespoke #madetomeasure #tailormade #custommade #unique #1of1 #suit #details #doublebreasted #pocketsquare #mensfashion #menswear #menstyle #italianstyle #gentlemanstyle #dandystyle #fall #winter #ss17 #sartorial #sumisura #sprezzatura #dapper #luxury #wiwt #ootd #camo #loafers

A post shared by The Society Shop (@thesocietyshop) on

85. Target Influencers

Influencers can be a very cost effective way of getting your product in front of a huge audience.

There’s plenty of apps and agencies out there to help you find the right influencers, or you can reach them directly (there’s usually a business email on their Instagram bio).

Check out the engagement on this very simple, yet effective influencer post:

@freddyausnz

A post shared by Holly-Daze Coffey (@hollydazecoffeyyy) on

And there you have it! 80+ effective ways to market using Instagram. Now you’ve got all the tools you need to drive traffic, engage users and even convert leads and customers from inside the app. Congratulations!

Related Posts to Help You Grow on Instagram

Ahron Burstin

Ahron is a Growth Intern at Gleam. Leave him a nice comment below if you got something out of this post ☺


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