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.
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:
- Setting Your Account Up For Success
- What to do When You’re Not Posting
- Bonus Tips
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) April 24, 2017
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.
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.
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.
Once you’re done with all of the above steps you can move on to figuring out…
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]
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.
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.
- Monday: #monday, #mondays, #mondaymorning, #mondaymotivation, #mondayblues, #mancrushmonday,
- 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.
A trick that some people use here is go back and comment on their own post with extra #hashtags.
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.
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
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”.
Now that you know how you’ll be using hashtags, it’s time to move on to Instagram’s core function…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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
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.
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!
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:
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.
"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
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.
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:
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.
Just remember – images and videos are important, but you’ve also got captions to work with!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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…
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 🙌🏽
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
68. Follow Suggested Users
Instagram’s always suggesting users for you to follow – and many of them are potential fans or influencers.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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