How to Build an Optimal Instagram Marketing Strategy - A step-by-step guide to Instagram success for businesses

Categories: Marketing
Sam Thomas avatar
Sam Thomas Updated: August 07, 2021


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Instagram is the second most accessed network (behind Facebook) amongst the current members of the social media world. Instagram has over a billion monthly active users and 500 million daily Instagram Stories. It also has a 4.21 percent rate of consumer engagement assessed by consumer likes, shares, and comments. In that case, Facebook gets a tenfold return, Pinterest is 54 times higher, and Twitter is 84 times higher.

There’s no denying that Instagram is no longer only for personal usage. Brands can now use the platform to personalize their content, acquire fresh talent, and promote their products while simultaneously inspiring their audience. Whether you’re just starting or you’re already an expert, using this Instagram marketing approach method will assist boost your campaign.

Table of Content:

The growth of Instagram and Instagram marketing in 2021

Throughout 2020, there were several developments at Instagram, including some interesting new Instagram data. Since the photo-sharing service, Instagram has become so much more than just a photo-sharing platform, the application also offers numerous options to let businesses promote and sell right from within the app.

Instagram boasts more than 1 billion active users every month, placing it second to Facebook among traditional social networks. According to our analysis, Instagram ranks sixth out of all social platforms, with Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat all ranking above it. Most adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are on Instagram, making up 71% of the total population.

It is currently a very desirable demographic that many marketers and businesses are trying to acquire, and as a result, the platform becomes even more valuable.

In the past, marketing on Instagram has mostly involved sponsored posts and content. After that, influence marketing began. This is a great example of how Instagram Stories helps brands to sell themselves. IGTV, the most recent app feature, enabled vertical videos to be posted in long-form. It’s easier to become lost in the crowd of users when you have such a vast user base. Building a successful Instagram marketing plan and creating high-quality content that makes your followers interested is something you can do by paying attention to the Instagram marketing trends we’ve highlighted here.

Why should you use Instagram as a marketing tool?

Instagram may allow you to build your brand awareness, and it is a good way to get new products in front of your customers. Instagram users engage with 130 million pieces of shopping content per month. In a warm, personal, and real approach, you can promote your company and product on Instagram.

Instagram’s key strength is its visual aspect, which is different from that of other social media networks. Instagram is indeed the ideal platform to exhibit design-driven business or services.

Your marketing plan will define what types of material you should produce on social media and how often you should share it. Be sure to establish a strategy before plunging headfirst into a new social media platform, no matter how well everyone else is using it.

A step-by-step guide to developing a successful Instagram marketing strategy plan

In the rush to be on every social media network, many businesses overlook strategy. Avoiding this error is crucial. To be successful with Instagram, marketers must take a different approach from the one they use with other prominent social networks. Develop your brand’s unique style by beginning here.

Step 1: Create an Instagram business account

200 million Instagram users visit a company profile daily. During those 30 minutes, many Instagram users are checking out business profiles. From a commercial perspective, 90% of Instagram users follow an account. Not only do people use Instagram to engage with their friends and family, but the vast majority of users follow at least one company while using the platform.

Create an Instagram business account

It is necessary to have an Instagram Business account or an Instagram Creator account before getting started with Instagram marketing. While you can’t utilize certain features like Instagram Insights, Instagram advertisements, Instagram Shopping, Contact information, and a call-to-action button on your profile with a personal account, having a business account provides you access to them. The advantages of a creator account are exclusive to influencers and content creators. However, most marketers prefer to use a business account for their marketing strategies.

Besides that, having a business account allows customers to click on your contact information on your Instagram page and communicate with you like they would on your website. To harness the advantages of having a business profile, you will first need to start using the free benefits that are associated with it.

Step 2: Describe your primary Instagram marketing goals

Describe your primary Instagram marketing goals

First, ask yourself one simple question: Why are you on Instagram? Instagram can be very beneficial if you use it to get a well-defined objective and make clear goals to demonstrate your time, energy, and financial commitment.

Perhaps your account was designed to perform more than one of these tasks, but having a clear aim in mind before you publish can help keep your account on track. To help your Instagram development strategy, your main goal must be clearly defined. When doing something like that, you will have to use a huge sum of money in an attempt to develop brand awareness. Then you must run advertising aimed at a big net of relevant individuals to boost exposure to your brand.

For instance, Masterclass is using recognizable faces to make advertisements that can grab the attention of its prospects. To market their monthly membership platform, they’ve chosen the famous face of Gordon Ramsey, and by offering free memberships with annual subscriptions, they’re getting potential new subscribers.

Step 3: Refine new audience on Instagram

Refine new audience on Instagram

Find out who you want to appeal to before you get started on Instagram marketing. As long as you are also employing other marketing tactics, use them to help maintain the consistency of your marketing efforts. One important thing to keep in mind is to take the time to understand a customer’s motivation, location, age, interests, motives, and pain points.

Start by following popular events and relevant hashtags connected to your business, then act on the findings you’ve gathered. Search for and follow the people who are using and engaging with these hashtags. Also, you can see what kind of influence your competitors have on their audience. Once you have established who your audience is, using Instagram is a snap.

For effective segmentation, take into consideration several essential Instagram user information. For instance, Instagram is used by 71% of 18-29 year-olds in the U.S. However, while those usage-indicated numbers are outstanding, not everyone is familiar with Instagram as 14% of U.S. adults had never heard of Instagram.

Step 4: Optimize your Instagram profile

A solid first impression, conveying your brand identity and telling people why they should follow your Instagram account all need to be done in 150 characters. But luckily, you also get to advertise your brand in addition to your interests on your Instagram profile, making it easier for others to discover you. Examples of these include:

  • Business name: 30 characters, searchable.
  • Username: Customizable from up to 30 characters, searchable.
  • Website: A URL you can update anytime you like, with only one click.
  • Category: A business feature that shortly describes your organization’s mission without using up bios.
  • Contact information: Tell your followers where you are located.
  • CTA buttons: Give Instagrammers a method to contact you right from your profile.

Example of an optimized Instagram profile by @neilpatel

Remember to put a lot of effort into your Instagram bio as well. The bio needs to be intriguing and informative while remaining interesting and instructive. It should be able to latch on to its audience. In an attempt to impress Instagram users to add you to their following, you need to be confident that being in their following will offer great value to their feeds.

Step 5: Set a proper profile picture

You should have your company logo in your Instagram profile picture for most brands. People who witness your work will have an easier time believing in your claims.

Your Instagram profile picture is reduced to a 110-pixel-diameter circle and shown at 110 by 110 pixels. If Instagram changes how profile photos are displayed, you should post a file that size to ensure it still appears fine.

Taco Bell’s logo

When it comes to your logo, you’ll need to adjust the zoom level so that your logo is displayed completely within the circle.

Step 6: Perform a competitive analysis.

A competitive analysis shows what other businesses in your area are posting on Instagram, so make sure to include it in your post-implementation research. Researching the competition and doing an in-depth analysis of their Instagram profiles is a good place to start if you already know your top competitors. To obtain similar accounts, search for terms relating to your business and industry.

Search the internet for posts relating to your business and posts with popular hashtags that are getting a lot of engagement, then do a quick audit of posts to see how fast the posts are increasing. This information will be useful as you begin to establish your own Instagram account.

Take note of any possibilities your competitors have missed while auditing their content. This will allow your business to rise above the competition.

Step 7: Make an editorial calendar

Make an editorial calendar

To help you save time and manage your Instagram presence, consider creating an editorial calendar. Plan in advance the Instagram post types you’ll post, and use fill-in-the-blank calendars or planners to track your caption, hashtags, and posting times.

Your editorial calendar is a great tool for recording all kinds of interesting announcements, such as new product launches or special deals, for use on your Instagram accounts. Editorial calendars let you stay on top of the latest publishing opportunities, not letting you miss out on them.

Step 8: Create eye-catching visuals

Although Instagram is primarily a visual platform, your posts must appear good. Your photographs and videos should be sharp, well-lit, well-composed, and in focus.

Clear, easy-to-read visuals are a need, whether you’re using photos or other image types, including infographics or animations. Your visual content also needs to be engaging. A photo is fine, but if it lacks a story, doesn’t attract viewers, or has no influence on your followers, it will not engage. Have a look at these ideas:

  • Behind the scenes: Show off your workplace, storefront, or production processes.
  • Images with quotes and short quotations: Create visually intriguing content with no photographs required by playing with text.
  • User-generated content (UGC): Post content that is authentic and compelling
  • **Instruction/tutorials posts
  • Videos: Videos posted on Instagram cannot be more than 60 seconds, while IGTV lets you go much longer.
  • Reels

Keep in mind that when individuals are encouraged to share your articles to their Stories, your content will help your reach go even farther. To put it another way, think about how to sell your brand on Instagram. Rather than simply spreading content, you should make it worthy of a share.

Step 9: Establish strong brand consistency on Instagram

Once you’ve made your decision about the type of content you’ll be publishing, you must then select how it will look. When we speak about Instagram’s aesthetic in our blog article, we understand that color influences purchase decisions and brand identification.

@oakandfort’s feeds

For followers to readily identify your content in their feeds, you should stick to a consistent Instagram style. Think about what your brand image is and see what your logo looks like. What are your brand values? To better understand your customers and staff, how would they define your brand? Are you someone who is creative, spirited, brave, or adventurous?

Establish strong brand consistency on Instagram

A good example of the brand’s look is Taco Bell. Feed targets the Millennial generation’s on-the-go lifestyle and showcases engaging images to increase engagement. To discover your brand personality, consider writing your content based on these characteristics. It is possible to take this one step further and apply it to the color palette that you have in your images.

Step 10: Write great captions

A brand’s voice is just as vital as a brand’s visual representation. Your images should also be consistent across your blog postings. The character limit for Instagram captions is up to 2,200 characters, which means you may use them for fast remarks, elaborate storytelling, and more.

The following are points in favor of the argument, although as previously said, only the first two lines of text appear on the news feed without touching further. Captions may fit a lot of crucial information into those initial two lines, thus the rest of the caption should be lined as carefully as possible.

Example of a caption written by National Geographic: medium-length and well-delivered

The lengths for Instagram captions we suggested the ideal caption length for every social network are as follows:

  • Organic postings 139–150 character
  • Instagram ad: limited to 125 characters

Step 11: Fine-tune your plan with analytics

Despite your current skill level, you can always become better at Instagram marketing. Proceeding from where you have already been will result in improved results. In order to achieve that, you should take a look at all of the available information in Instagram Insights.

Some limited data, like follower increase, views, reach, and engagement is included when you turn your account into a Business Account. To access these features, just click the View Insights option on the upload screen and select your photographs and videos.

Fine-tune your plan with analytics

In addition to that, you can also monitor how many impressions an Instagram ad gets, how much money is spent, and engagement with the ads in Facebook’s Ad Manager. These analytics are beneficial, but only applicable to particular posts and campaigns.

Some useful tips to master Instagram marketing in 2021

It’s difficult to pinpoint the specific marketing strategy that will work best on Instagram, but the strategy is simple once you have figured it out for your brand. A great strategy for success on Instagram is to share appropriate material at the correct moment for the appropriate target demographic.

1. Use relevant and branded hashtags

To boost your visibility and discoverability, use hashtags. Instagram limits the number of hashtags that you can use to 30.

Use 5 to 9 hashtags for each post. The more hashtags are included, the more your posts may look spammy and turn off followers. This is even worse if you employ meaningless or redundant hashtags, as your content could be missed by these users.

Choosing a hashtag

Choosing hashtags that are relevant and specialized to your niche is your best bet for success. You should never encourage like-swapping (#like4like) or follow-swapping (#followme). While brainstorming similar terms and analyzing relevant trends is perhaps simplest on Instagram, you can also do this by hand.

Select Explore as your starting point. If you go to that page, you’ll see popular postings and discover which hashtags were utilized.

You may also use this page to search for popular and relevant hashtags. To see how many tweets, images, or videos are using the same hashtags as well as related hashtags, just enter the hashtag in the search field and filter the results using Tags.

The more popular generic hashtags and trending hashtags you can weave together, the better your content will be. Another way to go about it is to create your customized hashtag. To launch a new product, launch an Instagram campaign, advertise an event, and collect user-generated content, many businesses utilize their hashtags. To ensure that your company isn’t being exploited for another purpose, and to encourage your viewers to use it, be sure to disclose that your service is not available elsewhere.


For instance, to achieve success with marketing by Mothercare, they harnessed the power of a hashtag. To support their campaign, they utilized the hashtag #bodyproudmoms to promote it where they encouraged the issue of a woman’s body following childbirth. Many photos of mothers using the same hashtag became viral because of this hashtag. This was a successful marketing campaign, which increased brand awareness.

2. Keep engaging

To engage people on Instagram, you need to be engaging as well. Having good material is important, but interacting with other users is crucial if you want to be successful on the network.

It is at least your responsibility to respond to any comments on your feed. Keep an eye out for other famous blogs in your niche, follow them, and engage with them by liking and commenting on their posts.

Look at any new posts that may have been tagged with your name and see if there are possibilities to engage. Can you copy and publish their content to your feed or story? A strategy to stimulate more dialogue on your postings is to feature the comments of your most engaged fans or the ones that are most likely to start discussions.

3. Make the most of Instagram Stories features.

Stories are a vital component of a successful Instagram marketing approach. Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours from the time the user posted. Your curated Instagram feed may come out as artificial or polished to your followers. They offer an opportunity to interact with and cultivate a relationship with your followers.

If you want to interact with your followers and do so in a fun way, you’ll love using Stories features.

Provide value with guides and tutorials

Stories are great for step-by-step, how-to-style content because of their sequential design. Bite-sized educational content such as recipes, beauty lessons, and more provides a more entertaining and interactive alternative to standard video or blog postings.

Use polls for simple interaction

Use polls for simple interaction

When it comes to increasing engagement and sales, polls are an excellent way to go. You may add a poll to the slides of your narrative and ask your audience a question, then have them respond.

Engage with quizzes and multiple-choice questions

Encouraging lively dialogues with your consumers, stories are a good area to engage with them. Features like quizzes make it smooth and pleasant to do.

Make an announcement

In some cases, a brand will use the Stories section as a platform to issue announcements. This is a shrewd move on your part, keeping your fans apprised of your company’s current activities.

Highlight your latest post

Highlight your latest post

For example, if you’ve just posted brand new blog content in your main feed, you should post about it on your Stories to optimize your reach. Do not be too forceful about announcing your posts on Instagram; it depends on how often you post. Focus on saving your most important messages and offers for later.

Both verified and corporate accounts with more than 10,000 followers can now use swipe-up links in Stories, making it simpler to provide more links, as well as simple share options for all accounts, including those with fewer followers.

Post teasers of upcoming content or products

Stories encourage you to make amusing insinuations about upcoming developments. Perhaps you are eager to start a new partnership. There’s a good chance you’re preparing to release a new product. Stickers, countdown timers, and other innovative storytelling components serve a similar function in exciting the audience regardless.

Share your followers’ and customers’ UGC and photos

Some brands have Stories where fans can submit images tagged with the company name. Instead of creating a dedicated customer slideshow and risking it filling up your main feed with user-generated content, you can use stories to achieve this goal. Additionally, re-posting content to Stories is significantly easier than re-gramming content via traditional channels.

Promote attractive deals and offers

Similar to the Instagram feed, you may use Stories to promote your offer. Stories is an excellent option for brick-and-mortar and eCommerce businesses alike, whether it is for short-term discounts or as a means of spotlighting a current promotion.

4. Boost your bio by using Highlights and Covers stories

It’s possible to make highlight albums to store your best Stories content, preserving it for later. You can choose from a variety of pre-built designs, or you can design your cover.

By incorporating it, you’ve expanded your bio, adding a whole new layer of information about your brand, which enables your followers to learn more about why they should follow you on Instagram. In this example, Sephora showcases several product categories with highlighted albums.

Boost your bio by using Highlights and Covers stories

5. Take advantage of Reels

Take advantage of Reels

Instagram Reels, a short-form video creation app, allows users to make videos of up to 15 seconds in length. While popular TikTok influencers who have gained a following on the platform are unlikely to abandon the platform in favor of another where they can utilize content, trends, and challenges similar to TikTok, Reels is a great option for influencers who are looking to benefit from the same type of content, trends, and challenges on another platform but without having to build their fanbase all over again.

Brands can utilize Instagram Reels in numerous ways while selling their products. Additionally, even if you’re not planning to make content on TikTok, keeping on top of what’s going on with the platform can be profitable. As the first person to begin using the new trends on Instagram Reels, you may be on the cutting edge. A great way to ease into Instagram Reels is by using informative content to introduce people to it.

6. Go Live

Go Live

When it comes to Instagram Live, there are numerous possibilities for connecting with fans in a real-time approach. When using Instagram Live, we offer the following advice:

  • Allow your viewers to work together with an industry expert or influencer using the “Add a Guest” option to start broadcasting live.
  • Offer a live peek at an event from the backstage area
  • Offer a workshop or offer step-by-step tutorials
  • Invite a member of the team to do a Q&A

7. Set up a custom Instagram store

An Instagram Shop will not be set up unless you have a business profile. You may set up your online store within Instagram, but you must do so on a business account.

Set up a custom Instagram store

Not only will you be able to add a “View Shop” button to your Instagram profile page, but you’ll also be able to have fans directly navigate to your store without having to visit a single post. Additionally, users can search for new products or discover products from businesses they follow on Instagram on the Shop tab.

A total of 130 million Instagram users tap on posts every month about shopping, so there is a vast audience of potential customers who are interested in making purchases from the brands they follow. Products in posts, Stories and IGTV can be tagged.

Consider enabling Auto-highlighting for products that you tag in Instagram Stories. Potential buyers can see stories about products with product tags for more than 24 hours by using this feature.

8. Post at the Right Times on the Best Days

Over Posting on Instagram might bother people. If it offers no advantage to anyone, there is no use in writing a post.

According to CoSchedule’s study, 8 AM, 1 PM, and 9 PM are the ideal times for B2C businesses to post on Instagram. While their B2B analysis was comparable, their best periods were from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., and 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. In research conducted, Friday was found to be the greatest day to post.

According to Hootsuite, the optimal time to post on Instagram depends on the business you are in. They went through 258,956 posts from 11 different businesses and concluded that even if Instagram feeds aren’t chronological, the timing of posts is still ideal. Based on this study, below are the optimal times to post for each industry.

Post at the Right Times on the Best Days

9. Try Instagram influencers marketing

One of the best Instagram marketing techniques is to use Instagram influencers to quickly reach your target audience. Already, the brand’s followers act as advocates for the firm, which aids in growing the company. The first stage is to discover which influential entities your brand should associate with.

Try Instagram influencers marketing

Influencers might be beneficial when it comes to enhancing your Instagram accounts. The goals of their campaigns tend to revolve around raising either the number of followers your brand account has or the engagement level of your followers. Influencers who are successful will help distribute official brand websites’ postings and boost their social media profiles. They can even take over another account and use their followers as an influence vector.

There are multiple ways in which brands can benefit from influencer campaigns, as long as their purposes align. Another great example is that they can deliver product reviews for their fans, whether it is done through a live Instagram video or by text comment.

10. Use Instagram ads to expand your audience

Use Instagram ads to expand your audience

Instagram ads are the surest way to get your content in front of a new audience. Setting up Instagram advertisements is done by using Facebook’s ad platform.

To build your advertisement, you can either choose a post from your Instagram feed that you’d like to boost or use Facebook Ad Manager to generate a new post for your ad. To get started, you must first open up an account with Facebook. To link your Instagram business account to your Facebook profile, you must also claim your Instagram business account. You can use Instagram’s feed, Stories, or Explore to promote your brand.

Final words

Instagram’s strength and reach are undeniable. In the beginning, the app was a simple way to share photos with friends and family. However, it has now changed into an immersive social experience that lets users explore a company’s visual identity.

On the other hand, your Instagram profile is a sort of company. It’s always expanding and changing, and connecting deeper with its followers every time. Putting in the time and effort to create and maintain a platform that represents your brand’s visual identity may seem daunting, but with Instagram, it’s enjoyable and straightforward. Make the most of your Instagram marketing approach by following our instructions.

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