1. Switch to a business profile ASAP
Before you start thinking about your Instagram marketing plan, be sure that you have an Instagram Business Account.
It’s easy to switch your current profile to a business account.
Just head to your settings and click on “Switch to Business Profile” to get started.
There are some clear benefits to having a business profile.
For example, followers can click on your contact button to get in touch with you right from your Instagram page just like they would from your website.
A business profile allows you to create and publish Instagram ads without needing to use Facebook’s advertising tools.
You can also access Instagram analytics tools, called Insights, that provide stats about the impressions and reach of your posts.
Once you’ve unlocked the free perks that come along with a business profile, you need to start using them to track metrics and understand your audience.
2. Use free Instagram tools
Business profiles on Instagram aren’t all that different from Facebook business profiles.
Through Insights, you can view statistics like impressions, engagement data, and more.
You can even get a breakdown of the demographics of your followers, including information on their age, gender, location, and most active hours.
Insights aren’t just generalized, either. You can get specific insights on posts for the week that show you how many impressions you earned for that time period and what your top posts were.
These free tools are priceless because you can use them to understand exactly how users are interacting with your content.
The more that you know about how users are interacting with your posts, the better you can adjust your content to boost engagement.
One category of posts that is almost always attention-grabbing is product teasers.
3. Post product teasers that will (gently) urge people to buy
What if you could sell more products just by posting product teasers on Instagram?
Well, you can.
Instagram is a great place to advertise your products. And if you play your cards right, you won’t annoy users or scare them off with advertisements, either.
If you’re too pushy, followers will drop like flies. But product teaser posts are a simple way to talk about your product and increase excitement without looking like you’re trying too hard.
4. Create sponsored ads
Instagram ads have become commonplace on the platform. The best part? You can control exactly how much you want to spend on them by setting an ad budget.
You can showcase just one sponsored ad or multiple ads with the carousel feature.
This gives brands the ability to target their audience in a whole new way. Before sponsored posts, only users following your account could see your updates and photos.
Now, brands can promote their photos to anyone that fits their target audience to increase their reach further than ever before.
For sponsored ads, use content that is engaging while also appealing to the target demographic you want to put the ad in front of.
You can turn existing posts into sponsored ads, too, so keep an eye on your top posts.
You can push these high-performing posts out later to potential customers in the form of sponsored ads.
Run multiple posts to different audiences simultaneously for even more engagement. Keep in mind that there are many different forms of sponsored ads that you can post, such as:
- Carousel/Dynamic Ads
- Stories Canvas
Instagram Stories, sponsored or not, are another great way to connect with followers.
5. Use Instagram Stories
If you want to generate leads, Instagram Stories are here to help.
Instagram stories differ from regular Instagram posts because they come in a “slideshow” format.
They’re only live for 24 hours, but Stories can be saved to any of your devices and reused at a later point.
This feature is very similar to Snapchat Stories (and is even a direct competitor).
Rather than appearing in the news feed, Instagram Stories appear in a small area above it.
Once a user clicks on your photo at the top, a window will pop up where they can view your Story.
The benefits of Instagram Stories for brands are truly endless. For starters, Stories are displayed at the top of follower timelines where users already look daily.
Brands can use stories to capture behind-the-scenes insider posts that may not be as “high-quality” as regular posts.
And you don’t have to worry as much about posting content that aligns with the “aesthetic” of your brand or your Instagram page when it comes to Stories.
Instagram also makes it easy to experiment with different types of content in the Stories feature, like photos, short video, rewind video, live video, or Boomerangs.
Boomerangs are GIF-like images that play on a loop.
You can also tag other accounts in Stories, which is great if you’re collaborating with another brand or influencer.
Face filters, text, or stickers make it easy to edit images or create fun, eye-catching visuals.
Every photo and video you add will play in the same sequence that you added it.
The amount of posts that you can add to Stories at any given time is unlimited, and the feature is available to all businesses globally.
Stories are only available on the mobile Instagram app, and it’s not currently possible to send Instagram Stories as direct messages.
But since most Instagram users access the site via the smartphone app rather than the website, this isn’t really something to worry about.
If you haven’t partnered with influencers who are already making a killing on Instagram, find a few that you want to work with and reach out to them.
6. Partner with influencers for a wider reach
If you want to reach potential customers on Instagram, the fastest way to do that is through influencers who have already built an audience with a large following.
More and more people are buying services or products based on what they see in their feed from the influential people they follow. They trust them.
If you partner with the right industry influencer, you can get your brand out in front of those users.
The first step is to try and identify a few influencers that have an audience that is relevant to your product or service.
7. Collect user-submitted photos
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to create great content for your Instagram page without doing any of the hard work?
Through user-submitted photos, there is.
You already have an engaged audience. Whether it’s hundreds of people or thousands, you can leverage your audience to generate useful content for you.
And your followers will probably enjoy user-generated content even more than they enjoy yours because it’s authentic and unpredictable.
Cosmetics brand MAC uses tons of user-generated content that they promote on their Instagram page to show off products.
8. Come up with an interactive branded hashtag
If you’re looking to create instant engagement, interactive hashtags are a great way to get it.
Red Bull has racked up over 299,612 posts featuring their tag, #itgivesyouwings.
Customers can then use the tag to post user-generated content. This allows users to search through all posts relating to your brand.
It also lets you easily search through images that you might want to consider re-posting on your own page.
Creating a hashtag that your company (and other users) can search for is essentially free advertising.
Every time someone posts a photo using the tag, they’re exposing your company to their followers.
If you already have a popular brand slogan or phrase, consider making that your branded hashtag. Coca-Cola successfully accomplished this with their hashtag, #ShareACoke.
But no matter what you’re posting, you need to post at the right times and refrain from over-posting.
9. Post at the right times (and don’t over-post)
Over-posting on Instagram is a surefire way to turn off your existing followers.
If all they see is your brand on their news feed, they’re probably going to unfollow you as fast as possible.
But you want to post on a consistent basis so that you stay in their news feed regularly.
One of the best ways to do this is to only post during peak days and hours when your followers are online.
According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post.
And according to research from CoSchedule, the best times of day to post are between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM, as well as 2:00 AM.
The hour between of 8:00 and 9:00 AM correlates with the time of day when people are getting ready for work or commuting to their jobs (and checking social media for the day).
And 2:00 AM is the time of day when most folks are up scrolling through Instagram when they should be sleeping, so this makes sense as a second most popular time to post.
You can find when your followers are most active in Instagram Insights, so your best days and times to post might be a bit different depending on your specific audience.
10. Make sure you track the right metrics
You can’t improve your Instagram performance and optimize it unless you know how well your page and posts are performing (or underperforming).
When you have measurable results, you’ll know exactly what works and what doesn’t.
Begin by tracking your follower growth rate.
The total amount of followers you have is commonly seen as a vanity metric. And it is.
But your follower growth rate isn’t.
When you keep an eye on what the growth rate of your followers looks like, you can see how the kind of content your posting (or your posting frequency) is affecting things.
Track your follower growth rate with a tool like Influencer Dashboard.
Next, measure engagement rates. This includes likes and comments.
You want to find out the average engagement percentage of your total followers as well as the average engagement rate of each post to get a clear picture of how your page is performing.
If you’ve got a smaller following, your engagement rate should be higher. Here’s what your rates should look like based on your follower count:
Finally, you need to track your URL click-through rate.
If you don’t already have a link to your website in your Instagram bio, add one ASAP.
Then, measure how many people are clicking through to your URL.
The average CTR on Instagram is 0.94%, according to Conversion XL.
The more effective your Instagram marketing techniques on your audience, the higher your CTR will be. If it’s low, work on improving your approach.
A tool like Sprout Social will measure just how many clicks that your link is getting in comparison to impressions and engagements.