A Guide to Instagram Marketing

When it comes to Instagram marketing, the key to a successful strategy is simple: post. good. photos. 

Seems pretty obvious, right?

While that may be pretty obvious, it's easier said than done. Furthermore, there are several other factors to be considered.

A good place to start would be to determine whether or not it would be relevant for your company to implement an Instagram marketing strategy. If your target market is under the age of 35, it may be worth considering seeing as 90% of the 150 million people on Instagram are that age, according to Business Insider.

If you've decided you are going to implement an Instagram marketing strategy, here are some factors you should keep in mind:

Objectives. What are your objectives for creating an Instagram marketing strategy in the first place? Are you trying to drive brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, promote sales?  Make sure you know what you are looking to achieve on Instagram and, as always, track and measure to see if you're meeting those objectives.

The 80/20 rule.  Don't get on Instagram to just post photos of your products.  Like in all social media marketing, I recommend posting promotional content only 20% of the time.  Instagram is a great social platform to visually convey the lifestyle aspects that surround your company. Also, try getting creative when posting photos of your products!

Know your brand.  What is the lifestyle that surrounds your company? Make sure you are inline with what your brand is about.  Post photos that convey that.

Time.  Know the best times to post.  This will be different for all companies.  People are on Instagram ALL the time. I know because my friends and I are those people. Test different times and photos to see what images get the most engagement and when. Try to analyze why that is. If your prospects live in a city, a good time to start testing posts might be around commuting hours.

Filters.  Make sure your photo is clearly visible. Furthermore, according to this infographic by Curalate (the visual analytics and marketing platform that analyzed over 8 million Instagram images) photos that tend to get more likes are:

  • High light vs. low light
  • Blue vs. red
  • High background vs. low background
  • Single dominant color vs. multiple dominant colors
  • Moderate saturation vs. low saturation

Captions. Try to keep your captions to one or two lines.  As a user is scrolling through his/her feed of photos, if a photo entices that user to stop and take some time to view the photo, one or two lines of the caption may also be displayed at the bottom of that photo, but typically no more than that.  If you are prompting the user to do something else with a call to action (i.e. visit your website, like the photo, etc.) make sure that is made clear in the first line of the text if possible.

Hashtags, keywords, URLs.  In addition to the caption length and the call to action in the first line or two, the other things you need to keep in mind for your captions are hashtags, keywords and URLs. Users will be able to find photos you post by searching for hashtags and keywords if they don't already follow you.  Putting a URL in your caption is a great way to direct traffic to your website or a landing page.

Need some good examples of brands succeeding on Instagram to get ideas? Check out some of my favorites:

Luke Stedman (@luke_stedman) - Luke posts photos of his clothing line but will also post pictures of his kids, motorcycles, skating and surfing photos, etc. The lifestyle around his brand is clearly conveyed on his Instagram account.

instagram marketing
instagram marketing

The Covetuer (@thecoveteur) - The Covetuer, a high-end style site, posts photos displaying products and stories they feature on the site, but also photos of high-end luxury lifestyle items and places in general.


The Bruins (@nhlbruins) - The Bruins Instagram account does a great job of posting action photos of game highlights, but they also post photos of the elements that surround the game, i.e. practice shots, the fans, etc.

instagram marketing
instagram marketing

Rialto Restaurant (@rialto02138) - I love their posts, and not just because my college roommate is their marketing and communications manager! ;) They do a great job of posting photos of dishes, the staff, events, scenes form inside the restaurant, etc.  It's not JUST about the food.  Again, it's the lifestyle that surrounds it.

instagram marketing
instagram marketing

I love photos which makes Instagram one of my personal favorite social media platforms.  What are YOUR favorite accounts to follow!? Post 'em in the comments below.