With 400 million monthly active users, Instagram offers attractive opportunities to businesses looking to promote their products and services. According to an Econsultancy.com study, users spend more than 20 minutes on Instagram daily. This means brands have a whale of time to grab their target audience’s attention and engage with them on the photo sharing platform.

However, there are many other users, companies and marketers already vying for users’ attention on Instagram, so it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that driving engagement there is easier said than done. Remember, the rule of this game is simple: You’ve got to get—and hold—the attention of your target audience, and keep it until they’ve paid for your product or service or, at the very least, subscribed to your email database.

So, how will you win the battle for attention on Instagram? Here, I present to you five tips for marketing on Instagram:


With so many images for users to filter and swipe through, it can be difficult to stand out and be seen—especially as a brand competing against shots of gourmet food and celebrities’ lavish lifestyles. To help your images get noticed, try overlaying humorous, motivational or inspirational quotes.

Popular American online payments system provider PayPal has long been using quotes to take vital elements of its brand and showcase those elements to the world through Instagram. With a mixture of awe-inspiring images and inspirational quotes, PayPal leaves no stones unturned when it comes to attracting new brand advocates to its already-growing list of followers on Instagram.

Markeitng on Instagram - PayPal

2. User-Generated Content

Another way to win the battle for attention on Instagram is using user-generated content (UGC) to appeal to the emotions of your audience.

Incorporating UGC into a brand’s account activity makes good on their promise of devotion to their customers. It shows that they actually pay attention to what their followers are doing and genuinely appreciate their involvement. Even Hubspot agrees, claiming using user-generated content is the best way to get your customers, fans, and followers to sing your praises.

Walgreens is a classic example of a company that effectively uses UGC to create a constant buzz around its brand. Recently, Walgreens created a campaign around the popular #ThrowbackThursday hashtag by encouraging followers to share old pics of their graduation years.

Markeitng on Instagram - Walgreens

3. Calls-to-Action

Most experts and industry veterans suggest businesses and marketers to use a powerful call-to-action, no matter which social media network they’re on. In fact, CTAs are a brilliant conclusion to whatever story you’re telling on Instagram.

Instagram posts should be laid out in such a way that the CTA pops up as a relevant next move, should the graphic or photo catch their eyes as they scroll through their feed. Make sure your CTA isn’t buried in a sea of hashtags at the bottom of the post somewhere, either.

In addition, your call to action must unfold like a humble request and not an order. Scotch maker Gojee uses CTAs to make its brand stand out from the crowd on Instagram. With a promise: “We swear on our finest bottle of scotch that we won’t spam you,” Gojee creatively persuades its visitors to click on its CTA.

4. Conversation

Conversation is the key to success on Instagram.

Ask engaging questions in your posts. Challenge users with brain-teasers, puzzles and actions as conversation starters. But remember, you’re on Instagram to promote your brand. So, be sure to frame questions so they are in some way related to your business or industry vertical.

Popular clothing company, Free People lures its Instagram followers by asking them to post pictures of themselves wearing items sold by the company. These images are added to the company’s Instagram page, so that customers can see how the product looks in real life. The company encourages followers to add comments to build up a conversation around the brand.

Markeitng on Instagram - Free People

5. Contests & Sweepstakes

Social Media Examiner reveals that contests and sweepstakes feed the appetite for virtual adventure and thrills. But don’t just create a contest—start a teaser campaign for your contests, provide information on how to participate, and start a conversation with your users around the event.

National Geographic Channel’s “Untamed Americas” is a classic example of a successful Instagram contest. The magazine asked its followers to share their photos of beautiful landscapes. The winning contestants were awarded with a National Geographic camera bag packed with a Nikon D3100 camera and a free subscription to National Geographic Magazine. This contest helped National Geographic increase its Instagram followers by 55 percent.

Since its humble start as an iOS-only app, Instagram has come a long way and is now widely considered an important platform for businesses. Thirteen percent of the Internet population accesses Instagram daily and 5 million images are uploaded on Instagram every day. With these numbers, it’s not surprising that more than 40 percent of Fortune 100 companies use the platform.

By understanding how to effectively interact on Instagram, you can drive great return for your brand. Taking a cue from the aforementioned examples, do your best to create and share images that are interesting and relevant. When it makes sense to do so, add quotes to the images. Initiate a conversation with your followers around your brand and lure in followers with contests and sweepstakes. And last but not least, engage your followers with a strong and creative call to action.