Instagram marketing has been a reliable tool for DTC brands and B2B companies for as long as the platform has existed. And it’s for good reason.

Instagram is a platform that gives brands the ability to connect on a deeper level with their fans as well as to reach new people.

In addition, Instagram allowed personalities from all over the world to build their own audiences which we now call influencers.

Through partnerships with influencers brands drive millions of views and engagement every day and countless brands even reached overnight success thanks to this strategy.

With this huge potential, it’s no surprise that having an active Instagram account is now a necessity for brands.

In this article, we will show you the best practices you need to follow if you want to be successful at Instagram marketing.

Why Instagram marketing?

The first reason why you need to market on Instagram is its popularity. The platform currently has 1 billion monthly active users, so it’s a guarantee that there is an audience for your product.

You only need to worry about knowing how to reach them.

But not only that, due to the visual nature of Instagram, people now look at it as a source for product recommendations and research. First impressions are everything. This explains the efforts that marketing teams and influencers are putting into creating appealing and aesthetic Instagram grids, feed and stories.

That’s why 60% of users report they learn about new products on Instagram. You’ve probably discovered a product on Instagram at some point.

Especially for DTC brands, people go to the brand’s Instagram page to find out how the product actually looks.

So it’s in your best interest to have great content that addresses consumers’ intentions.

How to do Instagram marketing correctly

Finally, let’s take a look at the best tips and tactics you can use to market successfully on Instagram.

Just remember that before you start doing things, you need to think about your goals. Without clear goals and a strategy, your Instagram marketing efforts could go to waste.

Consider your goals and follow the tips that will get you closer to reaching them.

1. Use a business account

This might be obvious, but a lot of brands forget to change their settings to business accounts.

And if you want to take your Instagram marketing to the next level, you need this configuration.

Why do you need to change to an Instagram business account?

It’s simple, doing so gives you access to these perks:

  • Instagram insights (analytics)
  • Call-to-action button in profile
  • Create ads without Facebook’s advertising tools
  • Instagram shopping
  • Secondary direct messaging inbox

This way you can track the metrics that matter to you and optimize your strategy accordingly and overall, improve your conversion rate.

To do this, all you need to do is go to your settings and click on “Switch to Business Profile”.

2. Use hashtags

Hashtags are a feature in every social media platform that allows people to find a specific type of content.

For example, if you’re looking for marketing content, you look for #marketing and Instagram will show you posts using that tag.

Intuitively, you might think that more hashtags mean more people will see your content, however, that is not the case.

So, how many hashtags should you use on Instagram?

While Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, they now are recommending the use of only 3-5 hashtags per post.

With that in mind, try using a mix of popular and not-so-popular hashtags so you have the best reach possible. Test until you find something that works for you.

The best practices constantly change to improve user experience, so make sure you follow the Instagram creators account to stay up to date.

3. User generated content (UGC)

UGC is the best worth of mouth marketing tool you will have on any social media platform.

This is not an overstatement. Consumers want authenticity in the content they consume more than ever.

And the content that feels the most authentic is made by normal people, not brands.

User-generated content is basically any piece of content created by individuals using or directly recommending products. So basically, UGC is online worth of mouth.

This is a fact: content created by people will always be more popular and trusted than content created by brands.

Just look at this stat, 76% of consumers report they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than by brands.

The solution to this challenge is simple, use the content that your customers create.

By doing so, you’re adding validation to your products, connecting with consumers, and driving awareness while being authentic.

If there isn’t enough usable UGC out there for your brand, you need to encourage and incentivize it by:

  • Starting a brand ambassador program
  • Creating a contest or challenge where people need to submit photos with the products
  • Partnering with influencers

In the following tips, you will read more about UGC and all of its applications.

4. Create an Instagram influencer strategy

Influencers are people who have already built an audience. And for brands, they can be the link between you and your target demographic.

DTC brands should leverage the power and influence of Instagram creators to drive as much awareness as possible.

If you partner with the right influencers, your account can grow massively and drastically increase sales.

In addition, partnering with influencers—especially small influencers—is the best way to constantly produce high-quality user-generated content.

Which as you now know, is super important for all your social media strategies.

However, you need to do your research because if the influencers you select don’t have good engagement rates or their audience doesn’t overlap with your target demographics, you will end up with a negative ROI.

How much do Instagram influencers charge?

There are influencers of all sizes with unique audiences, so there are no exact numbers. But to give you an idea of how much Instagram influencers cost, check out these figures:

  • Nano influencers (1,000 – 10,000 followers): $10 – $100
  • Micro influencers (10,000 – 50,000 followers): $100 – $500
  • Mid-tier influencers (50,000 – 500,000 followers): $500 – $5,000
  • Macro influencers (500,000 – 1 million followers): $5,000 – $10,000
  • Mega influencers (1 million – 5 million followers): $10,000 – $50,000
  • Celebrity influencers (5 million+ followers): Over $50,000

Note: More followers isn’t always better. Small influencers may benefit you more depending on your goals.

5. Use stories

Stories are a feature that started in Snapchat, but once Instagram adopted it, everyone started using it.

An Instagram story is basically an image, video, or link that accounts can post for 24 hours. But instead of showing up in the feed, it shows up in the story section of the app.

It is basically a way of sharing updates, engaging content that doesn’t belong on your feed, and interacting with your followers.

This feature has proven to be extremely effective at improving engagement with your audience.

The right way to use stories to grow your account as a brand is by being consistent and doing the following:

  • Share UGC (customer stories using your products)
  • Share product updates
  • Announce you published a new post on Instagram
  • Show behind the scenes images
  • Interact with your followers through polls and questions

The idea is to have an additional content channel where you can keep engaging with your followers.

Another great feature related to Instagram stories are highlights. Highlights give you the ability to show selected stories in your profile page and they don’t get deleted.

This way, you can show your best stories to everyone who is just discovering your profile.

If you’re part of a DTC brand, having UGC as one of your highlights is a must.

Also, identify the intents of the people looking at your profile and make a highlight around them.

For example, if people want to know where your stores are located, make a highlight with your locations.

6. Use reels

In the same way Instagram added stories to compete with Snapchat, they’ve added reels to compete with TikTok.

Reels are short videos you can scroll through infinitely, just like TikTok.

The benefit of this format is that it’s able to make the content reach a lot of new people. Again, just like TikTok.

To use this feature correctly, you need to be consistent and create the same type of content that would work on TikTok, authentic content.

However, don’t repost your TikToks as reels. Instagram noticed that many people are doing this, and since they want people to stay on their platform, they don’t promote this content.

So what can you do?

Think about the content in your industry that is successful and try to do it with your own spin.

And if you can’t figure out a way to do it authentically and successfully, use UGC.

7. Instagram ads

A successful Instagram marketing strategy most of the time uses a combination of organic and paid content.

Including ads in your strategy guarantees you will reach more people with your posts and many times increase your sales.

And there isn’t just one format for ads, Instagram allows you to advertise on feeds, stories, explore page, and reels.

But how well your ads convert will depend on your content.

For this purpose, you have 3 options:

  • Advertise your top posts
  • Create a piece of content specially for the ad
  • UGC

For better results, you should test more than one approach with different audiences and see what works.

However, it is worth noting that UGC ads perform better, generally speaking.

Ads that use UGC get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average.

To use UGC for your ads all you need to do is collect it and ask the creator if it’s okay to repurpose the content for a paid ad campaign.

Instagram ads are pretty easy to set up from your business profile and you can control exactly how much to spend.

Then, you just need to target the ads based on:

  • Demographics
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Behaviors

8. Post at the right times

Success in social media is all about consistency, and it’s no different for Instagram.

You need to post consistently and at the right times if you want to build an audience.

Once you start posting consistently, look at your analytics and identify the days and hours when your audience is most active. These will be the best days and times to post.

However, if you don’t have these analytics available and you need a place to start, check out this cheatsheet from HubSpot:

9. Engage with your Instagram followers

Instagram is a place to connect with people.

And you can’t connect with people just by blindly posting. You also need to interact with your audience.

Many brands schedule their posts and forget about them. But you shouldn’t do that.

You don’t want a boring page because it won’t give any results.

To bring your account to life you need to use captions that encourage comments, respond to comments and post stories consistently, among other things.

10. Go live

Instagram also allows accounts to live stream. Through live streams, you can directly engage and interact with your followers in a way that feels authentic.

And while this is more challenging for brands than for individuals (influencers), it’s worth it.

Since influencers are their own brand, they can live stream and answer questions whenever they want.

But if you don’t have a face for your brand, you need to be creative.

The first thing you could do is find someone in your organization that would be willing to go live and talk to the audience.

You could also invite a personality to host your live stream or do live events of some sort.

You need to come up with this yourself because what works will depend on each brand.

This post was originally published here.