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social media how toIs there a place for Instagram in your marketing plan?

Do you want to use Instagram effectively for your business?

Instagram is more than a fun, photo-based social network. It can help you promote your products or services, get more leads and generate conversions.

In this article I’ll explain how to use Instagram to drive big results for your business.

improve instagram marketing

Find 5 ways to improve your Instagram marketing.

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#1: Add a Link to Your Instagram Profile

The only place where you can put a clickable link on Instagram is in your profile, below your bio description.

If you’re going to see any success with Instagram, you must use this link effectively. The good news is that you can change this URL as often as you like.

url in instagram bio

Include a website link on your profile, since it’s the only clickable link on Instagram.

The most important thing to link to is your website URL. This could be your blog page, your product page, a custom landing page, a lead generation page or any other page on your website.

Want people to go to a specific product page for two weeks and then change it to a new product page after that? Just change the link. If you’re running a contest and want people to opt in or register on your website, make this page the link in your Instagram profile. Then change it back to your default page when the contest is over.

Track Traffic From Instagram

Google Analytics won’t recognize mobile traffic that comes from Instagram. It has to do with the process of having to select a browser when navigating away from Instagram. Therefore, when someone clicks on the link in your Instagram bio, Google Analytics records the traffic as direct, not a referral from Instagram.

This can cause confusion when you check analytics.

The best fix is to use a trackable link in your Instagram profile. Instead of listing the full URL, get a Bitly or goo.gl link that allows you to track clicks.

trackable url in instagram bio

Create a trackable link to accurately track your Instagram traffic.

Use a trackable link for each of your Instagram URLs. That way, you can check the analytics for that specific link and get a real assessment of how much traffic you’re actually driving to your website from Instagram.

#2: Showcase Products and Services

Tell your business story through images and videos.

Put your products and services in context so your audience connects with them. An image of a new necklace on a counter doesn’t convey the same feeling as a photo of someone wearing that same necklace with a coordinated, styled outfit. Take it a step further: put that person in an environment, such as at a party, with family, in a park or all of the above.

Michael Kors does an excellent job of showcasing their products. It doesn’t matter what they’re selling—whether it’s a watch or a purse—they put their products in a familiar environment with someone wearing them.

michael kors on instagram

On Instagram, Michael Kors shares images of products in environments familiar to their audience.

Also, if your customers post photos with your products, share them as user-generated content (UGC). A reposting app will allow you to give the original user credit, while showing your audience how others enjoy your product. This use of UGC on Instagram is very powerful and rewarding.

Companies that don’t have tangible products to sell can still use Instagram to showcase their services. Take photos and videos of key employees, customer interactions or other related actions such as navigating your website.

product image on instagram

Even if you don’t have a specific product, showcase your services by taking creative photos and posting them on Instagram.

Another option is to show before-and-after photos that represent the service you offer.

before after image on instagram

Post before-and-after photos on Instagram to better illustrate the services you provide.

If you travel for work, visit different branches of your company or even interact with people around town, and take photos of real-life encounters to showcase who you are. Ask questions of the locals to increase engagement too.

#3: Use Text Overlays on Images

Another way to add pizzazz to your Instagram photos is to put a text overlay on your image. Whether you’re sharing tips, promoting a sale or just branding a pic, this ensures people won’t miss your message.

Use a desktop tool like Photoshop or PowerPoint or a website like Canva or PicMonkey to create text overlays on your images before you upload them to Instagram.

text overlay image on instagram

Place a text overlay on your Instagram pics to amplify your message.

Use the text overlay to list the price or options for a product, advertise a sale or limited-time offer or promote an event—whatever way you need to convey a clear message about your brand or service.

#4: Use Clear Calls to Action in Post Captions

Use the post caption to enhance your post and convey a clear message to your audience.

The post caption, which is the first comment immediately underneath each Instagram post, is the comment you include during the upload process. No matter how many subsequent comments are added, the original caption will always remain complete and visible beneath the post.

This valuable Instagram real estate should never be left blank and it should be as descriptive as necessary to complete the message. Remember, you don’t want to repeat what the picture says, just enhance it. While you’re allowed up to 2,200 characters in your Instagram caption, 200 to 300 characters is usually ideal.

Include a clear call to action in your post caption so it will drive traffic and results. If you want people to visit your website, ask them to “Click on the link in the bio” or write some other message requesting they navigate to your profile to access the direct link. If you want people to call, email or visit your store, make that request clear in the message.

Also, engage your audience with incentives in your post caption call to action. For example, Nordstrom did a “Like it to lower the price” campaign. For every 10,000 likes they’d lower the price 10%, up to 30% off.

call to action on instagram

Creative calls to action, like this one from Nordstrom, boost engagement and ultimately sales.

Whatever your call to action is, make sure it’s clear and of value to your followers. The simpler the action, the better the results.

#5: Add Hashtags

To make the best use of your post captions and comments, include relevant hashtags on your Instagram posts. This will help increase your reach, engagement and overall visibility.

Add hashtags that are related to your business, your post and your target audience. (Avoid popular hashtags or completely unrelated descriptions in an attempt to get on a popular search; these will not help your brand.)

Try to use 10 to 15 hashtags per post. If your post only warrants 8 hashtags, that’s okay. If you can justify 17, that’s fine too. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but there’s rarely a situation where that many are needed.

In every post, incorporate a mix of highly popular hashtags (those with hundreds of thousands or more images), moderately popular hashtags (those with thousands of images), less popular (those with fewer than 1,000 images) and your own custom hashtags.

hashtags on instagram

Include a variety of relevant hashtags on your Instagram posts to maximize engagement on Instagram.

This ensures you’ll reach popular searches, while staying relevant for more than a few minutes in searches for the less-popular hashtags. And, when you incorporate your own custom hashtags, you create a virtual gallery of all of your content. Then when someone searches that hashtag, they’ll find all of your Instagram posts.

Save a list of your most commonly used hashtags on your computer, so they’re on hand to copy, paste and add to posts at all times.

Conclusion

An Instagram plan will help you stand out from the competition, especially since businesses are still getting the hang of how to use it. Since Instagram doesn’t have a reputation as an ad platform, and users can’t drop active links into posts, many marketers don’t understand how to use it to their advantage.

Create content that’s a little different from your other social media sites to best engage your followers. Interact with your Instagram audience to boost your brand awareness. Then market your business to these people to get more traffic, conversions and sales from Instagram.

Instagram is a fun site that’s also a really powerful marketing tool. You just need to know how to use it.

What do you think? Have you had success marketing with Instagram? How are you using Instagram to showcase your business? What tools do you use for images? Please let us know what works for you in the comments.

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  • Greg Randolph

    I’d say that the one thing about hashtags and suggesting posting 10 or more is that it clogs what people see on their screen when looking at the photos — you can’t see the start of the user comments. I find it preferable to post a couple of your key hashtags in the caption and then in the comments unleash your hashtag fury.

  • Jamie

    Can you suggest a favorite reposting app for sharing customer / fan photos?

  • joblak1

    I use repost app. It’s great and allows you to give credit to the orginial owner of the image

  • Great points Jenn. I’ve always struggled with how to best use IG to my advantage for business but now that I have a couple of other social platforms nailed it’s time to start using it more…because it is my favourite after all.

  • Katie Ransom

    Greg, I like to post the description with only 1 or 2 hashtags. I then create a comment with the additional hashtags I want to use. This way the hashtags disappear once there has been some engagement with the photo. I hope this helps!

  • Raquel M Ramirez

    LOVE IT!!! One key thing that I always share with people regarding marketing on Instagram is that it’s not all about who’s following you. Yes, you should have a goal of growing you followers but that should’t be the ultimate goal. One should aim to provide value with information, entertainment, or even great stories. Then add a ninja hashtag strategy and those you need you will find you (discovery) and those who can’t live without you/your products will buy from you. So people shouldn’t get caught up on “who’s following me?” but on “how can I help someone find me?” Thanks Jenn your info is always valuable and as a San Diegan myself I totally appreciate you capturing our city in your Instagram feed 😉

  • Jenn Herman

    Some people definitely don’t like seeing that many hashtags in their post captions, Greg. In which case, like you said, putting the bulk (or all) of them in a subsequent comment is a great way around this.

  • Jenn Herman

    Good advice, Katie!

  • Jenn Herman

    Repost and Regram are probably the two best out there. They vary slightly between Android and iOS but do essentially the same thing by including a watermark on the original image and include the original user in the post caption to provide proper attribution.

  • Jenn Herman

    Repost is my favorite too, Jamie 🙂

  • Jenn Herman

    So glad to hear you want to use it more, Tatum. It’s definitely my favorite too 🙂

  • Jenn Herman

    Hey Raquel!! Thank you for chiming in on this. YES! Absolutely, it’s all about relationships. Power in numbers isn’t the goal on Instagram. Having a clear strategy to reach TARGETED audiences is the most important tactic.
    And with today’s announcement that IG will be deleting spam accounts, it’s even more important to focus on connecting with real, engaged people, not just random accounts.

  • Raquel M Ramirez

    Yes thank you for keeping us updated. I am loving Instagram more and more each day 🙂

  • Thomas Lundy

    With the ability to edit your post. I like to use tags for likes app to post my hashtags in 3 sets, 10 at a time at different times to show up on people’s feeds at different times.

  • Greg Randolph

    Thanks Katie, I thought that was what I was suggesting but it maybe it was a bit confusing the way I presented it. In any case we agree!

  • Is it helpful to improve Keyword Ranking?

  • Great tips Jenn, thanks! One thing: when you mention saving a list of frequently used hashtags “on your computer”, I assume you mean save them on your phone as images cannot be uploaded to Instagram from a computer (at least without some tricky workarounds).

  • I like to save my hashtags in a google drive doc or evernote (or other list app) so I can copy them directly to my description. If you add hashtags to the comments (vs in the description), you can do this on the desktop on Instagram, which makes things much easier. That’s the way I prefer to do it as well. But if you have them saved where you can access them on a mobile device or on your desktop, you’re covered either way! 🙂

  • Awesome Jenn !!

  • frep

    Great useful post, thanks very much. A few people across various posts have pointed out you can only post on instagram via a computer. What if you’re wanting to post DLSR photography? How do professional businesses post these quality photos without having to sync (large files) to their phone via dopbox?

  • Pingback: Local Search Group | Instagram's Growth - Social Media()

  • Susan Probert

    I love Instagram and using it everyday for my own business and clients. These are great tips- thanks! What I would like to ask is if anyone has a workaround if they have multiple twitter accounts they have to post to. I’m actively posting for 3 clients and I’ve abandoned my personal account as I’m going nutty signing in and out of my phone. There has to be a better way to upload. Any tips?

  • Cherry Kwan

    Great tips! I find that one of the biggest problem I encounter is the amount of spam comments that are on my isntagram posts. Are there any way to avoid this? Often, its just a “Like it!” or “Follow for follow”. Should I still acknowledge their spammy comments?

  • Michelle Crittenden

    My question is about #4- adding content and call to action. If there a way to do this from a desktop? I struggle with composing a “paragraph” on my phone. The only other option I can think of is to compose an email on my laptop – email it to myself and copy and paste into my instagram as I post my image. Please let me know if I’m missing something!

  • Michelle Crittenden

    Great question. I take screen shots of some of my “good” high res photos and save to dropbox or screenshot from my phone. That’s my work around- but pretty sure they should be an easier way. 😉

  • Mickey Fielding

    Great article! Now, something else I’d love to know is: how on earth do you force a line break in an Instragram profile description, so that you can start a new line or paragraph exactly where you want it to start?

  • OrganicArmor

    I’ve read elsewhere that the hashtags in comments can’t be searched. Anyone know if that’s true? I am turned off by seeing 8+ hashtags at once. Looks too spammy. But after reading this I might try it.

  • Jenn Herman

    Hashtags anywhere on Instagram are clickable and searchable. If you put hashtags in your post comments, that post will show up in search results for that hashtag. Finding the right number of hashtags to use is a bit of science but start with 3-5 and see how that works for you then add more if it’s appropriate. Remember that using overly popular hashtags (producing millions of results) will generate more spam comments and be less valuable to your strategy. Find relevant targeted hashtags for the maximum effect.

  • The one thing that has been working for me is keeping some sort of theme. When I get a little ADD with posts, the engagement will lower, but when going back to consistency my engagement increases.

    One thing I’ve been playing with is using FB conversion pixels to try and track users coming from instagram. If anyone has done this i’d love to here how its working for you!