Instagram Marketing: How to Get Started With Instagram

Do you use Instagram for your business?

Are you wondering how Instagram can help with your marketing?

To learn how to get started with Instagram marketing, I interview Sue B. Zimmerman for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Sue B. Zimmerman, who is known as the Instagram Gal. Sue helps businesses use Instagram to find their ideal customers. She’s used Instagram herself to increase traffic to her Cape Cod retail boutique by 40% in only 12 months.

Sue shares the strategy behind her Instagram success.

You’ll learn how to take advantage of using photos and short videos and how to make the most of hashtags.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Instagram Marketing

Why marketers should consider Instagram

Sue states that she didn’t know what Instagram was until a little over a year ago. She became curious when her twin daughters were using it.

Sue shares that one of the reasons why marketers should consider Instagram is because it’s mobile. It’s a great way for your business to communicate directly with people with whom you want to build trust and credibility. There’s no better way for people to see what you are up to.

sue b zimmerman instagram

Instagram is a great way to share with people what you are doing in the moment.

Instagram is a free mobile app, which you can download onto your iPhone or Android phone. It allows you to share photos or videos with your target market. It’s very quick, easy and fun to use. There are 20 filters that you can have a lot of fun with.

You’ll discover why hashtags and @mentions are most important for marketers and businesses.

Listen to the show to find out what type of image gets the most likes and comments for Sue.

Who is Instagram ideally for and how does it differ from Pinterest?

Sue believes they are similar but have slightly different approaches. Sue has a very active Pinterest account, which is also very successful for her boutique.

Both Pinterest and Instagram have grown into their own thriving communities.

With Instagram, you can tell a story with both photos and videos. As soon as you upload an Instagram image, you can see within seconds that someone has liked it. With Pinterest however, you tell people what you like. You curate your boards and highlight what you like from things that are already online.

in the moment sue zimmerman

With Instagram, it's you in the moment.

Sue gives an example of how she is able to seize opportunities presented to her with customers in her boutique. It’s a great way to create a fun mood.

The hashtags that you use to describe the image or the video are how people follow you or find you.

You’ll hear what hashtags Sue uses at an event and why it helps create more interaction. You have to remember that people look for certain hashtags for their industry to stay top of mind.

falmouth roadrace

Make sure you tag the event you are attending to create more interaction.

From a business perspective, when an image grabs your attention, you can choose to click into the account and see if you want to follow the person. Once you start to follow an account, it will show up in your feed. You can also unfollow accounts at any time.

Sue believes that she can put a visual strategy together for any kind of business. You’ll hear the different types of businesses she has worked with.

In the B2B world, it’s not necessarily about the products you sell, it’s about visual feelings. Images of sunsets, nature and oceans get a lot of likes because they are visually pleasing. It’s not just about business.

Listen to the show to find out what the benefits are when you share your passions visually as an individual.

Examples of businesses that use Instagram well

One of Sue’s favorite businesses is Birchbox. They have over 50,000 followers and are super-creative with their products. One of the products is a subscription-based box of goodies, which is delivered to your door once a month for $10.

birchbox instagram

Birchbox showcases its products in creative ways.

Sue recently did a Google+ Hangout with the owner of Simple Green Smoothies. The reason why they have 170,000 followers is because they have the most gorgeous images of smoothies. You’ll find out what added value they provide to their images.

simple green smoothies

Simple Green Smoothies has a lot of engagement with its images.

A great example of someone who uses 15-second videos on Instagram is Chalene Johnson, who is a fitness guru. She has 130,000 followers. Her branding is consistent and entertaining.

Listen to the show to hear why Sue loves what Starbucks has done with its Instagram account and why it’s not about the coffee.

Should marketers focus more on photos or the 15-second videos?

Sue uses a 15-second video at least once a day. With video, you can capture so much more than with a photo. You can combine audio with the video.

You’ll hear Sue give a great example of when she used video instead of photo to capture the moment.

Instagram recently announced that you can upload any video that you’ve created in your library to Instagram. You might already have a short clip you want to share. It opens up opportunity if you are a video pro.

When you write a description with the correct hashtags for the image, you can type in the URL of where you want to send someone. On Instagram the URL is not live when you click it, but when you share the image to Facebook, it is.

url link instagram

Although the URL is not live on Instagram, as soon as you post it to Facebook it's clickable.

With Instagram you can share images to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr or email.

You’ll discover the advantages of calls to action in the mobile app and how to make sure people receive notifications on Instagram and Twitter.

If you make a video with Instagram, you can do stop animation. Check out Rachel Ryle on Instagram, as she creates the most amazing illustrated videos.

rachel ryle on instagram

Rachel Ryle's illustration videos are amazing to watch.

Listen to the show to find out why Sue believes that the 15-second video is a great solution for people who fear creating videos.

How does Instagram interface with Facebook? 

Sue explains that when you create an image on Instagram, you can decide where you want it to go. This is great news for people who have multiple Facebook accounts.

Most people think there are just 5 buttons on Instagram, but there are actually 50 buttons. There’s a lot of functionality and features.

Listen to the show to hear how Instagram videos work with Facebook.

What’s the difference between the web interface and the mobile app?

Sue explains that you can pull up your Instagram account on your desktop and laptop. The interface is different, but you can still comment, like and connect to other people’s accounts, just like you can on your phone.

The great thing about the desktop is that you can go into Statigram and analyze all of your Instagram data. You’ll learn about the type of data you can see.

statigram statistics

Statigram is a great tool for checking out your Instagram data.

You can’t schedule with Instagram. It’s all in the moment. Sue believes this is why there is so much engagement and why people love it.

You’ll find out why the life span of an Instagram is endless and what people look for with a business account.

Listen to the show to hear why Sue finds the engagement on Instagram is better than any other social media platform that she is active on.

What’s your strategy for your Cape Cod boutique?

Sue knows what her relevant hashtags are for the essence of her brand.

Whenever she takes a product shot, she uses the hashtag of the brand or the adjectives that describe the product. It’s amazing what people follow. You’ll hear why an anchor is such a iconic image and makes a great hashtag.

anchor jewelry

The hashtags used for this image are #anchors away #suebdo #cotuit #capecod #nautical #preppy.

Sue has over 3000 followers—a lot of whom are from her customer base. The images used definitely help drive traffic into her store.

Listen to the show to hear why Sue’s standards for photos are extremely high.

Discovery of the Week

Tagboard is a really cool website where you can enter a hashtag and it aggregates the hashtag content across many social networks.

tagboard smss13

Tagboard's result for Social Media Success Summit 2013 (#smss13).

Once you enter your hashtag, you can see which people on a particular platform have used your hashtag. It’s a great way to get to a very high-level view of what everyone is saying across the social channels.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how this works for you.

Other Show Mentions

Social Media Success Summit 2013

Social Media Success Summit 2013 is a special online conference designed to help you master social media marketing (brought to you by Social Media Examiner).

Social Media Success Summit 2013.

Forty-five of the world’s leading social media pros will show you how. Instructors include Jay Baer (author, Youtility), Chris Brogan (co-author, Impact Equation), Mari Smith (co-author, Facebook Marketing), Michael Stelzner (founder, Social Media Examiner), Mark Schaefer (author, Return on Influence), Jesse Stay (author, Google+ for Dummies), Amy Porterfield (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies) and experts from General Electric, Sony, E! Online, Kelly Services and Discovery Channel–just to mention a few. Fully online. Click here to learn more.

If you want to improve your Pinterest marketing, you definitely need to check it out. Three of the sessions focused on Pinterest include:

  • How to Run Successful Pinterest Contests—Melanie Duncan
  • How to Use Pinterest for More Traffic, Leads and Sales—Cynthia Sanchez
  • How Big Businesses Do Pinterest Marketing—led by Beth Hayden with marketers from Whole Foods and Target

Social Media Success Summit 2013 is a great opportunity if you are thinking of getting into Pinterest marketing or you want to master social media. It’s completely live online and you get the recordings and the transcripts. Be sure to check it out.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on using Instagram for your business? Please leave your comments below.

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About the Author, Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, and host of the Social Media Marketing podcast. He also authored of the books Launch and Writing White Papers. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.gambrill.com/ Dave Gambrill

    Sue knows her stuff! I had the honor of meeting her a few months ago and even in our short conversations I learned a ton about Instagram. I never knew how much you could use it for business until Sue explained a few very easy to implement strategies. Thanks Sue!

  • http://www.healinstyle.com/ Christina Daves

    I am just getting started with Instagram and this information is awesome!!! I plan on implementing these strategies ASAP for my business. Thanks for sharing your knowledge Sue!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you enjoyed this interview Christina

  • http://navneetsau.com/ NavNeet Sau

    Thank you Michael for sharing such an amazing article
    about Instagram marketing. I just started using Instagram and this
    episode helped me a lot about marketing through Instagram and I would
    love to say special thanks for statigram and tagboard which are new
    tools that come into my interaction.

  • Carol-Anne Phaiah Blackwell

    I am just starting with Instagram and I was amazed at the random interest! It was an unexpected SURPRISE to see how Instagram is becoming so useful in my industry, too! I will be sharing with my “tribe”! Love the “Instagram Gal”!

  • http://www.launchgrowjoy.com/ Andreea

    This is great! I just got started with Instagram a few weeks ago and wasn’t sure exactly how to make the most of it. Thanks so much, Sue, for this great article and for sharing so many useful tips.

  • Tyler

    I think this medium can be extremely effective for marketing IF your target audience is under 35 years old give or take and female (according to demographic data I researched) and your product or service caters to such an age group/gender.

    I considered using Instagram, but I feel after in-depth hunting and digging, that it’s rather frivolous in its contents where the majority of uploads are basically “hey look at me at the beach” or “look what I had for dinner” , or here’s my pet hamster, et al.

    Of course not all, and it does indeed have its place, but for businesses that are either more serious, or mature, or elegant, or sophisticated in its nature and content, I humbly feel it’s a wasted effort…..again, this is just from what I’ve researched.

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    Great show. While I have been on Instagram from the beginning, I didn’t really get how it can work for my business. Love that we can import videos – and that it can help our Facebook engagement too. Big takeaway is hashtags and the “feeling” you want your audience to take away from their interaction with your business.

  • http://rumlog.com/ Steve Orne

    Who knew Instagram was so powerful? Thank you Sue for great business building strategies and insights. The best takeaway for me is how Instagram can leverage your time and amplify your message on your other platforms … Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc. What a great marketing tool!

  • John Cummings

    Sue, I can’t believe what a difference Instagram can make. You made a believer out of me in just 1 week and it’s become a game changer in terms of managing my overal social media strategy. Anyone who is using social media for their business (which means EVERYONE), should be following your Instagram training and tips. Keep up the #amazing #work!

  • Guest

    I’ve known Sue for years and she is an expert at leveraging the power of social media to build up her very successful retail business. She is always ahead of the curve so if Instagram is on her radar – you can better believe that is where it’s at today and even more so tomorrow. Bottom line is to get on board!

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Sue and Mike,
    Very interesting and info-packed episode – thank you both! Instagram has always kind of been on the outskirts of the “social media platforms” circle in terms of marketing/business use in my mind, (I know my girlfriend loves it to share pics with friends); but you’ve opened my eyes to a different perspective through this episode. Great stuff!

  • nheltman

    Thanks Mike for admitting you didn’t get Instagram and for this podcast.

  • nheltman

    Oh and thanks for telling us about #TagBoard!

  • http://www.graphicblueprint.com/blog Brandon Halliburton

    Awesome information! Thanks for the information Sue! This is helping me with something I am trying to put together for my business.

  • Robyn Mather

    Very well-rounded view into how to use Instagram for business! Sue makes a compelling case as to why all business professionals need to pay attention to this emerging platform. Thank you Sue for the wake-up call! And love the tagboard app. Have to check it out.

  • Brando Hills

    I would love to compare different industries to see the versatility of Instagram. I’m excited to see Instagram live during New York Fashion Week (Pinterest already doing a fantastic job). Good post!

  • Amie Hoff

    As an Istagram newbie, this is so helpful! It’s explained in a way that I get it easily. I didn’t know there was so much useful info to learn. Thanks Michael and Sue.

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Hey Dave,
    So glad you are embracing Ig for your business. Great to see you here!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you found it useful NavNeet

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Good to hear Carol-Anne

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Sue knows here stuff. I hope it works well for you Andrea.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Great feedback Tyler

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you learned some new things Jeff :)

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Yea, it is a real eye opener Steve

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad it is helping you John

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    She is excited about Instagram, that is for certain.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you liked it John. And by the way you should sign your replies for folks who may not know your name :)

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Yep, still don’t totally get it :)

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    my pleasure!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hope it works well for you Brandon

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Robyn and do try out that app

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Brandon

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you found it helpful Amie

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Awe thanks Carol-Anne- your tribe will love it too!

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Hey Jeff-
    Thxs for the follow on ig be sure to write a complete Bio so people know what you do!

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Thanks John! I love following you at @barefootandrich.

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    This weekend for sure Sue. I’ve been building a secret Pinterest board that I’m ready to go public with, so that learning experience will make for a nice transition to Instagram. Already found a share of my new book that published on IG over a month ago. Woops, missed that one!

  • Ryan Gromfin

    Sue, so great to hear your voice here, I love your your Instagram program, it’s made a huge impact on how I am marketing my services and growing my list!

  • Leah Jantzen

    I loved this interview Sue and Michael! I have taken Sue’s bootcamp and it bolstered my brand and my business. Sue’s tips make it easy to stand out and showcase your brand on IG. I didn’t know about the new video options until hearing this interview. Great news! Thanks guys!!

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Praverb

    I definitely needed to hear this interview. Sue does an excellent job breaking down the benefits of using Instagram. I just signed up this past week yet I am not using it to the max.

    This is a great interview thank you Michael for interviewing Sue.

  • Eric Leszkowicz

    I have played with Instagram from the early days, but the one piece of information that was great was using http://statigr.am/ What an amazing tool.

    Thanks for the great information.

  • Kristianne

    I am still not convinced about instagram for business unless you are building a relationship with the consumer that is under 30 years of age. I work for a company supplying home improvement materials- so our target market is affluent 40+
    homeowners typically.

    Can anybody think of a ‘boring’ product where the target market is 40+ where instagram has been an effective marketing tool?

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Hi Kristianne-
    Here are some ideas to consider:
    1. Show the home after the improvements
    2. Show smiling faces of happy customers
    3. Educate your followers about some of the products you sell.
    4. Hashtag the location of your biz
    If you become know as the go to biz for home improvements in your town you will stay top of mind. Not only will your followers think of you but they may tell your friends about your biz when when they need your supplies.
    Let me know if you need more strategies happy to help.

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Eric totally agree…data tells all!

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Praverb-
    So glad you enjoyed the podcast. Looking forward to seeing your post.

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Leah can’t wait to see some of your videos soon!

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Ryan Instagram is perfect for anyone in the food/restaurant business.

  • Robin

    This is fabulous info! Instagram is so hot right now and Sue is totally THE go-to gal for all things Instagram. I can’t believe how much great info is crammed into this article and the interview too! Thanks so much for bringing Sue to us on your blog!!!

  • http://www.mimikacooney.com/ Mimika Cooney

    Great interview love Sue’s ideas! As a professional photographer I have all the goods at my disposal now it’s a matter of making it work for my business.

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  • Kendall

    Sue taught me instagram a year ago and I have over a thousand followers. it’s growing everyday! I am so grateful for her knowledge!

  • Katie Chappell

    Thanks for the super helpful podcast! Great to see how other businesses are using Instagram and learn a few new tricks!

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  • http://www.marketipe.com/ Saqib Sherazi

    Do you think there is a chance that new comers such as vine and snap chat may be more better to use these days?

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  • Rena Hedeman

    Sue is the best for all things social media! I’ve learned so much from her about Instagram AND Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook! She knows her stuff! Great interview btw!

  • ronel labuschagne

    It all sounds very interesting. I am a real estate agent and I want to make use of these various tools like Pinterest and Instagram, but it seems difficult to apply to my product, which is real estate. I make use of blogging, social pages etc. and it does bring in more business. I would like some direction please.

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  • Coline Harmon Walther

    I’m still learning about Instagram; thank you for all the helpful information.

  • Raubi Marie Perilli

    Michael as always, a great podcast! Thanks for the tips on how to practically use Instagram as a marketing tool. I, like too many others, sometimes forget that Instagram isn’t just for play. It’s a really great community building tool. Thanks for having Sue Zimmerman on as she was able to share some really great takeaways!

  • Jackie

    How do you access the other Facebook pages to post on as you mentioned? All I see are the standard places to share? Thanks for the great post!

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  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Hi Jackie,

    Here is a Step by Step :-)

    To connect to Facebook:

    Go to your profile

    Tap on iPhone in the top-right corner or on Android

    Tap Share Settings

    Tap Facebook and link using your Facebook login info

    Once you’ve linked your account to Facebook, go back to your Share Settings and tap Facebookagain

    Tap Share to

    Tap Ok when asked if Instagram can manage your Pages

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    So glad you found value Rabi. Be sure to follow me on Instagram @suebzimmerman and @theinstagramexpert. Mention this article and I will be sure to comment back:-)

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Coline,
    I am here for you if you have any Q’s…be sure to follow me on Instagram @suebzimmerman @theinstagramexpert and mention this Podcast :-)

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Ronel,
    One of my clients is having great success as a Real Estate agent on Instagram. Follow @jillaboudreau and her featured account @reexpert and tell her I sent you. She has made over $250K in commission from using Instagram!!

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Rena,
    So great to see you on this thread! xo

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Depends on your market. I know that Vine videos are only 6 sec. which means you have to be extremely creative to get your point across. Snap Chat is where my teens are but I haven’t figured about a way to leverage it for my business yet.

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Katie,
    Glad you found it helpful. Be sure to connect on Instagram @suebzimmerman @theinstagramexpert

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Kendall I love seeing ALL your success!

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Thanks Mimika :-) Glad you see value in Instagram as a photographer.

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Robin,
    Thanks so much for your comment here. I glad you got a lot of value. I try to talk fast and give as much info as I can in 45 mins. It’s a challenge!!

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Hi Kristianne,
    One of my clients @echo_tape sells boring industrial tape to distributors and is a leader in their industry on Instagram. I am happy to report that they recently landed a NEW client from their visual strategy. They have been in business over 40 years and compete w 3M so this was a HUGE win.
    Message me if you need a posting strategy.

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Hey Eric,
    Statigram is now Iconosqare and it is an awesome tool too access and look at data. Glad you found the information valuable.

  • Kimberly D’Eramo

    WooooHoooo!! Sue is amazing and I’m so glad to know her. She REALLY really cares and is one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met.

  • http://www.mimikacooney.com/ Mimika Cooney

    Thanks Sue! Actually my focus is teaching marketing FOR photographers/creatives so its been an interesting experiment using. IS. Thanks for all your awesome tips you rock!!!









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