When Instagram first popped onto the scene back in 2010, it was just like any other social platform: filled with selfies, pets, and pictures of food.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Instagram’s transformation from a simple photo sharing app to a full-on marketing channel is nearly complete.
Just look at some of the platform’s newest features! In the last year alone, Instagram has released dozens of new tool for businesses, including advanced analytics, shoppable Instagram posts, and new ways to drive traffic from Instagram Stories, and the new standalone video platform, IGTV.
Whether you work in ecommerce, education, or media and publishing, it pays to build a presence on Instagram. But if you really want to get ahead, you need to know the platform (and your audience) inside and out, including what kind of content resonates most, how to build an Instagram Stories strategy, and how to track your metrics and KPIs.
That’s where this guide comes in. In the next 16 chapters, we’ll walk you through:
But first, let’s take a look at why Instagram marketing is so effective for ecommerce businesses in particular.
We all know how great Instagram is for sharing photos and videos with our friends and family, but it’s also an incredible channel for ecommerce marketing. But why?
Well, an obvious reason is Instagram’s format. Because of this visual nature, Instagram holds massive opportunities for ecommerce businesses looking to showcase their products. Whether through regular photos, videos, or Instagram Stories, millions of businesses have learned that building a visual presence on Instagram can hugely compliment their ecommerce marketing.
There’s also the fact that Instagram users are more engaged than the average social media user. And while trends do seem to show that Instagram engagement is dropping (something we’ll be discussing in the next chapter), the platform is still producing higher engagement rates for businesses compared to both Twitter and Facebook.
But Instagram users are more than simply engaged -- they’re also commonly online shoppers. According to a recent study, 72% of Instagram users report making a purchase decision after seeing something on Instagram, with the most popular categories being clothing, makeup, shoes, and jewelry.
This shopping mindset makes Instagram users the perfect audience because they’re high-intent and quick to convert.
Another reason Instagram is so great for ecommerce has to do with the platform itself. As we mentioned in the previous chapter, Instagram has recently introduced a ton of new business-facing tools -- and there’s definitely more to come! Whether through links in Instagram Stories or shoppable Instagram posts, soon enough many of our online shopping experiences will start (and end) on Instagram.
All of this said, it would be a mistake to think that just because you don’t sell ecommerce products your business doesn’t belong on Instagram! Beyond its unique ability to move products, Instagram is also an incredible place for businesses to build brand awareness and connect with new audiences (and potential customers).
Of course, if you want to build an Instagram marketing strategy that really resonates with your target audience, you first need to understand how the Instagram algorithm works -- something we’ll be discussing next.
Oh, the ever-mysterious Instagram algorithm. When Instagram first announced in 2016 that they were replacing the chronological feed with an algorithm, most people responded with a less-than-joyous reaction... And not much has changed since.
So why did Instagram make the switch from chronological to algorithm?
Well, it had to do with size. As Instagram grew in popularity, it became harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. In fact, according to Instagram, people missed an average of 70% of their feeds when it was chronological.
In light of this, Instagram created an algorithm that re-organized people’s feeds so they would theoretically see more content that was relevant to them.
Unfortunately, it also had some undesirable effects.
Whereas a chronological feed requires little-to-no guesswork (all you really have to worry about is posting when your audience is most active), algorithm-based feeds can be influenced by a ton of different factors -- like how much engagement a post gets or how long people spend viewing your posts.
And since Instagram is constantly updating the algorithm to improve user-experience and prioritize certain types of content, it can be difficult to know how to optimize your posts to get the most engagement and reach possible…
But it’s not impossible!
Last year, Instagram actually went on record about how the Instagram algorithm works, including the factors that determine how your post will perform in the Instagram algorithm (and how many people will see it!). Here they are below, ranked in terms of importance:
This is Instagram predicting how much you’ll care about a post.
The more they think you’ll “like” that post, the higher it appears in your feed. This is based on “past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post,” according to Instagram.
Think about this one like the Instagram Explore page: once you like one video of slime, your entire explore page is full of slime videos. And if someone in your feed posts a video of slime, Instagram’s going to guess that you’ll like that too.
How long ago was a photo or video posted? The new Instagram algorithm will prioritize recent posts, so you’ll hopefully see fewer posts from over a week ago.
While the feed isn’t going back to chronological by any means, Instagram is starting to care a lot more about when you post, instead of just the content or engagement on the post.
This was confirmed in late-2017 when Instagram pledged to prevent older posts from showing on people’s feeds.
As a result, businesses will need to be more aware of when their audience is most active on Instagram, so they can optimize their posts to appear at that time.
How do you know the accounts that appear on your feed? If you often comment on someone’s photos or you get tagged in photos with them, this signals to Instagram that they fall into your “friends and family” category. As a result, you’ll likely see more content that they post (and vice-versa!).
This is great news for businesses because it gives them a way to stay top-of-mind. Just ask your followers to tag you in their posts and make sure you optimize your Instagram posts and stories to get as many comments as possible.
Other factors that influence the Instagram algorithm:
How often do you open the Instagram app? If you’re a frequent scroller, your feed will look more “chronological” since Instagram tries to “show you the best posts since your last visit.”
If you check the Instagram app less often, then your feed will be sorted more to what Instagram thinks you’ll like, instead of chronologically.
How many people do you follow on Instagram? If you follow a lot of people, then Instagram has more options to choose from, so you probably won’t see all of the posts from every account.
If you spend a lot of time on Instagram, you’re going to see more posts as Instagram “digs deeper into its catalog.”
If you only spend a few minutes on the app each day, then you’re going to just get the highlights from the algorithm.
Instagram Algorithm Updates
This is How the Instagram Algorithm Works in 2019
5 Things to Know About the Instagram Algorithm
Everything You Need to Know About the New Instagram Algorithm
Now that we’ve covered how the Instagram algorithm works, let’s talk about how to set your Instagram marketing goals and objectives.
Of course, the first step to identifying your goals and objectives on Instagram is to understand exactly what “success” means for you.
Are you using Instagram to build brand awareness and reach more of your ideal customers? To showcase your products and services? To grow an engaged community? To increase brand loyalty?
Will you use Instagram as a tool for customer service? Will you rely on it to educate your followers about your business or industry?
There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to using Instagram to meet your business goals and how you use it is ultimately up to you. Just keep in mind that the goals you set will heavily influence the metrics you use to tracks your success on Instagram (something we’ll be discussing in a later chapter).
For example, if you’re using Instagram to build a large and engaged audience, you’re more likely to focus on engagement metrics, such as likes, comments, and shares.
If you’re having trouble deciding on goals for your account, it can help to consider the following questions:
Once you’ve determined why you’re using Instagram, you need to think about who you’re trying to target.
If you already have a good sense of who your ideal customer is, a good strategy is to take that customer profile (or “persona”) and extrapolate to Instagram.
What kinds of content do they engage with? What hashtags do they use? What communities are they a part of? Answering these questions is a great way to sure that you’re hitting your target audience on Instagram.
If you’re still having trouble, another option is to research your competitors. Go to your competitors’ profiles and click on their “Followers.” You’ll be able to see the whole list of users who follow them. (Note: we don’t recommend simply going through this list and following each one. Instead, use this information to build a strategy to capture their attention organically).
You can also use this strategy to see what hashtags your competitors are using. Instagram hashtags are still one of the best ways of reaching audiences on Instagram, especially now that you can follow Instagram hashtags like you would other users.
When researching relevant hashtags, try to go as micro as possible. There’s a good chance you’ll find some ultra-niche hashtags that are teeming with activity from your target audience.Chapter 4 | Part 2
With your goals and audience in mind, the next step is to take a constructive look at your Instagram profile by performing an Instagram audit.
By doing this, you’ll be taking a critical look at everything you’ve done on the platform so far, analyzing it, and then decide if it’s still serving the needs of your business. (Even if you’re just getting started with Instagram marketing, running an audit is a great opportunity to make sure you’re on the right track.)
Each element of your Instagram profile should feel intentional, including your profile photo, bio, feed, captions, hashtags, and more.
Even the accounts you currently follow become part of your brand on Instagram. Do you find them inspiring? Do they align with your business? Or are they completely random and disconnected?
Remember to keep your goals in mind while you’re auditing your account to ensure that every decision you make moves you closer to them!
Once you’ve completed your Instagram audit, you should have:
It’s a question that still pops up from time to time: “Should I switch to an Instagram business profile.”
While the answer was less certain in 2017, Instagram recently gave businesses a few more big reasons to convert to a business profile, namely the ability to add links to Instagram Stories, shoppable Instagram posts, and auto-publishing to Instagram.
The fact is that today, as a business on Instagram with clear marketing goals, the benefits that come from switching to a business profile are indisputable.
Ready to make the switch? Here’s how to do it:
#1: Create a Facebook Page for Your Business
Before you can set up a business profile on Instagram, you need to have an active Facebook Page. Luckily, setting up a Facebook Business Page can be done in a matter of minutes! If you already have a Facebook Page, you can skip to the next step.
Start by opening Facebook and clicking on “Create Page” from the dropdown menu.
Next, select your business category and give a name to your Page. Your Page name can be your business name or another name that people may search for to find your business.
Upload a profile photo and a cover photo that best represents your business. You can use your logo as your profile photo, or even an image of your store or products.
And that’s it! Your business’ Facebook Page is now live!
Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to spruce up your Facebook Business Page before you connect it your Instagram business profile. At the very least, you should add a description and call-to-action that directs your Page visitors to do something, like visit your website or call your store.
#2: Connect Your Facebook Page to Instagram
In order to switch to a business profile, start by logging into your Instagram account and navigating to your profile.
Next, tap the “gear” icon in the top right corner of the screen to access your account settings.
From here, tap “Switch to Business Profile,” and then “Continue” to connect to Facebook.
Make sure your profile is set to Public! If your profile is currently set to Private on Instagram, you won’t be able to switch to a business profile.
Tap “Continue As” to connect the Facebook Page. If you don’t see your business’ Facebook Page as an option, make sure that you’re listed as an admin in the settings menu.
Once the correct Facebook Page appears, select it and tap “Next.”
#3: Set Up Your Business Profile on Instagram
Next, you’ll be prompted to add your contact information, including a phone number, physical address, or email so that customers can get in touch.
Once everything looks good, tap “Done.”
That’s it! Now that you have a business profile on Instagram, you’ll get access to a ton of new features, including the ability to view your Instagram Insights and promote your Instagram posts, all from within the app!
With your Instagram business profile set up, it’s time to start thinking about what your Instagram profile looks like.
As we’ve said many times before, your Instagram profile is an important reflection of your brand -- which is why businesses today spend more time than ever planning the overall look of their profiles.
When someone lands on your profile, you only have a few seconds to convert them into a follower, and this is often decided by a quick glance or scroll of your feed.
That’s why it’s so important to curate the look and feel of your Instagram profile! It’s one of the best ways to get more followers.
The good news: by scheduling Instagram posts, you can actively plan and design the look of your Instagram feed before you post.
Here’s what you should focus on to create a great first impression:Chapter 6 | Part 1
One of the hardest parts of making your Instagram feed look amazing is figuring out how to make all your individual photos look good beside each other.
Take a step back from posting one photo, and look at your Instagram feed as a whole: how do all of your photos fit together? Here are five tips:
#1: Pick a Color Scheme
It’s important that you have a consistent color scheme for your Instagram feed. What this means is that all the colors in your feed seamlessly go together. This could be a warm and cozy feed, a dark and cool feed, or a bright and colourful feed.
Whatever direction you take, having a consistent color palette is a great way to incorporate your branding into your Instagram feed.
#2: Focus on Lighting
Lighting is a key element for curation and aesthetic. Think of an upscale magazine that you love to read. Regardless of the subject matter, what ties it together and makes a theme is the lighting and color choices. The consistency of those choices are the ingredients for your Instagram aesthetic.
#3: Space Out Your Content
This is probably the hardest part in achieving a gorgeous instagram aesthetic. You need to know where to put each of your photos and how to plan your feed so that it all blends together.
The goal is to create a depth of field, similar to how you would in photography. You basically want to space out busy photos with a mix of more clean or minimal photos to achieve a nice balance.
#4: Keep Things Consistent
To help keep your feed flowing naturally, you need to have a consistent approach to editing your photos. This doesn’t mean you have to choose one filter and one filter only, but limiting yourself to a few will help you stick to your chosen aesthetic.
Do you prefer warmer tones? Cooler toned images? Whatever your editing style, make sure it’s consistent so that your posts flow within your feed. Even just adding a touch of the same filter each time you post can make your brand and Instagram feed seem more cohesive.
#5: Curate with User-Generated Content (UGC)
While more businesses than ever are investing in original content, there’s still so much to be gained from incorporating user-generated content (UGC) into your Instagram strategy.
Keep in mind that when choosing photos to repost to your account, it’s important to stay aligned with your theme and aesthetic. You’ll want to choose photos that are a natural fit and have a similar color scheme and editing style to your own feed. When someone is looking at your Instagram feed, it shouldn’t be too obvious which posts are yours and which photos are UGC that you curated.
TIP: The most important rule for using UGC is to always ask for permission before reposting someone else’s photo to Instagram. And when giving credit, you always want to reference the original photographer in the caption. Simply tagging them in the photo isn’t enough.
We’re going to get into Instagram Stories in the next chapter, but we’d be amiss not to mention how great Instagram Stories Highlights are for introducing potential followers to what your business is all about.
You can think of Instagram Stories Highlights like a movie trailer for your Instagram feed. They’re a creative way to express yourself, show off products, drive traffic, or market your business!
A good strategy is to group your Instagram Stories Highlights together into various categories, events, or topics so that your audience can quickly find content that’s of specific interest to them.
Take @anthropologie for example. The fashion and lifestyle brand is constantly updating their Instagram Stories Highlights to draw attention to their latest offerings, such as seasonal collections and new arrivals, or to share sales and other promotions.
All in all, using Instagram Stories Highlights is a great way for you to attract new followers. With Highlights, you can quickly showcase what your business does, what you offer, and why someone should follow you.
Plus, by optimizing your Instagram Stories Highlights, you can even make sales directly from your profile from people who aren’t even following you!Chapter 6 | Part 3
Your Instagram bio is one of the most under-utilized Instagram features, but it’s so important! It can be difficult to come up with the perfect description of what you do and why people should follow you.
Here are 6 tips for optimizing your Instagram bio:
#1: Your Name
The first step to creating good Instagram bios is making sure that your name is, in fact, your name! (By this, we mean the “name” field in your profile, not your Instagram username).
People searching for you on Instagram will likely use your name or your company’s name, and consistency lets people know that the Instagram profile they’re viewing actually belongs to you and not an impostor.
This might seem pretty obvious, but there’s actually a bigger reason for it: your name and username are the only fields that Instagram considers in search queries.
So it’s really important to make sure that the name you use in your Instagram bio is the one your followers and customers are searching for!
#2: Your Username & Hashtag Links
Thanks to an update in early-2018, you can now turn profile usernames and hashtags within your Instagram bio into clickable hyperlinks.
When you include a “#” or “@” in your bio, it will automatically become a clickable link that will lead visitors to a hashtag or another profile.
By adding hashtags into your Instagram bio, profile visitors are able to click directly through to view the respective content. Adding branded hashtags or hashtags related to your interests makes your bio much more functional, allowing you to highlight branded content and share more of your interests with profile visitors.
NOTE: Adding hashtags into your bio does not make your profile searchable within those hashtags, so it’s probably best to stick to using your own branded hashtag in your bio. This way you won’t waste valuable character space in your bio by listing hashtags that won’t actually drive traffic back to you!
#3: Your Skills
A good Instagram bio accurately explains what your business is and what you do. So if you want to stand out for a particular skill, profession, hobby, or interest, you should include these details in your Instagram bio as well!
Think about what sets you apart from your competitors. Do you have a unique set of skills or experiences that might be of interest to your followers?
Not only will including these in your Instagram bio serve as an introduction to new viewers, but it can also determine whether they’ll follow you.
Using keywords won’t improve your searchability on Instagram (except, as we mentioned above, your “name” in your Instagram bio) but it will give your account more focus and help you connect with followers who want to engage with your content!
When deciding what keywords to include in your Instagram bio, try to think about both your own core values and the core values of your target audience.
If you use Instagram for business, spend some time creating a “profile” of your ideal follower. What are their pain points or interests? And what keywords will help you resonate with them most?
Using keywords that target your audience and niche will help users better understand who you are, what you have to offer, and whether or not your account is relevant to them!
#5: Your Website Link
Unlike other social networks, Instagram is strict on where clickable links can be placed. Currently, Instagram only gives users one clickable link on their profile, and it’s the link in your bio.
A lot of businesses use the link to send followers to their homepage or blog, which is great! But for ecommerce businesses that want to send followers to specific product pages, campaigns, or webinars, the lack of hot links is a huge challenge.
To get around this restriction, some businesses will frequently update their website link to send followers to their latest products or promotions — and then refer to that link in their Instagram captions. The problem is that Instagram’s photo feed is no longer chronological, so when a business’ post says “link in bio,” that link might not correspond to the actual link in their bio.
Since Instagram only gives you one clickable URL, Later created a shoppable Instagram feed called Linkin.bio that makes it easy to drive targeted traffic to your online store.
With Linkin.bio, you can now add links to any of the Instagram posts you’ve published through Later, which helps direct your Instagram audience to the right content or products on your site. You can also link to multiple websites and pages, all without changing the link in your bio.
When one of your followers clicks on the link in your bio, they’ll be taken to a web and mobile-optimized landing page that resembles your Instagram feed and displays your Instagram posts as clickable images!
#6: Your Contact Information
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, when you switch to an Instagram business profile, you can add a “Contact” button near the top of your profile with the option to include directions, a phone number, and/or an email address.
This feature is highly beneficial for businesses. It gives your followers an opportunity to reach you outside of Instagram -- or if your business has a physical location, it’s a great way to boost your in-store sales!Chapter 6 | Part 4
Once you’ve covered the above steps, the next thing you should do is take a constructive look at your Instagram profile by performing an Instagram audit.
By doing this, you’ll be taking a critical look at everything you’ve done on your profile so far, analyzing it, and then decide if it’s still serving the needs of your business. (Even if you’re just getting started with Instagram marketing, running an audit is a great opportunity to make sure you’re on the right track).
Each element of your Instagram profile should feel intentional, including your profile photo, bio, feed, captions, hashtags, and more.
While having a great-looking Instagram feed is critical today, it’s important not to overlook your individual posts! Currently, Instagram allows four types of posts: photos, videos, shopping posts, and carousel posts. Here’s a short segmentation of each:
Instagram photo posts continue to be the most popular form of content on Instagram, likely because they’re easy to create and edit, and super versatile.
Currently, you can only share photos in landscape, portrait, or square formats. These different formats call for different aspect ratios and dimensions, for example, square photo posts should be 1:1 in aspect ratio (or as close as possible!) and 1080px by 1080px in size.
Here’s a breakdown of the optimal size for each:
Instagram video posts have evolved quite a bit since they were first introduced in 2013.
No longer limited to 15 seconds, businesses today can create long-form, high-production videos up to 1 minute long that generate a ton of engagement!
And the great thing is that you don’t need a DSLR camera or expensive video production equipment to do it. You can build beautiful branded videos using just your phone’s built-in camera and a few video editing apps!
While not quite as popular as photos, video posts on Instagram tend to receive a lot of engagement, so it makes sense to include them in your marketing mix.
On top of that, videos tend to be one of the best formats for driving sales, due to their ability to communicate complex stories. That’s why so many businesses are investing in creating promotional video content.
In other good news, you can now use Later to schedule videos to Instagram that will automatically publish at their scheduled time! Just upload your video, select a date and time, and your video will automatically publish to Instagram at the scheduled time!
Instagram video scheduling is available now on all of Later’s paid plans, starting at $9/ month. Upgrade now to get access!
While there are lots of different ways for brands (especially ecommerce brands) to weave sales opportunities into their Instagram marketing strategy, having Instagram shopping posts in your feed is a feature you definitely want to take advantage of!
In a nutshell, Instagram shopping posts make it easier for people to shop the products they find on Instagram by “tagging” products in posts.
When your shoppable post appears in your followers’ feeds, all they have to do is tap the shopping bag icon on an image to reveal more info about the product.
If a user taps on the info box, they’ll be directed to a URL where they can shop and purchase the product!
For brands and businesses, using Instagram shopping posts is a great way to showcase your products and use your Instagram feed to drive more purchases.
Want to learn how to set up and optimize your Instagram shopping posts? Check out our ultimate guide to Instagram shopping.
While carousel posts were only introduced in mid-2017, they’ve become a favorite for businesses that want to promote new product lines or share event photos and videos.
The reason is that, like Instagram videos, carousel posts are more versatile than single photos posts. Plus, you can incorporate both photos and videos into your carousel posts, so they’re a great place to get creative.
Carousel posts can be shared in landscape, portrait, or square formats -- but you have to stick to just one photo format. They can include between two and 10 photos or videos.Chapter 7 | Part 1
Since carousel posts were released last year, businesses of all sizes have picked up on the carousel trend and discovered new and creative ways to incorporate them into their Instagram marketing strategy.
Here are three great ways to use carousel posts for your business:
1. Launch a new product line
Whether you’re launching a new denim line or a skin care business, the ability to share several product photos in a single post is perfect for driving interest and, ultimately, selling.
A great strategy for this is to incorporate both photos and videos into your carousel post. For example, you can lead off with a promotional video that shows your product in action, and then follow up with 2-3 photos of your product for more context.
2. Share photos and videos from your events
Regular Instagram users do this all time, but using Instagram carousel posts to show off photos from your events is also a great strategy for businesses!
Really, though. The ability to share multiple photos and videos that capture the energy and atmosphere of your events, without having to spam all of your followers with multiple posts, is a huge advantage.
For those who attended your event, it’s a great way to tag them in a photo to say thanks and remind them of the fun they had — and for those who missed it, it’s perfect for creating FOMO for your next event.
3. Showcase before-and-after sequences
This concept for Instagram carousel posts is a little more obvious, but there are just so many applications for before-and-after sequences! For example, you can share a before-and-after sequence of how your products work in real life.
To create before-and-after sequence using Instagram carousel, all you have to do is select your photos and videos in the correct order, write an engaging Instagram caption, and then post to Instagram. You can even share multiple before-and-after sequences in a single carousel post!
Chapter 7 | Part 2
There’s really no limit to what you can do with Instagram video posts — that’s why it’s so common to find them on your feed!
That being said, it’s a good idea to have a specific goal in mind, whether it’s conveying your brand message, showcasing your products, or introducing your company culture. Here are a few examples of successful video posts:
Promote Your Products
Because videos have the ability to convey a ton of information in a short amount of time, they’re a huge asset for businesses that sell products or services.
Just think about how much more of your products you’ll be able to showcase in a 60-second video compared to just one image!
More to that point, according to Hubspot, 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video of it first. So using Instagram video to show your products in action could be a huge way to increase the ROI of your Instagram marketing!
Build Brand Trust
Sharing Instagram videos that convey your brand message or introduce your company culture are a great way to build trust with your followers and customers.
A good example of this comes from @foodora_ca. The meal delivery service often shares loveable video content that’s relevant to their target market and provides value to them.
Educate Your Audience
Have a topic you’d like to educate your audience about? Maybe it’s a makeup tutorial or a delicious recipe? Whatever your focus, using Instagram video posts to share short, snackable content is a great strategy.
Check out how @buzzfeedtasty uses highly engaging videos to share fun recipes:
Or how @milkmakeup uses Instagram video posts to share makeup tutorials:
The point is that if you have a cool topic that you think you audience would enjoy learning about, using Instagram videos to do it is a great strategy.
Ready to start scheduling videos to Instagram? With Later, you can schedule Instagram video posts, optimize the success of your videos with analytics, and more!
Instagram video scheduling is available now on all of Later’s paid plans, starting at $9/ month. Upgrade now to get access!
Now that we’ve covered how to share your videos on Instagram, let’s take a minute to talk about how you can optimize your video posts to get more traction.
Pick an Eye-Catching Cover Photo
In a world where attention is getting more and more scarce, getting your followers to engage with your videos (especially longer ones) can be pretty difficult. But one way to improve your chances is to pick a stellar cover photo.
Just like you spend time finding photos that look great in your feed, you need to invest a good amount of time finding a great cover photo for your video. Otherwise, all that hard work you put into actually creating your video will go to waste!
When picking a cover photo, try to find one that captures the overall message of your video and has the best chance of stopping viewers from scrolling past your content.
Don’t Rely on Sound
Instagram videos may auto-play in the feed, but they don’t start playing sound automatically. In order to hear sound, viewers have to tap on the video.
Since you’re trying to grab people’s attention in the first couple seconds, it’s important to keep in mind that your videos need to be clearly understood even without sound!
Because of this, your videos should be as beautiful as the photographs your followers are used to seeing on your feed. Even if your viewer doesn’t get the overall effect, you want them to be able to see the storyline of the Instagram video — even if it’s silent.
Focus on the First Few Seconds of Your Video
With so much else to see on Instagram, it’s important to create video content that captures people’s attention within the first 3-5 seconds.
By focusing on the first few seconds of your video and making them amazing, you’re bound to get better completion and engagement rates on your video.
Find a Video Length that Works for Your Audience
Just because your Instagram videos can be 60 seconds in length doesn’t mean they should be. Like all things social media, it’s difficult to keep your audience engaged over a longer period.
Try experimenting with different video lengths to find one that works best for your audience. If you notice better metrics on your videos that are under 30 seconds, focus on creating shorter video content. If your longer videos outperform your shorter ones, stick to those.
Use a Third-Party App to Edit Your Instagram Video
There are tons of apps and software that you can use to not only improve the quality of your videos but also add branding to them, whether it’s your logo, font, or some other design element.
7 Creative Ways to Use Instagram Carousel Posts for Your Business
Ultimate Guide to Instagram Video
14 Apps For Creating Georgeous Instagram Stories
Ultimate Guide to Instagram Shopping
Instagram Image Size & Dimensions
This is where things start to get creative.
Since they first arrived on the scene in 2017, Instagram Stories have become an essential part of your Instagram marketing strategy. In fact, according to The State of Instagram Marketing 2018, 64% of businesses plan to create more Instagram Stories in 2018.
So what explains Instagram Stories’ huge success? Well, it partly has to do with the growing popularity of ephemeral video. More and more businesses are seeing the value in creating short-lived video content, whether it’s fun and lighthearted or more business-focused.
Here’s how to use Instagram Stories for business:Chapter 8 | Part 1
Unlike the case for regular Instagram posts, Instagram won’t penalize you for posting too many Instagram Stories -- and it all has to do with the ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories.
Because Instagram Stories only live for 24 hours (or forever if you share them as Instagram Stories Highlights), there isn’t much pressure for Instagram to prioritize some posts over others on a users’ feed. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Instagram Stories aren’t impacted by the Instagram algorithm… they definitely are!
It’s just that the frequency that you post doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on how many people will see your Instagram Stories.
That being said, if you post tons and tons of stories every day, there’s a good chance that at least some of your followers will mute your account.
That’s not to say that posting a ton of Instagram Stories is a bad thing. It really comes down to your content and what your followers expect from you!
Some accounts can get away with posting 10+ stories a day, while others are better off posting just a few times a week.
Take @wework for example. The international shared workspace company often posts 10+ stories each day. And it works for them! People love their rich content and it’s become a part of their brand:
While posting multiple times a day works for some accounts, it might not work for you.
It can take a lot of time and management to create 10+ Instagram Stories, so if you think your time is best served elsewhere, it’s probably best to stick to just a few stories per week!
Plus, if you consistently post a ton of stories, your followers are going to expect you to continue doing so.
At the end of the day, there’s really no “optimal” frequency for stories, but it’s good to have enough throughout the week that people look forward to seeing yours without getting tired of your content.Chapter 8 | Part 2
When it comes to regular Instagram posts, it’s very important to post when your followers are most active. But this isn’t the case with Instagram Stories for business.
Because Instagram Stories live for a maximum of 24 hours (again, that’s only if they aren’t shared as highlights), when you post a story, your followers have a 24-hour window to see it at the top of their feeds.
So even if you post a story at a time when most of your followers are asleep, they’ll still be able to find your story at the top of their feeds when they wake up.
In other words, don’t stress out too much about posting your Instagram Stories at optimal times... Unless you’re looking for immediate engagement, in which case posting when your followers are most active will definitely help.Chapter 8 | Part 3
Like with regular posts, if you’re using Instagram Stories for business, it’s good to post a mix of informative, fun, and promotional content.
Instagram Stories is a pretty relaxed place in general, and the quality standards are a lot lower than they are for regular posts. So don’t be afraid of showing off your goofier side!
The great thing about Instagram Stories is that because they’ve created so many cool tools, the world is really your oyster. You can get as creative as you like! And the same is true for promotional content on Instagram Stories. It’s easy to share promotional content that’s also fun and lighthearted.
In any case, it’s super important to keep track of your Instagram Stories analytics to see what types of content your audience best responds to. As we mentioned earlier, when your stories get a lot of views and engagement, this signals to the algorithm that you’re creating high-quality content, so your future Instagram Stories will appear higher up in your followers’ stories queue.
So by creating great Instagram Stories content that your followers love, you have a better chance of getting your future stories seen by more people!
When it comes to using Instagram Stories for business and Instagram marketing, there are a few features you can make use of to get the most bang for your buck:
#1: Location and Hashtag Stickers
When Instagram first introduced stickers to Instagram Stories in 2017, they were much more fun than useful.
Since that time, Instagram has added a ton of new functionalities to stickers, including the ability to see location-based stories on the Explore page, and, most recently, the ability to search for stories by location and hashtag.
These feature have made a huge difference for businesses. Whereas at first you could only share Instagram Stories with your own followers, these new features make it possible for anyone to see your Instagram Stories!
For example, if you’re posting a story from a restaurant in Atlanta, you can tag the location with a sticker, and your story might appear in that location’s Instagram Stories.
The same is true for hashtag stickers. When a user tags a hashtag in their Instagram Stories, it will appear on the corresponding hashtag page.
#2: Clickable Links
Instagram recently rolled out the ability to add links to Instagram Stories and it’s a pretty big deal. In fact, it’s the first time ever that users can add a link to Instagram that isn’t the link in their bio!
It goes without saying that the ability to send your followers to specific landing pages from your stories is extremely useful for Instagram marketing. Whether it’s a product page or a new blog post, you can use this feature to drive Instagram traffic to all kinds of relevant landing pages!
TIP: The “See More” call-to-action that appears on stories with clickable links is quite small and can easily go unnoticed, so it’s a good idea to call it out using text, arrows, or some other design feature.
#3: Tag Other Accounts
We all know how effective Instagram contests are for driving engagement and getting new followers, and with the ability to tag other accounts in Instagram Stories, there’s yet another way to drive traffic to your contests.
Tagging other accounts in your stories is also useful if you’re running a takeover or influencer campaign.
#4: Tag Businesses in Your Sponsored Instagram Stories
Speaking of influencers, Instagram’s new paid partnership feature makes it super easy to tag businesses in your sponsored Instagram Stories!
Only a handful of celebrities, influencers, and businesses have been given access to the feature so far, but a larger-scale rollout is expected in the next few months.
You can learn more about the feature and disclosure in general here.
#5: Polls & Emoji Sliders
Have you ever wanted to survey your Instagram audience about their interests, likes, dislikes, and more? Well, now you can!
Instagram recently launched new interactive poll stickers on Instagram Stories which lets you ask questions and see results from your followers as they vote.
The great thing about poll stickers is that there are so many business uses!
Whether you want to collect feedback on your products, crowdsource ideas, or simply entertain your followers, poll stickers offer an entirely new way to engage with your Instagram audience!
Not sure how to use Instagram Stories polls for your business? Check out our post 6 Create Ways to Use Instagram Stories Polls for some inspiration!
#6: Question Stickers
Unlike poll stickers and emoji sliders, both of which allow users to “vote” on questions that you submit, when you add a question sticker to your Instagram story, others users submit questions for you to answer.
Whether you want to collect feedback on your products or crowdsource ideas, questions stickers offer an entirely new way to engage with your Instagram audience!
#7: Countdown Stickers
Now when you share a story about an upcoming something (like an in-store sale, product launch, or event), you can add a sticker that counts down to a date and time that you set.
Your followers can then subscribe to your countdown event, which will send them a reminder when the time is up and your countdown is complete!
Whether you’re looking to promote a sale, event, or something else entirely, the ability to share a countdown on your stories that your followers can get reminders about is a great way to generate better results.
#8: GIF Stickers
In 2017, Instagram teamed up with GIPHY to build a library of high-quality GIFs on Instagram Stories. Now you can add fun, expressive GIF stickers to any photo or video in your story!
Adding GIFs on Instagram Stories is easy — when you tap to add a sticker to a photo or video in stories, you’ll now see a new GIF option. Tap it and you’ll find a library full of hundreds of thousands of moving stickers powered by GIPHY.
Using this feature in a consistent way can add a ton of personality to your Instagram Stories and help you build a loyal following. You can get a step-by-step Instagram tutorial about how to add GIFs to Instagram Stories here.
#9: Instagram Live Video Replays
Prior to a recent update, Instagram Live videos could not be replayed or shared after the broadcast. And while this “limited viewing” definitely created a sense of urgency for people to tune-in, there’s a lot of value in being able to share your live videos post-broadcast. In fact, this new feature could make Instagram Live as big as Facebook Live!
Once your Instagram Live video ends, you can share a replay of it. But like other photos and videos you share to Instagram Stories, live video replays will disappear after 24 hours.
#10: Instagram Stories Highlights
As we discussed in the previous chapter, Instagram Stories Highlights are an extremely valuable addition to an Instagram business profile because they allow brands to easily curate and showcase the content they want users to see first.
Unlike regular Instagram Stories that vanish after 24 hours, Instagram Stories Highlights are curated clips that can be grouped by theme or topic and live permanently on your profile until you delete them. They appear directly under your bio and above your Instagram feed and will play as a stand-alone story when someone taps on them.
#11: Share IGTV Videos and Instagram Posts
Did you know you can share IGTV and Instagram posts in stories too?
Posts or IGTV videos shared to Instagram Stories will display the original poster’s username, letting users tap it to check out the original post:
With more and more users shifting their attention to Instagram Stories, users have been using stories to cross-promote their posts and IGTV videos. Now, instead of including a screenshot of their feed to stories, users can easily share the post with the new re-share feature.
Using Instagram Stories for business is now an essential part of any Instagram marketing strategy, and can help you drive engagement, interact with customers, and show your products in action.
That being said, it can be hard to find ideas for Instagram Stories and decide on what to post. Need some inspiration? Here are four ways that businesses are using Instagram Stories for business:
#1: Promote Your Products and/or Services
The natural “tapping” progression of Instagram Stories makes it a great place to build anticipation around new products and/or services.
All you have to do is fill up your story with photos of a single product at every angle, on different people, or in different environments, and then hit your followers with a promo code or call-to-action at the end.
If you have the ability to add links to your Instagram Stories, this is a great place to do it.
#2: Build a More Engaged Community
Like with regular posts, if you’re using Instagram Stories for business, it’s good to post a mix of fun, lighthearted content and promotional content.
Instagram Stories is a pretty relaxed place, so don’t be afraid of posting something goofy: a short video of your office dog or a picture of your team out for post-work drinks!
#3: Run an Instagram Stories Takeover
An easy way to switch it up on your Instagram Stories is to do an Instagram Stories takeover or invite someone to guest host your story.
Having regular guest segments is an awesome way to bring both variety and consistency to using Instagram Stories for business. To try it out with your own business: you can choose someone from your company for a “day-in-the-life” story, or you can partner with other businesses in your industry to swap stories for the day. It will help vary your content and keep your customers coming back for more.
Posting regularly on Instagram Stories is key to building an audience and increasing your views, and you can plan your stories just like you would plan other social posts in your content calendar.
Planning both your regular Instagram feed content along with your Instagram Stories will help you keep things cohesive and clear.
A great way to get started is to create a quick storyboard of your Instagram story to make sure it flows. By outlining a beginning, middle, and end to your story, you can make sure to cover all the important points, while still making sure everything flows naturally.
How to Schedule Instagram Stories with Later:
1. Start by dragging & dropping your stories on to the storyboard tool, and then re-arrange them to fit the order and look that you want.
You can also easily crop and resize images to fit Instagram Stories 9:16 ratio.
2. Next, you can add links or captions to your scheduled stories, which will be copied to your phone when it’s time to post. This helps you drive more traffic and sales by taking the time to write compelling captions and CTAs from your desktop.
3. Next, schedule your Instagram Stories by selecting the time and date from the drop down menu beside the Save Story button.
4. When it’s time to post, you’ll receive a notification on your phone. And once you open the notification, your stories will be downloaded to your phone and caption or links copied to your clipboard, making it easy to post Instagram Stories in seconds.
The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories
5 Ways to Drive Traffic With Instagram Stories
How to Design Instagram Stories: 7 Tips to Wow Your Audience!
Free Instagram Stories Course: How to Use Instagram Stories for Business!
How to Use Instagram Stories Highlights to Wow Your Customers
2017 may have been dominated by Instagram Stories, but the future certainly looks bright for live video. If you haven’t already, we recommend getting acquainted with the feature soon. According to a recent survey, while only 22% businesses went “live” on Instagram in 2017, 55% planned to use the feature in 2018.
The idea of going “live” on Instagram is, understandably, pretty daunting for most businesses. While Instagram Stories gives you the option of publishing pre-recorded video, there are no “retakes” on Instagram Live.
But the fact is that Instagram Live has huge value for businesses. When used correctly, the feature can be an incredible channel for driving new followers and engagement, as well as your larger business goals.
This is especially true thanks to two new business-focused features for Instagram Live:Chapter 9 | Part 1
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, thanks to a recent update, Instagram Live videos can now be shared post-broadcast on your Instagram Stories.
Once your Instagram Live video ends, you’ll see a “Share” button at the bottom of the screen. It’s as simple as that! Your live broadcast will then live on your Instagram Stories for 24 hours, unless you decide to add it to your highlights.Chapter 9 | Part 2
Instagram recently added another feature to Instagram Live that allows users to add guests to their live streams.
The feature works by letting people who are streaming a video add anyone who is watching the video at that moment, by clicking on the “Add” button in the corner of the screen. When a person gets added, he or she joins you in a separate window below yours on the screen.
Not only can co-hosting an Instagram Live boost the engagement on your broadcast (by reaching a larger pool of users), but it also opens the door to Instagram marketing campaigns where two businesses or influencers partner to promote a product.Chapter 9 | Part 3
If you’re hoping to achieve some larger Instagram marketing goals, such as driving sales or increasing sign ups, it’s really important to have a strategy in place.
Like Instagram Stories, Instagram Live is a relaxed place and you can get as creative as you like! But with all that room for creativity, it’s a good idea to have a solid game plan.
1. Tease or launch new products and/or services
A recent trend on Instagram Live is for businesses to use the channel to tease or launch new products. And why not? It’s the perfect place to create a ton of hype around your products. Whether you’re unveiling a new product line or teasing a future launch, Instagram Live is a great place to drum up excitement around your business.
To make use of this strategy in your live broadcast, take your hottest product and deliberately release very few details about it. The mystery will drive your followers into a frenzy! After the teaser, ask viewers to sign up for more information on your website.
This approach gives your live video an element of exclusivity, which can encourage people to act immediately, increasing the number of leads you get.
2. Run Q&As, workshops, and tutorials to collect emails
There are a ton of different formats that you can follow during your live broadcast, including Q&As, workshops, and tutorials. Each of these formats are valuable and bound to get you a ton of viewers. But if you really want your business to benefit from Instagram Live, use it as a way to collect emails.
One of the best ways to do this is to ask your followers to submit questions beforehand. You can do this by sending your followers to a landing page with an email form (share the landing page URL in the lead-up to your broadcast), or by providing an email address where viewers can send their questions.
3. Promote your sales & campaigns
While Instagram Stories is considered “ephemeral,” there’s really nothing more ephemeral on Instagram than live video. Use this to your advantage by creating a sense of urgency to watch your broadcast!
One of the best ways to boost your viewership is is to promise limited-time-only promotions that you’re only going to offer during the broadcast. If you have a giveaway, discount, promotion, or other campaign that you want to offer to a select few, announce it beforehand! And when you go “live,” share the coupon or discount code with your viewers.
Instagram Live: A Step-By-Step Guide for Businesses
Despite being just a few months old, IGTV is already making waves in the social media world.
Launched as Instagram’s first standalone video platform, IGTV gives businesses a new channel to grow their following, showcase their products, and show-off their creativity.
And the great thing about IGTV is that your videos don’t have to be super polished! You can think of it like a step up from your Instagram Stories, but it doesn’t have to be as perfect or curated like an Instagram post or video would be.
Before you can upload a video to IGTV, you need to create an IGTV channel. The good news is that Instagram has made IGTV super simple and easy to use!
The first step is to sign into the IGTV app.
Next, tap on the gear icon in the top right corner and select Create Channel.
Once your channel is live, you can upload your first video to IGTV. Start by opening your channel by clicking on your avatar from the main page.
Next, tap the “+” icon to the right of your screen to add a new video to IGTV.
Now you can select a vertical or horizontal video from your camera roll.
In terms of specs, Instagram recommends that vertical IGTV videos should have a maximum aspect ratio of 9:16 and a minimum of 4:5, while horizontal videos should have a maximum aspect ratio of 16:9 and a minimum of 5:4.
Note: if your video doesn’t show up it could be that it has the wrong aspect ratio!
Write your title and add a description. Just like on YouTube, you’ll want to add in any relevant keywords to your description to make it easier for people to find your videos on IGTV.
You can also add in links! That’s right, people will actually be able to click on links in your description and be taken outside of the Instagram or IGTV app.
Finally, add a cover photo! You can upload your own custom cover, or choose a thumbnail from your video. The cover photo is what will show up on your channel page and in the IGTV categories, so make it catchy!
For your cover photo, Instagram recommends an aspect ratio of 1:1.55 (or 420px by 654px).
And that’s it! You can now upload your vertical Instagram video to IGTV!
You can also share your IGTV video to your Instagram Stories by tapping the airplane icon at the bottom of your video and then selecting “Add video to your story.”
Viewers will now be able to watch a preview of your IGTV video as a story.
Like Instagram Stories, there’s really no limit to what you can post on IGTV.
So far we’ve seen businesses use it to share how-to’s and tutorials, to promote their products, to share company news and so much more.
The goal of IGTV is to be more like YouTube than Netflix. And that’s why so many influencers and vloggers have already taken to the channel.
As a business, it’s important to think about it from the perspective of what value your videos can provide. As in, how can you create value for your audience and how are you create value for your brand?
If you’re already a pro with Instagram Stories, the transition to IGTV shouldn’t be too difficult. You can even think of IGTV as an extension of your Instagram Stories. What voice, tone, and style of content do you share on your stories? Your IGTV video content should follow a similar arc.
Since IGTV videos can be *very* long form, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to prepare, shoot, and edit your videos before jumping right in. Here are some tips to get more from the channel:
Get Comfortable with Vertical Video
Editing vertical videos can be hard if you haven’t done it before! And probably the hardest thing to get right when shooting vertical video for IGTV is the aspect ratio.
The reason it can be hard to get right is because unless your video is shot on a smartphone (which will usually record in 9:16 if shot vertically), you may need to edit or crop your video in post-production to get the right aspect ratio for IGTV. We’ll discuss this a little more below.
The good news is that you don’t need any expensive software to edit your vertical videos — and there are actually a few options for shooting vertically!
Plus, IGTV now supports horizontal videos, so you can always stick with that format if you prefer.
Want to learn how to do it? Check out our guide on how to shoot and edit vertical videos for IGTV!
Keep an Eye on Your IGTV Analytics
Since IGTV is such a new format on Instagram, it’s hard to say exactly how different audiences will respond to your videos — especially if you’re sharing really long content!
That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your IGTV analytics, which can be accessed directly from your video.
Beyond Views, Likes, and Comments, you can also see your audience retention rate, which is how many people watched your video all the way to the end.
You can even see a drop-off graph which shows you at what point people are swiping away from your video.
Metrics like these are invaluable when deciding what changes (if any) to make to your IGTV strategy. For example, if viewers are dropping off at the 20-minute mark, you can take that as a sign that creating videos that are longer than 20 minutes might not be the best strategy.
Instagram influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the best ways for businesses to increase brand awareness, grow their followers, and drive sales -- especially since the Instagram’s algorithm is continuing to limit organic reach!
Haven’t given Instagram influencer marketing a try yet? In this chapter, we cover everything from how to find the right influencers for your business, to properly disclosing sponsored posts and determining if your influencer marketing strategies are actually working for you:Chapter 11 | Part 1
When it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram is one of the best platforms for brands to partner with influencers on to reach new audiences quickly. In fact, it’s the best performing channel for social action, with an average 3.21% engagement rate (compared to 1.5% across all social networks).
A big reason why Instagram influencer marketing is so effective is because it removes the barriers of traditional advertising and introduces your brand to a new audience through a more trustworthy source, your influencer partner.
When an influencer recommends a product or service on their channels, it can come across as an authentic recommendation from a friend.
In fact, 67% of marketers are already using Instagram influencer marketing for promotion– and we expect to see that number continue to increase as organic reach declines.Chapter 11 | Part 2
There’s no question social media influencers have become indispensable for brand campaigns... especially on Instagram! But how do you come up with a fair price when there are so many factors to consider?
The reality is that influencer marketing rates still vary widely among influencers.
According to our 2018 State of Instagram Marketing report, some influencers reported charging as much as $5000 to $10,000 per sponsored post. However, it’s much more common for prices to be in the $250 to $1000 range.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how much instagram influencer marketing costs, and there are a variety of factors involved that go well beyond an Instagram influencer’s number of followers.
Influencer marketing may have grown in popularity thanks to Instagram, but you may not need thousands of dollars to cash in on this trend.
Thanks to a growing trend, more and more businesses are seeing the value in partnering with Instagram influencers who have a small (or “micro”) but highly-engaged following. In fact, according to a report by Collectively, micro-influencers reported 15-75% growth in 2017.
So, what exactly is a micro-influencer? Generally speaking, a micro-influencer is someone who has significant, but not massive, social media following. This could range from anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 followers.
While Instagram influencers have attained a sort of “celebrity status,” micro-influencers are more like everyday consumers, so they tend to be very relatable and trustworthy.
A great example is @lauratully.co. Despite having just over 3000 followers, she’s partnered with multiple businesses and created a bunch of sponsored Instagram posts. This is likely due to their industry niche and engaged following. As with all things Instagram marketing, businesses can gain a lot by targeting niche audiences.
So what explains the growing number of micro-influencers?
Well, one of the biggest benefits of working with micro-influencers is that they tend to retain higher levels of engagement than top-tier influencers. (According to recent studies, there seems to be a negative correlation between engagement rate and audience size).
So while accounts of all sizes are getting fewer likes, comments, and followers in general than they did in the past (thanks to the Instagram algorithm), bigger accounts seem to be taking a bigger hit.
But there’s also something to be said about how influencers with different follower sizes are perceived.
The reality is that influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers often lead lives that aren’t exactly “normal.” And if you compare them with someone who has 5000 to 15,000 highly-engaged Instagram followers, who likely isn’t paying their rent from cashing in on Instagram sponsorships... Well, it’s just way more relatable to the everyday consumer!
Indeed, when a micro-influencer features a product on their channels, it can come across more like a trusted recommendation from a friend, rather than a celebrity endorsement.
Finding the right influencers for your Instagram marketing campaign can be a big challenge, but creating clear goals helps. For example, if your goal is to rack up a lot of engagement, it might make sense to partner with micro-influencers with smaller audiences but higher engagement rates. If you’re trying to increase your brand awareness, metrics such as reach and traffic will be more useful.
Not sure where to start? Here are four things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to partner with an Instagram influencer:
1. Check their Instagram Engagement
When an influencer has a high engagement rate, it means their followers are paying attention and taking action on their content. That’s why most businesses and social media agencies use engagement to evaluate who is an ideal influencer.
Generally, you want to see an engagement rate of 2-3% on influencers’ posts. A ratio of 4-6% is excellent, while posts in the high tens and twenties are considered “viral.”
2. Check their Quality of Followers
It goes without saying that you should be aligning your business with influencers who have “pull” with your target audience. For example, if you’re a fitness brand, it makes sense to partner with influencers who share a similar audience to your ideal customers, such as yoga instructors or powerlifters.
Aligning your business with an influencer who has “pull” with your target customers is one of the best ways to get in front of the right eyes, increase your brand awareness, and showcase your products in a creative way.
3. Check their Number of Followers
As we discussed above, the number of followers an influencer has isn’t quite as important as it used to be -- especially now that the Instagram algorithm seems to be impacting the engagement of larger accounts.
As we’ve learned over the past year, engagement rate tends to decrease as follower count grows. Influencers with fewer followers often retain higher engagement rates on their posts, while influencers with large audiences tend to see decreased engagement rates and less direct communication with their followers.
All of that being said, it’s definitely not a bad idea to partner with influencers with big followings! Just make sure they’re a good fit for your business.
4. Budget Requirements
Something else to keep in mind when deciding which influencers to partner with is how much they charge.
According to our survey, it’s actually very common for businesses to “gift” free products to influencers rather than paying them a flat rate. In fact, 77% of businesses report giving free products and/or services in exchange for sponsored posts.
This isn’t always the case, however. Some influencers only accept flat rates, while others charge based on the number of sales or leads they create for the business.
The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing
Free Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy Guide
Is Micro-Influencer Marketing Right for Your Business?
This is How Much Instagram Influencers Really Cost
With organic reach on a steep decline, it’s harder than ever to get more followers on Instagram… but not impossible!
Growing your Instagram follower count involves a few things. First of all, you need to create high-quality content that resonates with audience. You also need to optimize your content so that it reaches as many users as possible. And finally, you need to optimize your Instagram profile to encourage new visitors to tap the “Follow” button.
In this chapter, we’re going to focus on the second step: strategies for optimizing your content to reach a larger audience.Chapter 12 | Part 1
When used correctly, Instagram hashtags can help you grow your reach, get more engagement, and attract more followers.
But in order to be successful with hashtags, you need to be strategic about what hashtags you use and when you use them.
While the most popular hashtags on Instagram have been used millions of times, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a ton of likes and comments simply by adding #love, #happy, or #dog to your posts.
Instead of using the most popular Instagram hashtags, it’s better to use the top Instagram hashtags that have an engaging community behind them and are relevant to your audience or industry.
So, how are you supposed to find these cool, creative, and community-oriented hashtags?
Well, the best way is to look and see what Instagram hashtags your audience, competitors, and industry leaders are already using. The narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users tend to be. And you’d be shocked by how niche hashtags can get!
For example, a Toronto-based coffee shop would want to use hashtags like #specialtycoffee (describes their business), #coffeeshopvibes (describes the purpose of your account), and #TOcoffee or #coffeelovers (describes your target market). Then, you can add location specific hashtags, like #spadina, #chinatownTO, or even #toronto.
You can also use Instagram hashtags that have a strong community around them, so instead of using #coffee you could use #dailycortado, which has less posts but a more engaged audience.
If you need some help finding niche and industry-specific hashtags then you may want to check out Later’s Hashtag Suggestions feature.
Hashtag Suggestions works by automatically finding relevant hashtags for your posts based on other hashtags that you use.
For example, let’s say you’re posting a photo of a beautiful bedroom to promote your business that sells linens. All you have to do is know one relevant hashtag (like #livesimply), put it into Hashtag Suggestions, hit “Suggest,” and the feature will immediately generate 30 other hashtags, sorted by relevance.
You can then pick and choose which of these hashtags to add you to your post. All you have to do is click “Insert Hashtags” and they’ll be added to the end of your caption.
TIP: If you have an Instagram business account, you can check your Instagram Insights to see how many views are coming from hashtags. If you find the number is low, try adding some different tags to see if you can increase it.
We’ll talk a bit more about tracking your Instagram analytics in the next chapter.
2018 was a huge year for Instagram Stories. And as organic reach continues to drop for regular Instagram posts, we expect stories to become even more key for business to engage with their followers and stay top of mind.
But did you know that Instagram Stories can also help you get Instagram followers?
Instagram Stories appear on the Instagram Explore page, which means that people who don’t even follow you can still find and watch your stories.
And if they like what they see, they might even give you a follow! This is another great reason to try to have an active Instagram story up at all times.
But besides appearing in the Explore page, your stories can also appear in the Search pages for different locations and hashtags.
As we wrote in an earlier chapter, most Instagram geo-locations and hashtags have their own stories attached to them. While this is an under-utilized Instagram feature, we expect it to become more popular in the coming year as Instagram users get more comfortable with watching and creating stories.
How to Add Hashtags to Instagram Stories:
It’s pretty easy to add a hashtag to Instagram Stories. You can either just type in the hashtag, or you can use the hashtag sticker to add the hashtag of your choice.
When people search for the hashtag on Instagram, if it’s popular enough they will be able to view an active, real time Instagram story on the hashtag too.
How to Add Locations to Instagram Stories:
To add a location to your Instagram story, just click on the location sticker and add the location of your story.
Instagram Stories for locations work for both cities and individual businesses, landmarks, etc. For example, if you tagged your story from the Golden Gate Bridge, your story could end up in the story for both “Golden Gate Bridge” and the general “San Francisco” story.
When your story is added to the Search page for a location, you’ll usually receive a notification from Instagram. And when a photo or video from your story is visible on a hashtag or location page, you’ll see the name of that page when you look at who’s seen your story.Chapter 12 | Part 3
Instagram advertising may not be as popular as Facebook advertising, but with organic reach declining on Instagram, it’s not a bad idea to start investing in boosting Instagram posts if you want to get more Instagram followers this year.
Running your own Instagram ad campaign isn’t that difficult, but it can be intimidating to many small business owners and influencers who haven’t done it before.
Thankfully, boosting Instagram posts to get Instagram followers is really, really easy!
You don’t need to create complicated Instagram ads in Facebook business manager, all you have to do is just create an Instagram post like your normally do and then hit the “promote” button once it’s posted.
Instagram already pulls in a “similar audience” that you can share the post to, or you can easily create your own audience in the app by choosing an interest, age range, and the genders you want to promote to.
For example, if you’re posting a photo about a taco shop in Los Angeles that’s frequented by millennials, you can boost your post to people who are interested in tacos, live in LA, and are between the age of 20 to 35.
Make sure that you set the goal to “profile visits,” and ensure that you have an eye-catching image and an engaging caption.
Your Instagram post then appears in the feed like normal, the only difference being the “sponsored” notation at the top and the call-to-action button.
Start with a small daily budget, and run your ad for 1-2 days to start. Instagram ads are a science, so be ready to tweak your boosted posts and audiences until you get the results you want!
5 New Ways to Get More Instagram Followers in 2019
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5 New Instagram Features That Will Help Grow Your Instagram Account
Now that we’ve covered different strategies for getting more followers on Instagram, let’s take a look at how to track your performance.
Instagram analytics are key to understanding your demographic, optimizing your content, and evaluating your overall Instagram marketing performance -- but all of the different metrics and terms can be overwhelming.
In this chapter, we’ll we walk you through the ins and outs of your Instagram analytics, what each metric means, and how you can use this knowledge to improve your Instagram marketing:Chapter 13 | Part 1
Diving into your Instagram analytics is more than just finding out which photo, video, or story performed best. By defining and tracking key metrics over time, you’ll be able to develop a robust content strategy for your Instagram account that’s guaranteed to get you better results.
It’s also important to look both at how individual posts and different content types perform against each other.
For example, if you’re using Instagram to promote your online store, you’ll want to keep track of how your different product photos perform. Do photos with a light or dark background perform better? Does your audience prefer cityscape photos or photos taken in nature?
By using engagement data such as likes, comments, or clicks, you’ll be able to tell which type of product shots perform best so you know what you should be posting more of.
From here, you can then compare all product shots against, say, lifestyle content to determine which your audience prefers. If you find that your audience is more interested in product content, you may decide to invest more heavily in product photoshoots and scale back on the lifestyle photoshoots.
Whatever category your Instagram account falls into, diving into your Instagram analytics will allow you to better understand your audience’s wants, improve your content, and ultimately drive better results with your Instagram marketing!Chapter 13 | Part 2
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of content performance, it’s important to understand your audience demographics -- where your audience lives, how old they are, and when they’re most activeon Instagram.
Luckily, Instagram’s native analytics feature Insights makes discovering this information very simple, and you can access it right from your app when you switch to an Instagram business account!
Gender and Age Range
Instagram offers basic demographic information about your audience, including their gender and age range (as well as a breakdown of age range by gender).
It’s a good idea to use this information in your content planning. For example, if your audience skews younger, you may want to post more frequently to align with how often they’re on their mobile device.
Like the gender and age range breakdown, knowing your audience’s top locations can help you improve your posting schedule.
While a large portion of your audience might be located in English-speaking countries, if you also have a sizeable audience in non-English locations, you might consider adjusting your content strategy to be less copy heavy for broader understanding.
By viewing your top cities, you’re also able to learn what time zones most of your users are in, which can help you find your best time to post on Instagram.
Hours vs. Days
Beyond audience demographics, Instagram also offers information around the average times and days that your followers are active on Instagram.
This data is especially handy when determining what time of day to post and which days see the highest engagement. Just keep in mind that these times don’t represent when your followers is most likely to engage with your account -- it’s simply when they’re most active on Instagram.
Now let’s look at Instagram’s content metrics and what each of them means. Within Instagram Insights, under the “Content” heading, you’ll be able to find tons of information about your content performance.
You can sort this data by content type (photos, videos, carousel posts, and shopping posts), as well as by days, months, and years.
Impressions are the total number of times your post has been seen. This number includes users scrolling by in their feed, clicking through your business’ profile to view a photo, or viewing content directly through an Instagram Direct Message.
Like impressions, reach also relates to the total number of views on your content, but this time it’s the number of unique views (unique users that viewed your content).
This is the total number of times that your post was liked, saved, or commented on. Just note that Instagram won’t count multiple comments from the same user, which could happen in the case of giveaways where users tend to post multiple times to better their chances.
While Instagram Insights doesn’t include data about your engagement rate, it’s still a very important metric for Instagram marketing.
Engagement rate is the percentage of followers or viewers that engage with your posts. Generally, if you want to calculate your average engagement rate for Instagram, you would divide the number of likes and comments by your follower count, which will give you a percentage.
On a per post basis, you can take the total number of comments and likes you received, say 1200, and divide it by your followers, like 15,000, and then multiply that by 100 to get your percentage. In this case, the engagement rate on that post would be 8%.
Profile Visits & Followers
Instagram Insights will also tell you how many times your profile was viewed and the number of accounts that started following you.
Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t include data about your follower growth, which is the number of followers you have gained or lost over a certain period of time. That being said, it isn’t too difficult to calculate this number manually. You can also use a third-party Instagram marketing app to do it for you.
Speaking of third-party tools, if you’re in search of a powerful and comprehensive Instagram analytics tool, you may want to check out Later’s new Instagram Analytics.
When you track your account’s analytics with Later, you can easily review your insights and apply your learnings to your strategy when you’re scheduling Instagram posts and planning your feed.
For example, if you notice that you get more comments on Instagram posts that feature people in them, you can take that insight and immediately apply it your content strategy by scheduling more people-focused posts.
Tracking your Instagram engagement rate is one of the best ways to identify which types of content resonate the most with your audience. And once you pinpoint what works best for your audience, you can easily integrate more of that content into your strategy.
Later’s Instagram Analytics also tracks up to 3 months’ worth of Instagram Stories metrics, so you can easily find insights related to your stories and optimize them to get more views, reach, replies, and more!
For example, you can find out what times of day your Instagram Stories get the most views and then schedule your future stories at those times. Or you can review your analytics to find the optimal number of stories you should be posting each day or week.Chapter 13 | Part 4
As we mentioned above, you can sort your content metrics by the types of content your post, whether its photos, videos, carousel posts, or shopping posts. But is there really a difference?
While photos, videos, and carousel posts all appear in-feed, the way users interact with each type of content is vastly different and can affect performance.
Think of it like this: as you scroll through your feed, you can pretty quickly determine if you want to like a photo. But with video, you have to take a moment for the content to load and to watch at least some portion of it to see if it interests you. The same is true for carousel posts.
If you’re looking for a more accurate way to track the performance of your Instagram videos, you can use views. Views tend to be calculated differently from platform to platform, but on Instagram, a view is counted after 3 seconds and is the same whether the video is 30 seconds long, a Boomerang GIF, or a Hyperlapse video.
So if you can’t count on likes to help note video performance, what can you look to? Enter views. Now, views are calculated.Chapter 13 | Part 5
For the most part, the metrics for photos, videos, and Instagram Stories are calculated the same way, but there are some differences.
Compared to videos and photos, Instagram Stories require more active engagement by users. A user must tap into your business’ story at the top of the feed to engage with the content and from here they can watch it in full, tap through, or swipe out of stories completely.
Here’s a breakdown of your Instagram Stories metrics:
Taps Forward is the number of times a viewer tapped the right side of the screen to jump to the next story in the queue. Since a lot of people “speed tap” their way through watching Instagram Stories, Taps Backward, Next Story, and Exits are all better indications of how your Stories are performing.
Taps Backward is the number of times a viewer tapped the left side of the screen to rewatch the previous story.
When a viewer taps backwards, it can mean they think content is worth re-watching or that it caught their attention while they were speed tapping through their Stories. If a post has a lot of taps backward, make note of the type of content and keep testing it in your future Stories!
Next Story & Exits
Exits are the number of times someone has swiped out of your story, while Next Story indicates the number of taps to the next account’s story.
While these two metrics are similar, exits have a less negative connotation. For example, if someone exits your story, it could just mean that the viewer was running out of time to watch stories. Also, if you include a clickable link in your story, they may have swiped up to learn more.
Next Story is more of an indicator that the viewer was over watching your story and wanted to skip to the next one. This data can help you determine how long your optimal Instagram Stories posts should be, whether it’s 3 slides or 13 slides.
Last year, Instagram rolled out the ability to add links to Instagram Stories and it’s a pretty big deal. In fact, it’s the first time ever that users can add links to Instagram that aren’t the link in their bio! (The feature is only available Instagram business profiles with 10,000+ followers, or verified profiles).
Similar to engagements for photos and videos, replies are the number of times someone has directly responded to a portion of your story. But unlike comments on a photo or video, these responses end up in your inbox and don’t appear publicly.Chapter 13 | Part 6
Now that you’re familiar with all the different Instagram marketing metrics (and other free Instagram analytics tools), it’s time to go a step further and determine your key performance indicators (KPIs).
A KPI is your selected metric that specifically measures the success of your content or campaign. Like we discussed in Chapter 4, the KPIs you define for your account ultimately depend on your business goals and what you want to achieve with your Instagram marketing.
If your business thrives on community, you may want to look to engagements as your KPI for photos and videos. However, if you boost an individual post, you may want to switch that KPI and focus on reach to see what kind of impact your content has made on the Instagram community as a whole.
If you decide to run a contest or giveaway and require users to comment to enter, looking at comments as your KPI may be a great choice in determining how your contest performs. You could then use this metric as a way to compare the success of your contests moving forward, by seeing which contest got the most comments.
Whatever your KPIs, ideally you should focus on certain ones for evergreen content and select different ones on a campaign-by-campaign basis. It all comes down to your overall Instagram marketing goals!
Now that we’ve covered different strategies for getting more followers on Instagram, let’s take a look at how to track your performance.Chapter 14 | Part 1
Like we mentioned in an earlier chapter, Instagram hashtags became a controversial subject in 2017 thanks to the “Instagram shadowban” which essentially hid users posts from showing up on the hashtags they use.
Despite this, hashtags are still an effective way of getting more eyes on your content, and creating a solid Instagram hashtag strategy should also be a top priority for any business that wants to get more engagement on Instagram.
It’s important to think of hashtags like categories. Where do you want your Instagram post to show up? If you’re an ecommerce business that sells sunglasses, it makes sense to use relevant hashtags that expose you to Instagram users who might be interested in buying your products.
On top of that, the Instagram’s algorithm favors the use of specific and relevant hashtags -- especially with the new ability to follow hashtags on Instagram. So instead of tagging posts with general hashtags like #love or #happy, choose hashtags that describe your business, the purpose of your account, your target market, and your location.
Running an Instagram contest or giveaway is a fun and easy way to promote your business and gain exposure on Instagram.
If you’re looking for an effective Instagram contest idea, try partnering with another business or influencer. It’s a great way to promote your Instagram contest to both of your audiences, and also share each other’s followers.
Start by looking for a cool business to partner with, and then organize a 3-5 day giveaway where Instagram users are rewarded with prizes for following both accounts, and tagging their friends in the comments.
Here’s a quick breakdown of our proven Instagram contest formula:
Once the Instagram contest is over and you’ve selected a winner or winners, you should see a massive boost in your Instagram followers -- but that doesn’t mean your work is done! You need to pay attention to your new followers and make them feel like they’re a part of your community. Otherwise, you risk losing them.Chapter 14 | Part 3
A lot of businesses are understandably hesitant to use Instagram Live. The idea of going “live” on Instagram is pretty daunting for most. While Instagram Stories gives you the option of publishing pre-recorded video, there are no “retakes” on Instagram Live.
But the fact is that Instagram Live has huge value for businesses. When used correctly, the feature can be an incredible channel for driving new followers and engagement, as well as your larger business goals.
That’s why we’re seeing a recent trend of businesses using the channel to tease or launch new products.
To make use of this strategy in your live broadcast, take your hottest product and deliberately release very few details about it. You can do this over the course of a few days or even a few weeks. Either way, the mystery will drive your followers into a frenzy!
After the teaser, ask viewers to sign up for more information on your website. This approach gives your live video an element of exclusivity, which can encourage people to act immediately, increasing the number of leads you get.
You can also share your Instagram Live broadcast on your Instagram Stories afterwards to increase your reach! Just tap the “Share” button that appears once your broadcast is over. Your live broadcast will then live on your Instagram Stories for 24 hours, unless you decide to add it to your highlights.
How to Get 500+ Instagram Followers with a Single Post
Should You Run an Instagram Loop Giveaway?
Instagram Live: A Step-By-Step Guide for Businesses
The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags in 2017
New Rules for Instagram Hashtags: How to Find the Right Hashtags for Your Business in 2018
We’re nearly done! So far, you’ve learned how to optimize your Instagram profile, use Instagram Stories for business, grow your Instagram followers, and much, much more.
To cap things off, we’re going to discuss 3 actionable tips to help you better manage your Instagram marketing:Chapter 15 | Part 1
To find the best time to post on Instagram to get the most engagement in 2019, we analyzed 12 million Instagram posts, posted in multiple time zones around the world from accounts ranging from 100 to 1 million+ followers.
Here are the top 3 global best times to post on Instagram for each day of the week, represented in Eastern Standard Time:
That being said, here at Later, we have found that if you want to get more engagement, it’s best to find out what your personalized best times to post are based on your unique audience.
Timeliness has always been an important factor in the Instagram algorithm, but with the new algorithm updates, when you post to Instagram is more important than ever!
As a result, if you want to beat the Instagram algorithm in 2019, you need to schedule your Instagram posts for when the majority of your followers are online.
Think of it this way: Since Instagram is now prioritizing “new” content on people’s feeds, your best shot at getting your content in front of your followers is by posting when most of them are actively scrolling the app.
That’s why it’s so important to find your own personalized best time to post on Instagram: you can hack the algorithm to increase your reach and get more likes and followers.
Did you know that 80 percent of customer inquiries on social media go unanswered?
That’s a pretty startling figure considering that 88 percent of consumers are less likely to purchase from a company that doesn’t respond to questions on social media, and 30 percent will go to a competitor if they don’t receive a response.
The fact is that responding to customer inquiries on social isn’t just about good manners — it’s about growing your business as well.
Of course, we understand how difficult it can be to keep track of all your Instagram comments. It’s easy to miss comments in the Instagram app, especially if someone is commenting on an older post.
A great way around this is by using Later’s Conversations feature. With Conversations, you can view all of your most recent Instagram comments in a feed on your desktop computer. You can also reply from your computer instead of your phone, and view your conversation history with a commenter.
It’s the perfect tool to provide customer service and improve response times with Instagram comments.
In the case of a customer complaint, social teams can view the full conversation history with a customer, provide an in-depth response from their desktop computer, and respond promptly to Instagram comments.
Remember that while responding to a follower or customer on Instagram might seem like a small thing to you, it can mean a lot to them. And there’s really no better way to build a connection with your audience than by actively engaging with them.Chapter 15 | Part 3
Every business owner knows that time is money. And if you’re looking to make better use of that ever-so-precious commodity, it makes sense to enlist the help of a free Instagram scheduler.
Just think about it. Would you rather take 30 minutes out your day every day to rummage through your photos, find one that fits with your Instagram aesthetic, and come up with a witty caption? Or take 1-2 hours on one day to schedule your Instagram posts for the whole week?
Here are 3 more reasons to schedule your Instagram posts:
#1: Upload Instagram Posts from Your PC or Desktop
If you’re using a camera to take your photos for Instagram, you’re most likely editing your photos on your computer too.
Using an Instagram scheduler that lets you upload Instagram posts from your desktop will save you a ton of time, not to mention the frustration of trying to get your photos from your computer to your phone.
And think about what you can do with all of that saved time! Whether it’s growing your reach with an effective Instagram hashtag strategy, hosting an Instagram contest or giveaway, or fine-tuning your Instagram Stories strategy, by saving time with an Instagram scheduler you can focus more on achieving your larger business goals!
#2: Create Better Instagram Captions
Coming up with good Instagram captions is a challenge for everyone, but it’s even harder if you have to write the caption on the fly, every single day.
It’s also often more time-consuming to come up with new content ideas, hashtags, and captions on the spot, instead of sitting down to write them all when you’re in a creative or “writing” mood.
By writing your Instagram captions ahead of time, you can save yourself the daily stress and dedicate your time and energy to other important tasks, like engaging with your audience and building deeper connections with your followers.
Using an Instagram scheduler can also help with your Instagram hashtag strategy.
With Later’s Saved Captions feature, you can create templates of your most commonly used hashtags. And when it’s time to schedule, you can simply select one of your Saved Captions to add it to your post.
Not only does this cut the time you spend writing your hashtags and captions, but it can help increase the reach of your posts as well. Plus, since the Instagram algorithm favors posts with specific, relevant hashtags, a great strategy is to create multiple Saved Captions with different hashtag blocks and to switch them up based on what you’re posting.
#3: Plan a Beautiful Instagram Feed
Scheduling your Instagram posts ahead of time can also give you a better ‘big picture’ perspective of your Instagram feed and social media strategy as a whole.
By planning your Instagram posts ahead of time, you can choose the order of your photos and rearrange them to design the perfect Instagram feed.
Plus, it’s much easier to create a more balanced feed overall. For example, you’ll be able to see if you’re posting too many product and promotional photos and not enough lifestyle shots, or if you need space out your darker photos with some brighter ones.
This overview can help you get a consistent brand experience on your Instagram feed, which is key to getting more Instagram followers.
Later’s visual Instagram planner makes it super easy to design the perfect Instagram aesthetic. You can easily drag and drop your photos onto the visual planner, rearrange them to see how they’ll look in your Instagram feed, and then save to schedule them.
As Instagram continues to grow and evolve as a marketing platform, it’s more important than ever for businesses to build effective Instagram marketing strategies. And that means having a thorough understanding of the Instagram marketing landscape and measurable insights into what works and what doesn’t.
At the end of the day, businesses of all types have so much to gain from building a presence on Instagram, whether it’s growing an engaged community, reaching new customers, or even ecommerce selling. It just takes a little effort!
If you’re really thinking about taking your Instagram marketing seriously, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of Later, a free Instagram marketing platform.
Not only can you plan your feed and manage all your photos and videos with Later, but you’ll also be able to track your analytics and automatically schedule your Instagram posts -- all from a single dashboard!