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2018 / 1 April

Instagram Marketing: 20 proven strategies to grow your business

20 proven strategies to grow your business

Instagram is the fastest growing social network in the world. At present, Instagram has over 800 million active users. So, why not leverage Instagram marketing to grow your business. Instagram is no longer just for personal use. It is estimated that 71% of US business use Instagram.

Instagram makes sense if you are targeting a younger audience. Instagram also works if your business focuses heavily on content. What makes Instagram so popular is the fact that its different from Facebook and other forms of social media. On Instagram, you communicate through images or video.

Does this mean brands need to deploy a different marketing strategy for Instagram?


You just need to think out of the box and get creative with your content strategy. You can use the same tactics you use on Facebook and Twitter and still make the most of Instagram marketing.

To help you get started, I’ve prepared a list of 19 proven strategies that can help you grow your business.

1. Post consistently (at least once a day)

Instagram is a volume game. The more you post the more likely you are to be seen. As with any platform, consistency is key. Brands have grown their Instagram follower base to 10,000+ within a month because they post consistently while engaging their audience.

While there hasn’t been any confirmation from Instagram to back this theory, the proof is in the pudding. It is recommended to post 1-2 times per day to gain a substantial amount of followers.

2. It’s all about those #Hashtags!

Hashtags are extremely powerful for creating awareness. Hashtags act as a search tool for social media.

You can also use hashtags for branding purposes. This is done by most of the major brands.

Starbucks Instagram post

In the above picture, we can see Starbucks using #CaramelMacchiato which is the name of one of their delicious drinks.

Hashtags are an overlooked tool when it comes to social media. So, how do hashtags work?

All you have to do is create a post and add a caption. At the end of that caption, just add relevant hashtags to that posts.

This will help enhance your visibility.

Instagram workaholic hashtag

I found the above image via Instagram, using the hashtag workaholic. If you look at the post, you can see a caption followed by a bunch of hashtags. The more relevant hashtags you include the better chance you will have to reaching a wider audience.

How do you find trending hashtags?

Use to find trending and popular hashtags in your niche. You can also do a search for a particular hashtag on Instagram and see the number of posts for that hashtags. This indicates popularity.

By using hashtags, you are allowing yourself to be found by people who never knew you existed. So, up your #hashtag game and grow your follower list on Instagram.

3. Follow for follow

Follow for follow of follow4follow is a tactic where you follow other Instagram users and in turn they follow you back.

How this works is you just scroll through the posts with follow4follow hashtags and follow those users. They will then follow you back.

Instagram follow4follow

At least 70% of the people you follow will follow you back. You can just unfollow the ones that don’t follow you back later.

Alternatively, you can add posts with the follow4follow hashtags and people will start following you. This strategy can also be applied to likes and comments.

4. Be clear about your brand

It’s always a best practice to decide well in advance about the type of content you want to post on social media. Try to decide this before creating an Instagram account.

For e.g. if you’re a company that sells sports equipment, then you need to post sports and fitness related pictures and videos.

Nike does this well and that’s why it’s one of the most popular brands on Instagram.

Nike InstagramYour posts should indicate what you’re brand is about.

Zappos InstagramLook at the above pic and tell my if you can identify the product/service that company is trying to sell. If you’ve guessed clothes and accessories, then you’re correct.


Now, if the same brand started posing pictures of milkshakes and smoothies, would you be able to identify their voice?

Of course not.

That’s why it’s important to be clear about your brand right from the start.

5. Optimize your Instagram bio

One of the first things people will see when they visit your profile is your bio. You only have 150 characters to fill this space, so make sure you put your copywriting skills to good use.

Use your bio to best describe your brand and your product/service offering. Optimize your bio to include keywords about your business.

H&M Instagram bio

You can also use more hashtags here especially branded hashtags. Keep it simple, short and sweet. Try to describe your brand in as little words as possible.

6. Use strong calls to action (in your bio, images, and comments).

Call to actions aren’t just for landing pages. You can include call to actions within your bio, images and even comments section.

You can include a link to your homepage or landing page. If you’re a clothing brand, then you post images of those products along with a link to those products. This will also help you boost sales.

Chanel Instagram bio

A lot of brands fail to do this. They just post images, but fail to tell their followers where to go.

You can also ask fun interactive and interesting questions that will drive more engagements. These questions shouldn’t be too dull or boring but should pump people up.

For example, you can use the text “Double tap if you’re gonna get fit this year.” This will generate more likes and engagement.

Don’t be that brand that’s always trying to push products/services down people’s throats. Rather, you should be more engaging with your audience.

7. Don’t overlook video

Video is one of the fastest growing trends in content marketing, so don’t underestimate the power of video. Instagram allows users to upload 1 minute videos.

This gives you a chance to mix up your content on your profile. Videos are a way to showcase your brand in a whole new light.

Publishers have uploaded more videos in 2017 when compare to 2016.

Instagram stats

Video can also be in the form of live streaming where you hold contests, make announcements and give away prizes. This will bring a bigger audience to you at no extra cost.

8. Respond to comments

Brands that respond to comments drive 3% more engagement than brands that don’t respond. Why should you respond to comments? It will give your audience a little bit of satisfaction.

Think of it like this: You saw a picture you liked and decide to take the time to comment. Minutes later you received a reply. How do you feel now? My guess is you feel like that person or brand cares enough to reply to you.

Zappos Instagram comments

Try to reply to every comment you receive. A reply will cause the other person to reply which will in turn increase engagement and cause more people to comment.

9. Post what people want

Don’t feel pressured to follow the herd. Your audience may actually like something different. For example, if you’re selling a smartphone, then your audience won’t like polished photographs taken from a DSLR, they would prefer photos taken from the smartphone itself.

You can also post behind the scene photos and videos if you provide a service like bridal makeup.

At the beginning, you may not know exactly what your audience likes, but that’s okay. You can try a bunch of techniques and see which works best for you and which is increasing your brand awareness.

This is sort of like A/B testing. You then pick only the ones that performed well and follow that strategy.

Remember, it’s what your customers want, and not about what you want.  If you don’t know where to begin, then just scope out your competition and see what has worked for them. This will give you an outline of what you need to do.

10. Collaborate with others

Collaborating with others on Instagram is a great way to market your product to a new audience.

One way you can do this is through influencer marketing, but this could dig a big hole in your pocket. Swedish watchmaker Daniel Wellington is a great example of influencer marketing.

They were able to grow their followers from 850,000 to 2.1 million in just one year by using influencer marketing.

Here is an example of one of their sponsored posts:

Instagram collaboration

The influencer tags Daniel Wellington’s profile in their caption which drives a lot of people to check out their profile.

You can also find influencers for cheap on fiverr.

This simple influencer marketing guide should help you get started in influencer marketing.

11. Post at the right time

Posting quality content is useless if your customers aren’t online to see it. If you post an image when your target audience are offline, then by the time they get online your image will get lost in the crowd.

Remember, Instagram is a numbers game. There are millions of content posted every minute. Therefore, posting content at the wrong time could result in lost opportunity.

Even if you end up paying for ads on Instagram, no one will engage with your content if they are offline.

In order to post at the right time, you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you’re selling products to high school teens, then you need to post content when they will most likely be online to see it.

It’s no use posting content during school hours. You need to be more active during the evenings and weekends.

If your customers live in a different country, then you need to post content according to their time zones.

You can test different timings and post content at those times that drive the most engagement.

12. Ask new users who engage with you to follow you

Have you received a like or comment from someone who hasn’t followed you yet? Then what are you waiting for. Message them and ask them to follow you. Don’t be afraid to ask people to follow you.

They obviously like your content that is why they are engaging with you, so it wouldn’t hurt to ask them to follow you.

You can also go an extra step further and ask people to refer your profile to their friends. If they do, then you can gain 2x more followers per engagement.

I have been doing this for my facebook page that is only a few days old, and it seems to be working. This will work for Instagram too.

13. Connect it to your other social channels and cross-post

You can get more followers if you connect you Instagram account to your other social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc. This way any time you post on Instagram, you image will automatically be shared on your social media profiles reaching a much wider audience and driving more engagement.

14. Hosts contests and giveaways

Buffer is a great example of this type of strategy.

Here is an example of one of their contests:

Buffer Instagram contest

You can ask people to tag their friends in order to enter the contest. This will help you reach a lot of followers who may not have heard about your brand before. If they end up liking what you have to offer, they will start following you.

The same principle can be applied to giveaways also.

15. Use the right filters

Did you know that certain filters perform better than others?

Well, now you do.

Iconosquare suggests that these are the 10 most popular filters on Instagram.

  1. Normal (no filter)
  2. Clarendon
  3. Juno
  4. Lark
  5. Ludwig
  6. Gingham
  7. Valencia
  8. X-Pro II
  9. Lo-fi
  10. Amaro

According to a study by Trackmaven Mayfair, Hefe, and Ludwig drove the most interaction.

You need to select the right filters that resonate well with your audience. Keep track of what is working and what is not.

16. Crowdsource your images

Your Instagram feed doesn’t have to contain images you took. You could encourage people to upload their won photos to your stream. They can take pictures of themselves using your product or you can hold contests and award the best photos.

This will give a more authentic feel to your Instagram feed.

17. Measure your likes

Analytics plays an important role even in social media. They help identify what is working for your brand.

You need to track and measure everything on your social profiles. This could be likes, comments, share, followers etc. This can be used to determine what sort of content performs well for your audience.

For example, If video content receive more engagement than images and quotes, then it’s clear that video should be my primary focus. Same strategy can be applied to determine the right filters, right time to posts and number of images to post per day.

You can also have the same picture in different filters and see which picture receives more likes.

18. Use blue to get more likes

Blue seems to win when it comes to attracting more attention. Pictures that had blue color has the dominant color got 24% more likes than other colors. This has something to do with psychology that makes blue look more attractive than other colors.

Keep this in mind when you’re trying to decide which color shirt to wear in your next picture.

19. Steal your competitor’s followers

It’s a smart strategy to steal your competitor’s ideas in 2018. Let them do all the hard work and you can just swoop in and steal their strategy. By steal I’m not talking about duplicate content.

You can just use this technique to steal your competitor’s followers also. Just visit their profile and analyze what type of content helps them drive more engagement.

Odds are what works for them will work for you since both of your customers have similar interest.

20. Use emojis

Emojis seem to be everywhere on the internet these days. They are no longer popular with teens. Even brands have decided to jump on the bandwagon. The use of emojis depends on your buyer personas.

Zappos post emojis

Emoji have become a universal way to express emotion. In fact, Instagram reports that nearly 50% of comments and captions on Instagram use emojis. Try adding emojis to your captions and see you get more engagement.


Sunil Joseph is a digital marketing professional who is passionate about digital marketing. He has 1 year experience in SEO, SEM, SMM, and content writing. Sunil is experienced in creating quality digital marketing solutions for enterprises and has a reputation of exceeding his client’s expectations. He is here to take the digital marketing world by storm.