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The Startup Guide to Instagram Marketing

Instagram marketing guide

The Startup Guide to Instagram Marketing

Instagram, the renowned mobile photo-sharing app is one of the most popular social networks today. As of December 2016, the Facebook-owned Instagram has touted to have over 600 million monthly active users. An increase from the 500 million monthly active users in June.

Regarding general usage, according to statistics on Hootsuite, users share roughly 95 million videos and photos a day, with a total of 40 billion photos shared to date. How does that compare to daily user engagement? Well, users are reported to like 4.2 billion photos and videos per day, which is  considerably high.

What does that mean for businesses?

Marketers should note that, given the continued popularity of the app, this year, Instagram has been forecasted to generate $5.3 billion in revenue, far more than the initial predictions in 2015. And, according to a 2015 report regarding brand usage, it’s forecasted that 70.7% of brands will be using the app this year.

Currently, there are over 500,000 advertisers utilizing Instagram to market their brands. Around half of current users follow a business on Instagram while 60 percent of users go further be stating they conduct their brand research through the social media platform.

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Need more proof? When it comes to hashtags, an essential element when distributing and showcasing content to a specific audience, roughly 70 percent of the most used hashtags on Instagram were branded. And, after users looked at an Instagram advertising post, curated by the use of branded and topical hashtags, around 75 percent of them took action (ex. Visiting a business’ website).

Using Hashtags to Market Your Brand

Regardless of whether your business has a large following on Instagram, using hashtags is important for obtaining organic growth. This is especially pertinent among startups as hashtags allow a post to become discoverable on a consumer’s feed, based on their interests—or passions. By using hashtags (ex. #coffee, #fairtrade), your brand’s campaign will garner exposure from Instagram’s massive crowd-culture.

However, marketers should note that while the best Instagram hashtags are simple words such as #coffee, #love, or #outdoors, that doesn’t mean that they’ll drive engagement. While you shouldn’t avoid them, consider using specific hashtags to market your brand’s campaign.

Rather than simply using #coffee, be more specific. What type of coffee is it? Where are they sourced from? Try looking at your prospective audience’s posts and see what they’re using. The more specific you are with your hashtags, the more niche your audience will be, likely driving higher engagement.

Don’t go overboard with your hashtags, though. Instagram only allows 30 hashtags per post. Here’s a valuable tip: consider using one or two hashtags that represent your photo or video the most. You can add the rest of your hashtags by placing them in a comment.

Appeal to a Consumer’s Passions

The reason that brands are finding success through Instagram,  the company itself, is because businesses can “turn inspiration into action” by marketing to a consumer’s passions. What better way to tap into a buyer’s heart than through appealing to what they’re inspired by!

Millenials, more so than any other age demographic, identify themselves by their interests and passions more than technology or their careers. The fact that 55 percent of online adults using Instagram range from the ages of 18 to 29, that’s no coincidence.

An Instagram user’s feed is based on the people they follow and by their interests (categorized by hashtags). Within the explore feed, Instagram curates the content based on a user’s interest so they can discover new and noteworthy content from people and brand’s that they may not already follow. In that regard, it makes sense when Allie Burke writes on Psychology Today that through tailoring her account by following things that make her happy, a la her passions, that “Instagram is the Happiest Place in the (Internet) World”.

Rather than using your marketing campaign to promote your product, focus on appealing to a consumer’s heart. Consider Canadian fashion brand Reigning Champ. Based in Vancouver, BC, they are a contemporary example of an athletic and streetwear brand using Instagram and social media to appeal to an audience’s passions. Their slogan “Respect the Details. Master Simplicity” appeals to consumers looking to purchase simple, chic menswear that are also both durable and comfortable.

Looking at their Instagram, they also emphasize their Canadian-made status—targeting users that look for locally sourced and manufactured products. Through highlighting their activewear, they’re also targeting consumers interested in fitness, sports, and athletics.

Keep Your Brand Relevant with Instagram Stories

Released last year, Instagram Stories was one of the biggest features to hit social media. Since then, the Snapchat competitor has hit roughly 150 million daily users and has also monetized the service by integrating full-screen ads.

Brands have already flocked to Instagram Stories, taking advantage of a new method in which they can engage their audience. The feature allows brands to post videos and photos in a timeline lasting 24 hours, without hampering their carefully curated Instagram feed. You can find stories on the home tab and at the top of your feed. Selected stories curated by Instagram can be found in the explore tab, too.

According to James Quarles, Instagram’s VP of business, in an interview with Forbes, “stories have become a mainstream expression tool.” He continues by mentioning that businesses have an opportunity to engage with audiences in way that is raw and unfiltered—deepening the relationship between a brand and its audience.

To be able to sell your authenticity is a plus, a key factor for many millennials. And, there are many ways to leverage Instagram Stories for your brand—from highlighting the behind the scenes of your campaign, to using audience feedback to curate the next post on your feed or even conducting Q&A sessions between your brand and the audience.

Create an Instagram Business Profile

Lastly, if you haven’t taken advantage of Instagram’s Business Tools, do so now. Doing so gives you access to features exclusive to brands with a business profile: from contact information that consumers can reach you directly, access to paid advertising, as well as insights to see how well a post is engaging an audience.

For more information on, take a look at Instagram’s guide on using its business tools.

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