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Marketing Social Media

The Basics of Instagram Marketing: What Every Content Marketer Needs to Know

For marketers to be successful on Instagram, it is important they take a step back and consider what their audience really values. From there, they can determine exactly what they wish to accomplish with their Instagram marketing campaign. In 2014, approximately 22 percent of B2B marketers and 32 percent of B2C marketers reported they were using Instagram as a part of their overall content marketing strategy. In the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 report, 2 percent more B2B brands and 17 percent more B2Cs plan to use Instagram in their marketing programs.

With that said, how does a brand take advantage of Instagram? A defined strategy with finite, achievable goals is key. However, if you’re looking to get as many followers as possible, then you need to shift your focus. By simply providing valuable, relevant content, you will recruit loyal followers organically. Brands should strive to create posts that not only inspire, but also tell a story—one that can be best told by showcasing your products through aesthetically appealing images, using hashtags that inspire sharing, and, most importantly, building an emotional connection with followers.

Instagram eBook

To Regram or Not to Regram?

Something you may want to reconsider is encouraging your audience to regram. According to a recent survey, people aren’t very interested in regramming when a brand asks them to, even if it is for a prize. For anyone who runs a serious, or even casual, Instagram account, you know the importance of original, unique content. Regramming content not only disrupts a user’s portfolio, but it changes how others experience the network. This is one instance wherein people won’t “do it for the likes.”

What does drive them, however, is seeing the product. It can really be as simple as that. A little more than half of those surveyed said that they have purchased a product that they first saw marketed on Instagram.

Showcasing Your Product

Showcasing your product on Instagram is a great way to encourage interest in the products or services you offer. Compare it to window-shopping—but with a mobile device. It is important to remember that most people like to see a product in action rather than on display in the store. Doesn’t a warm winter coat seem more appealing on someone walking outside on a snowy day rather than hanging on a rack? This also allows people to picture themselves in that situation with your product. Some great examples of brands using Instagram to create an experience are KJP, Everlane, and MINI USA.

Also, don’t be afraid of using video to showcase your product, like Brooks Brothers. Using Instagram to show your product in use allows your audience to build a connection to what they are seeing while being short enough to keep their attention.

Brooks Brothers Using Instagram Video to Advertise

For both video and images, using the correct filters can make or break your Instagram marketing campaign. For example, images with high levels of texture generate 79 percent more likes than those without. The more specific the statistics, the more they reveal: Images that are lighter generate 24 percent more likes than dark images. Even the smallest touch can have the biggest impact.


An essential component of a winning Instagram strategy is the use of hashtags. They generate buzz and can spread your image or video to users who don’t yet follow you. By using proper hashtagging, your image or video gets categorized immediately, giving users an organic way to discover content that is of interest to them. In addition, encouraging users to use a particular hashtag can increase their engagement with your Instagram page. A post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6 percent more engagement than a post without any. New York Fashion Week used the hashtag #NYFW on Instagram to build a fashion feed on their website of all posts from the week.

I would be remiss to not mention the famous three-letter hashtag that has recently ascended to a new level of fame: #PSL (Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte). The famous Starbucks drink has become a social media phenomenon. All season long, #PSL lovers have professed their love for this fall treat with Instagram images of the classic Starbucks mug accompanied by the hashtag. This hype has not only been instrumental in the continuing success of the drink, but has also helped it develop an independent identity thanks to Starbucks’ robust understanding of its fan base and their sharing habits.

Go Behind the Scenes

Building a personal connection with your audience is an essential part of any brand’s Instagram strategy. To do this, brands can show behind-the-scenes images and videos that people wouldn’t get to see if they didn’t follow on Instagram. This is an opportunity to prove to your audience that you are a company made of real people. Victoria’s Secret is a great example of a company that completely kills it in this area, and they have one of the most successful Instagram accounts to prove it. With over three million followers, Victoria’s Secret gives its audience a behind-the-scenes, exclusive look into its glamorous sets and photo shoots. It generates buzz for its annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show by posting clips of the models goofing around backstage, getting their hair and makeup done, and donning their glamorous outfits—all before the show airs on television. In addition, the Victoria’s Secret models use their personal Instagram accounts to share videos and pictures, all with the same #VSFashionShow hashtag.

Instagram continues to gain momentum and can prove to be a gold mine for brands if approached in a strategic, thoughtful way. The most successful brands on Instagram aren’t just lucky—they understand their audience, know their social habits, and deliver accordingly. Brands looking to separate themselves from the pack need to remember that focusing on quality over quantity is what makes all the difference in the success of their Instagram marketing.

Interested in learning more about Instagram marketing? Download our eBook: The Ultimate Enterprise Instagram Strategy Guide.

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