There’s no question that people love Instagram. Its ubiquity has made published photographers of many people, and now everyone is sharing their daily lives. At the same time, businesses have found that Instagram for business can be very effective at driving sales. This is true whether you leverage the platform primarily for Interacting with customers, or also transform Instagram into another ecommerce channel.
No matter what you want to accomplish with Instagram, strategy is critical. Some techniques are excellent for building brand awareness, while others will primarily help you with sales. Similarly, you to ensure that everything you put out is consistent with your branding. Often, this will have an influence on your overall strategic decisions.
Finally, it’s important that we only choose effective methodologies, and that we don’t waste money on things that are ineffective. In this article, I will share some of my best strategies for mastering Instagram and maximizing ROI.
Optimize Your Instagram Profile
No matter your Instagram for business strategy, having a great profile is a critical first step. Not only does a well-constructed profile help people find you, but it also allows you to introduce yourself as a brand. Over time, your profile should become a place that people visit to learn more about your brand and its products.
1. Have a Complete Profile
Your first step is to develop a complete and compelling profile. For a brand, this means adding complete information about your company so that people understand exactly who you are. To that end, you should fill out the bio as completely as appropriate. You’ll also want to add a website link and contact information. Brands with physical locations should also include store locations and hours for customer convenience.
Another consideration is the link you put in your profile. Because many people view Instagram primarily on a mobile device, the link should be mobile-friendly. The link can lead to your online store, or point people to your website.
2. Only Publish Quality Photos
Even though Reels and Stories are important, Instagram is also still a photo site, so you need to provide high-quality photography on your Instagram for business profile. Generally, that means your photos should be high-resolution and visually appealing. That way, people are more likely to stay around and consume more content.
The topic of your photos is also important. Especially when you’re first starting on Instagram, you should keep the overall theme simple. To that end, you’ll want to showcase various products or brand images. You can also show off your storefront, which can be an especially festive idea around the holidays.
3. Utilize Link Stickers Effectively
Until recently, adding a link to an Instagram story or post was essentially limited to Instagram for business users. However, Instagram recently released link stickers as a tool that everybody can use. Link stickers in Stories direct to products, blogs, promotions, or even landing pages. These stickers are easy to apply — simply insert one like you would a different type of sticker. The difference is that you’ll add the web address as your sticker content, and people will reach your page after clicking on it.
One of the best ways to leverage link stickers is making your profile shoppable. In other words, you can add to the links to photos of that particular product. You could also add a link sticker to a story or post that announces a sale, and have the link direct shoppers to a selection of applicable products.
Create Engaging Content
Once you have a great Instagram for business profile, you want to create content that everybody will enjoy. After all, people visit Instagram when they are relaxing or taking a break. By making it worthwhile to hang out with your brand on Instagram, you will encourage your followers to spend more time interacting with your content. Hopefully, they’ll even find the content valuable enough to share with their friends.
4. Make Sure Your Content is Relevant and Valuable
No matter what else you do, you should always align content with your brand and target audience interests. In other words, if you want to reach Millennials, don’t post a bunch of jokes or cartoons that would only be of interest to Boomers. Similarly, a working-class audience has different needs and interests from an upper crust one, at least when it comes time to buy things.
Similarly, your posts should not always be about products and services. If you only add pictures or content that revolve around a specific product or promotion, then your page will quickly look spammy. Who wants to spend their free time somewhere that nothing more than a marketplace? People who want to buy something specific at any given time will frequently navigates straight to their favorite e-commerce site. If you want to become their site of choice, then give people something of value.
Appropriate options can include customer education and humor.
5. Publish Interactive Content
Instagram accounts of all types benefit from user engagement. That’s because the algorithm was set up to encourage people to interact with each other, and Accounts with a lot of engagement do better than the ones without it. Therefore, content that’s Interactive is a great way to grow your account.
To leverage this advantage, encourage engagement with polls, questions, and calls-to-action. Polls are great because they takes just a few seconds to interact with. Questions foster a healthy debate, which can also help your profile get noticed by people who otherwise wouldn’t. And calls to action and boost sales, Subscriptions, and leads.
Similarly, you shouldn’t limit yourself to traditional photographic posts. Instead, leverage Instagram features like sliders, captions, live videos, and stories. The design elements of these types of content automatically encourage participation in ways that a few great snaps just can’t.
6. Utilize Hashtags and Mentions to Your Advantage
There’s no denying that hashtags are essential to having your content found on Instagram. After all, these are what Instagram’s algorithm and search engine use to categorize content. To make sure your content has its best chance, research relevant hashtags. You should know which hashtags are appropriate for your niche and your audience. You’ll also want to Identify your Competitors Hashtags you can keep an eye on them.
Of course, hashtags are not the only important aspect of getting your content discovered on Instagram. Mentions are a way to interact with other users on Instagram, and they show up on a member’s feed. Be sure to @mention partners, influencers, and brands to expand your reach.
7. Don’t Forget to Publish Stories
Another way to increase the effectiveness of your Instagram for business account is with Stories. Because Stories contain multiple pictures and even videos, they are a great way to help your audience identify with your brand. For instance, you might share a behind the scenes look at your company’s everyday operations. Stories are also excellent for demonstrations of your products and services.
Similarly, stories are an excellent form of user-generated content. This is especially true if you plan to use influencer marketing, wherein somebody with social media influence shares your product with their audience. You could also put a story together with content from multiple users. In this case, you’d probably collect photos from around Instagram with permission, or use some sort of promotion.
Grow Your Audience
Posting on your Instagram for business account is critical to establishing an online presence. However, it can take a while to start building an audience. People need to discover your content, and then feel compelled to share it with others if your Instagram account is going to see significant growth. Here are some ways you can accomplish that goal.
8. Leverage Paid Ads
As they say, sometimes you get what you pay for. In this case, you can pay to get more eyeballs quickly. However, you also don’t want to waste a lot of money on a spray and pray approach. Less can still be more. To maximize your ROI with ads, use precise targeting capabilities for your personas. In other words, set your ads settings so that you only pay to have your target audience see the ads.
Similarly, not all ads campaigns are created equal. Rather than simply trying to bring people to your page, you should experiment with other objectives, too. For instance, boosting video views can be very helpful if you want to reach a younger audience. And in the long run, promoting videos will also expand your reach in other ways.
9. Engage in Instagram Partnerships
A Well-known way to boost your Instagram for business profile is by working with partners. In particular, brand collaborations and influencer marketing help introduce brands and users to each other’s audiences. And as I’ve said in many places, influencer marketing is one of the most effective techniques right now, at least in terms of bang for the buck.
To leverage the power of influencer marketing, consider sponsoring content. Frequently, the content would feature your products or talk about your services. You can compensate these partners through a flat rate fee, free product, or some type of affiliate structure that incentivizes results. Either way, the best part of influencer marketing is that it leverages the power of ordinary people.
10. Optimize Hashtags for Broader Exposure
As important as hashtags are to getting your content categorized properly, it almost pales in comparison to hashtags is an optimization tool. Simply put, hashtags on Instagram behave like keywords on Google or Bing. Everybody wants to be at the top of the results page for a particular hashtag. Therefore, you need to optimize for them.
First, identify the best-performing hashtags for engagement. These hashtags should be consistent with your brand and niche, but you also need your tags to be associated with a relatively lively discussion. Otherwise, optimizing for a particular hashtag is unlikely to get you very far.
With that said, you also don’t want to be overly restrictive with your hashtag choices. In this case, you want to avoid relying exclusively on branded hashtags. People may not know that you are on Instagram, and they may be unfamiliar with your branded hashtags. Therefore, be sure to mix those branded tags with carefully-selected community hashtags. The community selections should be popular enough to get plenty of traffic, without being excessively competitive.
Further Reading: The 13 Best Instagram Hashtags Generators in 2023
11. Go Live on Instagram Live (with Shopping)
We are long past the days when people only posted pictures of their favorite products on Instagram. Now, people are likely to buy things on Instagram rather than just window shopping. There are several reasons for this, such as the popularity of Instagram’s shoppable posts. What could be easier than seeing something and purchasing it immediately, rather than having to track the item down on another store? And from the brand’s point of view, it’s really easy to set up an Instagram shopping section.
Another way to sell stuff on Instagram is by going live. Here, you can discuss your brand’s products during an interactive show. For instance, you can showcase different items by demonstrating their use, or showing how multiple items like an outfit complement each other. At the same time, you can get more sales by enabling users to solve directly through the live stream.
Further Reading: Instagram Shopping: 4 Best Practices to Follow
Analyze Performance and Optimize
People who use Instagram for business need to make sure that there brand profile functions optimally. Doing this requires consistent analysis and optimization, especially during periods of significant market change. Fortunately, with modern analytics tools it’s relatively easy to accomplish this task.
12. Learn from Instagram Insights
As an Instagram marketer, one of your best allies is the Instagram Insights section. This gives you a lot of free analytics information directly from Meta Platforms. Specifically, you can track your impressions, reach, engagement rate, and profile visits. Each of these will show you how much attention people are paying to your content.
Once you get the raw data from Instagram Insights, you’ll be able to monitor how specific content and hashtags perform. Over time, this information will help you double down on what works well, and cut back on or eliminate Ineffective techniques. You will quickly be able to increase your ROI this way.
13. Leverage 3rd Party Instagram Analytics Tools
Of course, native Instagram tools are not the only show in town, and there’s a reason for this. Instagram Insights only provides relatively basic information. Furthermore, the native analytics does not help you track competitor’s directly. You can only measure your success against your competitors in terms of metrics like hash tag search rankings.
Naturally, if you really want to maximize Instagram for business, you’ll want a better ability to track your competitors. To do this, leverage third-party tools that provide a competitive analysis. Social media dashboards are especially useful in this area, while also providing comprehensive services across platforms.
14. Adjust Your Content Mix
While all social media users must start with a particular content mix, it’s almost impossible to get your mix right the first time. And in addition, the changing nature of social media make adjustments necessary even under the best conditions. To keep your profile relevant, start by identifying your best performing content types and formats. Your analytics suite should help, but be sure to review your best posts manually to ensure you understand why a category is doing so well.
Once you’ve identified your best-performing material, produce more of it. This way, people will have even more reason to visit your profile than they might otherwise. And in turn, you’ll derive greater business value from Instagram.
15. Refine Your Instagram Ad Targeting
Paid ads can get expensive fast, especially if they aren’t bringing in a lot of new viewers. Fortunately, your Instagram analytics can help you get the most out of your advertising dollar. To implement this strategy, pay close attention to which behaviors and interests among your audience are most likely to yield desired results.
Once you’ve identified the best predictors, tighten your targeting to maximize conversions based on the information you’ve learned. Then, continually test new audiences, creatives, and placements to ensure your targeting stays consistent with goals.
Drive Conversions on Instagram
One of the biggest reasons why Instagram for Business is so effective is its unique ability to drive conversions. Instagram is a place where you can see multiple pictures of a product, or even watch a video of the item in use. At the same time, if you set up your profile properly, people can buy items without leaving the app to figure out where to buy it. With some Instagram features, you can even sell the item without your customer needing to leave the app at all.
16. Enable Your Instagram Store
Want to encourage impulse buying? Enable Instagram shopping to add shoppable tags to posts. These tags will direct customers to a page where they can buy the item. Ideally, you should use Instagram checkout for seamless in-app purchases. Instagram will inform you of the order, which you can then process internally. At the same time, you’ll still get the buyer’s information, which can help with further targeting and other marketing activities.
17. Strategically Use Your Links in Bio
When you think about links in your company bio, you probably consider informational pages first. This is a good idea if you’re trying to educate customers about your brand. However, this link can also send traffic to your online store or product pages. And if your website is mostly e-commerce anyway, then there’s little bad to say about this approach.
However, shopping-related links can get stale over time. Not only can you move site addresses, but product lines change and promotions provide new opportunities. Update links as needed to highlight promotions or new arrivals to ensure people see them.
18. Create Shoppable Posts
Shoppable posts are one of the easiest ways to encourage purchases on Instagram. To leverage this technique, you’ll first need to turn on the relevant features in your account dashboard. Then, tag products in posts so users can learn more and purchase right in the app. This way, people can save products and purchase them in the most frictionless way possible. No more losing a sale because somebody forgets where they saw a product they love.
This is a very useful technique when you have a promotion or a product launch. For instance, the annual Black Friday sales are a time when people stand in long lines to buy things of bargain prices. If your company also has a Black Friday sale, you could put some of the featured deals on Instagram as shoppable posts. Then, as people are standing in line, they can see and buy your product. More sales for you, and less time spent shopping for them. Everybody wins.
19. Paid Partnerships
influencer marketing is one of the best ways to leverage Instagram for business. One reason for this is that a large percentage of influencers who do partnerships prefer to work on Instagram. This appears to be true even with the rise of TikTok.
Paid partnerships on Instagram are very versatile. You can leverage these collaborations to promote a product launch or a sitewide sale. Alternately, you can boost engagement with your brand through giveaways and other contests led by a popular influencer. And at the same time, you’ll convert some influencer followers into shoppers for your brand. Best of all, this marketing method is very cost-effective.
Whereas I earlier recommended Instagram Partnerships for content creation to grow your following, Paid Partnerships take a moe strategic approach of leveraging influencers and content creators to drive more conversions.
Creating an Instagram Marketing Plan
Even the most compelling brand needs a plan if it is to excel at Instagram for business. After all, proper planning makes it easier to decide what content to make, which ads to place, and how to develop a campaign. Furthermore, Careful planning can help you determine how to interact with and grow your audience. This way, you can achieve the level of consistency that you need to make the most of your efforts. Here are some steps you should take in order to formulate the best possible plan.
Further Reading: Instagram for Small Business: 15 Tips for Success for Any Business
20. Develop a Long-Term Instagram Strategy
Formulating the best Instagram strategy is not something that you can do overnight. Rather, you’ll need to perform several steps. Some of these steps you may have already performed as part of your overall marketing plan, but even then you may need to tweak the strategy for the demographics most commonly found on Instagram.
Set specific goals
Before you can do anything else, you should know what your goals are for engagement on Instagram. For most companies, this is a combination of engagement, conversions, and brand awareness. Each of these requires a different approach, in that you’ll create different content for different objectives. However, they can be part of a whole.
Perform competitive analysis
Next, analyze your competitors and successful brands on Instagram to identify content gaps and opportunities. No brand can do everything perfectly — maybe a particular content type is of lesser quality or they fail to meet customer concerns in some way. These shortcomings present an opportunity for you to appeal to consumers.
Define your target audience
Now that you understand your goals and your competitors, it’s time to define your target audience. This a buyer persona should be Instagram-friendly, and take into account what your customers may find interesting. Using this information, you can create tailored content that your target audience will find most compelling.
Develop a content calendar
No matter your target audience, it’s important to have a content calendar. This makes sure that you always know what content you will create, when you will created, and at what pace it gets published. Then, you and your team can craft the content to meet your business needs. At the same time, you’ll find that the content is of better quality when carefully planned.
Visual Branding is key
Almost every company has visual branding standards. In this case, you should take the standard your company already has and adapt them to Instagram. This way, you can ensure that your Instagram account is immediately recognizable as belonging to your company. You should also ensure that all content is consistent with your brand voice. If you are a startup or small e-commerce brand, then you may need to develop your branding from scratch.
Prepare to track KPIs
Regardless of your goals, you need to set key performance indicators (KPIs) which can keep you on track. For social media, some of the best examples are impressions, engagement rate, click through rate, and conversion rate. For the last example, you’ll need to determine what types of conversions you’re tracking, such as purchases or a newsletter subscription.
Don’t forget the budget
Before you start posting on Instagram, you need to have a budget for your program. This should include certain costs like content creation and social media monitoring, but also cash paid to outside vendors. Specifically, paid advertising costs can quickly spiral out of control if you don’t set a careful limit. You’ll also need a spending limit for influencer partnerships. For the latter, carefully think about how you want to pay your influencers, because this can affect the price significantly.
21. Integrate Instagram into Your Existing Social Media Workflows
Although Instagram is a common, even standard, social network, if you’re already on social media then you need to integrate your Instagram efforts with everything else. In particular, you must ensure that Instagram fits cohesively into your broader social media strategy. For example, using Instagram may be a little more difficult for a professional services brand and for B2B sales. Instagram is very oriented toward the consumer.
Similarly, you should coordinate cross-posting relevant content across Instagram and other channels. A lot of content can be adapted and repurposed, which reduces your overall content creation costs. The ease of repurposing is especially profound between Instagram and Facebook, not only because of similar format needs but also due to the common ownership of the platforms.
While you’re posting, don’t forget to maintain brand voice, visual style, and messaging consistency on Instagram. Again, these details ensure that people recognize your brand’s Instagram account as belonging to the company. You’ll also make sure that everything said on Instagram is consistent with the rest of your corporate messaging.
Finally, don’t forget to promote your Instagram account. You can do this in several ways, such as by including a link to your Instagram profile on your website. Another place to put a link is email, and some platforms like Facebook will also let you link on your profile. Either way, spreading the word will help your account grow and its impact expand.
Measuring ROI on Instagram
Regardless of your overall objectives for using Instagram for business, it’s important to track your ROI. While social media generally is a very cost-effective way to reach your audience, costs can spiral out of control if you don’t keep an eye on them. Furthermore, poorly managed Instagram accounts are often not as effective as they could be. Both of these scenarios reduce your Instagram ROI. Luckily, brands can increase efficiency and minimize risk by tracking results.
22. Track Your Performance Metrics
The idea of tracking results isn’t new — as marketers, we’ve been doing this for a long time, and across many different types of media. However, for Instagram there are different tools and techniques to be aware of.
First, use Instagram Insights and analytics tools to track reach, engagement, and conversions. Insights is free, and included with every business and content creator account. You’ll get basic numbers which apply to your specific profile, though you’ll need other tools for competitive analysis.
Next, measure website traffic referred from Instagram using tracking modules and cookies. Here, you’ll get the information primarily from Google search Console and other website-based analytics. These numbers so you how often people click through your links and arrive at your main website. Especially if you’re trying to increase web traffic to Instagram, the more the better.
Link Instagram ads to Shopify or another ecommerce platform to measure conversions. Again, this works using cookies and Dedicated URLs. While this technique won’t pick up conversions that happen on a time delay or through multiple devices, you’ll still get a decent measure of the immediate results.
Similarly, you can create unique promo codes or links to track sales from Instagram. Codes in particular help to find conversions which are indirectly related to Instagram, such as if somebody sees the ad on their phone and completes the sale from their laptop. And of course, links are super easy to track.
Finally, survey or interview followers about brand awareness and sentiment. Surveys offer an opportunity to learn a lot about your audience, and it’s easy to pair them with a contest or other promotion. To interview someone, you can message them on Instagram or use a landing page for signups.
Further Reading: The Top 23 Instagram Tools You Need for Successful Marketing
23, Define and Quantify Your Instagram Marketing ROI
Learning how to track KPIs only goes so far toward quantifying your overall Instagram ROI. That’s because you need to associate specific benchmarks with those numbers. Furthermore, it’s harder to assign monetary ROI on certain goals like increasing brand awareness. You could argue that your company and gaining a better reputation is priceless, though everything in business eventually gets expressed as money.
Nonetheless, there are ways you can set standards. For example, you can set a specific ROI goal for certain techniques, such as earning three times your advertising spend. This standard is easy to measure, because you know about how much people bought and exactly how much you spent.
Similarly, you can specify certain metrics like increased web traffic, lead generation, and sales. This can be measured against the cost of content creation and account maintenance, in addition to any ad spend. You can also compare these numbers from before and Instagram campaign with the ones achieved afterwards.
By analyzing the above data, you can generally calculate the amount of profit attributable to your Instagram for business efforts. At the same time, you can monitor trends over time to ensure that your efforts remain. Then, be sure to report your results to management so that they can see how valuable your Instagram efforts actually are.
There’s little question that Instagram for business is highly effective, especially for B2C brands. In fact, social media marketing as a whole enjoys a very high ROI. However, you can’t get the best results right out of the box. Careful planning, and the use of the techniques in this article, will make the difference between an ineffective account and a large one that reaps dividends.
Hero Photo by Collabstr on Unsplash
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