Today, Instagram has over 1 billion users and is the #1 social photo app. It is predicted that 70.7 percent of U.S. companies will use Instagram marketing in 2019.
(Free 30-day Instagram content calendar down below)
Instagram has become one of the most popular avenues for social media marketing in a matter of years.
At first, businesses found Instagram unusual because there was no opportunity for linking posts to a website or a product. But Instagram quickly gained a wide audience despite initial impressions.
What was once a simple photo sharing app has become a social media marketing powerhouse.
Whether you’re brand new to Instagram, or a seasoned pro, this article will provide you with essential Instagram marketing tools, including a free 30-day Instagram calendar to get you started on your social media marketing journey.
Instagram Marketing: From the Top
Instagram has made distinct changes to its app over the years to provide greater opportunities for Instagram marketing.
Originally, Instagram provided basic photo-sharing opportunities for its users in 2010. And from there, it began to integrate new features, making Instagram marketing a reality for businesses.
Users were able to tag each other in photos after a 2013 update, and 15-second video sharing became available in June of the same year. Instagram needed a way to earn money in order to generate profit, so it introduced photo and video ads in 2014.
Thus, Instagram marketing was born. Businesses began paying Instagram to advertise their posts on users’ feeds.
Content was originally sorted chronologically. At this point, Instagram marketing was easy for businesses because people were more likely to see their content. But users eventually started following too many accounts to make chronologic content effective, so Instagram introduced sorting by relevance.
After changing its algorithm, Instagram posts were sorted on users’ feeds based upon what was most applicable to them, and Instagram marketing became essential. Businesses had to optimize their content for relevance, using both organic and paid social media marketing to build awareness.
Instagram introduced stories and live videos in 2016 and has continued adding to the basic components of its app since then.
More recently, it has added a shopping feature, IGTV, direct message, live video, and so much more.
What is Instagram Marketing?
Instagram marketing is essentially the use of Instagram to attract customers and promote products.
Instagram marketing envelopes usual marketing principles. With any form of marketing, you must have a solid understanding of your target audience, monetization expectations, and business strategies to successfully build a social media marketing plan.
Instagram marketing specifically requires regular posts, high-quality content, audience interaction, and organic and paid promotion.
This includes having an aesthetic, tasteful profile. You’ve got to determine the overall feel of your page, including your color scheme, bio, profile photo, and handle.
All components of your account should resonate with your company’s mission and product.
For example, Alexis Russell Jewelry, handcrafted jewelry business, has a unified color scheme and overall feel on its page, and it takes full advantage of Instagram stories, shopping, and other business profile components.
Why is Instagram Marketing Important?
Social media marketing has become essential to business throughout the last decade. Over 500 million people use Instagram every day, and 38 percent of those users are visiting several times a day.
According to Iconosquare, “Instagram is undeniably one of the most important social channels around, and we’re positive that any marketer not yet using it is missing out on something big…incorporating Instagram into your marketing strategy is a must!”
Your competition is most likely implementing an Instagram marketing plan already, and it would be unfortunate for such a versatile resource to go to waste. Instagram marketing must be utilized in order to stay current with business and marketing trends.
In fact, roughly 71 percent of U.S. businesses are on Instagram as of 2018.
According to Marketing Insider Group, “Social platforms help you connect with your customers, increase awareness about your brand, and boost your leads and sales. With more than three billion people around the world using social media every month, it’s no passing trend.”
Altogether, Instagram marketing allows you to prove authenticity and authority, provide support, and increase revenue in a progressively competitive market.
Instagram Marketing: Knowing Your Demographic
You must understand Instagram’s demographic to properly execute your social media marketing plan. Sometimes it isn’t in a business’ best interest to spend money on Instagram marketing because their demographic is entirely different from Instagram’s.
Be aware of the available resources and determine which ones can be the most beneficial to your company.
In terms of Instagram marketing, there are four major demographics to pay attention to:
Instagram has a unique age demographic in comparison to other channels. The majority of users are under the age of 35. The number of male users versus female users is nearly even, but women take the cake. Continually ask yourself where your audience fits in with the Instagram demographic.
Hootsuite provides a handy visual:
According to a 2019 Statista report on Instagram user distribution:
Location is important if your company doesn’t offer products or services worldwide. For instance, if you were working for a company that sells internationally, it would be valuable to know which countries were most active on Instagram before implementing your Instagram marketing strategies.
Statista offers a list of countries with the most Instagram users in 2019:
Income helps you determine the size of the demographic that would realistically be interested in purchasing your product.
Instagram users are generally most active on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The best time for posting can vary depending upon your unique audience, engagement patterns, and Instagram marketing plan.
You can direct your attention to any number or kinds of demographics, but be careful where you place your money. Pay attention to the audiences that respond most positively to your product and your Instagram marketing strategies.
You don’t want to advertise to the wrong demographic.
You will be able to properly budget and execute your social media marketing plan if you know your demographic and where it fits into the Instagram demographic.
How to Make Money with Instagram Marketing
There is a lot of money to be spent and made via Instagram marketing with an entire generation tied to their mobile devices. Instagram provides an extensive range of marketing opportunities for businesses.
Paid advertising is often necessary in order to kick-start an Instagram marketing plan, but in some cases, you can build up your audience via organic efforts.
Neil Patel, social media marketing expert and co-founder of Kissmetrics, has some tips for gaining followers organically:
You can make use of Instagram by investing in Instagram ads.
Instagram marketing offers so many opportunities from driving mass awareness to increasing website sales and mobile app downloads.
For example, Read Dog Books, a monthly book subscription service, used Instagram Stories to connect with its audience while running a single advertising campaign on Instagram and Facebook to encourage people to subscribe.
Read Dog Books made seven dollars in return for every dollar spent as a result of their ad campaign.
Types of paid Instagram marketing include:
- Photo ads – appear as single image ads
- Story ads – appear between users’ stories and can be image or video
- Video ads – appear as single video ads
- Carousel ads – appear as two or more scrollable images or videos
- Collection ads – appear as a separate collection of products
Each type of paid Instagram marketing has a specific objective and setup.
Objectives of Instagram marketing:
- Awareness: Build awareness of your business, product, app, or service
- Consideration: Help potential customers learn more about your products or services
- Conversion: Increase product sales, mobile app downloads, and visitors to your store
Setup steps for Instagram marketing:
- Create a business page and profile
- Set up your ads within the provided Ad Manager
- Determine your budget
- Publish your ads
The beginning of the Ad Manager process should look something like this:
Instagram marketing and advertising is extremely helpful, but it is also important to remember to post non-promotional content.
Users want a nice balance between product information and real content.
According to Forbes, “What modern brands need to master is a neutral, no-sell strategy in which helpful, useful information is the star of your marketing content, rather than your product or service itself.”
Some organizations suggest posting four non-promotional pieces for every promotional piece. You may find that other ratios work better for you, but remember, users want to connect with you and have opportunities to see your products at the same time.
Also, social media influencers have become a popular form of Instagram marketing. Businesses will pay influencers to share content about their product or service on their personal pages, so they can gain traffic from the influencer’s audience.
This is a powerful form of Instagram marketing that allows businesses to connect with new audiences and build a wider customer base.
How to Make an Instagram Marketing Plan
You can begin planning your Instagram marketing strategies once you have an understanding of Instagram and its advertising opportunities.
You’ll want to first begin by determining your objectives.
Some questions you can ask to start down the Instagram marketing path:
- Why are you taking your business to Instagram?
- Who comprises your target audience and which members of that audience are the most active on Instagram?
- How will you make Instagram work for your company, and how will that approach integrate with other networks in your social media marketing strategy?
- What does Instagram allow you to do that other platforms don’t?
Your company should target several of these Instagram marketing objectives depending upon which unique industry you’re in:
- Increase brand awareness
- Demonstrate company culture
- Showcase your team and recruit new talent
- Increase customer engagement and loyalty
- Showcase products and services
- Enhance and complement event experiences
- Incentivize consumer engagement
- Share company or industry news
- Build a more engaged community
- Connect with influencers
- Drive sales through traffic
Your Instagram marketing plan will be more successful if you are authentic and transparent in trying to meet these objectives.
Hootsuite provides some helpful hints:
You can begin to build your content once you’ve solidified your objectives. Pay attention to some of your favorite Instagram accounts. Look for themes, content types, and post frequency.
The best brands are able to execute their Instagram marketing strategies naturally.
Base your content theme off of your objectives. Create a unified visual feel that also provides your audience with helpful content, and don’t be afraid to use a nice blend of videos, images, and stories. You can even share user-generated content by getting your Instagram community to create posts featuring your brand and then sharing them on your page with rightful credit to the owner.
Instagram provides opportunities for varying content via an assortment of features:
- Hyperlapse: Users can shoot stop-motion time-lapse. The camera moves a short distance, but the action between each shot is rapid.
- Boomerang: Users can record a short video that loops backward and forward to create a nonstop motion.
- Layout: Users can combine photos and videos in a single post.
- Stop-motion: Users can post several different still images woven together in one seamless video.
Doll Power, a stop-motion animation page on Instagram, creates videos of their dolls and action figures in motion.
You can begin determining when you should post after you have come up with solid content.
You’ll find there are better times to post on Instagram than others when you begin scheduling your posts.
Most organizations suggest posting one to two times a day on Instagram. It can be a real task to come up with 10 solid posts a week with unique captions, hashtags, and visuals, so a content calendar can be helpful.
You can plan content themes, posting dates, and special campaigns, but sometimes the best content for Instagram marketing will come up spontaneously. You can allow for flexibility and spontaneity by having a content calendar in advance.
Ad Manager and Instagram Insights will allow you to track the progress of your promotional and non-promotional content, so you can determine what works best for your company.
Instagram Marketing Resources
There are plenty of third-party scheduling apps out there that can help you schedule posts across multiple social channels:
If You’re Teaching Social Media Marketing…
Teaching Instagram marketing or social media marketing isn’t always easy. As social platforms continue to develop algorithms and technologies, it can be difficult to keep up with marketing trends.
Mimic Social is the world’s first social media marketing simulation and can provide students with real experience.
In the simulation, students act as the social media manager for Buhi Supply Co., a hypothetical company. They are responsible for scheduling, creating, and managing the company’s social media. On top of that, students are expected to negotiate with influencers who will promote Buhi bags on their own social pages for the right price.
To learn more about the Mimic Social simulation, get access here.
- Instagram marketing is for everybody. You don’t have to be an expert to optimize your social media content strategies.
- There are plenty of tools and resources at your expense that can make Instagram marketing a breeze.
- You must know your audience, objectives, strategies, and goals in order to carry out a successful social media marketing plan.
- Instagram marketing is an essential component of marketing in today’s world. It provides unprecedented opportunities for growth and engagement.
To get you started, here is a free 30-day Instagram calendar.
The calendar has four tables to help you plan Instagram posts. Table A exists to help you determine the overall topics of your posts. Then, table B will help you determine three images for each topic. Once you’ve chosen the images, table C will help you come up with a caption for each image, and Table D helps you plan hashtags to go along with each image.
An entire month’s worth of Instagram posts will be prepared once each of the tables is completed. Happy planning!
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