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12 Instagram Marketing Tips for Business

Marisa Sanfilippo
Marisa Sanfilippo

Check out these tips to help drive your Instagram marketing strategy toward better engagement and higher ROI.

If you're looking for a way to grow your business, you may want to consider Instagram marketing. Instagram is an essential part of many business owners' social media marketing strategies. This guide covers the benefits of using Instagram for business and top Instagram marketing tips to follow.

Business benefits of using Instagram

Instagram is a smart marketing tool if your business has products and services that can be presented visually and your audience is active on the channel. If your business checks those boxes and you carefully plan and execute your Instagram social media marketing strategy, this social media channel can have these big benefits:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Followers' trust
  • Brand loyalty
  • A boost in website traffic
  • New leads
  • New customers
  • Repeat business

Instagram marketing tips and best practices

Instagram marketing strategies vary from business to business. Although the following Instagram marketing tips have been effective for select brands, you should cater each tip to your unique audience and sales offerings.

Know your audience.

If you don't know your audience, you are essentially creating content blindly. Many small businesses think their audience is everyone, which is almost never the case.

To help pinpoint your target audience, HubSpot suggests creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. You can have more than one buyer persona, but limit them to five to ensure they are manageable. Include important details about your target audience, such as their demographics and how they think and act. For example, consider the following characteristics:

  • Age range (keep it within 10 years)
  • Specific location (city and state)
  • Job title
  • Gender
  • What motivates them at their job
  • What motivates them at home
  • Three main problems they have
  • Where they go for information (e.g., business.com, Facebook or a local radio station)
  • Any additional information you can identify (e.g., if they have pets and/or children, their salary range, their hobbies)

When developing buyer personas, make them as clear and as detailed as possible. The more specific your buyer personas are, the better you'll succeed in creating content that appeals to your audience. If you're unsure where to get this information, start by surveying your current customers. Email them a survey, letting them know how long it will take to fill out. Keep your questions brief, and offer multiple-choice and open-ended options.

To further entice your current customer base to take your survey, you could offer a promo code to be applied to their next purchase, and you might even get some extra business from it. If your business is brand-new and you really don't have any idea where to begin with surveying your customers, reach out to your personal social media networks for assistance. There has to be an audience you had in mind when you started your company. Find those people, even if you have to go through your personal Facebook friends list and phone contacts.

Another option is to use a paid digital tool to survey a group of people. If you choose this route, start with an audience of 100 or fewer people, and increase it as needed. Sometimes, a small sample is helpful and saves you money.

Optimize your bio.

Your bio is an important part of your Instagram page, and it needs to be optimized. Include the following elements:

  • A clear and engaging Instagram profile picture that's sized appropriately
  • A bio that tells a story of what your brand or Instagram influencer page is about
  • A link that visitors can access for more information
  • Hashtags (when applicable)

Your bio is an important part of your Instagram page, and it needs to be optimized. Include the following elements:

  • A clear and engaging Instagram profile picture that's sized appropriately
  • A bio that tells a story of what your brand or Instagram influencer page is about
  • A link that visitors can access for more information
  • Hashtags (when applicable)

Example: Just for fun – micro-influencer Instagram bio Zoey the Maltichon

Incorporate relevant hashtags.

Hashtags, including those that are trending, can help people find your page on Instagram and Twitter and are essential to grow your audience and sales. Josh Stutt, founder of ABCD E-Commerce, said to make sure to research hashtags before you start using them. If you're not a widely known brand or celebrity, using generic hashtags won't get you anywhere. For example, if you're a new vintage T-shirt brand, don't waste your time with broad hashtags such as #fashion or #tshirt.

"You need to find hashtags that are typically on point [and] have a good following but aren't being used by everyone else in your space," Stutt said. "By using the Instagram search function, you can see the popularity of any given tag (#tshirt has 38.5M posts, but #vintagetees only has 388K). Dig around and find 50 or so tags that are applicable to you."

Once you've done this, use about 15 hashtags in various combinations on your posts, and keep track of where you use each one, Stutt suggested. After that, he said, review the results, looking at which posts resonated, which hashtags brought people in and what people talked about in your posts.

"As you learn which ones work for you, use them continuously while slowly adding in other ones and trying to scale up as you gain popularity," Stutt said. "Once you start connecting on certain tags, that's when you can hit the Discover section, and that's how you get Instagram working for you instead of the other way around."

Interact with other users in your target audience.

Building relationships is an age-old sales tactic that is effective in social media as well. It is also the best organic way to increase your audience and get new business. The key to building relationships is to be genuine. Here are a few ways to build relationships on Instagram:

  • Follow people in your target audience who interest you.
  • Like and comment on their posts.
  • Sometimes, share their posts to your stories.

It can take time to build these relationships, but doing so can generate some of the hottest leads.

Team up with other brands to host giveaways.

Jenna Labiak, owner of The Silk Labs, said hosting giveaways with other small businesses that have the same values, location and target audience has been beneficial to her business on Instagram.

"This way, we can have a mutually beneficial relationship within this giveaway and share both of our audiences with one another," she said. "On average, I would say for each giveaway with another small business, The Silk Labs gains 200 new customers."

Use a link tool to drive traffic to your website and other important links.

There are quite a few link tools available, but one of the most effective and widely used is Linktree. When you set up and add Linktree to your Instagram profile, users who click the link are directed to the Linktree page that shows all of the links you have added. You can customize the Linktree page with a profile image, such as your company logo, and edit the links at any time. The Linktree tool has a "forever free" plan that is ideal for small businesses. Additional plans start at $6 per month.

Capitalize on affordable influencer marketing.

You may know that partnering with Instagram influencers, or people with large followings for a particular interest or category, can be an effective marketing strategy. However, it often comes with a hefty price tag.

As a more affordable alternative, "Strike a win-win deal with other companies that have affiliations with influencers, and do a collaboration," said Amy McWaters, CEO of The Hamper Emporium.

As an example, McWaters' Australia-based company collaborated with Ponting Wines, which is promoted by Ricky Ponting, a cricket legend. As part of the collaboration, her team created stories featuring him and, in return, he promoted his wines in The Hamper Emporium's e-commerce store.

McWaters said her company received a lot of direct messages asking about the products, and the campaign resulted in an overall sales increase of 43% that quarter.

Humanize your brand.

This is a strategy that works well across all social media channels. Think about the content that resonates with you on the pages you follow. Most likely, it's the stuff that you can connect with personally, not corporate business posts. That's why it's so important to show your human side.

For example, payment processing company Priority Payments Local created a "Meet the Team" series and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, got its team together to convey the message "We're all in this together." The photo of the company's business development manager, Vincent Napoli, shows him in a different light than his clients are used to seeing him in: with his son.

Leverage Instagram analytics (also called Instagram Insights).

Instagram Insights, Instagram's analytics tool, is available to use for free on the Instagram app and is available on business accounts and contributor accounts (sometimes called influencer accounts). The tool provides the following metrics:

  • The number of accounts reached (with increase or decrease percentages)
  • Content interactions (with increase or decrease percentages)
  • Total followers (with increase or decrease percentages)
  • Content your page shared
  • Instagram story content
  • IGTV video content
  • Promoted post data

This information is available for the previous seven-day period. Unfortunately, unlike Facebook's analytics tool, it does not show the best times to post different types of content. If you have a Facebook business page, experiment with the best posting times (as determined by when your audience is online).

Post awesome content.

You and your audience may not have the same idea of what constitutes impressive content. Research what types of content get the most engagement on your competitors' pages.

Fill your followers' Instagram feeds with engaging content. Note the type of content that gets the most engagement, so you can keep giving your audience what it wants. For example, some brands do better with Instagram Live posts than they do with Instagram Stories. Ultimately, you can define "awesome content" by how well it performs. Your posts should be carefully planned, crafted and distributed.

Grow your page and your business with Instagram advertising.

Instagram advertising can be beneficial for expanding your brand's reach across the social media platform, thereby growing your following and increasing sales. Depending on your industry, for Instagram to be effective, you may need to run your ads through a sales funnel, like Credit Repair Kings did. The company's strategy was to target consumers within a specific age group in the local area who had an interest in the credit services and financial categories. When someone clicked on the ad, Credit Repair Kings used ClickFunnels to capture the lead to schedule a call with them using Calendly.

Test and try again.

The social media landscape is always changing, so it's important to test new tactics. Don't be afraid to create Instagram content that gets zero or little engagement. Learn something from every post, and keep trying. With time and practice, you could find yourself with a flood of new sales straight from Instagram.

Marisa Sanfilippo
Marisa Sanfilippo,
business.com Writer
See Marisa Sanfilippo's Profile
Marisa Sanfilippo is an award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses with a focus on digital marketing. After graduating Stockton University with a B.A. in Communications and minor in writing, Marisa worked as a freelance journalist for numerous publications, ultimately earning a position as an e-marketing specialist for a credit union. While in that position, she earned HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Certification and helped build the organization’s digital marketing strategy from the ground up. Her efforts helped lead the credit union to success on and offline including: a 200%+ organic increase in Facebook followers, a sales generating blog, and much more. Later on, she worked on a social media campaign that gained recognition by The Huffington Post.