Getting Started with Instagram Marketing

10 Oct 2016
Alan Martin

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Do you want to know how to get started with Instagram?

Are you letting fear of technology put you off?

If you’ve figured out that Instagram would be a good way for you to reach and engage with your ideal audience and showcase your business in a positive way, but you don’t really know how to get started, I’ve got you covered!

With 1 billion active monthly users, sharing 100 million photos and videos per day, now is the perfect time to establish a foot-hold on the platform before it is too late to take advantage of the organic reach that businesses currently enjoy on Instagram.

Why Now?

The time for getting started (if you haven’t already) with Instagram is now! Why do I say that? Well, I am sure you are probably fed up hearing about the ever decreasing organic reach on Facebook (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here to find out more). Well I’m not going to get into that discussion here, but Facebook who now owns Instagram, have recently announced that they will be introducing a similar newsfeed algorithm to Instagram, but at the present time your content has greater visibility on Instagram than on Facebook.

To be fair to Facebook, there are good reasons (as well as the commercial reality of boosting ad revenues) why they have limited the organic reach, but I said I wouldn’t go there at the moment. If you want to read more about this, you should check out this excellent article by Jon Loomer.

Another reason you should be thinking about building a presence on Instagram now is because images and video have become the most engaging content on social media, so it makes sense to be active on a platform that is image based. A recent study by Forrester revealed that engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than on Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter.

I have to confess that I’ve not been hugely active on Instagram for Chat Marketing in the past (understatement of the year). The reason for that is that it tends to be more ‘visual’ businesses that do well on the platform, but whist that may be true, there are many examples of B2B companies like HubSpot that you would not think of as being particularly ‘visual’, that are crushing it on the platform.

It just takes a bit more creativity to come up with content that works. Don’t worry though, if this applies to you I’ll be sharing some ideas below that will help you. If you are lucky enough to have a ‘visual’ business, you are already off to the races!!

Getting Started

I’m only going to be covering the basics of Instagram marketing here, to help you get up and running and give you some ninja tips to help you get off to a flying start. If you need some more in-depth learning, I would highly recommend that you check out Instagram Marketing: Your Complete Guide to Instagram Success from Social Media Examiner and download the free ‘Making The Most of Instagram‘ guide from Union Metrics.

Okay, so let’s start with some basics! Although you can access Instagram on your desktop, it is first and foremost a mobile application. You can use the desktop version to search and comment on other accounts, but you can’t post your own directly on the app, so there is limited functionality. There are however some good 3rd party tools like ScheduGram and Grum that are worth checking out, to help you post and schedule content via your desktop.

To get started you first need to download the Instagram app onto your phone. Next you need to go ahead and create an account. At the moment Instagram are slowly rolling-out business accounts, but they are not available to everyone.

Click HERE to learn how to change your personal account to a business account and why that might be a good idea.

Ninja Tip!!

To really make your Bio really stand out you can add a list to your Bio see thebettyrocker for an example of what I mean (best to view on your mobile). You can even go to town and add some emojis. Here’s the thing though! You can’t insert line breaks in the Bio field, so what you need to do is open up the ‘Notes’ app on your phone, write what you want (and any emojis you want to use) and then copy and paste it into the Bio field of your Instagram account. You can also use your Bio to add a clickable link to something that you are trying to promote, like an E-book or free report. You can’t include live links in your posts, so this is a good work-around.


Now that you have your Instagram account up and running, you are ready to start posting some images. Wait….stop..before you start posting your masterpieces there are some cool apps that I wanted to tell you about.

If you are planning to create videos and you are an i-phone user, I would highly recommend downloading the ‘i-movie’ app. This will let you edit your raw video footage on your phone, to give them a more professional look.

If it is mostly stills you are posting, I would recommend checking out the ‘TitleFx’ and ‘Word Swag’ apps on the i-phone for adding titles and other effects to your images.

If you want to add some fancy effects to your images before they are posted, you should definitely check out ‘Snapseed’. Instagram does have it’s own filters, but you will want your images to stand out and look great, so using apps like these will give you the edge.

If you want to make collages of your images before posting them, you should check out ‘Insta Collage FX’ or ‘LiveCollage’.

Hopefully you can see that with the help of technology, you can get really creative with the types of images that you are sharing.

If you want to add an Instagram app to your Facebook page, search for “Instagram Feed Tab For Pages” (500,000+Monthly users) on Facebook and just follow the instructions. HERE’S a video that shows you how to do it. You might also want to post directly from Instagram to your Facebook newsfeed. If that’s the case, this excellent article from AdEspresso explains exactly how to do it. Once you have linked your accounts, you can choose which of your Instagram posts you also want to publish to Facebook on a post-by-post basis.


Hopefully the above should have given you an idea of some of the creative things that you can do with images. The idea with Instagram marketing is to tell the visual story of your brand in a compelling way. If your business is not particularly ‘visual’ like mine, then think about using behind-the-scenes pics, pics of you attending events, infographics, motivational quotes, new products etc.

With a bit of creativity and work, it should be possible to come up with suitable image content for any business, and with the recent introduction of Instagram ‘Stories‘ the possibilities are obvious. If you need some inspiration on what might make a good story, check out ‘5 Ways to Use Instagram Stories for Business‘.

Although the content on Instagram is predominantly image and video based, you can also add text to accompany your images. This is similar to other social media platforms, but what makes Instagram a bit special is the prolific use of hashtags.

Hashtags group similar posts together and are a way for users to find great content. When people are searching on Instagram they can search Top Posts, People, Tags and Places. So using relevant hashtags in your content is a great way to increase your visibility. A useful tool for researching hashtags is called Create a free account and then use the ‘Explore’ tab to see the most popular hashtags on Instagram. A search box at the top of the page allows you to search for a particular keyword and you will see the top hashtags related to that keyword.

You can include a maximum of 30 hashtags in your captions, but if you used that many you would very likely turn people off, so try to stick to a maximum of 5 in your post (see ninja tip below). For more on hashtags check out ‘The Marketers Guide to Instagram Hashtags‘ over  on the Snappa blog.

You can also tag your location and, if appropriate, other Instagram users. Tagging another user will make your content show up in the activity feed for that person and will visible to everyone who follows that account, but you need to be wary of this tactic because if you simply use it as a way of spamming another person’s Instagram account, they can untag themselves and they are not going to be happy.

If you have images on your desktop computer that you’d like to post to Instagram, the easiest option if you are not using a 3rd party scheduling tool, is to create a Dropbox folder, which you can access from your phone or desktop. Simply drag images to your Dropbox folder on your desktop computer, find them on your phone and then save them to your camera roll.

In terms of frequency, I would advise you to aim for one post per day if you can manage it. If you also want to post an Instagram post directly on your Facebook page newsfeed, HERE’S how to do it.

‘How to Sell on Instagram’ – Click HERE to listen to Social Media Examiner’s podcast interview with Jasmine Star.

Ninja Tip!!

Rather than stuffing a gazillion hashtags into your status updates, you can use a smaller number in your posts, but then comment on your own post, and use more hashtags in your comment. It’s a way to get maximum visibility without annoying people. 


Like any social media platform, engagement is crucial on Instagram. Luckily, it is easier to get engagement on Instagram than on Facebook, because as I mentioned above, a lot more of your followers will see your posts. It is therefor important to take time to answer comments. Don’t just post and run!

There is something very personal about receiving an answer to your comment on Instagram because it all happens on your phone; it’s a bit like getting a text message, so people will appreciate your efforts when you respond to them.

As part of your outreach strategy you should follow influencers in your field, comment on their posts and favourite (heart symbol) often! It is also worth spending time searching in the ‘Tags’ section for content ideas and to find people that you would like to follow.

Building Followers

Again, like any other social media platform, you need to be constantly building your fan base on Instagram. If you have a presence on any other social media network or you have an email list, you should be using these media assets to spread the word about your Instagram account. Encourage fans, followers, subscribers etc. to check you out on the platform.

Creating quality content helps when you are trying to build your followers on any social network, so you need to commit to creating great content consistently. Another tactic you can try is to encourage your own followers to tag you in their posts, which will give you additional visibility.

Some users will be open to giving you a shout-out in exchange for a shout-out from you. This usually happens when both parties have similar sizes of audience. Although this can work well, you need to be wary of the quality of followers you may be attracting as a result. This was one of the reasons I stopped doing ‘Fanpage Friday’ events on my Facebook Page. Yes, it brought in ‘likes’ but these people who liked our page, were not likely to be our target audience, so would be unlikely to engage with us later.

For the above technique to work well, you need to find a partner that serves your target audience but is not a competitor.

Some power-users with a large audience even charge for giving you a shout-out. This seems to be an accepted practice on Instagram, but I think it is a bit like paying for ‘Likes’ on Facebook, so I am not keen on this idea.

Lastly, Instagram advertising can be used to introduce new audiences to your content, hopefully leading to new followers. Advertising on Instagram works the same way as advertising on Facebook, in fact you need to access Facebook’s ads manager in order to create ads on Instagram.

For more advice on growing your Instagram following, you should check out ‘How To Get More Instagram Followers: The Ultimate Guide‘ from the guys over at HootSuite.


Like any other piece of marketing, you need to measure what you are doing on Instagram in order to see what’s working for you. The most widely used tool for analytics is called Iconosquare.

Another analytics tool worth checking out is called Onlypult. As well as allowing you to schedule posts to Instagram from your desktop, Onlypult’s analytics gives you information about your audience, engagement and optimisation (best times to post, frequency etc.).


Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the importance of building your audience on Instagram now, before the newsfeed reach monster starts to clamp down on the visibility of your posts. For more information about how Instagram can benefit your business, I’d highly recommend checking out the Nathan Chan (of Foundr Magazine) episode of the Solopreneur Hour podcast. The show is about an hour and a half long but don’t panic, you can fast forward to the 50 minute mark to where they start talking about Instagram marketing.

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