Isn’t it about time you upgraded your Instagram marketing strategy?

It’s been 9 whole years since Instagram first arrived on the social media scene.

I know – it’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

Back in 2010, Instagram wasn’t all that different from the other social channels we already knew and loved. It was packed full of people sharing selfies, connecting with friends, and of course, posting pictures of their pets.

Now we’re in 2019, and Instagram is bigger and better than ever. There are actually 1 billion monthly active users swarming onto the channel each month.

On top of that, the Instagram team seems to continually release new features and functionality to ensure that its users can get the most out of their accounts.

The question is, as a business looking to thrive on Instagram – how do you get ahead of the curve?

Instagram advertising isn’t as simple as signing up with Facebook ads and paying for promotions. If you want to make an impact on Instagram, you need to know how to navigate the channel.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. 

Why is Instagram Advertising Essential?

First, let’s look at why Instagram marketing is such a big deal. 

We’ve already mentioned that there are 1 billion potential customers on Instagram. But did you know that over 50% of those follow at least one brand?

On top of that, Instagram happens to be one of the most engaging channels online today. The engagement rate is 10 times higher than anything you’d find on Facebook and 54 times higher than Pinterest.

Instagram advertising is significant because the people you’ll connect with on Instagram are ready and willing to communicate with your brand. Users “like” around 4.2 billion posts each day, and the stats suggest that 60% of users actively seek out new products on Instagram.

With the right Instagram marketing campaign, you can build a valuable relationship with customers that are ready to invest in you and your brand. What’s more, you have the opportunity to develop a memorable identity for your company through inspirational content such as Instagram Stories, IGTV clips, photographs, and more.

So, where do you get started with Instagram marketing?

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy.

However, the following tips will get you started on the right track for 2019.

Step 1: Create the Ultimate Instagram Profile

Before you can begin to invest in things like Instagram advertising and promoted Stories, you need a central hub for your advertising efforts. In other words, you need a profile.

First, you need your Instagram marketing profile to be a “Business” account. That’s the only way that you’ll have access to things like paid advertising and Instagram Insights. You can also put extra details on your Instagram business bio to improve your chances of success, like contact numbers.

Set yourself up for success by:

  • Making sure your profile is complete: Fill out all of the appropriate details, including information about your business and brand.
  • Choosing a compelling profile picture and username: Make sure that your branding essentials on Instagram match your identity elsewhere.
  • Selecting a specific Instagram aesthetic: Give your grid a touch of something special with a consistent color scheme or filter choice. For instance, check out the grid on @KKWBeauty:
KKW grid - Boost your Instagram marketing with strong aesthetic choices

Step 2: Learn how to Use Paid Instagram Advertising

There are two kinds of marketing that any business can do on Instagram.

The first option is organic marketing. This means that you post valuable content in the hope that your audience will see it, build relationships with your brand, and grow your bottom line as a result. We’ll come back to this option in a minute.

The other choice is paid Instagram advertising, which is available through Facebook (Instagram’s parent company). 73% of users interact positively with Instagram ads, using them to visit websites or purchase a product. With that in mind, it’s worth considering a paid campaign alongside your organic strategy.

While you shouldn’t necessarily pay for Instagram to promote all of your posts, a paid strategy could deliver better results for things like:

  • New product launches
  • Upcoming sales or events
  • Significant brand announcements

Keep in mind that paid Instagram ads come in many different styles, including videos, promoted stories, and carousel posts. The right choice for your campaign will depend on what you’re marketing, and what your audience prefers.

Step 3: Make Lasting Connections with Instagram Stories

Paid Instagram advertising will help to place your content in front of more potential customers.

However, it’s not going to deliver any long-lasting relationships with your target market. To do that, you’ll need to approach your customers on their level, through raw and authentic Stories.

Instagram is packed full of mediocre brand messaging these days. However, it’s the content that inspires and engages users that gets the best results. Instagram Stories is one of the best places you can go to give life to your Instagram marketing campaign.

Just check out some of the amazing content you’ll find on Nike’s Instagram page, for instance.

With 400 million people watching Instagram Stories every day, it’s fair to say that your audience loves a good narrative. Rather than relying on paid ads to do all of your work, consider using Stories as a critical part of your promotional campaign.

You can improve your chances of success with Instagram Stories by:

  • Encouraging engagement through Stickers: Countdown and poll stickers generate excitement among your target audience and improve your chances of meaningful interactions.
  • Placing ads into stories: Combine the power of paid Instagram advertising with Stories by promoting your Story content.
  • Implementing video and Gifs into your material: Give your followers an exciting and dynamic experience by providing them with different kinds of content in your Stories.

Step 4: Understand how to Hack your Instagram Hashtags

Whether you’re using paid Instagram advertising, or you’re experimenting with organic growth, there’s one thing you absolutely can’t do without Hashtags.

Choosing the right hashtags for your Instagram content can be the difference between appearing at the top of the Explore page, and languishing in the unseen areas of Instagram for all of time.

The good news? There are plenty of tools to help you choose the right tags for your Instagram marketing, including Hashtagify or even Kenji.AI.

Whenever you’re selecting hashtags for your campaigns, keep the following golden rules in mind:

  • Never go too generic with your hashtags: #Fashion or #Travel will give you too much competition to fight against. Instead, use a mixture of industry-specific and trending tags to give your posts an edge.
  • Use location tags: Geo tags in your Instagram posts give you access to a specific community of followers. Location tags also mean that you’re likely to show up in specific searches when people are browsing through the Explore page.
  • Use the right number of hashtags: While you can use up to 30 tags on Instagram, that doesn’t mean you should. 91% of the posts by top brands on Instagram today have 7 tags or fewer. Keep an eye on your analytics to find out how many hashtags you need to add to each post.

Step 5: Build Relationships with Authentic Influencers

Another great way to give your Instagram advertising a boost is to get involved with influencers.

Instagram influencer marketing is one of the best ways to gain attention online today. However, not just any influencer will do. You can expect “authenticity” to be one of the biggest trends of the era both this year and in the years to come.

Now that people are sick and tired of overly-edited photos, posed Instagram posts and bots on their newsfeed, genuine connections are critical. That’s why Instagram influencers like Jenna Kutcher, with her authentic approach to body image acceptance, are so popular right now.

If you plan on using Instagram influencer marketing in 2019, make sure that you lean into genuine people who can make your business shine.

Pampers Pure is an excellent example of a company investing in great influencer marketing. They use real “mommy influencers” to build connections with their target audience. Pampers also shows us that companies don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on influence. Micro-influencers can be just as effective – if not more compelling – than big-name celebrities.

Step 6: Work Video into your Instagram Advertising

So far, we’ve looked at almost every kind of Instagram marketing.

You’ve seen what you can do with paid ads, promoted Stories, organic campaigns, and even Instagram influencer marketing. There’s one other area that we need to cover too – video marketing.

A video is worth 1.8 million words according to studies. That means that it’s one of the easiest ways to provide your customers with valuable information about your brand – and fast. Instagram Stories allows you to mash your videos up into stills and clips. Or you can use Instagram Live video to host Q&A sessions with your audience and strengthen brand relationships.

There’s even the option to take your video campaign a step further and explore things like IGTV.

Whatever you do, remember that Instagram advertising through video requires careful planning. You’ll need to find the format that appeals best to your target audience and think about captioning your content too. Captioning videos increase their view times by about 12%. 

Types of videos you might try include:

  • How-to content
  • Q&As and interviews
  • User-generated content (reviews and video testimonials)
  • Behind-the-scenes sneak peaks
  • Introductions to new products

Step 7: Create a Regular Posting Plan

Often, a big part of your Instagram marketing plan will be simply knowing when to post to get the attention of your target audience. If you’re thinking of advertising a new product on Instagram, you’ll need to make sure that your ad airs at a time when your customers will see it.

To begin with, you can use the posting suggestions provided by research into your industry. For instance, some studies suggest that the best time to post on Instagram is between 8 am and 9 am, or 2 pm or 5 pm.

Using that as a jumping point, you can A/B test different posting times, and check your Instagram Insights to see when you get the best results from your campaigns. There are also plenty of other tools that can give you a behind-the-scenes look into your Instagram data.

Remember, paying attention to your analytics can also help you figure out:

  • What kind of audience you need to appeal to
  • Which types of content drive the best results
  • Which hashtags and geotags to use

Once you know when your followers are active online, it’s even possible to use tools like Later to schedule your posts to publish automatically.

Step 8: Invest in Third-Party Help

Finally, Instagram is an amazing social media channel – but it wasn’t designed to be a marketing tool.

Ultimately, if you want to get the most out of your advertising strategy, you might need to seek out some extra help. That means investing in apps, tools, and even services that can make your promotional campaigns more appealing.

There are services like Kenji.AI that can give you an insight into the hashtags you need to use on your posts if you want to attract the biggest audience. Later ensures that you can schedule your posts and promote them at the right times to drive the proper engagement. You might even use a tool like Canva or VSCO to improve the impact of your photos with some basic editing and templates.

In 2019, the simplicity of Instagram is gradually fading away as marketing managers continue to implement tools and functionality from Facebook. That means that it’s going to be increasingly challenging to manage Instagram advertising on your own.

The more complicated your campaigns become, the more you’re going to need help. Some companies are even turning to full marketing manager services like Upleap, to have someone handle their Instagram campaigns for them. 

Don’t be afraid to take the same approach.

Investing in Instagram Marketing

Instagram has proven itself as a state-of-the-art tool for online advertising.

However, just like any other resource in your promotional campaign, you’re going to need a strategy to use Instagram marketing effectively.

Signing up for Instagram and posting whatever you want, whenever you won’t deliver the kind of results you’re looking for. However, if you use the tips above to build your profile, invest in the right campaigns, and strengthen your Instagram relationships, the results could be phenomenal.

Are you ready to take your Instagram advertising to the next level this year?