Last Updated on July 30, 2022 by James Castro
In this blog, we’ll discuss the specifics of Instagram marketing. We’ll give details on strategies that we have tested to grow Instagram accounts and boost engagement. We’ll take a look at the best content types to post, captions, how to use hashtags properly, and other things that can really help you grow your IG account.
Let’s get started.
Instagram Marketing: Why Use IG?
If you haven’t noticed, lots of people and businesses are using Instagram these days to connect with like-minded people and to market and sell their products.
Over one billion people use Instagram every single month and the social app is the second most downloaded free app in the entire Apple store.
On Instagram, businesses can promote their brand, generate sales, and regular people can build a significant platform that they can then monetize.
However, growing an Instagram account isn’t magic. To successfully grow on Instagram, people need to work on a proven strategy consistently over time.
Posting on Instagram: What You Should Know
This is a huge part of what growing your Instagram account hinges on, posting. However, what you post and the types of posts you make can determine if your account grows or is overlooked.
The following things can significantly impact if you get noticed on Instagram or not
- The types of pics and videos you post
- The hashtags you use
- When you post
- How often you post
- How much you engage with other users
- Your bio
- The captions in your posts
Below, we will discuss more on the details of posting, connecting, and making people want to engage and follow you.
Types of Content to Post on Instagram
What types of content should you post on Instagram? Well, in a word, engaging content.
Most users on IG are conditioned to expect pictures and videos while scrolling through their feed. Although some infographics and other types of content can work sometimes, people tend to be more likely to respond to engaging pictures and video. I mean, nice pics and nice videos, or pics that evoke an emotional response.
Think about it, while scrolling, are you more likely to respond to the cute little puppy playing with another pup, or the infographic with 200 words at a font size of eight? Speaking of words, your captions or the text of your post also plays a role in getting you traction on IG – more on this below.
Pictures and Video for IG
As we mentioned, most IG users are more likely to respond to not only quality but engaging pictures and videos. This doesn’t mean you have to hire a professional photographer, but being mindful of the types of pics and videos you take is a good idea. Heck, smartphones these days can take some amazing videos and pics.
Also, here’s a little pro-tip. You may want to invest in a stand that will hold your phone. Also, for pics, consider recording a video with your smartphone, putting it in edit mode, and then slowly sliding to your favorite frame in the video and making a screenshot. This makes finding the perfect shot so much easier. It can be a bit frustrating taking pic after pic after pic trying to get that perfect one.
Instagram Captions for Your Post
Posting great pics and videos on Instagram is just a piece of the puzzle. People also like captions. You don’t have to be a celebrity to gain a substantial following on Instagram by posting engaging pictures and videos along with engaging captions (the accompanying text).
Many people follow people on IG to keep up with their stories. For example, some cancer patients can grow massive followings as people want to keep up with their stories and progress. People are moved to connect with people and brands on Instagram that are authentic. And, there’s no better way to show authenticity than with the stories told on an Instagram feed.
What Hashtags to Use in a Post
Hashtags can have a tremendous impact on your Instagram marketing plan. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. But, our testing has shown that using 15 to 20 content-relevant hashtags per post seems to work best. This does not mean that using 30 hashtags is wrong. It just means that for one of our accounts, 15 to 20 hashtags per post has worked best.
Now, selecting the right hashtags is key. Many Instagram accounts miss out on growth because of the hashtags they use in their posts. Below are a few tips for selecting the right hashtags.
Instagram Hashtag Tips
- Pick roughly a third of your hashtags in the 100K to 500K range
- Pick another third of your hashtags in the 25K to 99K range
- For the last third of your hashtags, target super-niche has tags around 5K to 10K
- Research your hashtags and make sure they resonate with the content of your post
- Don’t use arbitrary hashtags that nobody else uses unless you are building a hashtag based on your brand (for example, #neonpuppies or something)
- To find the right hashtags, search IG and look at hashtag post counts
- Always alternate your hashtags somewhat per post so your account doesn’t come across as a bot to IG
*Note, this hashtag strategy can vary greatly based on the size of an Instagram account and other factors. But, if your account is new and you are looking to grow, this is a good strategy.
When to Post on Instagram
There are so many different websites and IG gurus that will tell you so many different things about what time will work best for posting on Instagram. And, many of these sites and gurus make good cases for why the times they suggest will work well. However, it will always depend on the location of your audience and other variables.
We’ve found that posting on weekdays, between 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM work pretty well. Also in our testing, we’ve found that posting on Wednesdays and Fridays between 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM EST generates some great results. But, you will need to test different times and days and see what your audience responds to. We’ve also had some good results with posting on any weekday around 7:00 AM EST.
If you are posting on the weekends, late-night posts are something to experiment with and on Sunday, try posting between 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
As far as how often Instagrammers should post, well this can vary, too. Posting once a day can get you noticed and sometimes earn you some IG love. But ultimately, just posting regularly (three or four times a week) is a good practice. Note, don’t wear out your followers by posting endlessly throughout the day.
Getting Engagement on IG
Our tests have also found that chatting with users on the platform, browsing and responding to stories, and naturally scrolling through the IG feed can all help increase the visibility of your posts.
The magic of getting engagement on a new post depends on what you do immediately after posting and then for about the next 24 to 48 hours.
After you make a new Instagram post do the following to increase engagement:
- Add your new post to your story
- Like the comments in your previous post by tapping on the little heart next to each comment
- Like and comment on about 3 to 4 posts of your IG friends
- Engage with comments made on your new post
- Browse stories after posting and respond to select posts with the default emojis given or other comments
- If you have a few good IG friends, you can also send your post to them immediately after posting
PRO TIP: Use the platform naturally. Never use bots or third-party services. This can get your account limited. This is known as an “action block.” Action blocks can last for 24 hours or as long as two weeks or more. So be sure you don’t go on a liking and commenting rampage, ever.
Instagram Marketing: What Types of Posts Work Best on IG
Instagram allows you to post various types of content. You can post single pics or videos, carousels with multiple pics and videos, reels, and IGTV videos, which are videos longer than 30 seconds.
Our tests have shown that posting all of these various types of content have their place and can be beneficial. However, our tests have shown that certain types of content outperform other types of content by far.
Single pics are probably the most common type of posts people see on Instagram. You know, the classic selfie. Or some people like to post pics of dogs, landscapes, babies, fish, and of course their food.
Single pics can get lots of engagement depending on the subject matter. But also depending on the captions and hashtags used. These things can also drastically impact performance.
We say post single pics to your account, but always make sure that you are posting quality photos. We also suggest not making posts with pictures that contain lots of readable content. Although currently, posting screenshots of other social media posts is a trend. For example, lots of people on Instagram post screenshots of their Twitter posts.
This type of Instagram post is one of our favorites. Carousels have performed very well in our tests. If you aren’t familiar, carousels involve posting multiple pictures and videos that can be scrolled through in a carousel.
One cool thing about carousels is that Instagram will automatically alternate which of the pictures or videos display as the primary post picture in the feed of other Instagram users.
Also, since one of the goals of Instagram is to keep people on the platform longer, carousels can achieve this, and oftentimes people who post carousels are rewarded for it.
Okay, reels are the new thing. But, don’t take it from me, take it from Instagram where leadership recently stated that reels will continue to be a big part of Instagram into 2022 and these types of posts will be rewarded.
Reels can be up to one minute long. Although, our best performing reels have been around 18 to 23 seconds.
The coolest thing about reels is that you can add music, text, and “stickers” directly to them from the platform. And when people share reels to their stories, they play in the stories as opposed to other posts that have to be viewed on a user’s account or in the Instagram feed.
Reels are awesome! Reels have led to some of our IG accounts getting loads of users from a single post. The trick is to have captions and video content that specifically match the hashtags you use.
So here’s our take on IGTV videos. If you have a huge account, they can probably perform well. Or, they might perform well for you currently. But, in our tests, these didn’t perform well for us on accounts with thousands of followers. So we don’t do too many IGTV posts. But hey, if you find out the secret on IGTV, get in touch with us and let us know what you’re doing to make it work.
Getting Followers on Instagram
A lot of Instagram users want to grow their accounts. The problem is, a lot of these people are unknown, and building a substantial following can be a challenge. Just a quick note, don’t buy fake followers. This is a bad practice. Fake followers don’t engage and Instagram is cracking down on this type of thing in a big way. Also, never use other third-party services that automated follows, likes, or comments.
Now, the best way to grow an Instagram following is to follow other users in your niche. But, don’t just go to a similar account and start following their followers. Instead, find and make sure the account has a recent post. Then, follow a few of these accounts. Another important note, do not follow too many people a day or at once. This can get your account action blocked. Start following 20 people a day. The build-up to following more than 20 per day. Be sure not to follow more than 20 people every couple of hours to be on the safe side.
As you follow accounts, you can go back and unfollow the ones who don’t follow back by downloading a list of those you follow and who follow you. Simply go to the hamburger icon on your Instagram account and click on: Settings > Security > Download Data. Then use ListDiff.com to sort out those who follow you back and those who don’t.
Recap: Instagram Marketing for Growth
In this blog, we talked about the second most downloaded free app in the Apple Store, Instagram and how to go about Instagram marketing in a way that can get your engagement and growth.
Instagram can be used by both businesses and individuals to grow their brands. The trick is to pay attention to trends and to know what types of pictures, videos, captions, and hashtags work best in a post.
Also, knowing when to post and how frequently to post is important. In other words, if the majority of your audience lives on the East Coast, you probably don’t want to be making posts at 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning. And, you probably don’t want to ever post more than twice a day.
Remember, carrousels and reels can get you noticed. These posts are our favorites anyway. Also, posting quality and unique reels are especially good for getting followers and engagement.
Always remember not to use automated third-party services or to have behavior that might appear to be bot-like. In other words, don’t follow too many people at once and don’t go on spammy liking sprees liking 50 posts at a time.