Best Practices for Instagram Marketing

Instagram is a social media channel worth considering for your marketing. The latest data from Pew finds that 40% of adults use Instagram. Use is highest among people in their 20s and 30s. Here are best practices to make your marketing effective on the platform.

Start by creating an Instagram business account. A business account gives you access to features you can’t use with a personal account.

Define Your Target

You can’t use Instagram (or any marketing tool) effectively unless you know what it is you’re trying to accomplish and who you need to reach.

In terms of audience, keep in mind:

  • The most active Instagrammers are between 18 and 29.
  • The United States is the largest Instagram market.
  • More urban residents use Instagram than their suburban peers.

Complete Your Instagram Profile

Your Instagram bio needs to make a great first impression, convey your brand personality, and tell people why they should bother following your Instagram account. All that in 150 characters, so you need to be strategic and make every character count!

Complete all the fields on your Instagram profile to showcase your brand.

  • Your name: 30 characters, included in search.
  • Your username: AKA your handle. Up to 30 characters, included in search.
  • Your website: A clickable URL.
  • Category
  • Contact info
  • Call-to-action buttons

Use the Right Profile Photo

For most brands, your Instagram profile photo should be your logo. This helps provide credibility and allows visitors to identify at a glance who you are.

The Instagram profile photo displays at 110 by 110 pixels, cropped to a circle with a 110 pixel diameter. However, it’s stored at 320 by 320 pixels, so you should upload a file that large to make sure it still looks good if Instagram changes how profile pics are displayed.

Create Visual Posts

Instagram is a visual platform, so your posts have simply got to look great. Photos and videos need to be interesting and good quality – be sharp, well-lit, well-composed, and in focus. Posts need to tell a story and get followers attention.

When users visit your profile they will see tiles of your latest posts. The most effective brands have a consistent look for their visuals, making the tiles alone a component of brand impact in Instagram.

Your Instagram look should be consistent across your posts, helping followers easily recognize your content in their feeds.

Write for Instagram

Your post text, called captions, should consistently present your brand. The best captions are relevant, informative, compelling, and on-brand.

Captions can be up to 2,200 characters. However, only the first two lines of text appear in news feed. You want to get all the important information into those first two lines. (130-150 characters)

Consider Stories and Reels

Instagram Stories disappear after just 24 hours. However, you can create highlight albums to preserve your top Stories content so it doesn’t disappear after 24 hours. Highlight albums appear right under your bio, and you can create custom covers for each.

Reels are multi-cut videos that are the newest content feature added to the platform.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a key way to increase your visibility and discoverability on Instagram. You can use up to 30 hashtags in an Instagram post, but using 5-9 per post is generally most effective. To get the most benefit, choose hashtags that are relevant to your content.

Post at the right times

The best time to post on Instagram can vary based on your subject area. Hootsuite analyzed 258,956 posts from 11 different industries and found these best times to post based on industry:

  • Travel and tourism: Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Media and entertainment: Tuesday and Thursday, 12 to 3 p.m.
  • Food and beverage: Friday, 12 p.m.
  • Retail: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 12 p.m.
  • Professional services: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9 or 10 a.m.
  • Non-profit: Tuesday, 10 a.m. or 4 p.m.
  • Non-retail e-commerce: Thursday, 4 or 9 p.m.
  • Pharma and healthcare: Wednesday and Sunday, 9 a.m.
  • Personal care: Thursday and Friday, 1, 2, or 3 p.m.
  • Technology: Monday and Tuesday, 2 p.m.
  • Education: Thursday, 4 or 5 p.m.


In addition to posting, you need to engage. Respond to comments. Follow others and like and comment on their posts. Make yourself visible in a non-promotional way.

Try Ads

I’m a fan of leveraging social media for organic or free marketing, but ads can expand your impact for a small investment. You can target ads based on:

  • Location: State, province, city, country, and so on
  • Demographics: Like age, gender, and language
  • Interests: Such as other accounts people follow, apps they use, and ads they click
  • Behaviors: Both on and off Instagram

You can advertise in the Instagram feed, Stories, or Explore.

Pay Attention to Results

Monitor Instagram Insights to determine the impact of your efforts on the platform. Look for insight into what helps you connect with the right audience and what helps you move toward your goal. Adjust your marketing effort as needed!

Want More?

I just ran across this article with 5 trends in 2022 in Instagram Marketing and how you can use them to grow your small business online.

What Action Can You Expect from Online Engagement?

Your company is likely on social media to connect with your audience and to get them to take beneficial action. But what is realistic to expect? Nielsen Norman Group has identified 6 types of interactions that users have with companies on social media.

They identified the following core interactions, illustrated in this image in order of frequency.

User interactions with businesses on social media

Make Your Social Content Meet These Needs

Discover: Can I find something interesting?

Brands that help people to connect with interesting information tap into the interest in discovery.

Research: What is this? How does it work for me? How could I use it?

People look for content that helps them understand the people, products and services they encounter. Information that goes beyond pitches and sales language to help with understanding is the most valued.

Engage: Am I interested in the content the company posts on social media?

When someone gets excited about a brand, they want a way to feel connected. Social content helps them to feel connected in an ongoing way. This content nurtures a sense of ongoing relationship and makes it easy to share with others.

Purchase: How can I buy it?

Every brand loves when people come to buy. Businesses benefit when they make the process clear and easy. This is probably the most desired action. Not that it is not the top motivation for users.

Support: Can you help me solve a problem?

Problems have a way of cropping up outside of business hours. Brands that have an effective online presence help users get answers 24/7. Online content should help solve common user problems.

Promote: How can I share my experience with others?

Sometimes users want to create their own content related to brands. An online presence on the platform they are using lets them connect with the brand more meaningfully than a text mention.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags make or break your Instagram campaign. Without them, your audience will not see your posts. The right tags also help shape your brand image on the platform.

The Power of the Instagram Hashtag

Hashtags are a crucial component of Instagram’s categorization system. They create the content streams that people use to find content.

Instagram hashtags are clickable, so people can see them on another person’s post, and click a tag to find your content elsewhere. Plus, users can choose to follow hashtags, giving you yet another method of discovery.

Types of Instagram Hashtags

The best Instagram posts usually contain about 11 tags that are one or more of the following types:

  • Basic words that describe the service or product
  • Specialty area or industry
  • Event tags
  • Location tags
  • Day of the week themes like #MotivationMonday
  • Branded hashtags specifically designed for the business

Use Hashtags Wisely

Develop a list of the hashtags that are best to use with your content. Don’t just make them up – research what is in use and double check the meaning of any hashtag before you use it.

Find tags by looking at related content and what’s trending on the platform. You can also use a hashtag generator to suggest hashtags based on the words and phrases already associated with your business.

Where to Use Hashtags

Hashtags should be used everywhere on Instagram: stories, videos, reels, captions and your bio.

Assess Hashtag Performance

The easiest way to discover which tags are working best for you is to use the Instagram Insights feature in your Business profile. The data will show you impressions and engagement.

Under the Discovery section, Instagram will tell you how many of your impressions came from hashtags, compared to the number coming from your profile or the Instagram home page.