Instagram Marketing: Cracking the Code

Instagram Marketing: Cracking the Code

By now, everyone knows just how important Instagram marketing is to business success. Unfortunately, the explosion of its popularity and resulting market saturation has made it increasingly difficult to break through and make your presence known.

So what do the best Instagram marketers know that you don’t? Read on to find out:

Yes, Your Pictures Are Important

All too often, businesses somehow forget that Instagram is based on visuals, and halfheartedly post low-quality, boring images. Then they’re surprised when their engagement is abhorrent!

Posting high-quality, engaging images both reinforces your brand quality and drives potential interaction with your target market. Here’s some tips on choosing and posting photos:

Edit Them (no affiliation) is a free online photo editor that’s perfect for creating your Instagram content. You can select from their many free templates, or start from scratch. You can import your own images, or pay a small fee to use their extensive stock photography collection. Spend some time playing around with the tool and you’ll be creating professional-grade posts in no time!

Expand Your Horizons

Say you’re a canvas manufacturing company. Are you only allowed to post pictures of paper? Absolutely not! Define your target market, and come up with a list of subjects they care about. If you focus on selling to the amateur artist community, for example, post quotes directed at artists (#relatable), customer photos of your canvases in use, wacky modern art (with permission), links to resources for your customers…the list goes on! Don’t be afraid to post about things that might not directly relate to your product; your goal is to provide value to your target customer, whoever they are.

Don’t Be Greedy

If every single one of your posts is a request to visit your site or purchase a product, do you think you’ll keep your audience engaged? Of course not, no one likes being sold to 24/7. Instead, provide them with fun, valuable content, and sprinkle in a few special offers. Recommendations vary amongst professionals, but aim for 1 promotional for every 5-8 sales-free posts.

Captions and Hashtags: Don’t Waste the Opportunity

But wait, you might be saying, isn’t Instagram a visual platform? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore these two growth tools:


Captions are the perfect way to drive organic growth of your following. Notice how the biggest pages often tell their followers to “tag your mate that always does this” or “tag who you’d love to do this with?” By directly inviting your audience to interact with the content, you’re increasing the chances that they actually will! Ask for their thoughts on a discussion topic (“where do you get your inspiration from?” for the canvas company example), call them to tag a friend that could relate to a quote, or tell them to double-tap if they agree with a statement.


Everyone knows what they are, and almost no one understands them. Hashtags are identifiers as to the type of content contained in your post, and a powerful discovery tool. Identify the most relevant 10-15 hashtags to your brand (for the canvas company, things like #artsy and #creative, for example) and stick to them. But don’t add them to your caption! It clutters the image and looks spammy. Instead, post the caption alone, then add a comment with your hashtag list. After a day or so, delete the comment. You’ll still make an appearance whenever someone searches for your tags, but can clean up your profile when it gets pushed too far down the results.

Get Creative!

instagram app photo

This is perhaps the most important item on our list. Don’t be limited by what others are doing! Try new things for engagement, record the results, and adjust as necessary. For example, our hypothetical canvas company could run a promotion that everyone who tags a friend on a certain post gets one entry into a sweepstakes for free canvases for a year. You can cap entries per person, or let them run wild and bring as many friends into the fold as possible. There really is not limit to what you can try, so let your creativity run wild and watch your following skyrocket.

By now, you should have an understanding of Instagram strategy that’s better than 90% of your competitors. Focus on providing real value to your audience, and they’ll respond with higher levels of engagement and conversions. Good luck!