With more than 2 billion active users worldwide, Instagram is known as the app for photography. Daily users spend almost 30 minutes on the app, and 500 million people use Stories daily.

The platform is most attractive to influencers who post images of themselves using products, getting them notoriety and endorsements that they leverage to their advantage as a ‘known’ figure. The platform is a digital marketing gold mine for the right type of business. Obviously, retailers selling tangible products benefit from the many images posted of their brand in action. The platform has taken luxury items from the top shelf and placed them into the hands of people who would not usually be the target market for such products. This fact itself proves the power of the app as a marketing platform.

How to Use Instagram for Digital Marketing

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram is still one of the most downloaded apps. The app does not rely on written content. Instead, its powerful images connect people all over the world. The platform has even given rise to new forms of mass entertainment and engagement, such as taking decore porn from magazines to the mainstream.

The platform is easy to use. It has an infinite scroll option but also tells you when ‘you’re all caught up’ as you scroll. While Pinterest, Tik Toc and Twitter, YouTube and other P2P platforms all have similar features, Instagram has a level of aesthetic beauty that keeps users engaged. Digital marketing campaigns should capitalize on that popularity with scroll-stopping images and clever redirects to your website or landing page.

So how do you start using Instagram as a business?

Create a Business Profile

To market your business on Instagram, you need a business account. This type of profile ensures that your business is elevated and broadcast to the right audience, followers can easily get in touch using a CTA on your profile, and your brand will be better displayed online.

A business profile allows you to create and publish Instagram ads without Meta advertising tools. You will also have access to Insights, Instagram’s analytics tools. These stats show your reach and audience interactions. This comes as a standard with your business profile.

Use Free Instagram Marketing Tools

Business profiles on Instagram aren’t all that different from Meta business profiles.

Through Insights, you can view statistics like impressions, engagement data, and a breakdown of the demographics of your followers, which includes information on their age, gender, location, and most active hours on their platform.

Insights can get specific. You can see data on posts for the week that show you how many impressions you earned for that time period and what your top posts were.

These tools help you understand how your content is performing. These valuable insights help you provide content that boosts engagement and drives traffic, as intended.

Product Teasers Encourage Sales

Product teasers are a great way to sell without selling. Because Instagram is a social media platform, users do not want to be bombarded with advertising. By showcasing products in a subtle way, you can sell without advertising a product in an overt way.

Bark Box is a monthly subscription service for dog owners to have toys sent directly to their door. Rather than advertising their products, they show happy customers each month playing with their toys, as submitted by dog owners. The images are fun and engaging for dog owners who never tire of seeing a happy puppy doing something cute or silly.

This type of teasing encourages people to like and share images. It engages audiences to follow a brand and make recommendations to others. A captive audience of online users who like and share your posts is a subtle way of selling and engaging leads. Most people are used to Instagram ads now and often scroll through without stopping. Teasers are a better way of connecting.

Create Sponsored Ads

Instagram ads have become more common in the past few years. While many users scroll through ads, they do still have benefits, and the right campaign will connect with your target audience. Setting an ad budget is easy and managing your account is simple too.

You can showcase just one sponsored ad or multiple ads with the carousel feature. Your ad is displayed to users who meet your demographic targets. You can promote your brand to anyone who meets your selected criteria using paid ads.

Sponsored ads are formatted with CTAs, so directing traffic to action a purchase or visit your website or landing page is easy.

You can also turn existing posts into sponsored ads. By adapting your most popular posts to ads, you can help secure engagement. You can also run multiple posts to different audiences simultaneously for broader engagement. There are many different forms of sponsored ads, such as:

  • Reels
  • Photo
  • Video
  • Stories
  • Carousel/Dynamic Ads
  • Stories Canvas

Instagram Reels and Stories Get Attention

If you want to generate leads, Instagram Stories and Reels are great ways to engage audiences. Instagram Stories scroll in a “slideshow” format, allowing you to showcase more images in a single post. They’re only live for 24 hours, making the content more exciting. You can save your content and report it at another time.

Rather than appearing in the news feed, Instagram Stories appear in the window above the main content. When a user clicks on the story at the top, a pop-up window appears, enlarging the content and allowing the user to react with emojis and even DM comments.

The placement of Stories at the top of the screen means that people see Stories as soon as they open the app, and if the user is looking for something new, they are motivated to click on your Story.

One of the benefits of Stories is their temporary nature. You do need to produce high-quality images that you would reconfigure to be used in many formats, so the images can be simple clips or photos taken on a phone.

Instagram Stories feature tools like photos, short videos, rewind videos, live videos, Reels, or Boomerangs that can be used to heighten the quality of any images. You can also use tools like Canva and InVideo to create amazing images and videos for your stories that include graphics, backgrounds and music.

Instagram Reels are brief videos that are up to 60 seconds. Reels do not disappear after 24 hours, and they can be edited using Instagram tools. These videos play on a Boomerang, and with clever editing, they can be engaging for far longer than the 60-second loop. Face filters, text, or stickers make it easy to edit images or create fun, eye-catching visuals.

You can also tag other accounts in Stories, so influencer connections or brand collaborations are made far easier to manage. There are no limits on time or the number of reels created and displayed on your profile which can be viewed on the mobile or another device, while Stories are only available on the mobile Instagram app and can be shared as direct messages depending on the page’s privacy settings.

Reach a Broad Audience with Partner Influencers

Influencers are a great way to reach your target audience fast. Those with a large following and who then support your brand can rapidly broaden your reach and even give you access to a new demographic for your brand.

Influencers are a great way to sell. There are many studies that show consumers see influencers as trusted friends who are not selling a product but giving an honest opinion about a product. This is obviously not true, but because of the effect of social media, users feel connected with people online. They feel they belong to the same community. Other people will buy a brand just to feel closer to a celebrity, and influencers online work exactly the same way but cost far less.

Instagram is the most popular channel for influencer campaigns. To find the right influencers, you must first identify a few influencers that have an audience that is relevant to your product or service.

Select an influencer that has a strong following and more than 100,000k followers. This will ensure your product is exposed to a large audience.

If you develop a good relationship with your influencer of choice, you can establish a close identity link with them and your brand, making it very beneficial to your image. If you start small and develop a good reputation as a brand and ethical influencer partner, you can later move on to partnerships with bigger influencers who are always thirsty to stay ahead.

Collect User-Generated Content

User-generated content is not only a great cost and time saver, it truly connects your audience with your brand. You can encourage your already engaged audience to contribute to the promotion of your brand by simply offering them the chance to feature on your Instagram wearing your T-shirt, carrying your luggage or using your sports equipment.

Your followers generally also enjoy user-generated content because it’s authentic and unpredictable.

Cosmetics brand MAC takes advantage of user-generated content to promote its products online. They suggest the hashtags and even tempt followers with the chance to win discounts by posting using specific hashtags.

Other users will be attracted by the chance to increase their following online. When a big brand like GoPro selects a #FeaturedPhotographer of the week, followers are engaged, and people can grow their own following through the prestige of securing such a prestigious title.

It is important to choose the photos you want to post based on specific criteria:

  • Does the photo fit with your brand image?
  • What size following does the person whose photo you want to share have?
  • Is the photo appropriate for your audience and following?

You need to be sure that the user-generate content you select is appropriate to your brand voice. For example, if you are selling hats and your aesthetic is edgy, and the image you select does not showcase one of your hats in a fun and creative way, does this capture your brand voice?

Come Up With an Interactive Branded Hashtag

Also, remember to give your followers a hashtag to add to posts, so they connect with your audience. You want the reach to benefit your brand as well as your users.

Interactive hashtags are a great way to get people engaged. The Red Bull tag #givesyouwings has a reach of more than 5 million. Their customers use this tag on their posts and allow users to search through all posts relating to the brand. It also lets you search through user images that you might want to repost.

Creating a hashtag that makes searching for your brand easy is essentially free advertising. Creating a catchy hashtag for your brand is a challenge and needs to be carefully workshopped. Consider that some words, when written as a hashtag, might not read the way you would expect, such as:

#susanalbumparty – intended to be #SusanAlbumParty

#RIMjobs – the company Research in Motion was hiring

#CLitFest – for the Chester literature festival

As you can see, it is important to consider how a hashtag will read and what effect it will have on attracting your audience. A funny hashtag might be a good way to draw attention to your brand, but be sure it’s the right kind of attention.

Post at the Right Time

Timing and over-posting on Instagram are important to your audience. If you over-post, users will unfollow your brand or block you on their newsfeed. You do want to maintain a consistent presence, but not an overwhelming one.

Selecting the right timing for your brand will depend on your goals. B2Cs will post differently from B2B. One of the best times for all business types is to only post during peak days and hours when your followers are online.

According to research, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesday afternoons and Thursday evenings, while Saturdays and Sundays are the best days to post. The best times of day to post are between 5am, and 6am in your time zone.

  • North America West Coast – 12am – 6am
  • North America Central – 6am – 8am
  • North America East Coast – 4am – 9am
  • South America – 4am
  • Ireland and the UK – 4am – 6am
  • Western Europe – 6am – 8am
  • Africa – 6am
  • Eastern Europe – 5am – 7am
  • Middle East – 3am
  • Asia – 11pm – 4am
  • Australasia – 11pm – 2am

Research shows that you should post only 1-2 times each day and at times that are relevant to your audience. These hours correlate with the times people are commuting to or from work when people want a quick scroll to entertain them but not distract them from their journey.

One of the other most popular times to post is about 12am when people are generally sleeping. Many insomniacs will turn to their phone when they can’t sleep.

By examining your Instagram Insights, you can determine the best days and times to post according to your specific audience.

You can schedule your posts to go live at the times that fit with your analysis using a publishing program that takes care of posting for you. If you really want to post more in one day, consider using Stories or Reels to create a carousel to showcase the post.

Track the Right Instagram Metrics

To optimize your Instagram advertising, you need to understand your analytics and how they benefit your business. Tracking your follower growth rate is a good way to determine if you are attracting more people to your brand. The number of followers you have is less important than your actual growth rate. Knowing your growth rate also indicates the type of content that is working well for your brand.

The measure of your engagement rates, including likes and comments, is also important. The average engagement percentage of your total followers as well as the average engagement rate of each post gives a clearer picture of how your page is performing. If you’ve got a smaller following, your engagement rate should be higher. This is how it is calculated:

  • Engagement Rate = (Likes + Comments) / Total Number of Followers

You also need to track your URL click-through rate. Traffic should be linking to your website through your Instagram bio. If they aren’t, your account is not really performing well.

Measure how many people are clicking through to your URL. The average CTR on Instagram is 0.94%. The more effective your marketing is, the higher your CTR will be. You can access tools like Sprout Social to measure how many clicks your link is getting in comparison to impressions and engagements.


Instagram is still the go-to place for image sharing, with over 2 billion monthly users. It is a rich source of customer engagement and should be used to funnel customers through the sales process. It is easy and can be a fun way to share your brand, develop a true following and leverage your identity in digital marketing.