Instagram Marketing For Business: A Complete Guide

If you’re not utilizing Instagram marketing for your business, you’re missing out. Instagram is a great way for individuals and businesses to express themselves.

Most businesses utilize Instagram as a platform where they can connect with existing or potential customers.

For example, they accomplish this by producing content as a means of storytelling.

An integral part of social media for businesses is that it helps to increase brand awareness, drive engagement and reach bigger audiences. This has a huge upside as it can convert to sales.

In this guide, we’ll dive into Instagram marketing strategies you can use to skyrocket your business.

Table of Contents:

  1. Logo, Bio, and Link
  2. Theme
  3. Caption
  4. Instagram Stories
  5. Constantly Engage
  6. Instagram Direct Messages
  7. Hashtags
  8. Post during peak hours (and don’t spam)
  9. Growing your followers
  10. Growing your engagement rates

Here’s an example of an effective profile from us, Followchain.

Clickable links are really important for conversions.

Unfortunately, Instagram only allows a single link on each profile. So you’ll have to constantly utilize stories and posts to prompt users to click and visit your website.

Use a logo for your profile photo. If you don’t have a logo, make sure to pick a photo that expresses your brand.

Additionally, story highlights reinforce your brand’s identity. Treat it like a board where you can showcase your brand’s goods, services, unforgettable moments or launch dates.

Here’s another example of an effective profile by YouTube:

YouTube has consistent story highlights, one with a prominent thumbnail challenge that keeps its audience engaged.

For bio-wise, short and simple ones are the best.

Like any one-liner pitch, you want people to understand your business the first time you say it.

Keep your bios in one sentence and write them in plain English. Don’t use any jargon.

If you haven’t already noticed, YouTube’s bio has only three words.

Here’s another example by Pinterest:

Did you notice anything distinctive about these profiles?

The link provided in their bio isn’t directly linked to their sites.

If your brand has lots of content published from various platforms, a single link wouldn’t be enough. This is why many other brands are utilizing tools like LinkTree or Linkin.bio to connect all their content in one link.

It’s a great idea to utilize these tools for your business if you have other content that you want to link your audience to.

2. Theme

You need a consistent, eye-catching theme if you want your brand to shine.

Stick to a theme that has similar or complementary colors to your logo.

We like to retain the same colors from our logo – white and blue.

Hence, our theme mostly comprises of graphics with these colors.

Here’s another example of a business that stuck to a consistent theme:

Starbucks nailed it using photos with objects that complement their logo.

Here’s another one:

Prada accomplished this in one of their campaigns, Prada Linea Rossa, which underscores its foundations and origins in the 1990s sportswear. It marks the precision of the lines and improvisation of aesthetics that defined the look of the era.

Lessons learned: Consistency is key. Make use of a consistent theme and stick with it.

3. Caption

Captions provide an opportunity for you to express your business. Everyone loves a good story, be it a pitch or a sale.

But here’s the debate – should you write longer or shorter captions?

Various sources recommend people to write longer captions because they are great for storytelling and driving engagement.

Here’s an example of a longer caption from Instagram:

However, other sources suggest that shorter captions are the way to go.

Here’s a shorter caption, from Apple:

Both of these photos are art forms can be used as an analogy. Art can speak a thousand words or a couple of words; depending on the person who views it. It’s extremely subjective.

Here’s what we believe:

Short and sweet captions are the most effective.

If your caption is too long, most people won’t even bother to read till the end so it’s redundant to write something more than 150 characters.

At the end of the day, captions don’t really matter. What’s more important is the amount of engagement you’re giving or reciprocating to others (extended on tip number 5).

However, that being said, there is still one tip that every business should utilize in their captions.

Include a call to action at the end of every caption

Example: ‘link in bio’.

This one simple tip can lead to a bigger amount of conversions (traffic to your website).

4. Instagram Stories

Instagram stories is a great way to keep your audience updated to the latest happenings of your business.

Moreover, it can drive a lot of one-on-one conversations, polls or feedback because it’s such a great ice-breaking tool.

Example: If you’re launching a product, you can utilize Instagram’s countdown feature in your stories to inform your audience about its launch date.

This feature allows your followers to be notified when the countdown hits 0 if they set a reminder.

So, this has the potential to drive a lot of sales, sign-ups and more.

You can also utilize Instagram Poll Stickers to gather user feedback.

Instagram Polls is an awesome way to prompt users to interact with your story.

You can use this if you want to gather your user’s thoughts on something. It could be a poll for a future update or an improvement to be made.

Another great use of the story feature is the ability to share your post on your story.

Example: If you were to post something, you can add it to your story as well to prompt your followers to engage in your post. This is incredibly useful because some people view stories more than posts.

A simple heart icon is enough to tell your followers to spread some love to your recent post.

Otherwise, add a text to drive users to engage in your post. For instance, “Just posted, show some love!”.

You’ll be surprised how effective yet simple this is.

Just be sure to add your post to your story immediately after you’ve posted it to maximize its potential.

5. Always Engage

You should make sure to like and reply to every comment on your posts and reply to every message.

Conversely, you need to try your best to like and comment on other’s posts as well.

This shows that you actually care about your followers, (or customers in this sense).

Example: Wendy’s does this extremely well. Not only on Instagram but also on their other socials.

Be like Wendy’s.

Example 2: TescoMobile responds to everyone in their comment section.

Unfortunately, many businesses and individuals are unable to accomplish this because they get it wrong.

You can’t create a business account for the sole intention of taking and not giving. Treat the account as an individual one and your followers as friends.

That being said, following others back is a must. Don’t bother building a good following/followers ratio. Instead, try to build rapport. It’s unforgivably cringeworthy seeing business accounts with an ‘exceptional’ following/followers ratio, but terrible engagement rates.

Especially if you’re a small business, not many people are aware of your brand.

If you want to have increased engagement, you’ll have to give engagement first. It doesn’t work the other way around.

6. Instagram Direct Messages

Instagram Direct Messages is an unconventional way to market your business, drive sales, or sign-ups. It’s also one of the best ways to get your message across to your customers (or potential customers) if done right.

This is because the open rate of direct messages is incredibly high, well above 70%.

However, mastering the art of direct messages takes multiple trials and errors.

For a start, you should never direct message users at random. Here’s why:

  1. You’re not providing any value.
  2. Nobody will be interested in your product/service.
  3. One does not simply break the ice by selling.

To be able to successfully send a direct-message that guarantees a reply, you’ll need to find and target a group of users that need your product/service right now.

This is incredibly challenging and you’ll have to do lots of research.

Having said that; if you manage to pull it off, the results will be outstanding.

Instagram Direct Messages can also be utilized as customer service.

If your business is small, Instagram Direct Messages is sufficient enough for customer service so you don’t have to pay for software.

It’s a quick and easy way for your customers to contact you for any questions or inquiries.

Moreover, 500 million people use Instagram daily. This makes it seamless for customers to contact you as most of them are on Instagram on a daily basis.

Instagram Direct Messages is a quick way to pitch your product/service.

Here’s a quick tip: Whenever someone follows you, you can send them a quick message thanking them for the follow, and then introducing your business or provide them with an offer/discount codes.

Example: “Hey, thanks for the follow! Just want to inform you that our entire store is 15% off currently. Just use code “x” at checkout.”

Here’s an additional tip if you have an Instagram Business Account:

You can utilize Instagram’s Quick Replies to respond instantly to the questions you receive most often.

Tutorial: Simply navigate to Menu > Settings > Business > Quick Replies > New Quick Reply.

This is super helpful if you receive the same questions multiple times and you want a quick way to respond to them.

However, this works the same as a keyboard shortcut, so it’s pretty redundant if your phone already has this feature.

7. Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to increase the reach of your posts.

However, finding the right hashtags is really difficult.

In my other article, 7 Effective Ways To Increase Your Instagram Engagement, I listed down a quick guide for you to find and use the best hashtags for maximum engagement.

There are millions of hashtags on Instagram, but only a few of them drive a large number of likes to your post.

Here’s a recap:

  1. Search for any relevant hashtag on Instagram.
  2. Navigate to most ‘recent’ posts.
  3. Tap on the first post of the list.
  4. Scroll down the list and find a post with the most amount of likes that has a small number of followers and has posted very recently.
  5. Copy all of their hashtags (either in the caption/comment section).
  6. Lastly, paste them in the caption/comment of your post.

The key to this strategy is to find the best combination of hashtags that gets the highest number of likes.

Then re-using it for your future posts.

Important note: Limit your hashtags to 30 or your account may be shadowbanned.

If you don’t know what a shadowban means, it’s basically the act of hiding your posts on your followers’ feed, the explore page and/or your username on the search results.

This will negatively affect the reach of your posts drastically.

8. Post during peak hours (and don’t spam)

According to ExpertVoice, the best time to post on Instagram (that has the best engagement rate at 4.9%) is Wednesday around 5:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m.

DayEngagement rate
Monday4.4
Tuesday4.73
Wednesday4.9
Thursday4.76
Friday4.72
Saturday4.66
Sunday4.62

That being said, it still depends on the country and demographics of your followers.

Your engagement rates might vary depending on the location and time-zone of your followers, so there isn’t a strict time to post on Instagram.

To find the best time to post, you should do a trial and error and post at different times to see when works best.

Please, don’t over-post.

This is an example of a frequently asked question: Why am I getting fewer likes for multiple posts on Instagram?

The answer is simple, your posts will be regarded as spam.

Nobody likes getting their feed flooded by the same person, it’s disruptive and prevents them from viewing other user’s posts.

It’ll be natural for someone to like one of your posts on their feed and ignore the rest because it’s ‘overkill’. Moreover, your posts are more likely to be muted if your photos appear way too many times on someone’s feed on a single day.

A better approach is to utilize Instagram’s multiple photo feature (if you’re looking to post consecutive photos).

Example: Multiple photos feature

Try to post less often, (once per day is more than sufficient). This gives time for your previous posts to catch up on likes (especially if your followers are in a different time-zone).

9. Growing your followers

Growing your followers is one of the highest priorities for Instagram marketing, second to growing your engagement rates.

If you’ve just started a business account, you may have a couple of these questions:

“How am I supposed to grow my followers from 0?”

“Nobody knows about my account, how do I increase awareness?”

Instagram Growth is hard, especially if you’ve just made a new account.

To make matters worse, there is always a bunch of generic advice online that isn’t helpful at all.

At the end of the day, ‘You have to spend money to make money’. Similarly, you have to follow others to gain more followers. This is crucial if your account is completely new, and has no reach whatsoever.

You can leverage Followchain’s community to grow your followers.

If you’re struggling to grow your Instagram followers, you can join our follow for follow community, Followchain.

Followchain acts as a single-page thread where you can share your Instagram username.

Firstly, you’ll have to sign up and create an account.

A verification link will be sent to your email, this may take a few minutes.

If you haven’t received it, please check your junk/spam mail!

After you’ve confirmed the verification, log in with your newly created username and password.

Here’s how the community works:

You simply share your Instagram link, follow users that interest you and direct-message them for a follow-back!

By joining Followchain, you can make your Instagram account discoverable by thousands of people, for free! 😊

If you’re interested to know more about growing your Instagram followers, you can read this article: 7 Actionable Ways To Grow Your Instagram Followers.

10. Growing your engagement rates

Food for thought: If you post something that gets little to no engagement, what’s the point of posting it anyways?

This is why engagement conquers everything.

If you have lots of followers but low engagement rates, the quality of your account is poor from any user’s point of view.

Your number one focus on Instagram marketing should be growing your engagement rates.

These are several effective ways you can use to improve your engagement rates.

Here are some quick tips you can use right away to skyrocket your engagement rates:

Unfollow ghost followers

Unfollow people who never like or comment on any of your posts.

There are apps available on the app/play store that tracks this.

However, most of them require you to pay as it is part of their premium features.

Always engage on posts in your feed

You should consistently engage with other user’s posts.

Some people will start to notice and reciprocate. Thus, increasing your likes.

Add your post to your story

With an emphasis on point 4, stories are a great way to drive engagement to your posts.

Whenever you post something, immediately add it to your story.

Some people browse Instagram stories more than liking posts.

Connect with people you know on their Instagram

You should constantly be asking for people you know for their Instagram username, especially the ones who are active.

Friends are family are more likely to engage with your posts as they are closer to you.

You can also follow mutuals as they are more likely to follow you back and engage.

For a full guide on how to grow your engagement rates on Instagram, go to 7 Effective Ways To Increase Your Instagram Engagement. This article mentions why engagement rates matter and changes you can make to improve it.

Bonus: Content Ideas

Content can come in many different forms, the possibilities are endless.

Hence, here are some content ideas for your business, ripe for taking!

1. Graphics

Source: Slack

2. Tweets

View this post on Instagram

You’re in control. ✅

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

Source: GaryVee

Tweets are extremely simple to post!

If you have Twitter, all you have to do is take a screenshot of your tweet, crop it, and share it on Instagram.

3. Videos

Source: YouTube

Videos are a fantastic way to get your message across.

Keep your videos short to captivate your audience.

4. Quotes

Source: success.rule

Heard or saw an inspiring quote recently?

Share it on Instagram!

5. Memes

Source: GaryVee

Memes add humor to your business.

It’s also a great form of content that caters to the younger demographic.

Are you struggling with growing your Instagram followers? Stop paying for agencies that require your Instagram password or growth services that utilize bots or fake followers. Followchain is the only solution you need. Sign up and create an account for free today.

Author: Lim How Wei. Lim How Wei is the founder of Followchain, a community that simplifies growth and networking for Instagram users. Feel free to follow him on Instagram.