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9 Winning Tips & Tricks from the Top Brands on Instagram

6 mins read

Instagram is becoming increasingly hard for advertisers to ignore. I mean, just look at the numbers:


Instagram is clearly an important tool. But for advertisers used to schedulers and text-based posts, it can also be a challenge. What pictures should you post? How should you promote them? What about videos? In this article, I break down the top 10 Instagram marketing tips.

1) Original photos are awesome – but don’t stress yourself out with a daily photo shoot.

Instagram followers like accounts which offer some kind of unique value. That means your pictures should capture moments and images that only your brand can provide.

If that sounds time-consuming, don’t worry – you don’t need to take a bunch of stunning photos every day to make that happen. Instead, when photo-friendly moments come up, you should take multiple pictures for future use. You can also have a photo shoot a couple of times per year to create some “evergreen photos” of your products, staff, and services for future use.

Tip: Keep a photo library of original pictures that capture the essence of your business and post them on weeks when you’re light on more newsworthy content.

2) Use an Instagram management tool to optimize your posting times, set reminders, and manage your photo library.

Instagram is designed to encourage real-time posting. That means the scheduler technology many social media managers use for Facebook and Twitter isn’t quite so powerful for Insta users. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great tools that can help you prep your photos, remind you to post and optimize days and times for your content.

Iconosquare is one of the most popular Instagram management tools. It starts from $9 per month for a single account and is completely designed for instagram (though you can also use some of their tools for your Facebook page). Buffer also offers a free alternative with some similar features. Take some time and find the one that works best for you!

3) Consistency is key.

People follow Instagram accounts for a very simple reason: They like what the user is posting and want to see more of it. If your account is filled with a completely random assortment of photos with no central “theme,” they may be less inclined to sign on.

Nike is one of the biggest brands on Instagram, so let’s take a look at their “grid” to see what consistency looks like:

Or how about these shots from Starbucks?

You get the point. Figure out the themes that matter most to your audience (and your brand), and find ways to interpret those things in visual and entertaining ways.

4) Get your #hashtag on.

#Hashtags tell Instagram users what is in a photo and help them find content related to their interests. You should use these to be more findable on the platform. For example, if you sell coffee in Maine, you should hashtag your photo with #coffee #Maine to reach people interested in those subjects.

Some brands make the mistake of only using their “branded” hashtags on images. Branded hashtags are hashtags designed by and for a user and their followers (for example #JustDoIt for Nike). While this can work really well for brands who already have a large social media footprint, those who are trying to grow through Instagram marketing should expand their reach with other hashtags. Local businesses should be especially careful to always hashtag their #city or #hometown so that locals can find and follow them.

5) Use apps to add text or logos your images.

You know what’s a pain? Taking a photo with your phone, uploading it for editing on your computer, then re-sending it to your phone for posting. Wouldn’t it be nice to cut out some of those steps?

If you prefer to add your logo or watermark to images before posting them, try an app like eZy watermark or LogoLicious. There are also tons of apps available for adding text to your photo. For a comprehensive list, check out this article.


6) Shooting in low light? Switch to black and white.

Sports Photographer Brad Mangin told Buzzfeed his trick for beating low light situations – a moody black and white filter.

7) Photographing something on a table or desk? Stand on a chair.

One of the most engaging angles to capture a table – whether it’s a workspace, a coffee date, or a delicious dinner – is a bird’s eye view.

Whether you are selling the items on the desk/table or feel they represent your brand in some way, this is a great angle for showing off products. Food-based businesses use this tactic often, as do B2B companies trying to engage others in the 9-to-5 grind.


8) Optimize your Instagram profile.

You have a small space to make a big impact on your Instagram profile. How small? Here’s what you’re working with:

  • Super short description (150 characters or less)
  • Link to your website
  • Profile photo
  • Username

Pay special attention to everything you put in here – it will be one of the main things that make or break your Instagram presence. Your username should be findable, your profile photo should be clear and brand-appropriate, and your description should let followers know EXACTLY what they are in for when they connect with you.

9) Create some social videos for Instagram.

Did you notice in the screenshots of Nike and Starbuck’s Instagram feeds both featured a lot of “video” icons? These brands, like many others, have discovered the awesome power of video for Instagram.

Researchers have found that using video for sponsored Instagram posted leads to more engagement – in fact, Lulu Lemon doubled their engagement results by using video. Instagram videos can also be cross-promoted on Facebook,  increasing the reach and impact of your campaign.

Great content + Optimized Ads = Social Media Marketing Success

By posting the right content with the right hashtags and engaging with the right people, it’s easy to find success as a brand on Instagram. However, even the best branded Instagram accounts rely on paid ads to boost their best posts and grow their following. That’s why we think the combination of paid ads and social media management is so important to master – and why we post articles like this to help you understand exactly how to apply these principles to your own business. Happy filtering!


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