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The 5 Dos and Don'ts of Instagram Marketing

Hélène Heath
February 7, 2018
Last Updated On
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You've got an Instagram brand marketing or strategy problem? Don't worry, we've got your solution.

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I mean, we're not Rihanna, but...

Crafting an effective Instagram marketing strategy is still super puzzling to a lot of industry professionals. You read that right: even those whose job it is are often just winging it. And with good reason: it's a brand new trade that doesn't yet have any career veterans. In fact, those who currently work in the field of social media marketing are essentially writing the playbook.

A little-known fact is that the titles of social media manager, social media editor, and community manager don't mean the same thing in every company. Because there is no standard mold, there are no firm guidelines for these roles, and every business will characterize tasks differently. To make matters even more convoluted, practices that work wonders for one brand — like say, using the best hashtags available or the practice of video marketing — may fall totally flat for the next.

It's confusing af. And because this is a vital activity for every modern business, it needs to not be. If you work in social media, chances are you've hit a wall more than once. Whether your drawbacks were related to issues with Instagram etiquette, strategy, daily operations, or chaotic work flow situations, know that you are not alone. Social marketers, even the best ones, hit these kinds of snags more often than you think.

To help solve your most pressing issues, we've put together a comprehensive list of Instagram marketing tips in a very direct dos and don'ts format.

Take heed.

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Glossier, the absolute undisputed ruler of all things community.


PROBLEM: Low Engagement

DON'T: Use Bots

DO: Focus on Community

Slow it down right there, cowboy. We can understand how frustrating it can be if your account's engagement is lagging. But don't do anything regrettable out of sheer panic, like using Instagram bots to boost your visibility and trigger exchanges. Not only is it cheating, but it's not a cute look. For anyone.

Putting a band-aid on the problem is not going to solve anything, and it feels counterintuitive when there's a more sustainable and valuable long-term solution. Say it with me: COMMUNITY. We're high preachers of this Instagram concept, mostly because we've witnessed it being core to social success on many occasions.

If you want your engagement to go up, you're going to want to reevaluate how you approach community-building, audience interactions, and the use of Insta hashtags. Followers don't engage with brands they don't care about. If you don't show them any love, or don't act like you're in it for them, you will get nothing back. The best way to promote your Instagram account is by having your community do it for you (cough, Glossier, cough). Here are some easy steps: first, build. Second, foster. Third, give back. Fourth, manage.


PROBLEM: Few Sales Conversions

DON'T: Start Being Aggressively Salesy

DO: Take advantage of all hyperlink placements and adjust your content and CTAs

Sure, Instagram is mainly used for product discovery versus as a shopping platform, but that doesn't discard it form the revenue race. In order for your account to drive sales conversions, you first need to make sure that your audience is engaged (see point above). Then, you absolutely must make the most of what is available to you.

If you have Instagram's shopping functionality, make sure you test out and adjust your call-to-actions. But also utilize every single spot (aka opportunity) to link out of the app and onto product pages, or any other relevant URL that you think would bring value to your followers.

For example, the ever-so-efficient link-in-bio solution (Dash Hudson's LikeShop) can help drive new revenue through Instagram on top of driving growth. The numbers speak for themselves. Pro tip: always make sure you test out various CTAs to see what works best for your brand, and link to the type of content that your audience responds most positively to. The more you engage, the likelier you are to successfully make conversions.

Yet another area where you can maximize your traffic and sales opps is in Instragram Stories. A lot of brands forget that if they have a business account with over 10k followers, they can capitalize on immediacy in Stories by inserting a link to enable discovery or purchase. Do a lead up, then insert your link. Make your people feel like they're missing out if they don't swipe up. Increase traffic. Drive conversions. It's a well worth it process.

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Topshop is inserting links where it counts to maximize every conversion opportunity.


PROBLEM: Stumped Growth

DON'T: Buy Followers

DO: Be Introspective

There comes a time in every life cycle when dreaded staleness sets in. Nothing is immune to this phenom, especially the incredibly fast-paced world of social media that never stops evolving. In fact, I promise that if you do a quick competitor analysis, you'll find that you are far from alone.

That said, if your growth rate has slowed, the last thing you should do is buy followers to inflate your number. Just like using bots (see point #1), it's not a cute look. First of all, this practice is so obvious to anyone who surfs the Insta waves on the daily (read: all of humanity), and your disingenuousness will be transparent. Fake is lame, period.

Now that we've settled that, if something has changed, you need understand why and how to remedy to it. It could mean that a transition is happening. It could also indicate that the algorithm has been revised and that you have to find fresh ways to navigate its new settings. Here is your set-by-step guide to figuring things out.


PROBLEM: Low Visibility

DON'T: Start Spamming People

DO: Place a Few Well-Crafted Ads

Advertising on Instagram used to be a bit of a taboo, we know. But not anymore, as more brands and influencers are using ads more freely than in the past. In fact, it's a marketing instagram trend on the up and up. While Instagram doesn't have Facebook's full on pay-for-play model, it still offers businesses the ability to shell out for exposure if they're not happy with what they're getting for free.

Next time you're hoping to get more eyeballs on your posts, the best and easiest way to do so is through boosting. But don't just push out a promo and call it a day. Do the research to understand how to approach the practice to be able to craft an effective content and caption strategy. Then start testing and see what sticks. There is no magic formula, but once you find what works, the Insta world will be your oyster.


PROBLEM: No Street Cred

DON'T: Fake It 'Til You Make It

DO: Hire Influencers

Listen, not everyone can be a Reformation, we get it. It's especially brutal if you're just starting out and tryna hustle. Building Insta street cred is a tough feat that requires patience... but you want to accelerate things a little bit, we get it. There are two words you need to familiarize yourself with: influencer marketing.

Align yourself with popular on-brand (v important!) Instagrammers so that their cool image rubs off on your business while they simultaneously spread the good word about it.

Decide on an approach, build a strategy, go about sourcing efficiently, and learn more about the benefits of using micro-influencers to determine if that angle is right for you. Either way, it's going to lend your brand credibility and, if executed properly, a campaign can really put you on the map. If you have the budget, this one is a no-brainer.

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Here is your Instgaram marketing dos and don'ts cheat sheet! Save it onto your desktop for quick referencing.

Every single one of these points is intertwined and has a ripple effect on the bigger picture. The success of your activities at large relies on all of your output. Remember to always be (reasonably) critical of how you're executing to constantly evaluate what you could improve upon.

Make sure that your content is up to snuff, that you're using all available tools, that you're properly abreast of the competition, that you have the bandwidth to sustain constant efforts, and that you devise both a short-term and a long-term strategy to reach your goals.

Now take a deep breath and go implement all of the effective solutions we've just laid out.

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