In just over a decade, Instagram has transformed from a convenient way to share pictures of your lunch to a staple of many brands’ social media marketing strategies.
That’s largely down to its reach and engagement. According to Pew Research Center, four in ten Americans are on Instagram. About three-fifths use the platform at least once a day, while almost half do so several times a day.
Helpfully for marketers, consumers are more than happy to interact with brands on Instagram. One study found that the average American Instagram user follows six to 10 business accounts, with 71% agreeing they feel more connected to the brands they follow.
But to build your Instagram audience, increase engagement, and drive meaningful action, you must take full advantage of the platform’s wealth of features.
To help you out, we’ve rounded up seven tips for Instagram marketing, including a few of our favorite lesser-known gems. Use these tactics to:
- Level up your content creation
- Get in front of new audiences
- Use Instagram as a customer support platform
What to Use When: You Need to Reach New Audiences
1. Add Invisible Hashtags to Instagram Stories
Hashtags play a key role in marketing on Instagram by helping you get more eyes on your content. That goes for Instagram Reels, regular feed posts, and even Instagram Stories.
Whereas you can add up to 30 hashtags to Reels and feed posts, Instagram only allows you to add a single hashtag to Stories using the dedicated hashtag sticker or up to 10 if you add them as text.
Either way, there’s a problem:
Adding a giant sticker or list of hashtags to your Instagram Story can distract from the content, making it less visually appealing — which can harm engagement. It also risks making your posts appear overly promotional, which is never a good look.
Fortunately, there’s a solution.
You can hide your hashtags from view by simply tapping on the list and pinching it with your fingers until it’s vanished from sight:
You can use this tip with other tagging elements, like mentions and location tags, to keep your Instagram Stories fresh and uncluttered.
2. Find the Right Hashtags
Sure, hashtags are vital to getting your posts discovered. But just because you can add a bunch of hashtags to your Instagram posts, that doesn’t mean you should.
Adding some hashtags is always better than adding none. Still, research from Socialinsider found that increasing the number of hashtags has little or no effect on engagement.
Posts with three to six hashtags generate the highest engagement rates, while posts with just one or two hashtags perform slightly better than those with 19 – 20 tags.
It’s worth noting that this is broadly in line with Instagram’s recommendation to add three to five hashtags per post.
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In other words, you shouldn’t treat hashtagging as a spray-and-pray exercise.
Instead, take the time to research the most relevant hashtags in your niche to ensure your posts get the maximum possible exposure.
The most effective way to do this is through Instagram’s Explore tab. Enter a keyword, then click the Tags column to bring up a list of top-performing hashtags for your niche:
Scroll through the list, click the most relevant-sounding hashtags, then dive into the most popular posts to find out which other hashtags they’re using:
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You can use this approach to find dozens of relevant hashtags with minimal research.
3. Create a Search-Friendly Instagram Bio
Think SEO is all about Google? Think again because it’s a key factor on Instagram, too.
Instagram’s search function helps users find content (and brands) that align with their interests, so it definitely pays to make your profile as search-friendly as possible.
The most effective approach is to edit your Instagram bio to include searchable keywords that align with your niche and your audience’s interests, just like this example from the Canadian brand Terre Bleu:
To optimize your bio, click on your Instagram profile page and tap Edit Profile, then add your search-friendly terms to the bio section. When finished, click Done in the top-right corner to save your changes.
It’s also worth assigning a category to your profile, so Instagram better understands the products or services you provide:
There are dozens of categories available, so take the time to scroll through the options and search using relevant keywords until you find the category that best matches your brand.
What to Use When: You’re Using Instagram for Customer Support
4. Create Pre-Written Answers to Common Questions
Instagram isn’t a one-way street. As well as posting content, you need to be ready to respond to customer queries.
Sprout Social research revealed that 35% of US consumers use Instagram for customer service, making it the second most popular social platform for customer service.
Unfortunately, consumers are a demanding bunch. According to SuperOffice, almost half expect a response to customer service queries within four hours, while one in eight wants a reply in 15 minutes or less.
For that reason, one of the most effective Instagram for business tips is to create pre-written replies to frequently asked questions about things like:
- Opening hours
- Return policies
- Shipping information
That way, they’re ready to go instantly, so your customer support team doesn’t have to research the answer and type a custom response every time.
Here’s how to write your own saved replies:
- Open your profile and tap the hamburger menu (three lines) in the top-right corner.
- Open Settings and scroll down to the Business tab.
- Click Saved Replies.
- Click to create a new saved reply.
- Add a memorable shortcut (like “shipping” or “returns”) and type your answer.
- Save your reply.
Next time you reply to a message, you’ll see the option to add a saved response, which will automatically paste into the conversation:
Pro tip: As well as creating answers to FAQs, write a generic hold message like: “Thanks for reaching out! We’re looking into this for you now and will respond soon.” That way, you can satisfy consumer demand for a rapid response while giving your team some much-needed wiggle room.
5. Reply to Customer Support Messages on Desktop
This tip is a simple but effective one.
If you’re sick of responding to customer service queries via mobile, do it on your desktop instead by logging into the web version and clicking Messages in the left-hand menu:
Unfortunately, you can’t access saved replies from your desktop inbox. But this can be a practical approach for handling more challenging conversations with many back-and-forths.
What to Use When: Creating Engaging Content
6. Add a Green Screen Background to Instagram Reels
Are you struggling to find ways to keep your Instagram Reels feeling exciting and fresh?
One of our favorite tips for Instagram marketing is adding a green screen background. Now, you can create content from your office or front room while making it look like you’re vacationing in Bali or floating in outer space.
To start, open Instagram Reels and click the Effects button:
That’ll bring up a menu featuring countless filter options. We’re looking for the one called “Green Screen by Instagram,” so type that into the search box and select it.
As if by magic, Instagram will edit out the background of whatever you’re pointing the camera at:
Pro tip: this works best when shooting against a simple, clean background, like a white wall. If your environment is too cluttered, Instagram will struggle to filter out the whole thing.
Now, you can cycle through your camera roll and add your own background to the content you’re creating:
It’s a quick and easy way to jazz up your content without leaving your desk.
7. Add Closed Captions to Instagram Reels
We all know trending sounds are important to help people find your video content.
But that doesn’t mean every Instagram user watches with the volume turned up.
A survey of 5,600+ US consumers found that 69% of people view video with the sound off when in public places, while 25% do the same even in private. And with 80% of respondents saying they’re more likely to watch a video in full if captions are available, it’s clearly in your best interests to add subtitles.
Don’t worry: we’re not suggesting you go through every video you’ve recorded to insert subtitles manually.
Instead, let Insta do all the hard work. Next time you record a Reel, hit Preview to see the results, then click the Stickers icon:
Then it’s just a case of choosing the Captions option:
Just like that, Instagram will auto-generate closed captions for your video, making it more accessible to hard-of-hearing viewers (and those who simply prefer not to turn the volume up on videos).
Featured image by Freepik.
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