A Detailed Instagram Marketing Guide-

in eCommerce Social Media, Instagram for eCommerce

A Detailed Instagram Marketing Guide: Including Software and Secrets

Recently I’ve had a handful of friends and colleagues asking me how I run Instagram accounts. To give some background a few are working on their personal brand and others have started their own business and want to dive into Instagram marketing themselves.

 

Most of the information out there does not go into sufficient detail. There aren’t any comprehensive Instagram marketing guides out there, there are a few great studies that I’ll mention and link to. But as far as Instagram marketing guides the ones that give juicy details withhold the real good stuff.

 

First of why should you care? Isn’t Instagram filled Millennials and Generation Z?

 

instagram marketing

Image source: Instagram.com

Instagram definitely caters to a younger audience with 90% of the 200 million people on Instagram fitting in the under 35 category, yet 16% earn more than $75,000 a year.

 

Instagram Household Income

Image source: statista

If that isn’t convincing enough what about Instagram’s engagement levels are blowing Facebook and Twitter engagement out of the water?

 

According to a recent study by Forrester analyzing more than 3 million interactions with 2,500 brand posts across 7 social networks Instagram is the King of Social Engagement. Delivering 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
Instagram Engagement
So now that you have bought into the whole Instagram marketing idea.

Here is what I’ll cover

  1. How to write the most effective Instagram bio
  2. The best days & time to post on Instagram
  3. The ideal number of hashtags for Instagram
  4. How to schedule your Instagram posts for multiple accounts
  5. Leveraging Instagram to boost your other social channels
  6. How to connect with Instagram influencers and engagers
  7. How to increase your following by hundreds and thousands of loyal fans
  8. How to track ROI from Instagram.

How To Write A Kick Ass Instagram Bio with a Call To Action

Think about what you want from your Instagram Bio. Maybe your focus is to brand your company, perhaps driving traffic to your website is more important. Let’s take a look at the top 10 brands on Instagram based on the number of followers + posts on hashtag.

Top 10 brands on Instagram

Nike keeps it simple with their slogan “Just Do It” and a direct link to their site.

Nike Instagram

While Nike is more focused about branding, Starbucks wants to track ROI and visits so they use a shortlink to track their Click Thru Rate (CTR) to their eCommerce shop.

Starbucks Instagram

You can do things such as center your Instagram bio and focus on driving attention to your call to action. Copy the spaces between the bars ( [ ) and ⌘ below. Only copy the blank white spaces, adding spaces to Instagram with your spacebar won’t work, you will need to copy these.

⌘⌘⌘⌘⌘
[⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀]
⌘⌘⌘⌘⌘
 None of the top 10 have centered bios but here is what it would look like. Luiz Centenaro Instagram

*note that your name and your Instagram bio appear as the SERP Title and SERP description on Search Engines. By centering you are sacrificing formatting and characters on search.

search engine instagram

What Is The Best Day and Time Of The Day to Post on Instagram?

Like everything in marketing it’s all about testing. It’s all about studying your analytics and your audience. If you are just starting out my experience running dozens of Instagram accounts and studying the top brands has reassured me there is no cookie cutter solution. On average the top 10 companies posted ~ 75.8 photos in the month of October. Nike and Prada with the least, posting only 11 pictures each while NBA posted 373.

Most of the top 10 companies add 1-3 photos per day on Instagram, here is how many each had the month of October.

 

@nike 11
@starbucks 31
@addidas 114
@topshop 52
@gucci 14
@gopro 68
@nba 373
@vans 55
@prada 11
@dior 29

 

Don’t stress too much over how many times a month you are posting. You don’t want your followers forgetting about you, posting around the same time everyday builds the brand and customers start to expect posts at certain times. If you have the content and a larger following 2-3 times a day is ideal but maintaining consistency is key.

 

best times for instagram

The peak time being 2-3pm EST with 1800 Instagram photos posted.

As a matter of the most effective times to post, again it’s about what resonates with your audience. 65% of Instagram users are outside the USA so don’t stress too much about what time you post.

Most effective times to post instagram photos

As far as days of the week TrackMaven did a study on the Fortune 500 and found Mondays are slightly more effective while most post on Thursday.

Most Effective Days To Post On Instagram

Videos perform best after work hours, nobody has time for that during work.Instagram Video Marketing

An example posting schedule for a company with ~90 pictures a month

  • 7:00am EST as your followers are waking up.
  • 1:35 EST as your followers take a mid day Instagram break
  • 8:45pm a video as your followers are unwinding from a late dinner post a long days work

What are the ideal number of Instagram Hashtags?

Instagram hashtags are incredibly powerful. Even an account with less than 100 followers can be discovered by thousands of customers with the power of #hashtags.

 

Max Wolf took 120,000 Instagram images using their API and ran some statistical analysis to find the number of likes per photo is directly correlated to the number of hashtags. There could be a number of anomalies but it just makes sense the more hashtags the more potential eyes that will see your brand. instagram-tag-average
instagram-tags
Your hashtag limit is 30 including hashtags in your Instagram caption and first comment. Though when you use more hashtags you might be sacrificing branding.

 

Starting out I recommend using 1-2 hashtags in the main caption and up to 15 highly relevant hashtags in the first comment. The first comment is a great way to add more hashtags to your Instagram pictures without affecting connected networks like Twitter that have a 140 character limit. Another reason not to go overboard and use all 30 hashtags in an Instagram caption is to save a couple for comments. You will have those who engage with you in comments and replying with “Thank You, Much #Love” will bring some fresh juice into that older picture.

Scheduling Instagram Posts

I don’t know about you but scheduling social media posts is a must. Though Instagram is intriguing I mainly focus on behavioral email marketing and writing content. If I had to pause multiple times a day to find a picture, create a caption and use hashtags and repeat for another 11 accounts i’d quickly pull all my hair out.
pulling hair out
I know it’s the the best method and my iPhone is a dang mess from it but I’ll find pictures from influential users take a screen shot and find that user on the web app later in the day. 1 week to a month’s worth and I’ll send them over to Latergram, though they won’t directly post it for you this is often better because it will send you a push notification and you’ll get to open it up in Instagram and adjust the filters and hashtags to your liking.
I also tried:
Emailing a virtual assistant 2 months of posts) ~$200 for 5 accounts.
Along with Schedugram for a few months but ended up focusing on quality rather than 1 post a day.Instagram hasn’t released their full API access so it’s interesting how these Aussie folks are doing it.
When you first sign up it’s a hassle. You have to give them your password and Instagram security features are triggered, you must log into all your accounts and verify someone from Australia is indeed you.
Some best practices when uploading Instagram images:
  • Make sure that the image size is 640 x 640 pixels or risk pixelation
  • Add a couple of mission critical hashtags and a nice caption
  • Use the first comment feature to add the rest of the hashtags (5-15)
scheduling instagram photos

The Schedugram Interface

Some of the downsides:
  • You can only bulk upload ~ 10 pictures or the system crashes.
  • You start at 7:00pm and it’s not intuitive enough to stay at the 6am time you chose for the last picture.
  • Once you get into scheduling for the next month you still start at your current day so there’s a bit of clicking involved.
  • There is no Buffer like feature. I would love for the service to know I want to post 3 times a day and for it to be intuitive enough to the best times according to my audience.
  • The activity log UX is horrible and I can’t sort by client accounts, all my activities are jumbled together.
  • The first comment feature works 55% of the time.
  • You can’t connect to Facebook, twitter, tumblr. The way around this is using IFTTT recipes.
  • You can’t name the location or specify one that you have created.

Ultimately there is no perfect service for it yet but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one in the near future.

Leveraging Instagram to Boost Your Other Social Media Networks

If you are posting manually just connect your accounts, even Facebook engagement is decent when posting from Instagram in real time. Twitter will add your caption including #hashtag (limited to 140 characters) with a link to the picture, Tumblr will mimic your Instagram.
instagram to facebook, twitter, tumblr
One of the biggest advantages of posting manually is the ability to add a location. If you aren’t at a popular location you can add your website or a CTA like Starbucks does. “Click the link in our bio”
starbucks instagram cta
Depending on client budget and the resources you can allocate, scheduling your Instagram posts will be your best bet.

 

The Instagram to native Twitter picture recipe is quite neat instead of posting a link on Twitter leading to your Instagram it will post a native Twitter picture helping with engagement.
Instagram to Twitter
For Facebook there is a Recipe but it will post the pictures into an IFTTT album and your engagement and news feed time will take a big hit. I suggest using Buffer and uploading each picture manually. ( no bulk upload yet :/ )
Buffer Scheduling

You can upload the same pictures from Instagram to Buffer and post at the best time of the day on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn rather than triggering from your Instagram. (Downside is there is no bulk upload, but you will have better engagement)

If you don’t have Buffer, IFTTT is a great alternative for Instagram automation, but than you should remain mindful of caption length and number of hashtags. The recipe I do utilize is Instagram to Tumblr. Be sure to change the generic hashtags near the bottom.

Instagram to Tumblr

Connecting with Instagram Influencers and Engagers

So this is one of my favorite tactics I usually share with my best clients. There are tons of tools to monitor the best hashtags, I’m using too many tools already so I keep it simple with Websta Instagram Web Viewer.
travelbog hashtag

*Note the banner from inbound.org as they close in on their goal of building a 100,000 member inbound marketing community.

  • Monitor the top 30 hashtags for your industry.
  • Let’s use #travelblog, it’s a more specific than travel and has double the posts of #travelblogger
  • Within the 200,000+ #travelblog pictures you can find thousand of pictures that are being engaged with.
  • Make it a goal to start with 5 comments. The secret here is not to comment on the photos that are being engaged with but to find those that are engaging with the photos and comment on their photos. Adding a thoughtful or witty comment does wonders. Find 1-2 of their pictures and tag them, especially if it’s on an older picture. ie “Amazing shot @commentergal love the way you portray Thai culture.” You are engaging with engagers. These are the people you want in your crowd and they often follow you having to follow them. (+klout)
  • Rinse and repeat for 29 + hashtags or what time allots.
  • (If you are really pressed for time just engage with your competitors best engagers, your competitor probably isn’t. Making it your time to shine with social customer care)

How to Increase Your Instagram Following by Hundreds and Thousands of Loyal Fans

Have you ever went into your Instagram activity feed and switched from you to Following? Have you noticed that there are 1-3 users that are always liking 8 posts at all times of the day.

Instagram Marketing Software

 

Now you can manually do this by typing a hashtag and going through all pictures as you watch TV, eat lunch, talk to your friends. Your fingers will start hurting trust me. Most of these people use an Instagram robot or an autolike tool to follow certain hashtags.

Keep in mind this violates Instagram’s Terms of Use and you face a probability of getting your account banned or disabled. Instagram limits API Calls 5,000 / hour per token and ~ 350 likes per hour. 

If you don’t have time or a dedicated staff member to manage Instagram using an automated liking software does wonders in getting your brand in front of the right people. There are hundreds of companies selling Instagram Bots or software. If you do decide to use one be careful. The good ones will have safety triggers in place but if you don’t know what you are doing you will quickly get banned.

Imagine that you own an outdoor store and and every time someone posted a picture and #nature or the #outdoors they would be aware of your brand.

Instagram Automation

If you are going to use Instagram Automation here are some tips.

  • Use dummy accounts to test before you try this on any client account or your brand
  • Do not use the auto comment features as they leave a huge footprint (you’ll now recognize these folks who instantly comment on your photo when you post a certain hashtag and it often makes no sense or is asking you to follow them or someone else)
  • Set up time delays and if running a software don’t go on a like streak on your phone, log off your accounts to avoid temptations
  • Engage with everyone that comments on your photos, treat those with 5 followers the same as those with millions

How to track ROI from Instagram

A while back I almost gave up on Instagram marketing. Sure it was great for engagement and branding but clients were not seeing any increased traffic or conversions. Surely this was crazy with averages of hundreds of likes and 20+ comments at least 1 person had to visit the site right? Yet Google Analytics showed nothing.

That’s when I discovered a post by Dan Shure and it reassured me Instagram marketing was on point but it was Google Analytics who was lying. Dan ran into the same situation and found out that App traffic comes in as direct traffic.

bitly-instagram-traffic

Instagram traffic generated over 170 visits the last 4 months

So by using a bit.ly link you can track exactly how much traffic Instagram is generating.

If you are a real pro you will create a new link for every new blog post, especially if you don’t have a blog roll. If that doesn’t seem manageable a dedicated landing page for Instagram will do wonders. Instagram Landing Page

Thanks to Antonino Bologna‘s research I know to “noindex” these “Thank You Pages or Landing Pages. If you are on WordPress both the Yoast and SEO Ultimate Plugins make it extremely easy to no index your thank you pages.

SEO-Yoast-No-Index

No index by Yoast

For the technical folk you can add

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, FOLLOW”>

to the thank you page you don’t want search engines to index.

If you have any specific software or secrets you would like to share please do so in the Google + or Facebook comments.

*disclaimer, I use all of the aforementioned companies, some of them may be affiliate links.

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Luiz Centenaro

Customer Success Manager at Experiment Engine
Luiz is a CRO consultant, eCommerce Entrepreneur and Adventurer. You can follow Luiz on Twitter or Google +.

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