How Get the Most From Your Instagram Marketing

Amanda Stein Amanda Stein February 22, 2018

instagram marketing

As an online business owner, you already know how vital it is to focus on marketing tactics that have a great return on investment. You also know how important it is to stay on top of technology trends and make the most of what the internet has to offer.

When you combine the two needs, what do you get?

Instagram.

With its focus on eye-catching designs, pithy texts, and active engagement (as well as free, built-in analytics tools that make targeted marketing a breeze), Instagram has the potential to be your ideal solution.

But marketing on Instagram isn’t as simple as just posting a picture. There are a lot of variables to consider — including the best times to post on Instagram, the best days to be active, and how to make sure your posts actually get seen.

Never fear, we have the answers that will help you up your Instagram marketing game and have you turning “likes” into sales.

Is Your Perfect Customer on Instagram?

First things first, before you start posting to Instagram, you’ll want to be completely certain you know who exactly you plan on targeting. Like any other marketing campaign, it won’t be effective if you go in blindly and without knowing who you are speaking to.

You may be wondering if your customer is even on Instagram in the first place — but it’s incredibly likely they are. Thirty-two percent of all internet users are on Instagram, as well as a stunning 59 percent of all internet users between the ages of 18 and 29.

If your perfect customer is tech savvy, highly sociable, always on their smartphone, on the cutting edge of internet culture, or hooked on social media, they’re almost certainly on Instagram consistently; in fact, 34 percent of Millennials — an audience that’s notoriously difficult to reach through more traditional marketing methods — are active on Instagram every day.

It’s also important to think about how your ideal customer likely uses Instagram. Do they keep their account private and interact only with family and close friends? Do they add everyone to increase their follower count, but never pay attention to their feed? Do they use social media for informative content, as a frivolous escape, or to engage socially with others? Do they check it casually, every few days, or are they a devoted user?

Once you know who your customer is and the type of Instagram user they are, you’ll be ready to craft an Instagram account that will attract and connect with the right audience.

Now that you’re clear on the who, it’s time to get into the how.

What Are the Best Days of the Week to Post?

According to Later (formally known as Latergramme), which analyzed over 61,000 posts in order to gauge when there was the most user engagement, there’s not a huge difference in which day of the week you post.

The most engagement (the number of comments and “likes” divided by the poster’s number of followers) was seen on Wednesdays, with an average engagement of 4.9 percent. Second best was Thursday with 4.76 percent, followed by Tuesday with 4.73 percent, Friday with 4.72 percent, Saturday with 4.66 percent, and Sunday with 4.62 percent.

The lowest engagement was seen on Mondays with 4.4 percent engagement — not a drastic difference from any other day of the week (including the top-performing day), but still worth keeping in mind, especially if you post infrequently.

But if you have the time to devote to it, posting multiple times a week is highly encouraged, with most sources finding it’s best to post one to two times per day. Keeping up a steady stream of posts can be one of the best ways to stay fresh in your audience’s mind and can help you catch a potential customer’s attention no matter what day they’re active.

When Is the Best Time of Day to Post?

Choosing what time to post on Instagram is a bit more specific and finicky than what day (or days) to post. Which makes sense, seeing as most people’s routines shift based on what day of the week it is. (You’re not doing the same thing on a Monday afternoon that you are on a Friday night, unfortunately.)

Considering the ideal day for maximum engagement, the best time to post to Instagram is 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. (Keep in mind, you’ll want this to be 5:00 p.m. in your target market’s time zone.)

You’re catching everyone at the tail end of their workday, right in the middle of the week, when they’re eager for escape from the drudgery of the office or their weekday chores and routines — but before they’ve settled down to dinner.

On the second most popular day, Thursday, you’ll want to post at 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., when people are lazily browsing their phones in bed.

In order of popularity, the next best times to post are: Tuesday at 3:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., Friday at 1:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., Sunday at 5:00 p.m., and Monday at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Remember that while these may be the average best times to post, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the best times for your ecommerce site specifically.

Think about your target customer and what they are likely doing at any given time. If you’re targeting busy professionals who work 9-to-5s, posting at 3:00 a.m. on a weekday may get you nowhere, but if your ideal customer is an independently wealthy 20-something with a party lifestyle, it may be the perfect time.


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How To Encourage Engagement With Instagram Posts

Like any other marketing, your posts on Instagram will do nothing for you if they never get seen in the first place. So how can you make sure that your posts have the best chance of reaching your audience?

Engagement.

Getting those likes and comments were always important on Instagram, but now, due to some recent algorithm changes, they’re absolutely vital.

Instagram initially may show your post to only about 10 percent of your followers — which is especially concerning if you’re just getting started on Instagram and don’t have a large following yet.

If your new post gets enough engagement quickly, Instagram will then show it in more of your followers’ feeds; if not, no one else may ever see it, unless they click directly on your profile to look through your images.

So how do you get your followers to like and comment? There are a few tricks that will encourage engagement (and make sure you’re seen):

Post Great Content.

This may seem obvious, but far too often businesses will make the mistake of thinking that, since social media is used casually, they can be casual in what they upload. You definitely don’t want your posts to seem forced or like they’re trying too hard, but you absolutely want to post high-quality, thoughtful content.

Make sure your photos are eye-catching, crisp, clear, vibrant, and in-focus. Take advantage of Instagram’s editing tools to enhance the color or mood of your photo. Make sure your caption is without typos or errors and that it adds something to the photo (instead of just being an afterthought). Don’t add only marketing materials, but also post inspirational content, behind-the-scenes shots, relevant news events, or posts celebrating holidays.

Make Sure Your Posts Can Be Digested Quickly.

An Instagram user can scroll through their feed mindlessly, almost in a trance (the new version of thoughtless channel surfing). You want to catch their attention right away (with that great content) and not lose their interest.

If your photo is uninteresting or unclear, or if your caption is a massive wall of text instead of a concise comment, they’re likely to just keep scrolling. If they can take in your photo and caption quickly and easily, a casual stroller is way more likely to like your post or leave a quick comment before moving on to the next post (which may be posted by your competitor).

Ask Your Followers Questions.

Not only is this a fun way to let your audience feel listened to, respected, and like a part of a community, but it’s also a fantastic way to get a little market research done. Ask questions that can be answered quickly and easily, and like and reply to anyone who answers (keep your replies to four words or more to make sure they aren’t flagged as spam).

You can ask things directly related to your business; for instance, if you sell fashion accessories online, you can ask people what their favorite winter accessory is. If a large portion says texting gloves, and it’s something you don’t carry, you’ll know what to start stocking.

You can also ask more general questions that are still helpful to you. On a snowy winter day, you can ask what their favorite snow day activity is. If most answer “snuggling up with a mug of cocoa,” you may want to consider making branded mugs featuring your logo.

This kind of interaction will give you more information on customers who express an active interest in you, all while increasing the likelihood that your post — and your business — will get seen.

Run Contests and Giveaways.

A common way to get your audience excited is to run an Instagram-exclusive contest. Tell your followers that everyone who likes and comments on your post is entered into a random drawing to win a great prize: either a popular product you’re offering, a gift certificate for your services, or some new merchandise you’re selling.

You can even sponsor Instagram content by reaching out to an influencer who is popular with your target market. By allowing them to partner with you and run their own Instagram contest where the prize is your service or product, you can reach out to a larger audience (and even grow your follower count/potential client base) while you encourage active engagement.

You can also ask your followers to enter by tagging a friend in the comments of your post, which may up your follower count and spread awareness of your business to new potential customers, on top of increasing your engagement.


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How Do You Know if It’s Working?

While marketing on Instagram may be easier, more direct, and more cost-effective than many other forms of advertising, there’s no doubt that it still takes a lot of work, time, and thought. So how can you tell if all the effort is worth it?

Thankfully, Instagram makes this easy. When you set your account to a business profile (which you absolutely should), you’re offered free analytics tools that a personal account doesn’t have access to.

These analytics let you know a lot of useful information about your followers: where they live, their age, their gender, and what times and days they’re active on Instagram. This makes it easy to see the best times for you to post and to keep an eye on them in case they change. (Which is one of the benefits of marketing on Instagram — it’s easy to switch things up as needed.)

It also makes it clear if you’re targeting who you want to be targeting; if you’re aiming for middle-aged men in the U.S. and your posts are primarily reaching teenage girls in the U.K., you’ll know that you need to change things up until you reach the right audience (or start directing your services to those who seem the most interested in you).

Having a business account also allows you to create Instagram Ads or show Promoted Posts to those who don’t already follow you. While this does require some monetary investment, it’s easy to set your maximum budget per promotion. You’re also offered the same free analytics tools to help you see exactly who your ad or promoted post is reaching and how much engagement it is encouraging.

Keep a close eye on traffic to your website or your product sales in relation to your Instagram posts as well. If you notice a massive increase for a few hours after every post, you’ll know you’re doing something right. If you’ve noticed no new traffic after repeatedly posting on Instagram, it may be time to rethink how you’re posting.

Whether your current posting strategy is working for you or not, Instagram makes it easy to see your results quickly — and figure out what you’re doing right and what needs to change.

Let Instagram Take Your Marketing to the Next Level

If you’re ready to make the most of social media to market your ecommerce store, there’s no better way than Instagram. With over 80 percent of users connecting with at least one brand on Instagram, there’s a massive audience out there waiting for you to share your products and services.

Take advantage of everything it offers by posting great content on the right days, at the right times, and in ways that make your target audience eager to interact and engage with you. Keep an eye on who you’re reaching and how much they’re engaging, and be flexible and willing to alter your posting plan when needed.

Not only will marketing on Instagram help raise your brand awareness, but you can also build up a loyal, active community based around your business. That kind of result can be game-changing for a brand and can be impossible to put a price tag on (and with Instagram, you can absolutely achieve it for free).

So what are you waiting for? Whip out your phone, get social, and get marketing!

Photo credit: ulyana_andreeva

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