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5 Experts Share How to Market on Instagram (with Tips & Actual Examples)

According to predicted social media and content marketing trends for 2018, Instagram will overtake Facebook with brand engagement. If you’re a social media manager planning your marketing strategy for 2018, this is the perfect place for you to be. To understand the best ways to market on Instagram, I asked 5 Instagram marketing specialists the following questions.

1. Which 2 content marketing tactics would you suggest to Instagram community managers?
2. Describe 2 of your best Instagram marketing campaigns.
3. Share your 2 best time-saving tips for Instagram marketing.

Apart from suggesting the use of aesthetically pleasing images and relevant hashtags, experts on our panel also suggested employing a reliable social media management tool to save time on Instagram management.

Read further to see what else they had to say.

deborah sweeny


Deborah Sweeney

Expert advice:

Engage with other followers outside of the ones in your feed. Check in with some of your favorite hashtags to find new users. Like their photos, comment, and follow them to develop a rapport together.

“Here are some tips I recommends for successful Instagram marketing:

  • Be mindful of where you place hashtags. Rather than clutter a post caption with tons of hashtags, hide hashtags in a separate comment or use line breaks after your comment that look like this: […].
  • Use images that are aesthetically pleasing (not salesy or obviously stock images) and credit the photographer of the image if you did not take it.
  • Engage with other followers outside of the ones in your feed. Check in with some of your favorite hashtags to find new users. Like their photos, comment, and follow them to develop a rapport together.

We recently started an Instagram Series called “Meet Our Team Monday” where we share a few pictures of a randomly selected employee and write a bio about them in the caption.


Our social media coordinators love interviewing the weekly candidates and have found that the office enjoys getting to know fun facts about their co-workers as well! It is also a great way for the employees to stay engaged with our social media channels and get excited to see who the next pick may be!

In order to save time while Instagram marketing, we encourage you create content in advance and schedule it to be posted through a social media management tool! this will decrease stress and help you to stay organized.”

Lexi Carter


Lexi Carter
Digital Content Coordinator
Southern Utah University 

Expert advice:
Curate more user-generated content to make your profile genuine and authentic.

“Follow Inspiration Accounts
Instagram can be used in such diverse ways depending on your industry. To discover the right tone for my captions and get ideas for content, I follow over fifty other university accounts. By dissecting other universities’ highly engaging posts, I am able to adapt and implement certain ideas into SUU’s Instagram strategy. Plus, I can quickly calculate engagement rates and compare SUU’s top posts to nationally-recognized universities.

Engage/Utilize Your Audience
Along with following accounts I want to be like, I follow my community and engage with them frequently. I’ve identified key influencers who organically promote events/programs/locations at SUU and around Cedar City and utilize their photography skills for our profile.

By curating user-generated content (and always crediting them in my caption), I cut down on the amount of original content my team needs to create. Our profile is also stronger because the photos are more genuine, organic, and relate directly to my audience.

Here are 2 of our best Instagram marketing campaigns –

School Pride & Location
In almost every post, we try to connect SUU to our beautiful surrounding locations or promote school pride. Our followers on Instagram range from current students, prospective students, alumni, faculty and donors, so by focusing on these broader themes we can reach our entire audience.

Here’s a snap of SUU’s football team winning the Big Sky Championship



Here are our engagement rates for this campaign

(higher education industry standard = 3.5%)
Cedar Sunrise: 15.5%
Big Sky Champs: 18.7%
Aviation Football Field: 10.7%
Campus Sunset: 14.6%
Thor Street Paint: 11.7%
Zion Student: 8.8%

T-Bird Takeover
Instead of partnering with student influencers on our main account, we have created an influencer account called ‘T-Bird Takeover’ (@tbirdtakeover).

Each week, a different student takes over, giving followers a glimpse into their life as a T-Bird. Students highlight their major and academic experience, campus events, study abroad programs, clubs, athletics, study strategies, jobs, etc.

The account gains dozens of new followers each week, mainly students watching their friends takeover or their department represented.

Here are 2 tips to save time while Instagram marketing –

Track hashtags to find content. People who are posting quality photos want them to be found, and so they include various hashtags. If you can identify what those hashtags are, you’ll easily gather user-generated content that you can schedule to post.

Utilize the bookmark feature. I have several folders I save posts to as I’m scrolling. The folder I use most is my SUU-specific posts. It’s so much easier to sort through the content I find and compare photos when it’s all gathered together visually instead of just by URL.

The other folder I use on a daily basis is my ideas folder. I save posts from other universities, companies, and influencers to inspire my photos or captions. Especially for holidays or trending yearly hashtags, it’s so helpful to be able to look back on the best ideas from other people and incorporate them into my strategy.”



Shana Haynie
Co-Founder, COO
Vulpine Interactive

Expert advice:
Post videos and stories regularly. This is a more interactive approach that allows you to be more authentic with your audience.

“While every company has slightly different goals concerning their social media presence, two content marketing tactics I would suggest that Instagram community managers can use are:

a. Using a mix of original images and lifestyle pictures from high-quality stock photography websites.

If you are looking for high levels of engagement, professional photos often receive a lot of likes. While this is just a vanity thing in terms of business goals, Instagram’s algorithm likes engagement and will lift the rest of your account if you continuously receive a high ratio of likes to audience size.

b. Posting videos and stories regularly. This is a more interactive approach that allows you to be more authentic with your audience.
In an Instagram Case Study I recently published, I went into detail about how my agency gained 11,060 targeted followers, 933,000 impressions, and increased website traffic from Instagram by over 300% in 7 months for an eCommerce company (SixThreeZero).


The strategy wasn’t too crazy: we did a deep dive into the brand, their audience and their goals, and came up with a plan to shift their following towards an older audience to align with the people who are actually making purchases from their website.

At the time, they weren’t seeing much traffic from Instagram and they were targeting a much younger audience. But, by the time we parted ways, they were seeing 300% more site visitors and the follower age group had shifted by 10 years.

To do this, we focused heavily on the content, the hashtags, and the posting frequency.

1. We had our client create images with older people in them, and used the description to create engaging content that spoke directly to our main target personas. We also came up with an “every third post” schedule where we alternated between product, user generated content, and lifestyle posts, and this created a really cool column effect on their feed.

2. We did research into the most relevant hashtags to use for the industry, our brand, and reach / engagement, and used these in every post.

3. We kept the posting frequency to 2x per day, every day of the week, in our highest engagement time slots.

Another account that we’ve seen some really great results is also an eCommerce company that sells men’s and women’s sneakers. They came to use with a strong Instagram presence, and in fact, we didn’t take over any of the engagement, posting or content strategy. We just advise on content and run Instagram and Facebook paid ads to help them sell their product, drive traffic to the website, and grow their audience.

For a Halloween ad campaign we ran for them, we launched a slideshow and series of image ads aimed at selling a 50% sale for select shoes on the website. Based on $1,354 in ad spend, we generated $7,874 in revenue across both platforms.

While Facebook did generate the majority of the revenue, our Instagram followers grew rapidly during this time, and we had heightened engagement as well. Our top performing engagement Instagram ad received 17,000+ impressions, 113 link clicks, and 18 add to carts for around $50 of investment.

No one ever said that building an Instagram presence was going to be easy! Here are two ways to save time:

a. Use a social media scheduling tool. My agency uses one to help us plan out content weeks in advance. This is great if you have a strong strategy and have a ton of content that you want to get out there on a consistent basis. It also has some analytics included in the platform to help you figure out your best times to post, which hashtags are being used on your top performing posts, and lets you repost content that you find to your feed without leaving the platform.

b. Hire a virtual assistant to work on your account while you are busy doing other things like content creation. You can set a virtual assistant up with a process and instructions for targeting, and they can search out the appropriate accounts to follow and engage with. You can even supply them with templated messages to send out to specific groups of people depending on the goal you have in mind (follows, event attendance, website visitors, etc). I like to use hashtags and locations as a place to start, but the targeting will depend on your business.”

Harry Hugo Headshot

Harry Hugo
Goat Agency

Expert advice:
Ensure that you have engaging content that resonates with your audience.

Engaging content should be the top priority for Instagram community managers, so they should create content that is both entertaining and evokes emotional responses.
Content should also be posted regularly, across the newsfeed and stories to ensure you are a sustained voice in your followers feed.
The Malibu Campaign: We curated a ‘Summer Squad’ of 80 influencers to become brand ambassadors for Malibu. These influencers posted multiple times throughout the summer and created an always-on activation for Malibu. Influencers created high-quality, engaging content with Malibu merchandise integrated – positioning Malibu as the go-to drinks brand for the summer. As part of the always-on, summer activation, we had key spikes of activity around the festival season and ‘Pina Colada Day’.

This campaign drove:

152 influencer posts, 94,023 engagements, 2,300,743 reach, 1,241,881 impressions

The Jacobs Creek Campaign: We used a combination of Mummy Bloggers and lifestyle influencers to target the very specific audience. We ran the campaign on Instagram with two hero pieces of content hosted on YouTube to give Jacob’s Creek an abundance of aspirational and aesthetically pleasing content for their own channels. All influencers were carefully briefed to integrate Jacobs’ Creek into their very own Summer Moment to make the campaign look as organic as possible.
This campaign drove:

55 posts, 2,350,394 reach, 113,152 engagements, 697,415 impressions
Saving time is not always a priority for us, ensuring we have good content that resonates with the audience is of higher importance. However, pre-planning the content that will be posted and getting several shots that can be taken at the same time, but posted at separate times can save time on content creation.”


Julia Kennedy
Audience Development Marketing Champion
Museum Hack

Expert advice:
Reply as though your response could go viral.Don’t Treat your followers like a nameless, faceless mass. Take care of your audience by acknowledging their responses, answering their questions, and making them feel important.

Reply as though your response could go viral. This is the Internet — anything can be shared to the whole world at any time. It’s better to go viral for a stellar customer response than a snippy retort. Take your time when crafting responses. Social media feels like it should be fast, but it’s easier to take a moment to proofread your post and say it right the first time rather than correcting a mistake once something’s already published.

Don’t Treat your followers like a nameless, faceless mass. Take care of your audience by acknowledging their responses, answering their questions, and making them feel important. Create relationships! Don’t over-do it or spam your audience. Your fans and followers are more likely to engage with or share things they find important or informative – and no one likes it when you blow up their newsfeed.

Instagram takeovers can be cheeky and creative. They show a different perspective not only to your followers but your employees will feel like what they do is being valued. Do you have a group jetting off to an important conference? Is the sales team demoing a product in an interesting place? These are perfect instances to hand the Instagram account over to your employees. Let them post photos of their adventures and activities – whatever they think your audience will enjoy. This not only engages your followers in a unique way but allows your employees to show-off a little. Encouraging them to be proud of the work they do, makes all the difference.
Our SF Team took over our Instagram for Halloween to have fans pick the best costumes

We take tons of photos on our tours! To show them off, get some social proof, and to build the relationship with our tour-goers we re-post user submitted photos on a dedicated day, #TourPhotoTuesday. While a big part of the museum experience traditionally requires visitors being physically present to see exhibits and collections, audience engagement is no longer dependent on actually being in the museum. Social media gives organizations the freedom to extend the museum experience to a digital space and break down the physical walls, offering the opportunity to create their own communities of museum-lovers.

Save time by planning – set aside time to create a plan for the week, gather images, and create copy. Use whatever social media planner you use (we love Buffer) for easy quick reminders to post.”

Feature image via