Across the globe, there are over 700 million Instagrammers — more than 300 million of whom use Instagram every single day, sharing an average of 95 million photos and videos per day.

Those are huge numbers. And no matter who your audience is — age, gender, occupation, anything — you’ll be sure to reach them through Instagram. So the question becomes …

How to promote your business on Instagram?

How can you stand out among the other 95 million photos posted each day? How can non-designers and amateur photographers create beautiful content for Instagram?

These are all questions we’d love to help you answer in this guide.


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We recently launched one of our biggest product enhancements, Buffer for Instagram, to help you plan, track and amplify your Instagram marketing.

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The Complete Guide to Instagram for Business

Everything you need to know to create a killer Instagram marketing strategy for your business. 

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Contents:

Why Instagram?

Keys to a successful profile

How to create a content strategy

The 7 elements of high-performing Instagram content

How to increase growth and engagement

How to measure results

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First things first: Why use Instagram for business?

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Boasting over 300 million daily active users, Instagram has huge potential for marketers. But the potential in Instagram lies more in the user behavior than the numbers.

Instagrammers like to connect with brands.

Research shows that brands enjoy a number of distinct benefits and advantages on the network:

  • Instagram, brands enjoy regular engagement with 4 percent of their total followers. On networks like Facebook and Twitter, engagement is less than 0.1 percent. (source: Forrester)
  • 70% of Instagram users report having looked up a brand on the platform (source: Iconosquare)
  • 62% of users follow a brand on Instagram (source: Iconosquare)
  • Only 36 percent of marketers use Instagram, compared to 93% of marketers who use Facebook (source: Selfstartr)

Social media has been proven to influence purchase decisions. And if you can find the right mix of content, your audience will soak it up – and even buy from you – without the need for a hard push or sales pitch. It’s the marketers dream.

Still need convincing? Let’s take a look at what marketers have to say about the platform.

What marketers are saying about Instagram

The numbers and research above all sound great, but what are marketers  – the people who use Instagram to drive business results – actually saying about the platform? Here’s what marketers from brand like Birchbox, and Ben & Jerry’s have to say about the platform:

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Mike Hayes, Digital Marketing Manager of Ben & Jerry’s“Since its launch, Instagram has provided us with an amazing platform to connect with our fans and tell our story visually.” 

Jessica Lauria, Director of Brand Communications Chobani: “Instagram is a great platform for Chobani. It allows us to show how people actually use our product and inspires new ways to savor.”

Rachel Jo Silver, Director, Social Marketing & Content Strategy, Birchbox: “Instagram has been an incredibly effective engagement-driver among our current customers.”

The formula for Instagram success

Success for businesses on Instagram relies on more than simply publishing a few nice-looking images. You need to also have these elements:

  • Clear vision and strategy
  • Consistent frequency
  • Familiarity with your audience
  • Clear visual style

When you combine together these ingredients, Instagram can deliver huge results for your business.

Madewell is a great example of creative Instagram marketing. The fashion brand has amassed a hugely engaged audience on Instagram (over 700,000 followers and 7,000 to 10,000 likes per post). The platform has become a key marketing channel for them, enabling them to connect with thousands of potential customers on a daily basis.

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So, how do Madewell and other successful brands stand out on Instagram? We put together this guide to help you craft your own Instagram marketing strategy that’s based on a clear vision and results that you can measure.

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How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy

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Why are you on Instagram? Choose 1-to-2 main goals

Whether you’re completely new to Instagram and preparing to share your first post or are already established and looking to boost your presence on the platform, it’s important to start with clear goals in mind.

Setting goals will help you to define your strategy on Instagram and create content that will help you to achieve your targets.

Here are some common ones that brands, teams, and individuals tend to choose:

  1. Showcase your products or services
  2. Build your community
  3. Increase awareness of your brand
  4. Showcase your company culture and values
  5. Advertise to potential customers
  6. Increase brand loyalty
  7. Share company news and updates

It’s best to choose one or two goals for your Instagram profile, either from the above list or a custom goal of your choosing. To help decide which goals make sense for you, it can be good to consider the following questions:

  • Why are you using Instagram?
  • How can Instagram assist you in achieving your overall marketing goals?
  • How much time or budget can you commit to Instagram?
  • How does Instagram offer you something different to other platforms?

Here at Buffer we have two main goals for our Instagram marketing strategy.

Our top goal is to build and nurture an engaged community of Buffer users and supporters.

To ensure we reach that goal we have a set target of reaching out to and featuring the work of four-to-six Buffer community members per week. If we do that 52 weeks per year that’s between 208-to-312 people that we’ve connected with one-on-one.

The second goal for our Instagram marketing strategy is to continually increase engagement on every one of our posts.

Currently, our engagement rate (avg. engagement per post/number of followers) is about 1.75% which is a bit higher than industry standard. We’re focusing on producing the highest quality Instagram content so that our engagement rate stays at or above this benchmark.

Which members of your audience are on Instagram? Search the demographics

And understanding the demographics of a platform is an important part of ensuring you’re hitting your target audience.

Pew Research released a breakdown of Instagram demographics and I’d love to share the key findings with you here.

Instagram user demographics - Pew research

Age and gender of internet users on Instagram

Roughly half of internet-using young adults ages 18-29 (53%) use Instagram. Here the full breakdown of age groups:

  • 53% of 18–29 year olds use Instagram.
  • 25% of 30–49 year olds use Instagram.
  • 11% of 50–64 year olds use Instagram.
  • 6% of people 65+ use Instagram.

Also, slightly more of Instagram’s users are female:

  • 29% of online females use Instagram.
    22% of online males use Instagram.

Location of Instagram users

  • 28% of Instagram users live in urban areas.
  • 26% of Instagram users live in suburban areas.
  • 19% of Instagram users live in rural areas.

Instagram education demographics

  • 31% of Instagram users have some college experience.
  • 24% of Instagram users are college graduates.
  • 23% of Instagram users are high school grads or less.

Instagram income demographics

  • 28% of adults making less than $30,000
  • 26% of adults making over $75,000
  • 26% of adults making $50,000–$74,999
  • 23% of adults making $30,000–$49,999

Now that you have your goals in mind and know which members of your audience are active on Instagram, you can get started on building out your presence on Instagram. First step: optimizing your profile.

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How to optimize your Instagram profile

Keys to getting the most lift from your profile picture, bio, and link

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Your Instagram profile is essentially your homepage on the platform. It provides you with space to share a little information about your business and also gives you the chance to drive some traffic back to your website. In this section, we’ll guide you through how to maximize your Instagram profile and drive as much value as possible from it.

Your bio/description

Your description is very personal to your brand, what you choose to share here should be representative of your business and show your followers what you do as a company. Most businesses tend to include either (or both) of the below:

  • Brand slogan or tagline (e.g. Nike’s “Just Do It”)
  • An outline of who you are and what you do

Some large brands also choose to include a brand hashtag within their bio (for example, Nike Basketball below).

Here are a few examples:

Unbounce:unbouce-IG

Nike Basketball:nike-ig

Sheraton Hotels: sheraton-ig

Profile picture

Your profile picture is one of the most important parts of your Instagram profile and the best way to showcase your branding on Instagram. When someone views one of your posts or clicks on your profile, it’s great if your brand is instantly recognizable. For many brands this tends to mean using one of three options:

  • Logo
  • Logomark (the logo, minus any words)
  • Mascot

At Buffer, we keep it simple and use our logomark over a plain white background on Instagram and all other networks:

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Your link

Unlike many other social networks, Instagram doesn’t allow you to add links to every post. Instead, you only get one link, and that’s the one in your profile.

Most businesses tend to use this link to drive traffic back to their homepage, and this link can also be a key way to drive traffic from Instagram to campaign-specific landing pages or individual pieces of content.

Gary Vaynerchuk does this to great effect on his Instagram feed. Whenever he publishes a new piece of content online, he’ll share a relevant image or video to Instagram and update the link in his bio to reflect it.

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Coming soon: Instagram business profiles 

A First Look at New Instagram Business Tools (And What They Mean for Your Business)

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Creating a content strategy for Instagram

How to build content pillars for the type of content you share to Instagram

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Content is the heart of Instagram. The 95 million photos and videos shared daily to the platform are the reason more than 300 million people open the app every day. And content should be at the core of your strategy, too.

But what should you post about?

Before you get into thinking about your visual style, it’s good to have a clear vision for the type of content you’re putting out.

Some brands focus on their products. For example, Nike Running often make their trainers and running equipment the focal point of their content:

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Whereas other brands, such as WeWork, put more focus on their community and culture:

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At Buffer, our Instagram marketing strategy is to post consistently quality content that aims to build Buffer’s brand while also connecting on an individual basis with our community members. We believe strongly in the power of one-on-one interactions and connections.

In that spirit, we’ve created the hashtag #BufferStories which allows our community to tell a story about what they’re passionate about both personally and professionally. Instagram is a tremendous medium for short-form content, but there’s also the possibility for relevant, long-form content. Our audience has responded quite well to the passionate stories of others.

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There’s no hard and fast rule for the best angle to take when it comes to your strategy — it’ll vary from business to business. What’s important is to focus on creating content that aligns with both your audience and your goals. This starts with defining your content pillars.

Build your content pillars

The foundations of any strategy are built on solid content pillars or themes.

Every business, no matter its size, industry or location has a wealth of potentially brilliant content to share on Instagram. Whether it’s stories from your employees, culture-focused content, or product-led demos, there’s a whole host of opportunities and worthy subjects for your videos and photos.

Some example content pillars include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Behind the scenes content
  • User generated content
  • Product demos / showcase
  • Educational (e.g. the best social media tips)
  • Culture focused (showing the human side of your company)
  • Fun / lighthearted
  • Customer stories
  • Get to know the team
  • Team member takeovers

What I love to do when it comes to defining themes is to open up a notepad and throw around some ideas. Starting with some key company values, I then scribble down everything that comes to mind. From these notes, you can then start to formulate ideas for your key content pillars.

For example at Buffer, here are the themes we work with:

  • User generated content
  • Digital nomad lifestyle
  • Productivity and motivation

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3 successful brands on Instagram and their content pillars

1. Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live’s Instagram feed focus on two key pillars: Taking fans behind the scenes of the show and sharing exclusive clips. When fans check Instagram they can expect to see a fun-filled photo or video of their favorite SNL stars or get a sneak peek at what goes on behind the cameras to get the show out there.

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2. FedEx

FedEx’s feed consists of photos based around the theme of FedEx’s delivery drivers, vans and planes out in the wild. they often feature images shared with them by followers, too – a great way to keep their fans on the lookout for FedEx vehicles to photograph. Their feed also gives off a vibe of high-end, artistic photography.

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3. Oreo

Oreo put their product at the heart of their Instagram content and manage to do so in a way that’s fun and highly engaging. They often use entertaining copy within the images themselves and use solid, vibrant backgrounds to make their posts stand out within the Instagram feed.

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Further reading: How to manage multiple accounts on Instagram

Early in 2016, Instagram opened up one of its most requested features, giving users the ability to switch between multiple accounts. This guide will help you get up and rocking with multiple accounts:

How to Add and Manage Multiple Accounts on Instagram

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Creating a content plan

The 7 keys to cohesive content to drive exceptional results

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Once you have your content themes in place (you can always test and adapt themes to see what works best), it’s time to bring it all together into a content plan. A content plan should help you define the style and aesthetic feel of your posts, alongside how frequently you’re going to post to Instagram.

Let’s begin with a look at how to create your Instagram style guide.

1. Style guide

One of the most important parts of any social media strategy is the style guide. Why are they so important? They ensure consistency across all marketing channels and throughout every piece of content you produce.

Style guides contain all the necessary information for a piece of content from beginning to end — from the design and layout of post to the copy and hashtags that accompany it. When it comes to Instagram you should consider the following items:

  • Composition
  • Color palette
  • Fonts
  • Filters
  • Captions
  • Hashtags

2. Composition

Composition refers to the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art, as distinct from the subject of a work. Not every marketer is an expert photographer, so it can be great to define a few quick composition rules.

These can include things like:

  • Solid background color
  • Main focus of the picture set to the Rule of Thirds
  • Extra space at top/bottom for text

Amy Tangerine, a company that shares “a slice of the sweet life” through an array of scrapbooking products and lifestyle services, is a great example of a clear visual style and composition. Its posts often feature a solid background color or texture allowing the focal point of the composition to stand out clearly.

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3. Color palette

Picking out a color palette will help keep your feed consistent and focused. Having a palette doesn’t mean that you can strictly only use these colors, but it will help your posts have a nice consistent, familiar feeling. It can feel great to keep your color palette in line with other areas of your brand, too.

Frooti, the largest-selling fruit drink brand in India, uses Instagram to showcase their distinct brand personality. A key part of this aesthetic is the vibrant color palette used by the brand:

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In contrast, Everlane uses a much softer color palette across Instagram, staying true to their brand’s signature grey/black/white look:

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4. Fonts

If you’re going to post quotes or text overlays on your Instagram images, you should try to keep the fonts consistent with your brand by choosing the same fonts you use on your website or other marketing materials.

Headspace is a great example of keeping fonts consistent across posts. The mindfulness app regularly shares text-based posts, and by keeping the font in-line with the rest of their brand, followers can instantly recognize Headspace’s content within their feed.

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5. Filters

Instagram filters can make amateur photographers feel like pros. And if you don’t have high-end photography equipment or editing software, they’re a great way to enhance photos with just a few taps. Filters can drastically change the look and feel of a photo or video, so it’s important to use only a few that you feel best represent your brand — and stick to the few you’ve chosen. Using a different filter for every post can quickly make an Instagram feed feel a little disjointed.

6. Captions

Instagram captions are limited to 2,200 characters, and after three lines of text they become truncated with an ellipsis.

Captions are a chance to enhance your content further and there are plenty of ways brands use them. Some choose to treat captions as a place for sharing stories and micro-blogging, others use them to add a short, snappy headline to a post and others use captions to ask questions and encourage replies. The possibilities are endless. What’s important is to ensure the copy is aligned with your brand.

Mailchimp is well known for its unique brand voice – they even had a website dedicated to it — and their fun-loving tone is carried through into their Instagram captions, too:

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Everlane is again a great example of how to use Instagram captions. The brand uses captions to convey a funny, familiar voice that their buyers can relate to. For example, the below post (shared in winter time) is captioned: “About how cold we feel right now.”

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7. Hashtags

Hashtags have become a uniform way to catagorize content on many social media platforms. Hashtags allow Instagrammers to discover content and accounts to follow. Research from Track Maven found that posts with over 11 hashtags tend to get more engagement. 

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Top Tip: If you would like to avoid adding too many hashtags to your caption, you can also add hashtags as comments. For example, you can see below how Amy Tangerine adds additional hashtags to the photo in the comments:

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When it comes to choosing the right hashtags for your content, it’s best to do your research and see which hashtags people in your market are using and which are most active.

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How to get noticed on Instagram: Master design with these great tips for non-designers

If you’re looking to take your Instagram images to the next level and become a better marketer, check out this design dictionary for a crash course on how to better understand design:

Why Every Marketer in 2017 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up

Further reading: 

How to Create Engaging Images for Social Media: A Simple Guide For Non-Designers
Images have never been more important in social. They’re the key to driving greater online engagement, much like a great headline in advertising. This post shares 3 key design principles that will help you create engaging social images every time:

Click here to read now >

47 Amazingly Talented Artists and Designers to Follow on Instagram
To help provide you with some creative inspiration, we’ve curated a group of 47 super-talented artists specializing in a range of disciplines. Follow these insanely accomplished artists and designers to stay ahead of the curve and inspired day-after-day.

Click here to read now >

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How to find your best frequency and timing on Instagram

Best practices and data tips for maximizing your chance for success

There’s a lot to be said for consistency on social media. Consistency and publishing frequency can help your audience learn when to expect new content from you, and keeping a consistent schedule makes sure you maximize engagement without hitting any lulls or stretches without updates.

A study by Union Metrics found that most brands post to Instagram daily. In fact the average was 1.5 posts per day. The study also found — and this was really interesting — that there was no correlation between increased frequency and lower engagement, meaning brands that posted more than twice per day didn’t see any ill effects.

Our best advice here is to aim to post at least once per day on Instagram and experiment with additional posts to find what works best for you.

What time should you post to Instagram?

With Instagram’s recent change to an algorithmic timeline, timing is now one of many elements considered by the algorithm when it decides what content to show you. So it’s important to post at the times when your content is likely to pick up the most engagement. Our hunch here is Instagram’s algorithm may then determine this post should appear near the top of your follower’s feeds.

CoSchedule collected research from 16 social media studies to come up with these best practices for Instagram:

  • Mondays and Thursdays drive the most engagement
  • The time of day with the most engagement is 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern

It could be best to treat these best practices as guidelines and times to test out since the best time to post can rely on a bunch of factors and vary from profile to profile. For example, we’ve found that our best time at Buffer is 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

How to ensure consistent posting on Instagram

Once you’ve determined your content themes and the frequency at which you’d like to post to Instagram, one of the best ways to ensure you stick to your strategy is to create a content calendar that tracks which posts will be shared and when.

The Instagram API doesn’t quite allow scheduling just yet, which means you cannot schedule posts directly on Instagram. To post consistently with Instagram, we schedule Instagram reminders in Buffer (our Instagram marketing software). Here’s how it works:

  1. Find, edit, and upload a beautiful picture to Buffer. Add a caption with hashtags, mentions, and emoji. Schedule for the ideal time.
  2. Receive a push notification on our phone at the scheduled time.
  3. Open the notification, select Open in Instagram, and preview the post.
  4. Make any final edits (filters, geolocation) and share from the Instagram app.

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Buffer for Instagram works by adding a post through Buffer and having a reminder pop up on a user’s phone when it’s time to send it out.

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Dive deeper: How to Find the Most Timely, Consistent Instagram Schedule with Buffer

Researching the best ways to get your brand seen on Instagram, we discovered a pair of common themes: Share your post at the right time to gain traction in the feed, and share to Instagram at a consistent rhythm. Here’s more on how we’ve maximized these two elements (plus 6 more):

Buffer for Instagram is Here: 8 Ways to Get Your Best Instagram Marketing Results with Buffer

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3 tips to help increase your growth and engagement

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1. Embrace user generated content

Instagram users provide a wealth of potential content for your business. Curating content from your followers can help you to build a vibrant and engaged community and user generated content can also incentivize your audience to share their own creative ways of interacting with your products, services or company.

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Must read: Learn how we used user generated content to grow our Instagram audience by 60%

In under 3 months, we grew our Instagram account by 60%  – 5,850 to 9,400 followers. A large percentage of this growth was down to user generated content and in this post, Brian shares our exact strategy:

How We Grew Our Instagram Followers by 60% with User Generated Content

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2. Include some faces in your posts to boost engagement

A study from Georgia Tech looked at 1.1 million random Instagram pictures and discovered these two really interesting bits of information. Pictures with faces get:

  • 38% more likes
  • 32% more comments

This is something HubSpot does very well in its feed to showcase the people behind the company:

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3. Try sharing your Instagram posts to Facebook

A Buzzsumo study of over 1 billion Facebook posts from 3 million brand pages found that images posted to Facebook via Instagram receive more engagement than natively published images:
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Must read: How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram: 10 Proven Tactics To Grow Followers and Engagement

How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram: 10 Proven Tactics To Grow Followers and Engagement

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Measuring your results

How to learn what’s working with your Instagram marketing

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Tracking your performance and results is essential to any social media strategy. This enables you to decipher which types of content your audience finds most engaging and allows you to optimize your strategy as you move forward.

Paying close attention to your audience growth, and the number of likes and comments your posts receive will give you clues as to what’s working and what could maybe be improved. If you’d like to dive even more in-depth, you can work out an engagement rate for each of your posts.

How to calculate engagement rate on Instagram

The engagement rate is calculated by taking the number of likes + comments and dividing that number by the number of followers your account had at the time of posting.

Here’s an example:

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The above post received 210 and 8 comments. At the time of posting, we had 12,343 followers. So the engagement rate would be worked out as follows:

  • 210 (likes) + 8 (comments) = 218
  • 218 / 12,343 (followers) = Engagement rate of 1.76%

Buffer for Instagram analytics 

Buffer’s analytics enable you to check in on your key metrics for networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. With Instagram analytics on Buffer paid plans, you can sort every post by the most popular, most likes, and most comments. You can also select any custom timeframe or from presets like 7, 30, or 90 days. This is a fantastic way to keep an eye on trends and what’s performing.

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Buffer’s Instagram analytics can also help you to find the perfect sharing frequency. Using the ‘Posts Per Day plus Likes’ function you can see how the number of posts per day affect your engagement. Here’s a quick snapshot from our account:

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In addition to these stats, you can also use Buffer for Instagram to:

  • Track post performance
  • Monitor Instagram trends
  • Track comments and hashtag usage
  • Measure audience engagement
  • Report across multiple profiles

Analytics can help you judge the effect of your content, schedule, and frequency of posting on Instagram and measure how it affects important Instagram metrics such as likes and followers.

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Over to you

As you progress with your Instagram marketing strategy, you’ll begin to notice some trends and what types of content help you to reach your goals. It’s never easy to build a loyal, engaged following on any channel, but with the right approach and enough experimenting you’ll find a great fit for your brand.

I hope you found this guide useful and I’d love to continue the discussion about Instagram marketing in the comments below. What are your thoughts on Instagram?

 

You might also enjoy these Instagram marketing resources:
Buffer for Instagram: 8 Ways to Get Your Best Instagram Marketing Results with Buffer
The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Analytics: Metrics, Insights, Tools, and Tips
How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram: 10 Proven Tactics

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Written by Ash Read

Content crafter at Buffer. I’m fascinated by storytelling, entrepreneurship, and travel. When I’m not writing, you’ll usually find me on a football pitch or basketball court.

  • Kelton Manzanares

    Your demographics chart shows % of users in a demographic who use IG, yet your recap of the stats refer to % of IG users who match a demographic. For example, you say “28% of Instagram users live in urban areas.” when it should be “28% of online adults in urban areas are Instagram users.” Same issue for the education demographics recap.

    Thanks for the tips and for launching support of Instagram.

    • Oh, great catch Kelton! Thanks so much for reading through this so closely. We’ll update that right away 🙂

  • Ash – this is a very comprehensive piece, but here is something I’ve struggled with since Instagram business accounts launched: I have multiple accounts, one personal and several for business purposes. One of my accounts was instantly offered the business upgrade, yet the others weren’t, and I can’t find a way to upgrade. Any ideas how to upgrade a standard account to a business account?

    • Hiya Raz! (Kevan, joining in with Ash here)

      Thank you so much for checking out this article. 🙂 Great question on the business accounts! I’ve heard a bit of chatter on this from others, too. 🙂

      Nearest I can tell, the ability to convert to a business account is still rolling out (https://www.facebook.com/business/help/897631030335607), and my sense is that it’s happening on a profile-by-profile basis, rather than user-by-user. Does that seem in line with what you’ve experienced so far? Happy to dig in further if I can keep helping!

      • Thanks Kevan! Do you know if there’s a way to expedite this proces?

        • Ah, sorry Raz! I’ve not found a way to hurry things along much. I’ve had some luck in the past getting to speak with people after opening an ads account, though I’m not sure if that’d work for Instagram or not!

  • Thank you for the detailed, thought through guide – I’ll certainly be sharing it with my networks!

    Joe
    ChurchTrain.uk

    • Awesome! So glad to hear it, Joe. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing a great article!

  • What an awesome and auctionable post here Ash! I’m not on Instagram yet, but when I am, this is the first place I’ll start (for my own businesses and my clients). Happy Monday via @stevehedstrom:disqus – @HedstromMedia

    • Hi Steve! I’m sure you’re destined for great things on Instagram, whenever you pick it up!

  • wordpress website maintenance rockhampton
    nice post.

    http://www.comxdesign.com.au

  • Hi Ash,

    Thanks for including the Union Metrics study in this. We appreciate it!

    – Sarah A. Parker
    Social Media Manager | Union Metrics
    Fine Makers of the Union Metrics Social Suite & more

  • Great article. In the Pew Research breakdown of Instagram demographics, what are the asterics by some of the 2014 data?

    • Sorry, I could have done the research myself. 🙂

      “Percentages marked with an asterisk (*) represent a significant change from 2013.”

      • Hiya Justin! So good to hear from you!

        Thanks for checking this one out. Sorry for leaving out the asterisk info in the original image. Glad to know you were able to hunt it down!

  • Meg_Campbell

    Can you explain how the engagement-rate calculation makes sense? Since we know that not *all* of followers see every post. I realize that Instagram doesn’t give us stats on how many people viewed a photo (only provides views for videos), but I’m fairly sure that this calculation produces % that doesn’t accurately represent reach or engagement. When you calculate engagement rates on Facebook and Twitter, it’s based on how many people viewed the post (reach) / number of likes, comments, shares (engagement).

    • Great question, Meg! You’re exactly right. Measuring engagement rate on Instagram does not get the true rate that you’d see on Facebook or Twitter. It’s a best guess, given the number of followers (which you pointed out may or may not all see your content).

      Would love to hear if you ever spot other ideas on how to track this. We’re all ears!

      • Vasundhara Garg

        Hey Kevan & Meg, sorry for butting in but I had the same question about calculating engagement rates. So far, I was following this approach: Total engagement (likes + comments) divided by ‘Reach’ (no: of people seeing that particular post). So far I was relying on third party applications like Minter.io to tell me my ‘Reach’ for every post but with Instagram for Business I can see that number in the insights tab right below the picture (on Instagram). Let me know if that makes sense.

        • Wonderful! Yep, I believe Instagram has evolved some features since we first published this article and the reach stat in Business is one of those enhancements. Really cool because I think this’ll give you a very accurate engagement rate calclulation. Your math is spot on, Vasundhara!

  • Bartel

    Hello Ash, Is there a PDF version of this amazing handbook ?

    Best.

    • Hi Bartel! Great question. Thought I’d jump in here for Ash with a quick thought. We don’t quite have a ready-made PDF version, though I wonder if it could work to go to Print … > Save as PDF. Seems to work okay from Chrome – happy to help work through this one together more with you!

  • Morag Hughson

    It’s such a shame that Instagram doesn’t allow scheduling yet. I use buffer to schedule posts for when I’m asleep because I’m in NZ and my audience is in USA and Europe. I wouldn’t be awake to receive the notification to do the post. Hopefully they’ll update the API soon.

  • Re: Connecting Instagram and Facebook

    Do you know if there is a way to connect Instagram to Facebook without my personal friends being notified of the link? I manage several Facebook pages, and recently connected a client’s Instagram account to their Facebook page, through my personal Facebook profile. I then noticed my Facebook friends started following that Instagram profile en masse, indicating to me that they received a message like ‘Jonathan is on Instagram as [COMPANY X]’. It’s great to add new followers for the business (!), but I don’t want my personal contacts constantly being notified that I’m on Instagram as [COMPANY X/Y/X etc.]

    ps. thanks for the useful guide – hope this isn’t too off topic 🙂

  • Hannah Clark

    Hello,

    Great piece, I haven’t read it thoroughly yet but had a scan though to see if my query is answered. Little background – I manage the social media for a hotel chain, but just the group pages rather than individual hotels and work from head office, i.e not anywhere nice to take photos of. We have an instagram profile but struggle to populate it from my desktop and the photos of the hotels I have are mainly professional snaps on my computer – how do I manage an instagram account on a desk top? It’s clear that lots of the examples you’ve shown are professional pics so how does that happen? I am sure i am being very dense here but can’t seem to find an answer! Do i need a work phone and load professional pics on my phone to then select from my library to post? Any help would be much appreciated.

  • Haris Aghadi

    Great Post. Super helpful! I think Frooti link is linking to a wrong instagram account. This is the correct one https://www.instagram.com/thefrootilife/

  • If you need fast Followers then Hire Social Media Expert. Read More Just go Our Web site

  • Zayd-Awadallah: Guides & Courses
    A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing: Get the Playbook That Drives Results for Instagram’s Top Profiles

  • Corey

    The guide is not bad. But the main thing in IG is followers, how to get them? You can search it, there is many tips in internet, but the fastest way to reach it is zen-promo.com that finds followers right in your city.

  • DigitalDatas

    Heres a good fiverr (cost $5) gig to market your IG I was impressed with https://www.fiverr.com/connect2k/explode-your-instagram-follows-and-interaction-for-72hrs

  • Loic Alix-brown

    Thank you for some good info. I came across an amazing IG guide called IG Ascend, available here: http://www.igascend.com it has over 240 pages of really clear and detailed tips to grow your instagram account. You really want to check it out.

  • bufferapp says that markets are conversations and this is clearly reflected in social networks.
    This is critical taken into account because social networks are going to talk, to talk, not to overwhelm or burdening with constant advertising messages. You’re not going to talk about you, you talk and converse with others, also what interested them, like you do when you go out at night a weekend with friends. http://www.arasuweddingphotography.com

  • Abegail Smith

    Great Article! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Thanks for this amazing post @Ashread_ ! I got inspired by all the great posts on this subject and as I have been doing a lot of experimentation with Instagram in the last year, I decided to put together my own post about Instagram marketing and specifically how accounts really go big these days. I truly believe Instagram still is the best social media platform for marketing and sharing content. It’s not yet over-saturated and the engagement rates are super high compared to FB or Twitter. Would you mind checking out my post at: http://gettinggrowth.com/become-famous-on-instagram/ and giving me your honest feedback on it? I’d really appreciate that! 🙂

    Either way, keep up the good work!
    Cheers,
    Johannes

    • Ben Miller

      I agree with you Johannes. Great guide for people who are just starting out in affiliate marketing,
      I also did the same and got enormous results. Instagram has far better post reach that Facebook and Twitter. It’s quite
      easy to make money on Instagram. You can start your own business easily.
      Just create an account. You’ll have access to the entire web and unlimited selling potential.
      The risk and investment is so minimal, and the earning potential is huge. You can outsource freelancers for
      cheap to do all the technical parts. Just find your niche, you don’t need any previous knowledge or skills. All you need is the perfect idea!
      I’m using Instagram Pocket Rocket.. awesome and easy method to grow Instagram account and earn from it. I’m using it about 10 days, earned good so far (about $500).

      • Great to hear Ben! What’s your Instagram account? Let’s connect! 🙂

  • Rosy Gown

    Thanks for some good info. http://www.pixxelznet.com

  • Suresh K

    I need not go anywhere else to learn how to leverage instagram marketing as you have covered in-depth. Thanks for sharing this with us it is a worth read.

    Digital Marketing Course

  • Gabriel R

    Hey thanks for the great post!
    This will really help me for one of my marketing projects this semester.

  • Kevin Dettman

    Instagram marketing and making money is not difficult at all. It doesn’t cost anything to get started (most times), and anybody can do it. You can work from home and earn in multiple ways, depending on your interest, availability of time and relevant skills. I run my Instagram business using Instagram Pocket Rocket method.. So far I managed to earn couple thousands of $.

  • great post nice one

  • Anesh Maharaj

    Amazing article, thank you for all the valuable info!

  • Thanks for this article. I was told many months ago by a friend that Instagram was going to help me build my blog following, but I honestly didn’t see how.

    Now I am going to take another look at it!

  • UniversityGram.org

    Thanks for the post, I appreciate the walk through of the business side of Instagram, as I am going to be promoting and posting for my website, http://universitygram.org through a business account very soon. I offer Instagram guides on my website, but sites like these let me expand my own knowledge to stay ahead of the curve and competition, so that I can offer truly cutting-edge guides for my readers.

    With the great tips you’ve shared, i’ll be able to manage the accounts I plan to create as businesses for promotion and exposure. I’ll be using the websites you’ve suggested and hopefully continue to do so once they prove their worth. I look forward to hearing more from you, i’m about to do a quick search on your name on this website to see if that brings anything up. See you around, and keep it up!

  • Tom Lauck

    Is there any way to get this post in pdf format?