This week in #bufferchat, Buffer’s social media manager, Brian Peters, stopped by to share his expertise all about Instagram marketing. We were super excited to discuss strategies, share advice and swap tips, the day after we launched Buffer for Instagram! In the chat, we talked about the kinds of posts that get the best engagement, our essential Instagram tools, and much more!

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia (or anyone in other timezones that like this time the best!): 4 pm AEST (Sydney time, UTC+10)

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Bufferchat on July 13, 2016: Instagram Marketing

This week’s stats:
1st Bufferchat: 102 participants; 413 tweets; reach of 857,039
2nd Bufferchat: 311 participants; 2,033 tweets; reach of 1,531,427

Q1: How (or when) can Instagram be a great addition to your marketing strategy?

From Brian:

  • I’m a big believer in the power of Insta marketing for any brand – more than 400 million people use it each month!
  • That also means there’s a ton of content being published everyday. Brands have to ask: what can I do to stand out?
  • To stand out, brands can focus on quality of photos/videos, the aesthetic of the account, and consistency of posts.

From the community:

  • #Instagram lends you power of visual storytelling! You can engage, meet new users and bring your company to life.” @YellingMule
  • “It’s a great addition if you have highly visual content or can leverage your content and MAKE IT highly visual.” @nicoleyoley159
  • “Instagram is great for marketing specific interests/communities (runners, hikers, makeup enthusiasts, fashion, etc).” @nancycasanova
  • “Love that Instagram can tell stories & share memories in a visual library. Also IG can promote other social content.” @djramirezxo
  • “Instagram can give insight into company culture or transport an industry peer to a conference, award show, etc.” @Wilde_Agency

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: What are some creative ways to bring more awareness and followers to your Instagram account?

From Brian:

  • 1 of the best ways to gain awareness/followers on #Instagram is to partner w/ your community & other relevant brands.
  • The key is to do this in an strategic way. Avoid tactics like “share 4 share” and go for real, authentic partnerships.
  • The more relevant brands and community members that you team up with the more exposure you will get! It’s a win-win!

From the community:

  • “Make a hashtag and ask people to contribute to it, repost their images with a shoutout, make it fun!” @michemakeswords
  • “Have an influencer (with a lot of followers on IG) take over your IG account for 2-3 days.” @SaneFive
  • “Always add a location. Adding location drives 79% higher engagement on Instagram.” @Lynnstin
  • “A brand journey! It can be a road trip, a convention, a scavenger hunt. Encourage folks to add their images.” @modsquad
  • “Engaging with people posting photos from the same location at the same time tends to do well!” @cassipolzin

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What kinds of Instagram posts get the best engagement that you’ve seen?

From Brian:

  • When it comes to engagement of Instagram, there are 2 big “buckets” of content that I see drive huge likes + comments.
  • In the 1st bucket is incredibly beautiful or awe-inspiring photography. We’ve all seen those amazing accounts!
  • 2nd bucket is super relevant, useful, insightful, & authentic content. From inside the office to #socialmedia smarts.
  • Touching on #Hashtags – We’ve seen some great results posting our hashtags as the first comment instead of the caption itself.

From the community:

  • “The ones with the right hashtags, usually! Nice visual layouts too – good lighting & placement.” @aumsome
  • “Aerial shots, angles you don’t normally see, and posts with lots of bright colors.” @The_ChrisBryant
  • “Personally, those IG posts that tell a story and make a person/brand seem human get the most attention from me!” @danielleirogers
  • “Also, Boomerang “videos” have been very successful from what I’ve seen. Highly visual, still engaging but not too long.” @nicoleyoley159
  • “Captions are important too! “Tag a friend you’d share this with” usually boosts engagement for brands.” @Corrie_Jones

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How can timing and consistency of posts help you get the most engagement with Instagram?

From Brian:

  • I think consistency and timing on Instagram are two of the most overlooked aspects of really growing account.
  • Even with Instagram’s new algorithm, brands that post at least once per day are the ones that are growing the fastest.
  • When it comes to timing it’s super important to test, test, test. Once you’ve found a good 2-hour span, stick with it!
  • That’s why I am SO excited for Buffer for Instagram! It has helped me in a huge way with consistency and timing.

From the community:

  • “Knowing when your audience is more active on the platform helps both follower engagement & your reach.” @FatherFoodFun
  • “Be consistent and on brand, but DO NOT post to post – volume of pics does not equal quality.” @Toby_Metcalf
  • “Since IG implemented an algorithm, it’s VERY important to balance both quality + timing for people to see your post.” @winniegiang
  • “People learn what to expect when you post consistently. Check out your analytics for times to post.” @roaxroamer
  • “Consistency is key (if what you’re doing is working). If not, you should be experimenting with time & frequency.” @ronniecharrier

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: What are your top 3 essential tools for using Instagram for marketing?

From Brian:

  • #1 has to be Buffer for Instagram. 🙂 Since we rolled out this awesome new feature it has been a game changer for us!
  • #2 is Pro. It’s a robust analytics and community engagement tool that I use on a daily basis. Love it.
  • #3 is Repost Pro – It’s an awesome tool we use to get photos from our community members featured in
  • Those would be my favorite Instagram-specific tools for engagement. , and Photoshop rock for image creation!

From the community:

  • Scheduling & Management:
    • Buffer for Instagram
    • Hootsuite
    • Picodash
    • Planoly
    • Schedugram
    • SocialRank
  • Photo & Video Editing:
    • Pablo by Buffer
    • Canva
    • Boomerang by Instagram
    • Photoshop
    • Snapseed
    • Over
    • Color Story
    • Afterlight
    • VSCO
    • Gif2Video
    • Facetune
    • VivaVideo
    • Vidstich
    • InstaGrid
    • PHHHOTO
    • Photofy
    • Snappa.io
    • Prisma
    • Pixlr
  • Reposting:
    • Repost App
  • Data/Analytics:
    • Iconosquare
    • Squarelovin
    • SumAll
    • AudienseCo
  • Hashtag Tracking:
    • RiteTag
    • Hashtagify
    • Hashme
    • TagBoard

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: Which brands are using Instagram really well, and how?

From Brian:

  • Love this question! Brands rocking #Instagram right now are MailChimp, Photoshop (Adobe), REI, & NatGeo Travel.
  • MailChimp is quirky w/ many of their posts, but it works for their brand because it’s authentic & shows personality.
  • I’m a huge fan of #UGC! Photoshop, REI, and NatGeo curate user-generated content with the best of em’.
  • But there are thousands of other amazing brands on Instagram right now that I didn’t mention – We love you all!
  • I’m also quite fond of our #Instagram at Buffer!  #shameless plug.

From the community: 

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: In your opinion, what could the future of Instagram look like?

From Brian:

  • Love this! Well, Instagram is owned by Facebook and so I definitely see it following in a similar path under Zuck.
  • I.e., sophisticated business tools, advanced algorithm, better performing (and more) paid ads, and video skyrocketing.
  • I also see the advancement of shopping and purchases within the app itself. Way beyond the integrations available now.
  • Just for fun – What if Instagram started streaming Live events? Sports, concerts, news, etc. “Live” is the future.

From the community:

  • “Utopia = 360 video/photos + more community features + more user-control to see what matters most to us, 1st.” @_KirstenT
  • “The messaging feature of Instagram is so underdeveloped and has SOO much potential. Future will involve messaging for sure!” @Ideon_Agency
  • “Augmented reality. Hold your iPhone up and see all the photos you and friends took in that area.” @TeecycleTim

See all the great answers to question 7 here!

Thank you so much to Brian for sharing all of his awesome insights, and to everyone who participated in this chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PST, 12 pm EST, 5 pm BST (GMT+1)  **OR** at 4 pm AEST (Sydney time, UTC+10). Join our Slack community with over 2,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!