Instagram has more than 700 million monthly active users, and 32 percent of
all internet users have an Instagram profile.
It’s not just younger consumers that PR and marketing pros can reach
through the platform, either.
Jenn Herman, author of “The Ultimate Guide to Instagram” and owner of Jenn’s Trends, a Top 10 Social
Media Blog, says that 33 percent of Instagram users are 30 to 49 years old,
and 18 percent are 50 to 64 years old.
Even so, PR and marketing pros often approach Instagram marketing without a
proper strategy—and without enough forethought.
“Many people think, how hard can it be to upload a photo?” Herman says.
Successful Instagram marketing is more than just posting a perfect shot.
Here are four power tips that can launch your efforts on the visual app:
1. Know your audience.
PR and marketing pros should start by getting acquainted with the consumers
of their content. Herman advises:
Know who your audience is, what they want from Instagram, and what your
goals are as a business. Marketing for a public figure will have different
strategic tactics from someone marketing a local restaurant.
Let your wisdom guide your content decisions, too. PR and marketing pros
should focus on their specific audiences, avoiding getting caught up in the
rush to attract “hot” demographics such as millennials.
“If [your] audience is women over 50, create content for that audience.
Don’t assume you have to create content that everyone else says performs
well on Instagram,” Herman says.
2. Start with a strong foundation.
A successful Instagram strategy begins with a clearly branded profile that
matches your organization’s voice.
[Use] a business profile on Instagram in order to make it easy for
customers to contact you, but also to allow your profile to be recognized
as a reputable brand. Your bio on your profile should also be fun, relevant
and intriguing. It should convince someone as to why they should follow
your account on Instagram. Essentially, that bio is your elevator speech to
convince newcomers of your value.
From there, PR and marketing pros should focus on crafting outstanding
content and remember that quality supersedes quantity.
“Posting three to five times a week, with great content, is more than
sufficient to get good reach and exposure to your audience,” Herman says.
“Posting more than twice a day will typically hurt your brand in multiple
3. Match your Instagram strategy to other marketing efforts, but don’t
“An Instagram strategy should complement any other marketing strategies,”
Herman says. “It should not work in a silo.”
Herman advises PR and marketing pros to create “cohesive content” for
Instagram that can help you achieve your goals. This content should not be
regurgitated posts from Facebook or Twitter—nor should you automatically
share all your Instagram posts on other platforms—but your efforts on the
visual app should complement your other social marketing campaigns.
Each platform should have its own strategy, content and captions. If you
have branded colors, a certain tone or voice, a style or personality that
is prevalent in your brand, that same style should continue to Instagram.
If you’re polished and professional everywhere else, don’t be goofy and
childish on Instagram. If your colors are bold and bright elsewhere, don’t
have muted pale tones on Instagram.
Don’t assume that what works on Facebook or Twitter will also work on
“It is its own unique platform that requires a unique strategy to see real
results,” Herman says.
4. Look beyond numbers when embracing ‘influencer’ marketing.
that digital advertising budgets will surpass TV outlays in 2017, and it
reported that 84 percent of marketers are launching at least one
“influencer” marketing campaign this year.
More than 40 percent of marketers found more success by working with
influential social media users than through traditional ad campaigns, and
this year 63 percent are increasing the amount they spend on campaigns
featuring online users with large followings.
Many PR and marketing pros are turning to Instagram power users to help
boost their presence and reach more potential customers. Still, Herman
advises brand managers not to get caught up in follower numbers when
selecting a brand advocate.
“When looking to partner with influencers, look at engagement, not just the
number of followers they have,” Herman says.
An account with 100k followers and 100 likes per photo is not an
influencer. But an account with 10k followers and 500 likes per photo and
dozens of comments per photo is someone with power in their audience.
Make sure the Instagram heavyweight you retain can back up his or her
promises to deliver brand awareness and leads.
You also want to know what sort of results the influencer has created for
other partners. Did partnering with this person generate more leads,
traffic, sales, or other outcome? A good influencer will have that data for
Though experience working with organizations can be a positive trait in an
influential Instagram user, avoid those whose profiles are littered with
ads and other sponsored content.
“Someone who is working with a different brand every week and constantly
promoting a broad range of products or accounts is not going to drive big
results. They’re too diluted, and their audience has stopped listening to
them,” Herman says.
5. Hashtag it.
“Hashtags are super-powerful on Instagram and can ensure your content
reaches a whole new audience daily,” Herman says.
Make sure you’re using the tool on each of your Instagram posts—and it’s OK
to use a heavy hand. Herman says:
Use at least 15 hashtags (you can use up to 30) on each post, combining
popular hashtags (over 500k posts), with moderately popular hashtags
(100k–500k), and niche-specific hashtags along with your branded hashtags
for best results.
Hashtags can increase visibility and deliver your content to an entirely
new group of consumers, but PR and marketing pros shouldn’t forget calls to
Though Herman says that the tactic shouldn’t be employed on every Instagram
post, PR and marketing pros should provide easy-to-follow instructions in
the post’s caption, with a matching link in your business profile:
… [W]hen pushing for action from your audience (to read a new blog post,
sign up for an opt-in, grab a free download, utilize a promo code, shop for
a product, etc.), include a call to action in your post caption that
instructs them to click on the link in your bio. Then, make sure that the
link in your bio actually goes to that exact page on your website!
You can learn more from Jenn Herman, along with speakers from Tronc,
Virgin America, Sprint, Microsoft and more, at our
PR Now & Next Conference on July 20–21 in Chicago.