Instagram Marketing Guide: 2021 Strategy (With 28 Hacks)

Rafaella Aguiar

Rafaella Aguiar

Last Updated: Apr 15, 2021

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In 2021, Instagram has become a critical piece of the marketing puzzle for many brands and businesses. Whether you think your company has a place on Instagram or not, there’s a good chance your ideal customers may be on the platform just waiting to follow you and learn more about your brand, products or services. 

What Is Instagram Marketing?

It’s quite self explanatory, but there are many different facets to Instagram marketing. Did you know that 90% of Instagram’s 1 billion users follow a business? With numbers like that, it makes sense that your company should have a presence on the platform. That said, there are so many ways you can actually use Instagram to market and promote your brand. 

The first step is to create a complete Instagram marketing strategy so you know exactly how to use the platform to your advantage. When you have a strategy in place, you’ll also be able to evaluate if your content and tactics are indeed paying off for your brand.

How To Develop An Instagram Marketing Strategy For 2021

There’s so much to consider when creating your Instagram marketing strategy in 2021. After all, the platform just released Reels, they already had Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live, feed posts, advertising. Now Instagram guides are becoming more popular on Instagram. 

instagram guides on the platform
promoting on instagram

It might feel like there’s always something new to learn and do on the app. And while that might be the case, you’ll want to create your Instagram marketing strategy so you don’t lose too much time exploring new things that might not lead to results. So, here are 6 steps to creating an Instagram marketing strategy.

  1. Determine your goals. Do you want to generate sales from Instagram? Get more email subscribers? Build connections? Write down what success would look like for you on the platform.
  2. Decide on a posting schedule. How often will you consistently be able to post on Instagram? Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  3. Consider how you’ll grow your followers and engagement. After all, that’s the purpose of being on the app.
  4. Set up your Instagram account and make sure it’s a business profile. This will give you access to additional insights.
  5. Consider paid forms of promotion, like ads or influencer marketing.
  6. Create a plan to analyze your performance so you can see what’s working and what’s not.

If any of these steps felt overwhelming, don’t worry. We have 28 different Instagram marketing hacks you can use to support your strategy and create an implementable plan to make 2021 your best year yet on Instagram.

Instagram Marketing Hacks

For ease, let’s break these hacks down into seven different sections so you can find the best hacks to support your goals.

Content Creation Hacks

1. Content Calendar

Let’s start with the most basic hack: create a content calendar. Once you know how often you want to publish content, you can organize and plan it in advance so you can see what you’ll publish when. It can also be helpful to have a rhythm to your content. 

For example, @socialcurators uses a pattern to help them create content. You’ll regularly see posts about their team, clients they’ve helped, their founder Jasmine Star, quotes, sneak peeks into the Social Curator service, and more. By having these categories, they can easily create high-quality content for their followers to see.

social curators grid on instagram

2. User-Generated Content

To help you with your content creation, consider creating a campaign to generate user-generated content (UGC), like GoPro does. Not only will it take some of the creation work off of your shoulders, it also helps strengthen your followers’ trust in you. People expect brands to say good things about themselves. It means more when it comes from your users. You can search to see if anyone’s posting about your brand, or create a hashtag so your users can create content on your behalf. Just remember to ask them for permission before you re-post!

go pro using ugc

3. Repurposing Content

We mentioned earlier that there are many types of content within Instagram. We’ll get deeper into those types later, but it’s important to remember that you won’t necessarily need to create brand new content for each sub-platform. 

Instead, create an IGTV video, post it to your feed and also share it in your Stories. You can also use the same content on other social media platforms, in your emails or on your website to extend the life of your content. For instance, @stacytuschl uses her Instagram feed to promote her podcast, and she also shares a clip to her Stories.

stacytuschl promoting her podcast on instagram

4. Prepare Photos In Advance

Don’t catch yourself off-guard. When you plan your content calendar in advance, make sure you have photos or images ready to go. Take advantage of outings or times that you have a camera around to batch photos. These could be of your product, members of the team or anything that works well with your brand.

For example, @juliareneeconsulting planned for a photo shoot and then uses those photos across her feed. Followers don’t care if you have the same outfit!

julianreneeconsulting instagram grid

Follower Growth Hacks

5. Consistent Branding

The next part of your Instagram marketing to focus on is growing your following. One way to do this is by making it easy for potential followers to choose to hit “follow.” The best way to do this is by using consistent branding on your posts. When your potential followers visit your page, they want to know what to expect from you.

By creating well-branded content, you’re making a promise to your followers, and they can be confident of the kind of content they’ll see. Here, @turtlecreeklane shows that she posts primarily home decor for various holidays, so people can easily decide whether or not they want to follow her.

instagram profile with consistent branding

6. Cross-Promotion

So, we talked about repurposing your content on other platforms, but you can also promote your Instagram account on other platforms, too. Your trusted followers on other sites are likely to want to see your Instagram content, too, so share your Instagram content and have a link to your profile on other social media platforms, in your email signature and more.

Internet personalities Rhett and Link have their various social media platforms, including Instagram, linked to their Facebook page.

rhett and link's example of their multiple social profiles

7. Hashtags

It’s true: hashtags can be an excellent source for growing your followers. The key is to find and use the right hashtags. You don’t want to use hashtags with millions of posts, otherwise yours will get lost. The more specific you can be, the better, and the more targeted audience you’ll find. You can use up to 30 hashtags, and add a mixture of sizes and types of hashtags, like @jacquelineplans has done.

examples of using multiple hashtags on a post on instagram

8. Consistent Content

Believe it or not, one of the best things you can do to attract (and retain) followers through Instagram marketing is by creating content consistently. It will give your followers a reason to stick around, and when someone considers following you, they’ll have some content to scroll through to see if they’re a good fit.

You don’t have to post every single day, but stick to a schedule that works for you, like @scoutcreativeagency.

scoutcreativeagency instagram profile

Engagement Hacks

9. Giveaways

When it comes to Instagram marketing, engagement reigns supreme. When your followers are engaging with your content, it shows Instagram that people see your content as valuable. If you’re looking to improve your engagement rate, one of the simplest ways to do that is by hosting giveaways. 

We mentioned giveaways as a way to grow your followers, but you can also use them to improve your engagement, too. Ashley Lemieux gives her audience the chance to win various things, like merchandise from her shop, by engaging with her posts throughout the week.

giveaway example on instagram

10. Give Engagement

The best way to get engagement on Instagram is to give engagement. Find your ideal customers and followers on Instagram and leave comments and likes on their posts. They’ll be more likely to come back and engage with you. Also, respond to as many comments as possible that people leave on your posts, like @bewellbykelly does. This encourages them to come back and leave more comments later.

bewellbykelly engaging with her followers on instagram

11. Write Strong Captions

Another great way to improve your engagement rate on Instagram is by writing better, more compelling captions. Many people will do what they are asked, so make sure you’re asking your followers to engage with your posts. Even if you add a simple call to action like “double tap if you agree” or “comment below,” you can get more people to engage with your posts, like @thestarttodaybrand

example of a caption with a CTA

12. Optimize Your Stories

Instagram Stories is one of the best places to increase your engagement and improve your Instagram marketing. You can add stickers that prompt engagement like @livingwithlandyn, ask for DMs in response to a question or simply make quality content that your audience will want to watch.

question sticker on Instagram

Using Instagram For Business

13. Optimize Your Profile

When you use Instagram for business, you want to make sure you have a business profile. You’ll be able to access far more information that way. You’ll also want to optimize your profile so that it’s ready to convert potential followers into followers. With a clear statement of who you are and what you do, a good profile picture, highlights if applicable and a link to show followers where to go, you’ll be all set, just like @lifting.faith.

optimized instagram profile

14. Instagram Reels

The newest Instagram feature, Reels, is growing in popularity, and now’s the time to jump on it for your business. Whether you want to try out dance moves or simply clap in time to the beat and overlay text with business tips, you’re sure to find a Reels style that works for you and your personal brand. Reels are a great way to get your brand in front of new people, so take advantage of that exposure like @rebellenutrition.

instagram reels

15. IGTV

Another great Instagram marketing strategy is to really dive into IGTV. This is where you can upload long-form video content to really teach your followers something, like @staysnatched does, or bring them along for an extended behind-the-scenes. You can also repurpose your YouTube videos for IGTV (or vice versa), but it’s helpful to edit them so they’re vertical for IGTV. 

IGTV videos on instagram

16. Instagram Shopping

This is one of the newer Instagram marketing strategies, but if you haven’t used Instagram shopping yet and you sell physical products, it’s time to add it to your plan, like Urban Outfitters does. You can give your followers the ability to purchase from you within Instagram itself, which cuts down on the chances that they’ll decide not to purchase while they’re clicking away from Instagram to get to your shop.

instagram shopping tags

Influencer Marketing

17. Strategy

Influencer marketing is one of the best methods of Instagram marketing, so let’s dive right into it. The best way to work with influencers is by creating a strategy. Begin by making a list of all the influencers you think could work well with your brand. You’ll want to strategically choose people whose audience is filled with your ideal followers. Once you have your list ready to go, it’s time to put it to use.

18. Takeovers

Reach out to one of the influencers on your list, and begin to build a relationship with them. Once they know who you are and what your brand does, consider pitching a takeover to them. In this case, they would come and take over your brand’s Instagram Stories for a day. They’d encourage their followers to follow your page to see their adventures, and they’d likely talk about your brand throughout the day, too. You can also have someone take over your feed posts, or at least promote the takeover in your feed, like @thechristhospital.

takeover feed post

19. Sponsored Posts

This might be even more common than takeovers. Have you seen a post on Instagram that’s been accompanied by #ad or #sponsored? Then you’ve seen a sponsored post from an influencer. Consider talking to some of the influencers on your list to see if they’d be interested in a relationship like this. Remember that influencers, like @laurenlane, are protective of their followers and will likely only say yes if they feel your brand is a good fit.

sponsored post on instagram

20. Instagram Live

Did you know you can bring other people onto your Instagram Lives with you? Try scheduling a Live with one of the influencers on your list, and encourage them to promote it to their followers. You could interview them, do a Q&A, have a celebration like @cultivatewhatmatters or just have a conversation about things related to your brand or industry.

instagram live

Instagram Tools & Services

21. Kicksta

You don’t have to do all of your Instagram marketing alone, you know. There are plenty of services and tools that exist that you can use to help you along the way. First of all, let’s talk about engagement marketing and Kicksta. Earlier we mentioned that one of the best ways to generate engagement was to give engagement, but that can take time. Let Kicksta take that effort off your hands so you can enjoy the benefits of attracting real, organic Instagram followers who are excited to see your posts.

kicksta dashboard

22. url.bio

Another tool that can be helpful to have for Instagram marketing is a link in bio tool. When you take advantage of your one clickable link, you can send your followers to multiple pages instead of just one. This is the most efficient use of your link, and it decreases stress on you when it comes to remembering to change out your links. We recommend url.bio for its clean look and customization abilities.

url.bio homepage

23. Canva

Instagram is a visuals-based app, and that means your photos and graphics need to be top-tier. Don’t worry – you don’t need to have a graphic design degree to create high-quality posts, but you should make use of supporting tools. Canva is one of the easiest, most intuitive graphic design tools. Softwares like Canva can make all the difference when it comes to your Instagram marketing.

canva homepage

24. Buffer

Finally, as you’re implementing all of these Instagram marketing strategies, it’s a good idea to invest in a tool that will help you roll them out easily. With Buffer, you can schedule your posts in advance so you don’t have to concern yourself with remembering them each day. They also provide analytics so you can see insights about your posts and which ones are resonating with your audience.

Buffer homepage

Instagram Ads

25. Ad Strategy

Instagram ads are a great tool for Instagram marketing if you’re willing to put some money behind your content. Instagram offers many different forms of advertising, and you can niche down your audience as tightly as you’d like. Not only can you choose from basic demographic information, but you can also target users based on their interests or behaviors. Remember: ads will also let you have an active link, no matter where they’re placed, so make sure you have a relevant link ready to go.

26. Story Ads

One popular type of Instagram ads is the Story ad. Instagram Stories in general are incredibly popular, and many users spend their time there, tapping through and watching updates. If you can create a native-looking advertisement, you can easily reach your ideal followers through Story ads.

instagram story ad

27. Carousel Ads

With carousel ads, you can showcase multiple photos to highlight various products or benefits to your target audience. Users can easily swipe through to see each of your images. Use these to show different angles, different products or even testimonials and reviews from your happy customers and followers.

instagram carousel ad
instagram carousel ad

28. Video Ads

Finally, it’s true that video is still king in Instagram marketing, as well as on other platforms. People like to watch video, so turning your ads into videos can help capture more people’s attention and deliver your information in a more compelling way. No matter how you choose to advertise, though, your ads are sure to find the right people.

instagram video ad

Improve Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

So there you have it: 28 different hacks to improve your Instagram marketing strategy. Many of these tips can overlap, so make sure you take some time to think through and plan your strategy before you begin implementing any of these individually. Which one are you most excited to try?

Instagram Growth Hacks

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