The Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing in 2021

Instagram Marketing Guide

Instagram is one of the best channels to showcase your products. But launching a marketing campaign for your Instagram account isn’t as simple as publishing posts, using the right hashtags, having a catchy caption, and hoping they sell your products. Sure, you may get some followers from an Instagram post and occasionally snag a few sales. But this approach rarely succeeds long-term in today’s competitive environment. 

If you want to craft an Instagram strategy that fuels sustainable growth, you’ll want to use a variety of different campaigns. One campaign that scales really well is Chat Marketing. Only then will you be able to create a foundation for acquiring and retaining customers and see the type of predictable growth you’re looking to achieve with social media promotion.

This guide will help you understand the benefits of Instagram marketing, how it’s different from advertising on other channels, and offer tips on creating an Instagram strategy that’ll help you enhance your online presence and sell more products in your store.

How effective is Instagram marketing?

For starters, Instagram has over one billion monthly active users and 500 million daily Instagram Stories. And the engagement rate is high on the platform. While it’s not yet as big as Facebook, Instagram’s selling power should not be underestimated.

Instagram user count
Image courtesy of: Oberlo

Instagram is a powerful marketing tool for online stores. Nearly 11% of US social media users shop on Instagram; 130 million people tap on Instagram Shopping posts every month. Furthermore, people are using Instagram earlier in the buying cycle, with 81% using the social media platform to research products and services. Instagram’s Explore feature makes it easy for users to find new products with ease.

Creating an Instagram strategy is worth the effort for your online business on your business profile. Just check out the following stats:

  1. Approximately 80% of users on Instagram follow at least one business profile, and 72% of users say they’ve purchased a product they’ve seen on the platform.
  2. Around 62% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Instagram Story.
  3. Instagram’s potential advertising reach is almost 850 million users
  4. On average, Brand Stories have an 85% completion rate, a stellar engagement metric by any measure.

According to a study from video tech company VidMob, nearly one-third of users buy directly from an Instagram ad. The top reasons? It looked like a product they liked, and the price was right. The lesson here is that Instagram is not a panacea; you need to know your audience’s tastes and price sensitivities to be successful.

Instagram marketing – how it’s different

Instagram is an incredibly visual platform. People use it to share moments of their lives. They’re not going to use Instagram to check your business hours or see if their friends checked into your store. They use the platform to while away the hours watching entertaining videos and scrolling through curated images, making it the perfect platform to build a brand and attract new customers.

Here are other key ways Instagram differs from other social media platforms:

  1. Easier access to younger demographics. If you want to run a successful millennial marketing strategy, Instagram is a good place to start. According to Statista, 35% of US teens rate Instagram as their favorite social network, second only to Snapchat. In addition, 75% of 18 – 24-year-olds use Instagram, while 57% of 25 – 30-year-olds use the platform.
  2. Better content display. The Instagram feed layout helps people decide if they’ll follow you or not. The Instagram grid allows you to express your brand in a unique, creative way, unlike other social media channels.
  3. More active users. Around 63% of Instagram users log in at least once a day and spend an average of 28 minutes per day on the app. Over 200 million Instagrammers visit a profile at least once a day during these 28 minutes. Aim to make your Instagram profile one to visit. 

Much of the content on Instagram is algorithmically served up to users. The posts they see are determined by their interests and behaviors, making it easier for you to reach people who are likely to engage with your brand. Instagram also includes an Explore feature for finding new types of content so people can seek out new accounts they want to follow. 

Instagram marketing strategy tips

There are dozens of marketing campaigns you can run on Instagram including contests, giveaways, blog post promos, influencer marketing, Instagram ads, and much more. Here are some tips for stronger Instagram insights to help you get started with marketing on Instagram.

1. Create an Instagram marketing plan

If you’re new to Instagram marketing, don’t sweat it. We’ve highlighted some best practices that will help you create a successful Instagram marketing strategy. 

D​​​​efine your audience

No matter what products you sell, you need to understand who comprises your target audience to communicate with them. Finding this audience means working out what kinds of people are most likely to be interested in your products. Businesses often look at demographics such as:

  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Profession 
  4. Income
  5. Location
  6. Marital status

ManyChat gives you the power to find value in any part of your contact list: You can use subscriber activity and eCommerce data to create Lookalike Audiences on Instagram that will enable you to show the right ads to the right people. 

ManyChat also lets you dig a little deeper to segment your audience so you can send them personalized texts or Messenger conversations that increase engagement, build meaningful relationships, and generate ROI. 

Track sign-up sources

Some of the most valuable data you’ll collect from an Instagram audience will come from followers you’ve turned into contacts. If you’re an online business utilizing ManyChat, knowing whether your contacts joined from an Instagram Story or feed ad can give you a better idea of how to communicate with them and streamline your future marketing efforts. 

Decide what to post

Now that you know who you’re trying to reach, it’s time to think about what you’re posting on Instagram. What do you want to communicate to your audience? What is your social media marketing strategy?

You’ll want to post content purposefully that resonates with your audience; always keep in mind why someone would want to follow you. There are plenty of apps available that help you schedule posts or see what your competitors are doing to help you take a more data-driven approach to social media.

The Instagram algorithm is constantly changing and doing its best to maximize clicks and engagement on the platform. The best times to post change constantly so it’s worth experimenting to see what works best for your brand.

Establish publishing frequency

There’s no golden rule about how often you should post on Instagram. Big fashion brands post multiple times a day to constantly show off new looks; a small business with fewer resources may post two or three times a week to keep followers excited about their offerings. 

According to social media management software provider Sprout Social, to get maximum visibility on Instagram, you’ll want to schedule one to three Instagram posts per day on your feed and publish two to five Instagram Stories per day. 

Keep those recommendations in mind, but ultimately choose a publishing schedule that works best for you. You can always check engagement and conversion metrics and adjust the frequency of your posts as needed. 

2. Create visually appealing content

Instagram is a visual medium. You’ll want to post high-quality images and videos that keep your followers entertained, or they’ll likely tune out and unfollow you. While you don’t need professional photography (smartphone cameras with good lighting can work wonders for product images), make sure your photos are well-lit, well-composed, and, above all, in focus. 

When crafting Instagram posts, focus on your message and create a compelling design. Your photos should help tell a story and keep Instagram users entertained and excited. (Sensing a trend here? Exciting = good for engagement.)

Not sure what to post? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Tutorial posts: Teaching your followers how to achieve a goal can help build trust on Instagram
  2. Product posts: Show off your products in all their glory with attractive images and amusing videos
  3. Behind the scenes: Offer people a look at your storefront, office, or creation process 
  4. User-generated content: Turn the spotlight onto your customers by “regramming” their posts about your business 
  5. Recorded or live video: Post up to a 60-second video on your feed or use IGTV to publish longer-form video content. And an Instagram Live broadcast can be a great way to build a connection with your audience.
  6. Instagram ReelsCreate short 30-second videos with audio and AR effects (similar to what you’d do with TikTok) to share with followers

When planning your Instagram content, consider signing up for Instagram Shopping. Once you get set up, you can add product tags and stickers to your Instagram posts and Stories, and your followers can buy items straight from your content.  

Read more: Top 9 Social Media Marketing Tips to Grow Your Brand

3. Test Instagram ads

Instagram ads, like their Facebook equivalents, are an easy way to promote your business, grow your audience, and sell more products. ManyChat can pull dynamic images right from your store to create beautiful ads that target the right audience, help you reconnect with lapsed contacts, and introduce your brand to new people. 

Instagram ad

After running your ad, take a look at ManyChat Analytics reporting to analyze the ad’s performance and customer engagement. You can also use Analytics to produce clear ROI reports that track Messenger conversions, store revenue, and new contact acquisition. 

Because you can use the ManyChat platform to create ads and view their performance, you can build integrated, omnichannel campaigns across Messenger, SMS, and email and easily see how each channel has contributed to your success.  

4. Explore the possibilities of chat automation

Instagram began as an app to post and share photos with friends. Today, it’s a massive social media platform with over 1 billion monthly active users. When Instagram added the Direct Message function, it opened the door to mass messaging from followers. 

Similar to Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messenger is a great communication tool for businesses to connect with customers. With such a high volume of private messages, managing these conversations on a mobile device become more challenging for marketers and business owners. They also couldn’t qualify leads, provide fast customer support, or automate responses, until ManyChat.

With ManyChat’s Instagram integration, you can automate the customer communication from Instagram and focus more on content creation and generating sales. 

These chat experiences give customers a new way to interact with your brand, and can help you achieve better business outcomes—where it’s getting leads, making sales, or providing customer support.  

Some top uses cases for ManyChat + Instagram include:

Lead qualification

Save time qualifying leads by sending users through your Instagram Messenger funnel. You can collect users’ contact information, get opt-in for SMS or email lists, and send warm leads to your sales team, all in one place.


Get to know your followers with an interactive quiz inside Instagram Messenger. For example, if you’re an ecommerce brand selling skincare products, you can run a “what’s your fragrance” quiz to find their favorite products and offer a discount.

Coupons and giveaways

Running an Instagram promotion with a coupon code? Qualify leads and deliver the coupon right inside a shopper’s DM. 

Registration flows

Whether you’re promoting a webinar or offering consulting calls, complete the registration process in Instagram. Leads can opt into your workflow with a keyword or emoji from Stories and signup in minutes. 

5. Focus on customer service with each Instagram user

Instagram Direct and Messenger are merging to provide small businesses with an easier way to deliver support to potential customers. As Stan Chudnovsky, VP of Messenger at Facebook, stated at Conversations 2020 Day 1, Facebook continues to invest in developing eCommerce features that will connect buyers and sellers on Instagram. 

Soon, retailers will be able to manage their entire sales funnel right inside Instagram DM. ManyChat will equip sellers on Instagram with powerful automation features and tools—like Live Chat and a seamless WhatsApp integration—to manage customer conversations. 

For example, you can automate responses to common questions using Keywords or Quick Replies in your ManyChat workflow builder. Managing these conversations through ManyChat allows you to:

  • Solve customer inquiries fast
  • Assign inquiries to different team members
  • Better understand a customers situation by seeing past conversations and actions
  • Automate replies and conversations
  • Convert more browsers from Instagram Shops.

6. Partner with influencers

Instagram influencer marketing is a powerful way to reach a niche audience on the platform,  enabling retailers to sell more products and increase brand awareness through mutually beneficial partnerships. According to one survey, nearly 34% of Instagram users bought a product because a blogger or influencer recommended it. 

Influencer marketing campaign

Celebrity endorsements are the original form of influencer marketing. But today, content creators with a niche, engaged audience can offer more value to brands at an affordable price. You can use a tool like Upfluence or AspireIQ to find influencers and collaborate with them to promote your business. 

How to promote your business on Instagram to Instagram followers

You got on Instagram and started an Instagram account for a reason. Maybe your goal is to grow your business, improve relationships, or create brand awareness—or all three. 

The key to achieving these goals, and gain Instagram followers, is interacting with the right audience. Luckily, there are many ways to promote your business on Instagram:

  • Run giveaways and contests. Create hype by running a viral giveaway that gets people interested in your brand and its products. 
  • Use the right hashtags. Get your brand in front of the right people by tagging your posts with relevant hashtags.
  • Post consistently at optimal times. Did you know the time and day you publish on Instagram affect engagement? Studies have shown that the best time to post on Instagram is between 10 AM – 3 PM. Post accordingly. 
  • Diversify your content mix. Instagram has endless content types you can use to keep your audience engaged. Try a mix of single-image posts, videos, Stories, Reels, and other Instagram Shopping experiences like product guides and shoppable posts.
  • Interact with your audience. Instagram is a friendly and engaging platform. Interact with your followers by responding to comments, liking their posts, and having conversations with them through Instagram Messenger. 
  • Team up with micro-influencers. Connect with smaller, influential Instagram accounts and promote products to their followers. Working with an Instagram influencer can help share your brand to an Instagram user who fits your demographic.
  • Share user-generated content. Make your followers’ posts a part of your feed. Report their content on your Stories and Feed to showcase products and help followers envision them in their own lives. 

Read more: Top Organic Instagram Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Following (2021)

Running a successful Instagram strategy

As you’re bringing your social media campaign ideas to life on Instagram, and earn positive Instagram insights, don’t forget to start conversations with your followers. These conversations on your Instagram account will turn your followers into customers. The goal is to add more depth to the relationship between customers and your business, elevating it from a follower vaguely interested in your brand into something more meaningful.

With ManyChat, you can follow these Instagram marketing tips, and actively turn followers into contacts to drive awareness, offer special discounts, and improve customer retention.

Get more from your Instagram marketing efforts with ManyChat. Join the ManyChat for Instagram waitlist now.

Instagram marketing FAQ

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that provides a unique, creative way to reach a receptive audience through beautifully curated visuals. It’s ideal for building brand awareness and is the perfect counterpart to direct-response, conversion-focused campaigns on channels like Facebook or Messenger.

Why is Instagram important for marketing?

Instagram enables a business to sell products, increase brand awareness, and build relationships with its followers. Finding your target audience through Instagram is also easier, thanks to the handy  Explore Tab and shoppable posts. It allows you to promote your brand in an authentic, friendly way without pushing a sale on customers. 

How do I promote my business on Instagram?

  1. Optimize your Instagram
  2. Run Instagram Story ads
  3. Partner with Instagram influencers
  4. Create branded hashtags 
  5. Make content for IGTV
  6. Create Instagram Reels
  7. Promote products on Instagram with Shoppable Posts
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