Instagram Marketing for startups

Instagram marketing has gained immense popularity, and while there are many jumping on this media platform, it is the standard of your content that differentiates you from the rest. It’s a free, easy-to-use tool for growing your business, but only if you do it right. On average, business accounts on Instagram post 1x a day, so marketers need to know how to navigate the avalanche of content on the platform to really zone in on their audience.

Ask Yourself ‘What’s Important?’ And Put That First

Content creation, specifically for social media platforms like Instagram, is more important than ever. Your audience is out there searching for inspiration and wants to better understand how you can be of service to them. As their relationship with your brand grows, so should the value you add to it by increasing your knowledge of topics.

But this doesn’t mean just throwing random posts out there into the ether, hoping that something will stick. There needs to be a method to the madness, and taking the time to prioritise what comes first before making posts for your social media marketing campaign will make all the difference. 

Nowadays, everyone is on their phone scrolling. Knowing this, a mobile-first approach should be considered. Instagram is a photo-first platform, and it’s a constant battle for brands to capture attention on the platform, given that the human attention span is ~8 seconds. Brands realise this and seize the opportunity to make their time to shine through honing in on succinct captions (usually at around 125 words is the sweet spot).

Imagery and messaging comes first 

  • What are you showing me? 
  • What are you informing me about?
  • How is this relevant to me?
  • What did I gain from this post?
  • What do I do next?

Get Resourceful 

It’s no secret that new startups and more established brands will be using Instagram marketing to drive traffic to their product or service. And hey, why not? But how can you compete when you’re such a small fish in an ocean of never-ending, high-quality content? This is where being resourceful is a must. 

Here are a couple of ideas to get on par with your competitors without breaking the bank.

Use free stock images

Problem: Most popular posts on Instagram tend to be high-quality images containing attention-grabbing elements like nature, portrait photos, selfies, and memes. But how can you post images you don’t already have? You’re a small startup, and you don’t want to spend a fortune hiring a photographer and camera crew just for your social media marketing campaign. 

Solution: Using free stock images from sites like Pexels and Unsplash gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility. Tracking down beautiful, relevant imagery with free license to use can help your Instagram marketing efforts immensely.

Bonus: Video can take your social media marketing game to the next level too. Free stock footage sites like Cover.co offer a diverse range of footage for you to use in your next Instagram video post. Hello drone shots of stunning coastlines!

Make use of User-Generated Content (UGC)


Content is only as good as the reach it has on social media. You may have made a post that is inspirational and full of wisdom, but if nobody sees it because it only reached the 200 people you normally engage with, then you’ve just wasted your time. That is why encouraging your followers to share content related to your brand is totally free, and it’s a good reason to engage with your audience.

Let’s take a look at TravelWanderlust.co, a community of casual, seasoned and aspiring travellers. The travel blog features not just content that they created but encourages submissions from other travellers to share their stories. They also post inspiring podcasts and have guests share their travel journeys. This crowd-sourcing of free user-generated content helps keep content fresh, relevant, and builds a loyal following that is encouraged to share. 

Include Relevant Hashtags 

Hashtags are a quick and easy way to expand your reach on Instagram. After all, the more people who follow you, the better your chances of growing your business. However, it’s not just about posting a picture and typing in a few hashtags anymore. It’s important to include relevant hashtags for social media marketing that let users find you easily, but don’t make your caption too long either.

The more general hashtags like #beach #sun #travel will cast your post out into a crowd of millions of other posts that have the same hashtags. Yes, you’ve just increased your post’s chance of getting more views, but the opposite effect is getting lost in the crowd. Having more specific hashtags, similar to long-tail keywords, can help you target your audience more accurately. That being said, it’s better to have an Instagram post with one hashtag than none at all. 

Take a look at your top competitors and see what hashtags they’re using. Hashtag research is keyword research, and it’s critical for your Instagram marketing efforts that you’re speaking the same language as your potential followers. Experiment with hashtags and see which ones work for your brand! 

Length Matters

A good Instagram caption can make your post stand out, especially when many people are swiping fast and not looking at captions in-depth. A short, catchy and powerful caption that adds more intrigue to the photo gives you an edge. It is written with a perspective or tone that isn’t quite found in the photo itself.

Although, recently, Instagram captions have been getting longer and adding more valuable information for consumers. The average number of characters for Instagram captions have doubled over the past 5 years. 

Not only should you pay mind to how long your posts are, but what it is you’re saying. It’s safe to mix it up a bit on your Instagram feed, just like work and play. Have some longer posts added amongst the shorter ones with snappy and quick copy meant for aesthetics. 

Read also: LinkedIn marketing tips you need for your business.

Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment with Instagram marketing tools

With so many features on Instagram, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Which features should you be using, and when? Experimenting with these features is a great way to discover what works best for your Instagram marketing. 

There are four specific features I always recommend experimenting with to get the most out of your Instagram marketing.

Action Button 

Instagram continues to evolve as a marketing tool with changes made to the app, thus altering how businesses use it. For many, it’s easy to get lost in the never ending stream of food, selfies and travel updates. But one new feature that is often overlooked is the Action Button. 

The Action Button allows users to book a table, call for an appointment, or purchase tickets, all without leaving Instagram. However, despite the fact that many of your followers have a business profile, you may be ignoring it. Give it a go!

Shopping tab 

The Shopping Tab will be the second tab in the photo profile, next to discover (the first tab that everyone is used to seeing). The Shopping Tab for your photos means that you can add a product right into the post that will lead to the shop-page of your choosing. You can add or link a product from as many different shops as you want, and it will link it all together on your feed. Experiment with ways of posting to your feed by combining different things from Instagram, Shopify, or wherever your products are.

IG TV/Live 

Instagram Live is one of the most powerful Instagram features that allows one to engage with viewers, giving them a glimpse of events in real-time, right from the very start. It enables instant reaction and response and is a powerful tool for effective communication whilst making your brand the talk of the town. You can make announcements and give live Q&A. This personal approach humanises your brand and builds trust amongst your followers.

IG Story Polls 

Instagram polls are becoming more popular each day. The feature helps you to get a response on specific topics directly from your followers, allowing you to target your reach more accurately. 

People are busy and do not always have time to comment on or send a direct message to your account. With Instagram being one of the most prominent social media marketing platforms globally, you must know what the different polls entail, which ones are the best for your brand and how they can be used. Experiment with IG polls and ask questions to find out what your audience thinks.

Follow Other Accounts Of Your Brand Niche For Inspiration

Keeping your finger on the pulse is crucial for Instagram marketing. One way of staying on top of things is by following your competitors’ accounts. Not only can you see what you’re up against, but you can gain valuable insight and information to better hone your unique message.

Look out for relevant trends and buzzwords being used and use that to your advantage to craft original and inspiring posts.

Use Instagram Marketing Strategies To Your Advantage

The speed at which people are interacting on social media is one piece of the puzzle. Things are constantly buzzing, but a part of being a successful brand (big or small) is using the tools available at your fingertips. Make relevant connections that cause one to stop mindlessly scrolling, pause, reflect, and gain useful and valuable information. There is a lot of noise out there, but your role for Instagram marketing should be to hone in and be smart with your social media marketing strategy.

For more insight on how social media can benefit your PR objectives, the team at SYNC has written the ultimate handbook on using social media. Download it now.

8 Responses
  1. Instagram is undeniably one of the most important social channels around, and I’m positive that any marketer not yet using it is missing out on something big. Whether you manage the social media of a big corporation, a small business, or you’re using it to promote your own personal brand, incorporating Instagram into your marketing strategy is a must! Instagram measures the success of your campaign based on awareness, reach and recall instead of follower counts, likes or comments.

  2. Instagram remains the top social media marketing tool for startup brands. Large follower counts and massive engagement rates show the Instagram account plays a vital role in building an audience for your brand. The higher engagement rate is, the more traffic can be driven from the Instagram page to other social media platforms, making it the perfect platform for startups. Posting exclusive deals on Instagram offer incredible ROI.

  3. Getting one’s own startup to be known by the target audience is very much crucial. And Instagram has changed and improved the way of doing business. The tips you have pointed out will benefit me, especially using the action button and shopping tab, and I will be using them for my next posts.

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