The Instagram Marketing Playbook

E-Marketing For Brands Series 

Instagram began as a photo-sharing app almost 11 years ago. Back then it was strictly used for artistic efficacy, photography collaboration, and the idea of connecting with people solely based on their camera angles and creative eye.

Let’s face it; today it’s still one of the strongest digital channels out there, that most of us aging adults spend our time on. Yea, it may be limited in its ability for some business that doesn’t derive product and service through photographic means (ie. doctors, mechanic, lawyer), but a majority, including an audience of over 1.16 billion of us, still use Instagram, with growth in the ranges of 76 M users last year.

While the function and form of the app have changed (as well as its owner; acquired by Facebook in 2012), it still commands a heavy focus on emerging brands, established advertising, and big-time marketing possibilities. 

From targeted audiences, to free business insights, to optimizing stories and automating content, there is no shortcut to the tips and tricks possible. 

Let’s explore just what’s inside the Instagram marketing playbook for 2021. 

Optimizing Business Profile

First off is deciding your objective within the app. Are you trying to drive sales to specific products, promotions, or events? Or is the purpose to build awareness, bridge a community to your service or simply get to know the audience behind your brand. 

For the sake of small business growth and brand awareness/engagement, the best step is to create a business profile or creator account. 

As almost 90% of the Instagram user base follow at least one business within their account, a lot can be said for the 500M strong daily user-base and the opportunities within. 

The business profile comes along with free insights that can be valuable to small-time marketing teams and brands looking to test their products and services. 

Not only are the insights free, but a suite of features come available to the Instagram business account; Instagram Ads, Instagram Shopping, Primary and Secondary messaging, and CTA or contact callouts on your profile. 

Stories & Live Videos

Other powerful features that several brands and smaller managed businesses overlook are Instagram Stories and LIVE videos. These come in a slideshow like format and last for 24 hours on the Instagram page posted.

A good way to engage leads and stay in contact or up to date with the daily happenings of your audience is to go LIVE. 

Incorporating actionable business items that are camera-friendly and involving your audience is bound to lead to follower growth.

Not only does this help establish a deeper rapport with your audience, but it can help bridge a trust not normally available to those brands that hide behind the camera. 

A strong retrospective way of archiving important video and LIVE moments is to use Instagram Highlights. These are curated story moments (highlights of the highlights*) stored indefinitely on your Instagram main page.

Employ creative organization and intriguing cover photos to find the engagement continue even after the 24-Hr window close on the main Instagram Story.

To go even further with brand awareness campaigning through short format video, consider Instagram Reels

Captions & Hashtags

Your business and brand voice are also comprised of your captions on Instagram. Oftentimes overlooked, these can be game-changing when it comes to visual storytelling. 

Longer format (Up to 2,200 characters) or shorter, it is up to you but doesn’t forget to write for skimming needs. Get the important info in the first two lines if possible

Depending on your use case, you can incorporate branded interactive hashtags within the captions. Customers, followers, and fans can then use the hashtag to create user-generated content.

A great way to maximize your exposure and compound the hashtag trajectory. Branded hashtags are a great collective pool of unique engagement opportunities on the app that is free, organic, and powerful. 

Not only are hashtags still vital, but using correct hashtags can have an incredible effect on your actual reach and exposure around the posts or promotion you are looking to boost. 

Post Scheduling & Analytics

Under-posting and over-posting are sensitive subjects when it comes to maintaining a loyal and engaged following via Instagram. 

A great tool to avoid over-posting and to optimize content post strength at different times is to use a content automation scheduler or management software. 

Accordingly, they’re good days and good times to post. The best times for a business to post are typically at 8 or 9 am or instead at 2 pm. The best days for a business to post are Mondays and Thursdays. 

Make sure to have appealing content to post for your audience. The rule of thumb is still quality over quantity. Optimizing for the future is just as important. 

Use Instagram analytics and metrics to learn from what you’ve already done. What’s worked and what hasn’t. What have your followers engaged and clicking through to your website? 

Follower Growth, Engagement Rate, Likes, and Comments are all vital for measuring your business’s health on Instagram. 

Most important however is URL and Link Clickthrough Rate, as this will determine the actual business vitality through the app. 


There is no shortage of tools and techniques to approach your business growth via Instagram marketing. 

What we have highlighted is only a glimpse of what the confluence of social media and digital marketing can accomplish.

In doing so they provide customers with a more tailored, user-specific, convenient, and trustworthy approach to doing online business. 

To take another look at our E-Marketing For Brands Series on how to win with email marketing, click here.