Whether you own a salon or an e-commerce store, any business can benefit from using the app. Read on to learn how you can use Instagram as a marketing tool.

Businesses have yet to really figure out Instagram as a marketing tool. It's massively popular and everyone wants a piece of that traffic. And most people think they have it figured out, but they don't.


The Instagram audience is extremely specific. And most people actually have no idea how to measure success on Instagram. Is it Likes? Followers. It's neither, actually.

Let's take a closer look at how to find success on IG and make sure it keeps coming.

Remember: Not Every Business Belongs on Instagram

You have to ask yourself if your business belongs on Instagram and give yourself an intelligent answer.

Now that answer is not just based on a gut-feeling or assumption. You need to answer it by doing extensive market research on your target market to really know.

But maybe you've already done the research and you've created 4 different buyer personas, and none of them are interested in seeing your brand on IG. Fair enough. But if you dig into it a little bit, you may find a new sub-sector of fans-in-waiting.

You can assume Instagram is or isn't right for you, and be right 75% of the time. Do you sell industrial sized wood lathes? Instagram likely isn't for you. Do you sell bootcut jeans dam? Then people probably do want to see your stuff.

But you can never know for sure, until you do the research.

Never Buy Followers

We cannot stress this enough. It can be tempting, we know.

You've probably seen pop up ads, or spam emails. Promising you hundreds of thousands of followers for only a few dollars. Well, those emails are in your spam folder for a reason.

So never do this. Ever. Ever-ever.

We get it. It looks impressive at first glance. Your brand has 500,000 followers. This "social proof" may be enough to inspire an actual human being to follow you, and you can build your real following on the backs of your fake following? Right?


Here's the thing. The jig is up the second someone looks at your posts. People are not stupid.

They will notice the fact that you have 175,000 followers, but absolutely zero likes on your last post.

No engagement really stands out. And once people notice that, they will know you bought a following. And they will lose respect for you and your brand.

Also, Instagram hates fake followers and they are taking big steps towards cutting down on fake accounts.

So what happens when fake accounts are culled and your flock falls from 150,000 to 150? You look very, very bad.

Know What Success Looks Like

This is one of the most misunderstood parts of using Instagram as a marketing tool. "Do we even know what a win looks like?"

First of all, you need to be sure on your own end on exactly what you're looking for. You need to have a goal, or you'll end up floundering and doing nothing.

Why are you even on Instagram? "Because everyone else is." Wrong answer. "Because we want to grow our brand awareness or thought leadership." Much better.

Be clear if you're on IG to generate brand awareness, or to generate sales leads. Because too many don't make the distinction, focus on either, and accomplish neither.

In either case, don't get hung up on followers so much. Followers can often be a "vanity metric."

It only gives you the illusion of accomplishments.

Brand Awareness

Look at engagement, not followers. It's better to have a smaller following full of people commenting and liking your content, versus having a massive inactive following.

Also, don't forget about "dark social shares." These are shares that happen outside of the app, and out of easily measurable range.

As much as 89% of your social shares will happen on "dark social." This means someone will screen-grab your image, or the link and share it via:

  • Text message/ SMS

  • iMessenger

  • Whatsapp

  • Facebook messenger

  • Email

  • Any other IM or messaging service

This is because people are very loyal to their favorite messaging app. This is where all of their contacts live. At least the ones they deem share-worthy. They have a tight circle of people they send things to every day.

Also, in a lot of cases, they're sharing something with someone (possibly over 30) who is not on Instagram.

Lead Generation

This is a tougher nut to crack. Because it's very easy to have 10,000 likes with no noticeable uptick in sales or qualified leads.

It's easy if you're one of the businesses on IG that allow their customers to buy right from their images, it's easy to track. But for the rest of us, it's a little more in-depth than that.

You will have to use your own channels to measure how many of your referrals or foot-traffic has come as a result of seeing you on Instagram.

Bonus Tip: If you run unsuccessful Instagram campaigns (ie, no leads), don't necessarily write off Instagram as a marketing tool.

Ask yourself "How was the user experience outside of Instagram?" For example, did you send traffic to, A) a standard service page, or B) a dedicated landing page for the campaign. If you answered A), you set your campaign up to fail.

Also, there could have been a disconnect between the offer in the Instagram post and the landing page/ destination. If you're promising a free iPad in your post, that had better be the first thing people see when they arrive on your landing page.

Because if they land on a page with no mention of the offer, they will assume they're in the wrong place, or this was a bait and switch situation. In either case, you just lost a lead.

Learn More Than How to Use Instagram as a Marketing Tool

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Search Engine Guide > Robert Clough > How to Use Instagram as a Marketing Tool for Your Business