A Complete Guide to Using Instagram for Marketing in 2022


Instagram is a widely used social media platform for sharing photos and videos. If you aren’t using it for your marketing campaigns, you’re missing out.

Instagram was one of the top five most downloaded apps in 2020, with over a billion active users.

The app is extremely popular among Millennials and Gen Z — approximately 63% of Instagram users ages 18-34 use it.

Instagram is an excellent marketing tool for businesses whose target clients are under the age of 35.

Wondering where to begin? Continue reading — I’ve got you covered.

What exactly is Instagram?

Since its inception in 2010, Insta, as its users affectionately call it, has grown to become one of the most popular social media platforms of a generation.

Mike Krieger built Instagram to allow users to edit and share photos and videos from their mobile devices.

Because of the emphasis on visual sharing, the platform functions similarly to other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Users create a profile and can scroll through a news feed made up of content from accounts they follow and their interactions. Users communicate with one another by commenting, liking, tagging, and private messaging (known as DM or Direct Messaging).

“What is this Instagram thing that all the cool kids seem to be into?” It’s been around for a few years, quietly gaining traction, owing primarily to everyone’s new obsession with mobile photography…” (Moreau, 2018)

Instagram’s popularity

Instagram is most popular among users between the ages of 18 and 34. It’s the second most visited network after Facebook.

It’s got over one billion active monthly users, over 60 million photos posted daily, 1.6 billion daily “likes,” and 500 million Instagram Stories posted.

Users spend an average of 53 minutes a day browsing, and approximately 60% of active users visit the site daily, with an additional 21% visiting weekly.

Instagram as a marketing tool

Instagram helps businesses improve their visual storytelling rather than simply presenting textual information. With its large number of active users and ability to create and share multiple content types, Instagram can be an excellent marketing tool for the right businesses.

According to Social Sprouts, luxury brands, sports clothing, and beauty brands are the top three industries working with Instagram influencers.

90% of Instagram users follow at least one business, and Instagram has over 25 million business profiles. 83% of users have purchased brands they learned about on Instagram.

As a result, Instagram has enormous marketing and branding potential.

First things first, you must optimize your profile and lay out a strategy to stand out from the crowd.

“Different social media platforms have become a natural part of companies’ marketing strategies, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises.” (Virtanen, Björk, & Sjöström, 2017)

Creating and optimizing an Instagram profile

Enter your business name as your name so that you can be identified — the same goes for your username, which is a name that is unique to your profile. @username is your profile tag, and your URL is www.instagram.com/username.

Users can search for your name and username, so choose one that’s memorable and easy to remember.

Both of these names can have up to 30 characters.


Via Instagram

Your Instagram bio description needs to make a good first impression in 150 characters or less.

Therefore, it should be a brief summary of who you are and how you add value to incentive followers, with a dash of personality.

Because Instagram bios are not searchable, don’t worry about stuffing keywords in there.

Your Instagram profile photo should be your logo or a well-known image. The recommended resolution is 1350 x 1080px.

Business account

To create an Instagram account, you’ve got 2 choices: 1) Log into your Facebook account or 2) sign up by phone or email. Create your business account with a business email address to avoid linking your Instagram account with your personal Facebook account.

A business account is required because it provides access to functions that a personal account doesn’t, such as:

  • Instagram Insights to analyze how you’re doing.
  • Instagram Ads to promote your freelance business and reach a larger, more targeted audience.
  • Instagram Shopping to promote products and services.
  • Contact Information for people to call or email you.
  • A CTA button (CTA: call to action) on your profile such as order food or book now.
  • A category that tells people about your industry or the purpose of your profile.
  • URL pointing to your website or other external sites of your choosing.

Instagram Settings

Via the 3-stacked lines in the upper right-hand corner, click on Settings at the bottom of your profile.

There are a lot of settings there, far too many to go over each of them. This is where you can configure your privacy, security, notifications, and ad settings. You can manage your account’s settings, such as who can see and respond to your Stories.

You can also prevent individual accounts from commenting (if you have trolls) and hide comments that contain specific words.


You can follow people on Instagram, and they can follow you — there is no mutual connection like on Facebook. You can follow someone even if they don’t follow you, just like you can on Twitter.

Users can even make their accounts private, allowing them to control who sees their content. This setting makes it popular among teenagers, who frequently have a separate account from family.

A business account needs to be public, and that includes all of your content; otherwise, what’s the point?

Instagram Story Highlights

Instagram Stories can be saved and featured on a profile after their 24-hour limit in the Highlights section – those small circles beneath your Instagram bio. Consider it an extension of your bio and an opportunity to highlight your best stories, products, services, and promotions.

Saved stories that have performed exceptionally well will leave a positive impression on anyone who visits your profile.

How Instagram works

Instagram has various functions to create and consume content, so here’s how it works.

Home Feed

The Instagram Feed displays content posted by the accounts you follow. This feature is accessible via the toolbar’s home icon. Users can scroll through content from all sorts of profiles regardless of whether or not they follow them.

The algorithm determines what content is shown and what is relevant based on your activity. Refresh the Feed to see new content.


Explore real-time content curation. The content a person sees is chosen based on their interaction and interests and appears on the same page as the search function. When users interact with you, you re more likely to appear on the explore page of their followers.

Instagram Stories are separate from the regular Feed and appear in a “slideshow” format. Stories are displayed in a small section above the Feed. As previously mentioned, stories are deleted after 24 hours but can be saved to your profile.

If someone clicks on your profile photo or in the Feed over followers, they’ll be able to see it. Hashtags and geotagging (location) can help you expand your audience reach.

Many more extensive profiles frequently post multiple times a day, and they’re typically less polished than a post. Frequently on the spur of the moment or behind the scenes (BTS).

Instagram Reels

The Reels tab has been added to the toolbar. Reels are multi-cut videos that serve as Instagram’s alternative to TikTok. Users create Reels from the Instagram app camera, which are 60 seconds long. To create a video, you can choose from a library of music, sound effects, and user-generated Reels media.

Reels can help brands create highly engaging content.

“Social media marketing is particularly powerful in supporting new product launches.” (Virtanen, Björk, & Sjöström, 2017)

Instagram Shopping

Instagram allows business profiles to set up an online store. Shopping now has its own toolbar tab, and users can access a brand’s shop via a button on their profile.

Users can search for products or see them from brands they already interact with on Instagram by going to the Shop tab on the Explore page. Every month, 130 million Instagram users click on shopping posts.

Products can be tagged by businesses in posts, Stories, and on IGTV. You can save posts with product tags to your profile’s Stories Highlights by enabling Auto-highlighting in settings.


IGTV is a long-form, vertical video format.

Instagram users can use IGTV to create channels and upload videos ranging in length from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. There is a standalone app, but you can also find IGTV content on Instagram via previews in Feed, the IGTV channel in Explore, and creators’ profiles.

Instagram strategy

We now understand some of Instagram’s features. It’s time to consider your business strategy and capitalize on some of the platform’s power.

Define your goals and audience

Consider what you want to accomplish on Instagram. It’s most likely one or more of the goals listed below.

  • Create an online presence for your business or brand.
  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Get new leads.
  • Position your brand as an industry leader.
  • Sell products and services directly from the app.

Define your target market to help you create content that will be appealing to this audience.

Best time to post and frequency

Try to post during the times when your audience is most active. The best time to post is when your followers are on Instagram, which is between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. (when people are getting ready for work, for example), or between midday and 2 p.m.

Sunday is the worst day for posting content, while Monday and Thursday are the best. Using tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social, you can schedule your posts to go live during these times.

Be consistent when you post to stay in your followers’ Feeds, but don’t overdo it. 2-5 posts a day, at most, to avoid overwhelming and irritating followers.

If all they see on their news feed is your brand, they may unfollow you.

“The most efficient practice in generating followers for a company’s Instagram account is following other users — in this case, potential customers. This action-reaction pattern can be called “follow for follow”, describing the practice of following to be followed back.” (Virtanen, Björk, & Sjöström, 2017)

Engage with people and content

If you want to get people to engage with you on Instagram, you must first engage with them, which is how the algorithm works on many social media platforms.

Respond to feedback on your content. It’s also a good idea to look for popular accounts in your industry, follow them, and like and comment on their posts.

According to Virtanen, Björk, and Sjöström (2017), there is a link between following other accounts and receiving likes on your content. A little give and take.

When you follow someone and interact with their content, you naturally draw attention to your own account. When you engage, that user receives a notification, prompting them to check you out and ideally follow you.

If you’re tagged in someone’s Story or post, make sure to give them a thumbs up or respond. Better yet, reshare their story.

Use Stories

Stories are an essential component of any Instagram marketing strategy. Businesses account for a third of the most popular Instagram Stories. As a result, whether you are a friend or a brand, if you post interesting content, people will engage.

Try not to post meaningless, random content in your stories unless you want it associated with your brand.

Experiment with various types of content to see what best engages your audience. The following types of content are available for stores:

  • Photos
  • short videos
  • rewind videos
  • live videos
  • and boomerangs (images that play on a loop)

Edit images and videos with tools like Canva and InVideo to make them more branded and stand out. Other features include:

  • Account tagging
  • Uploading a location GIF
  • Music
  • Poll
  • A countdown sticker to a product launch or special event
  • Let followers ask a question

via instagram

Use influencers to reach a larger audience

Using the fame of a celebrity or well-known public figure to promote your brand is a popular marketing tactic on Instagram. Influencers benefit a brand by exposing it to their large audience.

According to CivicScience, nearly half of daily Instagram users made a purchase based on the recommendation of an influencer. People often trust the advice they receive from someone they follow.

That said, the influencers’ audience must be relevant to your brand. Otherwise, if your audience isn’t interested in your product or service, they’re a waste of time and resources.

A common Instagram strategy is an Instagram. It’s basically a tactic in which an influencer temporarily takes over your account to 1) create and share content and 2) engage with your followers.

Content tips for Instagram posts

To upload content into your Instagram account you can either use the Instagram mobile app on your phone or use the free Facebook Business service. A post on Instagram can be a single photo, a series of photos, or a video. This section will go over each of them individually, as well as the different types of posts.

To make your content easier to find, add a geotag. Geotagging is adding location, which provides users with another way to find your content, resulting in increased engagement.

Make the look of your content consistent across your posts; this will make your content more recognizable to followers who are quickly scrolling through their Feed.

Brands should create content that educates or entertains their target audience.

Content ideas

Are you at a loss for content ideas? You can’t go wrong with these approaches for a post idea that will pique your readers’ interest.

  • Behind-the-Scenes posts (BTS) show a snapshot of your workday — your office, storefront, or manufacturing process, for example — giving followers an inside look at your business.
  • Relationship Posts show the people you work with and can be displayed through photos of you out for coffee during a meeting, for example. People enjoy humanized content because it’s easy to relate to. You can’t go wrong with happy faces!
  • Educational/Instructional posts either show the audience how to do or make something, or explore a topic. This will be engaging and help you build credibility if it’s in your area of expertise.
  • Product teasers allow you to talk about your product and build excitement in a non-obtrusive manner. If you try too hard to sell, you’ll lose followers.
  • Motivational posts work well on Instagram. Overlay a motivating quote on top of a simple photo or video. The caption can provide context for the quote. This content reinforces the values of your brand.
  • Using user-generated content —Reposting content that your followers share about your brand is a great way to get content without having to create it yourself.

Holding a competition with a branded hashtag is one way to collect user-generated content.

Using your unique hashtag, users create content about the brand. You can also tag the users who created the content you’re sharing, which helps you build a stronger relationship with your audience by creating a close-knit community.


Photo or video?

Instagram users have the option of sharing two types of content: photos and videos.


Instagram was designed specifically for photos, and there is a lot you can do with it.

To begin, leaving negative (empty) space around the subject of the image will draw attention to the desired focus. To add personality to your photos, shoot them from a different perspective and use natural light whenever possible. Keep your content on-brand at all times, no matter how random or cool you think something is.

If your photos have poor composition or lighting, no amount of editing will help.

Users can edit photos within the app, but no amount of editing will fix a bad image. You can use Instagram editing functions to adjust the brightness, contrast, warmth, saturation, highlights, shadows, vignette, tilt-shift, and sharpness.

Instagram also has up to 23 filters that instantly change the look and feel of images. However, avoid over-editing your photos. When audiences want authenticity, it starts to look a little off.

The recommended image sizes are 1080 x 1080px for square images and 1080 x 566px for landscape images.


Although photos are the most popular type of content on Instagram, there is also a lot of video content. Videos must be less than one minute long, but you can use IGTV to make them longer.

Users can trim videos within the Instagram app. Still, it’s a good idea to use a video editor like Splice, which allows you to combine multiple clips and add transitions, titles, and music.

Show some personality in your videos and highlight the benefits of your brand to your target audience.


Go live

By broadcasting live video, you can share content with your audience in real-time, allowing you to connect with fans personally.

Ideas for live video include:

  • Collaborate with an industry expert using the “Add a Guest” option
  • Provide a Behind-The-Scenes look at an event
  • Share a tutorial
  • Host a Q&A session
  • Talk to clients

Writing your post caption/copy

Make an effort to post captions that are both entertaining and engaging. It all depends on your brand and audience, whether you’re witty, funny, or intelligent. What will strike a chord with them?

Posts can be up to 2,200 characters long, which is slightly longer than 1200 on LinkedIn or 280 on Twitter.

As a result, posts can range from a single sentence to lengthy storytelling.

Using bullet points or emojis in the same way that bullet points are used can help make the text easier to read. This is useful because people scan captions rather than read them thoroughly.

Try to fit all of the important information into the first two lines, as users will have to click to read the rest. You must hook them.


Hashtags are keywords/phrases spelled without spaces and preceded by a Hash (#) sign. Using hashtags improves your visibility and discoverability, and hashtags aggregate posts from multiple users with public profiles into a single feed.

Hashtags should be specific to your niche and relevant to your audience.

You can use up to 30 hashtags in an Instagram post. But it’s best to avoid doing that. Use hashtags naturally and include 2-9 hashtags per post tops.

Avoid making your captions difficult to read or spammy-looking.

Create a branded hashtag to interact with your audience via user-generated content. This will make the content featuring your brand more both discoverable and clickable.

It helps you locate user images that you may want to share. To add credibility, user content should always look authentic.


source 3via Instagram

Instagram Ads

Using ads allows businesses to reach a larger audience of people who fit their target market but don’t follow the page. Use content that will be engaging and appealing to your target audience for advertisements. Avoid being pushy with sales tactics when running ads at all cost.

Create Instagram ads using Facebook’s Business Suite. Select Instagram from the placements menu to post to Instagram.

You can either repurpose existing posts as sponsored ads, known as boosting content, or create a new ad.

Ad types include:

  • Single Image
  • Video Ads
  • Carousel/Dynamic Ads
  • Stories Canvas

Instagram ads can target users based on attributes like:

  • Location
  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Behaviors

Custom audiences from existing relationship databases can be uploaded and used to create lookalike audiences. These lookalike audiences are selected based on their similarities with people in your database, such as similar behaviors and interests.

Always have a goal in mind when creating an ad. This goal could be:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • App Installs
  • Engagement
  • Video Views
  • Conversions

Users configure Ads with a start and end date as well as a lifetime budget, allowing them to control how much money they spend on ads.

To deliver high-quality ads, Instagram recommends using images with dimensions of 600 x 600px for square format ads, 600 x 315px for landscape ads, and 600 x 750px for vertical ads.is

instagram insights

source 4photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

Instagram Analytics

You can see how your Instagram efforts are performing via Instagram Insights. Keeping track of analytics enables you to optimize and, hopefully, improve your Instagram performance. Find out what works and what doesn’t.

Some of the essential metrics to track are:

  • Impressions
  • follower growth rate
  • average engagement rate (likes and comments)
  • URL click-through rate

Analytics provides a better understanding of audiences by providing demographic information such as age, gender, location, and peak activity times. This objective data allows you to tailor content to their preferences.

Facebook’s Ad Manager also enables you to monitor your ad performance, which will help improve your content and audience targeting.

Sometimes, you think you’ve done everything the way it’s supposed to, but the results could still be devastating. So, what should you do then?

These are people we’re dealing with after all. And sometimes, making a few tweaks is all it takes to turn a post from zero engagement to active engagement. But how do you know what to tweak?

Well, one strategy is A/B testing.

Trial and error will help you fine-tune your Instagram posts. If an audience isn’t responding as well as you’d like, try changing the copy or using a different image/video.

With a competitive analysis, you can see what your competitors are posting. To find similar accounts, use keywords related to your industry in the search function. Following other users will provide you with excellent ideas for the type of content you should create.

Final thoughts

And there you have it — a guide to Instagram marketing in 2022.

The article first looked at the benefits of using Instagram to market a business and how to set up and optimize an Instagram business account.

We then learned how the platform works and the various types of content that can be shared on it.

Finally, I discussed strategies that businesses can use on Instagram to get the most out of the platform, such as content ideas, paid ads on the platform, and analytics.

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I’m Imad, the content creator and online marketing strategist behind The Guemmah Freelance Hub. My mission is to help more freelancers grow themselves, their business, and their profits.

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