Instagram is one of the most powerful marketing platforms on the planet right now, and for good reason. It provides every business, from major brands to up-and-coming companies alike, with a way to build an audience and connect with customers directly.

The main mistake you can make is to assume that marketing on Instagram is easy to get right. In reality, it takes a lot of strategizing, and a degree of trial and error, to find the best possible approach.

If you are an Instagram marketing novice and you’re eager to be brought up to speed, read on for a run through of all you need to know to get started.

Your strategy has to suit your industry and audience

First of all, while it can be useful to see what other brands are doing with Instagram content, you shouldn’t just blindly follow the same route as businesses that have a totally different target demographic.

Instead, you need to make every decision with your own audience in mind, and build your strategy around this.

For example, having a brewery Instagram strategy in place is crucial if you want to get ahead in this already crowded marketplace, while also staying on the right side of the regulators when it comes to adhering to advertising rules.

Another aspect of this approach is that rather than chasing trends, you’ll be more willing to think about what your followers will actually be interested in seeing. Just because everyone is doing dance videos this week, doesn’t mean you should too!

Being consistent is a must

One universal rule for marketing on Instagram is that the content you post has to be consistent, both in terms of what it features, and when it arrives in people’s feeds.

Scheduling is a major part of this, as if your followers know that you will be adding content at a set time each day or each week, they will be far more engaged with your brand as a result. Aside from that, it’s common knowledge to know the best time to post on Instagram to garner increased engagement.

Conversely, if you don’t post content regularly, or go through sporadic flurries of posting followed by fallow periods, this can be jarring. People might forget that you exist altogether, or get frustrated by the deluge of images or the hail of Stories you add all in one go.

Thankfully there are tools out there which can help you automate the publishing of posts. This will let you work hard on content in a short burst, and then drip feed it to your followers over a longer period, so that you get the best of both worlds.

Hashtags take a deft touch to get right

Another thing you’ll have to get to grips with when marketing on Instagram is the humble hashtag. This is the element that can help users find your posts, and make them more visible and engaging on the platform as a whole.

The problem comes when you misuse them, which can be done in a number of ways. For example, there’s little point to adding more than five hashtags to a post, as you’ll get diminishing returns if you try to go over this amount, and it could even harm the engagement levels you receive.

Another common misstep is using hashtags that are too generic; the more widely they are found across the platform, the more competition you’ll face from other, better established accounts.

Picking hashtags is a little like choosing keywords for traditional search engine optimization. You need to target terms that are relevant to your audience, and don’t be afraid of going for fairly specific phrases if you have a niche audience in mind.

Don’t be passive

It’s possible to use Instagram entirely passively, but this is not really a good idea if marketing is your main aim. Instead, being proactive in engaging with your followers will generate better results, and also lead to more growth for your business or brand on this platform.

There are lots of ways to go about this, such as by posting surveys to your Insta Stories, which will give followers a reason to share their thoughts and feedback. You could also choose to run competitions on Instagram, perhaps by encouraging followers to share submissions which can then be ranked and a winner chosen.

Share, share, share

Lastly, don’t let your hard work on building an Instagram presence go to waste, but share it widely wherever else you have a presence online.

Adding a link to your Instagram account on your website, and sharing it via other social platforms, will let you double down on the impact of the content you post.