Visual, engaging, and versatile, Instagram has a lot going for it as a social network. And for marketers who take the time to play around with the photo-heavy platform, there’s plenty to gain. Users are often far more willing to interact with brands on Instagram, versus other platforms. Even if you’ve never sold a single product, mastering Instagram just may be your ticket to bringing new customers on board.

Here’s the Speedlancer Instagram marketing bundle.

Here’s how to get the most out of Instagram from the ground up.

Cross-Promote Your Partners

Have a partner you work with? Cross promote their posts and what they’re doing. Not only does this ensure that your partners are being recognised for everything they provide (make sure to tag them when you share news about them with your fans) but you’ll be able to ensure that their customers are seeing your content and, in turn, make it more likely that they’ll do the same for you.

Interact With Users

Don’t just post photos and walk away. Interact with your followers. If people are commenting on your posts, reply to them. Invite satisfied customers to share photos of them using your products. When users feel like they’re interacting with a brand that cares, they’re more likely to give you the time of day.

Even new companies can have a lot to gain on this front. No one knows who you are. Interacting directly with your customers ensures they’ll soon find out.

Repost @harryshumjr Look Ma! No hands! This car is insane. #TeslaModelX

A post shared by Tesla (@teslamotors) on

Share Your Story

What is your brand’s story? How do you plan on changing the world for the better through your products? Customers want to know. And, thankfully, Instagram makes it easy to share stories and short blogs. Unlike Twitter, you’re not restricted to writing only a sentence or two.

If users can sense that your company is backed by real people and not a faceless brand, they’ll want to engage with you. Brands need to feel authentic. Being willing to be vulnerable and open with your audience adds the impression that by buying your products, they’ll be directly contributing to your growing story as a brand.

Consider Your Target Audience

Even if you’re not 100% certain of what demographic your products will most appeal to, you likely have an idea of who you think might bite. Your posts should be both relevant to the interests, values, and concerns of your target audience and offer interesting content that they can take with them.

The kind of content you produce for a predominantly young audience interested in cosmetics will be vastly different than the content you’re producing for college-aged musicians.

Get creative. #XboxDesignLab #MakeItYours

A post shared by Xbox (@xbox) on

A Noteworthy Hashtag

A brand lives and dies by the hashtags they use. While you should always be paying attention to and using currently trending hashtags when possible, it’s also key to devise your own stable of regular hashtags to use on your posts, so that customers will have an easy way of identifying and engaging with your brand.

If you devise your own hashtag, make sure it’s both manageable to pronounce and spell. List your main hashtag on your profile so it’s the first thing users will see when they click on your profile. Hashtags should be fun, witty, and give your followers a sense of what your company has to offer. First impressions matter and a noteworthy hashtag does much to ensure that you have a clear identity standing behind your brand- the key to generating sales from an engaged audience.

Instagram has a lot of potential for companies both large and small. By offering authentic, clever content, you’ll do much to engage potential customers and, soon enough, your sales will begin to follow.


[This post by Jon Westenberg first appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.]

Note from Inc42: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.