The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Marketing in 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Marketing in 2021
Jay Gross

the ultimate guide to instagram marketing - main photo

What do you get when you combine an instant camera with a telegram?

Any takers?

Okay, that was a gimme. As you probably guessed, you get Instagram. Or, more technically, the term Instagram was created by mashing “instant camera” and “telegram”.

Interesting, eh?

Interesting facts aside, Instagram is a pretty cool photo and video sharing app. One that I’ve certainly wasted away plenty of hours on – looking at my friend’s vacation photo’s of The Colosseum, a fun engagement party in Mexico, and my relatives enjoying their time on the beach in Hawaii.

(Are you sensing a theme here? Yes – I need a vacation!)

But did you also know it can be a fantastic marketing tool?

I mean – who would have thought? 

Not me.

But I should have. 

Pictures tell a story (or should I say Instagram story) – they are the worth of a thousand words, we’ve been told; so I guess a simple shared photo can say so much.

So not only is it fun and straightforward, but it’s also informative.

Let me ask you a question: Do you know just how big Instagram marketing is?

It’s forecast that 73.2% of US marketers will have used Instagram for social media marketing in 2020. That’s number two only to (you guessed it): Facebook, which is forecast at 86.8%.

And at the rate it’s growing, it may even pass the almighty Facebook in the coming years.

What does that mean for you?

It’s time to think (seriously) about marketing on Instagram if you’re not already. No more putting it off, waiting until next year, or not thinking it’s worth it.

75.3% of U.S. businesses will have used Instagram by the end of 2020, and that number will only increase. 

Don’t be the one who doesn’t.

The stats don’t lie, which means the odds are your competitors are already using Instagram, so you should be too.

And if they’re not? Seems like a perfect opportunity.

Ok, great. So can you just create an Instagram profile and start posting pictures all willy-nilly?

Well, we don’t recommend it.

Honestly, I’ve tried it before. Because I – probably just like you – didn’t have the time to learn everything I needed to know about a new way to market.

It can be…a lot.

We get that. And that’s why we’re here for you.

Do you want to set up a winning profile that will catch attention? Do you want to post content that people want to see?

Do you want to gain a loyal following that will reap you rewards for years to come?

You’ve come to the right place.

Let Digital Marketing Tools walk you through all of that, as well as some great Instagram marketing tips, tools, and strategies that you can use to build your audience and let Instagram do the marketing for you.

So, What is Instagram Marketing?

Instagram marketing platform stats - Instagram

Image Credit: StatusBrew

Instagram is a photo and video sharing app, where you can upload photos and videos to share with your followers or a select group of friends. Much like Facebook or Twitter, you have a group of “friends” or “followers,” and they can then “like” and comment on your posts.

Instagram marketing, then, is a way for you to use Instagram to connect to your target audience so you can create brand awareness and gain brand followers, and eventually, brand advocates.

Remember, we are talking about organic Instagram marketing here – so your primary goal is to create and share fantastic content and focus on engaging and connecting with your audience.

If you do that – you’ll do great.

Still not convinced that Instagram is an excellent social platform for marketing?

Instagram for Small Business – Is it For You?

Instagram marketing is one of the best ways to show your audience how exceptional your brand is. Period.

Instagram marketing has recently become a way for brands to have fun and show off their unique personality – making them more human to their audience. 

Any business can benefit from Instagram – and if you’re a small business, it’s one of the most powerful ways to grow your audience. You can reach new customers, stay connected to existing, and even make sales from the app. Oh – and it’s affordable to boot.

Are You Ready? How to Use Instagram for Business

Let’s get started.

Before anything, make sure you have a social media marketing strategy. Instagram could very well be a part of it, but there’s a lot more to it. So if you haven’t done so, follow the link above and start there.

Still here? Alrighty, on we go!

How to Set Up Your Instagram Business Page

  1. First things first – if you have a Facebook account, don’t just link your Instagram account. You should set up a separate account. And if you did already, that’s ok, Instagram allows you to have multiple accounts.
  2. Make sure you sign up for a business profile for your business. Oh, and don’t worry, you can have separate business and personal accounts; in fact, we recommend it.
  3. Use your business email address – it’s more professional, and contacts can find you easier in the “Find Friends” feature.
  4. Username – Instagram will auto-generate a username that’s close to the name you entered, and while that’s nice, we’ve found it doesn’t always line up. Try to get your Instagram name as close to your business name as possible. Do you use your name as your business? Try a variation of your name that differentiates you from your personal account.
  5. Profile picture – You want this associated with your brand. Make this your logo, or it could also be a portrait of you if you are the face of your brand. Picture size = 110 x 110.

Note: Once you finish, you will be given suggested accounts to follow. DON’T just follow anybody, make sure they fit with your brand strategy. One of the biggest mistakes I see on business accounts is that they follow friends and entertainers with no actual plan or purpose (other than entertainment). Save that for your personal account. It gets things convoluted and confusing.

Instagram Best Practices

Now that you’ve got your business page set up, it’s time to post!

But wait! We have some Instagram best practices for you, so you know what to post and when to post it.

But first, let’s talk about who hangs out there…

Instagram Demographics

Instagram skews younger than Facebook; in fact, about half of the global Instagram users are younger than 34.

So if you want to gear your product or service towards a younger age group than Facebook, it could be for you.

But don’t let age stop you – those 35 and older are catching on quick.

What to Post on Instagram

  • Photos—Products, Events, Company Culture.
  • Graphics—Tips, How-To’s, Quotes, Memes.
  • Carousels—Products/Services, How-To’s, Tutorials, Tell a Story (scrolling photos or videos where you want to tell more of a story).
  • Feed Videos (60 seconds or less)—Tips from blog posts, quick advice, tutorials, how-tos.
  • IGTV Videos—(60 seconds to 60 minutes) – Teach/educate, Give expert advice, update on industry trends, provide value.
  • Instagram Story—Ideal for engagement & in-the-moment content.
  • Memes, Quotes, and Tips—These work for all brands (including memes), just make sure they are relevant to your industry.

Note: Don’t sleep on Instagram Stories. They can be personal – 1 in 3 daily “Instagrammers” indicated they had become “more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Instagram Stories.”

How Often to Post on Instagram

  • 1-3 times per day. Start by posting once per day (or close to it) and increase to 3-times per day as you feel more comfortable.

Best Times to Post on Instagram

  • Best times to post on Instagram: Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday at 10–11 a.m.
  • Best day: Wednesday is the overall best day for an Instagram post.
  • Most consistent engagement: Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m–3 p.m.
  • Worst day: Sunday receives the least amount of engagement on Instagram.
  • Lowest engagement: Occurs during late night and early morning from 11 p.m.–3 a.m.

Incredible Instagram Marketing Tips to Help You Succeed Wildly

Let’s talk real for a second. You don’t just want to be another brand on Instagram, right?

You want to own it. You want to stand out and show everyone why your brand is the best.

But you also don’t have all the time and focus that could take. 

Below, we go over some great Instagram marketing tips to help you crush it and save some of your most precious resource – your time.

Stand Out from the Crowd with Your Instagram Bio 

Be unique like this cat while instagram marketing

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Your first Instagram marketing tip begins with your bio – it’s one of the first thing people see, and you should make it stand out.


Use some of these to make your Instagram bio stand out from your competition:

  • Emojis – don’t overdo it, but add a little flavor and fun with an emoji or two
  • Link – add a link you want people to see when they look at your bio
  • Special fonts – you’re limited, but if you go to fontspace, you can copy and paste new fonts to make your Instagram profile stand out.

Schedule Posts in Advance and Breath Easy

There are a few great social media scheduling tools out there, which we go over later.

Be sure to use them. 

They enable you to schedule your Instagram post (and all of your channels), so you don’t have to scramble every morning to find something to post.

Block out an hour early in the week and knock it all out in advance.

You’ll thank us.

Tell Some Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are a great way to market for instagram

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Instagram stories have become quite popular and are a perfect way to be creative and different. They allow you to post photos in many different ways, with filters, captions, quotes, even calls to action. 

Instagram stories only last 24 hours, so if you think this could be great for your Instagram marketing plan, make sure you’re on it.

Repost on Instagram – It Can Save You Time and More

It’s hard coming up with content day in and day out, isn’t it?

Luckily, you can repost on Instagram by sharing inspiring posts from others to take a little of the weight off your shoulders. 

Don’t forget about this option. 

Because if you do it right, this can gain you new followers AND gain you the loyalty of your current audience. Your audience loves it, and it creates more engagement with them.

And they may just start purposely giving you content to share.

I believe the technical term for that is a “win-win-win” situation.  

Instagram TV (IGTV)

The hottest new feature in the world of Instagram is IGTV. 

Much like YouTube, you can create your own channel where you create videos over 60 seconds long.

It’s new, and while it’s not performing up to expectations, Instagram is putting effort into promoting it. If video is your thing, it’s worth looking into.

How in the Heck do You Add a Link in Instagram!?

As a content writer, it’s frustrating that Instagram doesn’t have a way to put a “clickable” URL in your posts.

But there is a workaround: You can put a link in your Instagram profile.

It may not seem like much, but be creative.

Take out the link to our homepage link to a recent blog post, then encourage users to visit your business profile for the link.

It’s not perfect, but it’s something.

Keep Your Brand Voice Consistent

This applies to social media in general. Whatever your brand voice, whatever your goal, remain consistent. 

Is humor part of your plan? Great, but don’t all of a sudden shift drastically to deep-thinking posts – it will throw your audience for a loop. 

There’s no reason you can’t mix and match, but your overall tone should remain consistent.

Keep Your Instagram Posting Consistent Too

Keep your posting consistent too. Followers will come to expect your content. Ideally, you would post every day, but consistency is the most critical factor.

Include a Call to Action (CTA)

Ask questions, encourage conversation, encourage sharing, point to a website (remember the link method above.)

Do anything to inspire your audience to take action.

Instagram Hashtags…?

Use Hashtags in Instagram when possible

Instagram hashtags have suddenly become very relevant.

Find some popular hashtags in your industry and use them in your posts. 

You can use up to thirty, but typically a “less is more” mentality works best. 

However, if you want to use more than a few and don’t want to muddy your post with them, here’s a little trick: Comment on your post and put them in the comments.

Engage Thoughtfully with Your Instagram Followers

Always reply to questions, comments, and even likes. Reply in kind and get in genuine conversations.

Engagement directly with your audience makes you a favorite, and all of that leads to building rapport, trust, and honesty.

Most of All – Have Fun

Having fun with instagram marketing

Photo by Pete Pedroza on Unsplash

This may be the key to it all. Enjoy yourself, laugh, meet great people, and watch your business grow in leaps and bounds.

Instagram Marketing Tools & Analytics

We know you’re juggling a lot. But you’re no juggler (or so we think…), so we throw this ball in the air, and you’re apt to drop them all.

We’ve been there.

But we wouldn’t let that happen to you.

So we wouldn’t recommend this without giving you a good dose of Instagram marketing tools and Instagram analytics to save you time and help you succeed.

Schedule Posts on Instagram with Buffer

Need a cost-effective and straightforward way to schedule posts on Instagram? Look no further than Buffer. While it’s not as packed with features as the likes of the next tool on this list, it’s a great Instagram marketing tool to start out with. 

Or, Use Sendible to Schedule Posts on Instagram

We know you love choices, so we’re going to give you one. Much like Buffer, you can schedule posts on Instagram with Sendible, but you can also do so much more. Sendible is an “all-in-one” tool that can:

  • Work with many social media channels
  • recycle old content
  • run reports
  • Monitor and respond to posts and mentions
  • Listen to mentions
  • and more

Add Hashtagify for Your Instagram Best Practices

Hashtagify is a tool for Instagram and Twitter that allows you to view stats on hashtags.

You simply enter a hashtag you may want to use, and Hashtagify will show you the popularity: If it’s currently a trending, relevant hashtag, top influencers who rank for that hashtag, and more.

Build Your Own (News)

It’s hard to continually create new content, so, as with any social media platform, curation can save you time and be a brilliant Instagram strategy to grow your audience. helps you with that. You build your “newspaper” with curated content from social media or anywhere on the worldwide web. You can then deliver it to your audience through your Instagram account (or other social media platform), your web page, or even your email list.

Create Post Art with Canva

Canva is a tool used to optimize your content with additional layouts and elements. Cost is free (though there is a paid plan). Check it out. Use the designs and templates provided, or upload your own, and edit away.

The Future of Instagram

Sun signifying the bright future of instagram marketing

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Put your shades on, because we’re about to discuss the future of Instagram – and it’s bright

Instagram Influencer Marketing Continues to Rise

Instagram is the cream of the crop when it comes to influencer marketing, so it’s no surprise that Instagram influencer marketing is on the upswing. 

Do you remember our talk about Instagram demographics (above)? If so, you know the younger generation loves it. Well, don’t look now, but here comes Generation Z, and when it comes to giving their loyalty to a brand, statistics show that they value truth above all else.

What does this have to do with anything?

Influencers show people that a brand or product is authentic, vs. the traditional method of fake reviews and paid ads, of which people are starting to tire.

Sure, influencers get paid, but an influencer gains their reputation by being honest and not promoting a product they don’t believe in.

What does that all mean for Instagram influencer marketing?

Let me put it this way – there’s a lot of chatter right now about influencer marketing being a specialized career niche in the near future…

It sounds incredible, don’t you think? Do you want to study together? 🙂

Augmented Reality (AR) Filters

using augmented reality on your smartphone on Instagram Marketing

Facebook has announced that it’s going to open its Spark AR Studio to all Instagram accounts.

Allow us to speculate: Think Instagram users being able to turn into the Grinch at Christmas, or Spiderman during the next big superhero flick, or even trying on a new hat or testing out some new makeup colors.

All on their smartphone from the comfort of their own home – by using AR filters.

If one could read the tea leaves, we think this makes sense.

And it leaves (get it? I’ll see myself out…) the door open for so many tantalizing possibilities. Not just for fun, but for marketing.

Instagram Instant Messenger?

If you read The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing in 2021, you’d know that they’re putting a lot of stock in direct messaging.

And part of their plan includes integrating a streamlined messaging tool that could be accessed from their family of apps (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and, you guessed it, Instagram.)

Instagram Reels

Reels is a video-remix feature, so you can make brief video clips to share in your Instagram stories – just like TikTok.

This feature has already launched in Brazil, so expect something about that later this year.

Nice Threads

Have you heard of Threads?

It’s a companion app to Instagram that launched last year (2019). 

It’s a private messaging experience. You can share your everyday moments with your close friends or a select group of people.

It launched last year, but with private messaging being a huge push in the coming years, don’t be surprised if this takes hold.

Well, will you look at the time, it looks like it’s…

It’s Instagram Marketing Time (for You)

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

Look, we get it: 

There are so many social media platforms out there now, and so little time.

Not only would you have to learn a new platform, but you’d have to learn all the ins and outs, the tools, and how to grow your audience.

Or maybe you have an account, and you just haven’t been very successful.

And you’re thinking to yourself: is it really worth it?

Well, Instagram is going nowhere; in fact, it may even take over the top spot.

So, in short, YES – it’s really worth it.

So let’s get to it.

Read through the steps above; set up your perfect bio and use the tips, best practices, and tools to grow your audience and start seeing the benefits roll in.

Oh – and you may just have fun doing it.



If there’s anything you want to know more about, or if you have any questions or comments please leave them after the post, have a great day!

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