Instagram: Tips and Strategies to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

instagramInstagram, the online photo and video sharing and social network platform made its debut in 2010. Purchased by Facebook in April 2012—Instagram is perhaps every developers dream come true.

Over the years the platform’s popularity has continued to grow exponetially with milestone additions such as hashtags, filters, profile pages for mobile and Web, expansion of languages, videos, sponsored photos and videos, live video, and the ability to post up to ten pictures or videos at the same time, Instagram stories, business profiles  and the ability to turn Instagram posts into ads directly from the Instagram app itself. (source).

I’ve returned to using Instagram more frequently myself and was overdue to revisit the platform. (My last article about Instagram was in 2013. Eons ago on the socialsphere!)

In this article I’ll discuss a number of tips and strategies for getting the most bang for your buck on Instagram with examples from Instagram profiles for retailers, H&M and TopShop, and one Instagram influencer, Steven Fingar.

Special thanks to JustMetrics who generously provided access to their software for this article. As a result, I was able to easily pull-up invaluable analytics and insights about profiles: number of followers, likes, comments and published posts. Including time of day, top hashtags, top tagged users, top filters used, post type-photo or video and the posts lifespan.

Why Use Instagram?

Instagram offers businesses a creative communications strategy to drive users to their landing pages. It’s not too surprising but like all social media platforms, some businesses do a better job than others.

A recent article by Karen McCandless provides noteworthy insights for utilizing effective techniques on Instagram:

  1. know your audience;
  2. connect with other brands, products, people, places and businesses relevant to your company and start liking and commenting on their content;
  3. offer exclusive incentives;
  4. test calls to action;
  5. make your hashtags memorable;
  6. stop selling so hard;
  7. use multiple photos (clickable) to send followers to your landing page;
  8. measure your efforts;
  9. and explore third-party social media marketing apps to help drive conversion from Instagram to your landing pages. (e.g. four, soldier, social rank, and repost.

In addition to Instagram’s popularity with individuals and businesses, other observations about the platform have been made—most notably, the quality of the photos, composition, precision and editing have come a long way. (source)

Beautiful photos of all subject matters can be found on Instagram making it a great place to find inspiration of all kinds.

Instagram’s Learning Curve

Staying on top of announcements, updates, and best practices via regular reading of Instagram’s business blog can further one’s knowledge of Instagram and lead to better engagement.

For instance, one recent article describes a study around biometrics that shows how people react physiologically to ads on Instagram finding that respondents focused their attention more on the image portion of the ad than on the other parts, such as the text associated with the ad. This information supports the importance of sharing quality, artistic photos.

Building an Instagram Strategy

An Instagram strategy that includes detailed information about what, when, and how-to’s for your posts will also go a long way. Think hashtags, captions, choice of photos and videos, number of posts published per day, and mentions.
Strategic use of niche influencer-generated hashtags will foster better user engagement (source).

Avoid hashtags that contain over five million posts or so. That way your image will not be bogged down within seconds to a “black hole” of no return on that hashtag feed, because many users are posting that same hashtag at the same time as you. (source)

Create a hashtag with your brand name to leverage visibility and uniqueness.
For example, retailer TopShop uses #topshopstyle vs. #style. H&M uses #HMLovesCoachella vs. #Coachella. Steven Fingar used #jcrewdenim which demonstrates how the right hashtag will get a brand’s attention. In the example below, you can see how @jcrew saw the post and reached out to Fingar about using the photo in their marketing efforts.

justmetrics stevenfingar hashtags-640


steven fingar jcrewdenim.png
In this photo you can see how @jcrew saw the post with the hashtag #JCrewDenim and reached out to Fingar about using the photo in their marketing efforts.


Writing a good Instagram caption is key– one that provides context, adds personality, and inspires your followers to take action.

Good Instagram captions can be a short and sweet caption to a longer, in-depth storytelling post (up to 2200 characters.) (source)

One statistic by Simply Measured finds that posts that mention other users in the caption average 37% higher engagement.

captions top shop.jpg
An example of crafting a good caption. This one from TopShop includes a hashtag that points out their insta stories and promotes their weekend pop-up. We can see from the stats on this post that it had very high engagement for TopShop.

Frequency of Publishing Posts
Top brands now post 4.9 times per week on Instagram, an increase of more than 50 percent over 2015. (source)

Finding your posting sweet spot will go a long way.

*Data on JustMetrics showed that TopShop, H&M, and Steven Fingar all met or exceeded the 4.9 times per week.

Bios and Usernames
Your username and bio are the first thing visitors will see when they land on your profile—they’re important and should be crafted carefully. (source)

h-m profile
H&M includes hashtags users may follow and refers to their other Instagram pages, @HM_Man and @HM_Home, along with the URL for their website.

TopShop’s bio invites users to post photos with their hashtag #TopshopStyle and be featured on their Instagram.


Two things that are often forgotten: email and location. Depending on your type of business you may want to include your email to show potential clients and peers where they can contact you (for work or collaborations), and add a location so they know where you’re based. (source)

steven fingar profile
Steven Fingar does a great job including important contact information. And that he uses iPhone only.


Keep in mind when you build an audience that the majority of it will expect you to keep posting the same kind of images. You shouldn’t restrict yourself in posting only one genre, but try to be consistent in your posts. This will ensure that your images always reach the optimum number of people. (source)


justmetrics steven fingar coffee-640
Steven Fingar shares a lot of photos about coffee, coffee shops and their interiors. His followers love his photos of coffee .


justmetrics stevenfingar coffee2-640
Steven Fingar is wonderfully consistent about coffee photos while also exploring other areas of interest, too.  As he says, “Being consistent with the content you are posting as well as being authentic with the voice and moments captured are both equally important to maintain or grow an audience.”

Competitive Analysis
Evaluating your business and  businesses in your industry use of Instagram can help provide a competitive edge—noting what’s working, what’s not, and building those findings into your approach.  Using an analytics program like JustMetric’s will help make you explore the territory more deeply.

Here are a few examples from retailer H&M’s analytics:

This graphic from JustMetrics shows H&M’s hourly engagement rate–showing that one of their posts had peaked at 2 pm.  They may decide to post at this time on a more regular basis. Competitors in their industry could also take note of the time of day that users were online and active.


H-m followers
Based on JustMetric’s analytics, H&M would most likely want to see why there was so much fluctuation in their followers from one day to the next.
h-m top hashtags
H&M’s use of hashtag #hmlovescoachella provided an edge over other hashtags. But with Coachella being a time-limited event, they will need to focus on their next best options.


Instagram is an active, dynamic social media platform that can be adapted by businesses of all types, sizes and industries.

Run your Instagram profile like a well-oiled machine and you’ll be way ahead of the game–with successful posts, hashtags and engagement!

What ways can you improve your presence on Instagram? What steps will you take next? Leave your thoughts and comments in the space below.

Author: Deb Hemley

Writer and Social Media Coach

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