Starting up a social media account for your business can be intimidating. You have a ton to do, after all, and while you’re probably generally aware that Instagram could benefit your company, it takes time to create worthwhile content. It can also be quite difficult to recognize whether you’re getting a true return on investment.

Can you relate to these concerns when it comes to Instagram? Have you ever thought, while fiddling around with image filters and silly hashtags, what is even the point of all this?

If so, you’re not alone. With lots of conflicting advice out there, and a sea of ever-changing opinions, it can be very tough to know exactly what your Instagram marketing blueprint should look like, and exactly how it will lead you to your desired outcome (money).

Well, that’s exactly why we’ve built this guide—to cut through all the noise about how to use Instagram to grow a business, and to get down to the core of what we know works, based on our own direct, extensive experience.

In fact, the content in this guide is sourced directly from Foundr’s own use of Instagram, and exactly how it’s helped us to massively grow our own brand in just a few years. We’ve personally grown our account to over 1.3 million followers and have chronicled every step along the way, including how our massive following has translated into thousands of conversions and sales.

Here’s a look at some of our current stats:

Blue Arrow
Stats
Stats 2
Stats 3

Instagram is one of the biggest factors behind Foundr’s success, and we’ve compiled the best of our knowledge on the subject right here, all in one place.

Can your own business see this kind of success?

While every brand is different, we can confidently say that regardless of what stage or niche you’re in, any business can reap benefits from using Instagram. And we’ll show you how. Consider this your blueprint.

Is This Guide for You?

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If you don’t yet have an Instagram account but want to start (and succeed with) one, we’ll give you the tools to do so.

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If you’re active on Instagram but need to spruce up your content and conversion efforts, we’ll teach you new strategies and methods to engage your audience.

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If you already have a wildly successful Instagram account, but aren’t sure how to turn those followers into customers, we’ll show you exactly how. We’ve tested and improved all of our own methods so you can be successful on Instagram, too.

Want to save this guide?

Download a PDF version here.Download my PDF Now

CHAPTER

01

Can Instagram really help you grow your online business?

With 800 million users, Instagram is not only the third-largest social media network in the world, but it is also the perfect platform for authentic promotion, building an engaged community, and yes, increasing revenue.

Foundr’s success on Instagram alone is evidence that the platform can work wonders for your company. But helping others succeed with Instagram is also a big part of our business, so we’ve seen it benefit LOTS of our students.

The short answer to this question above is: Yes, Instagram can help you grow your online business. You can certainly grow a business without Instagram, but it is a very powerful tool. In fact, if you are not using Instagram for marketing and growth, you could be missing a ton of opportunities. Yes, the process of growing an Instagram account for your brand takes some time and commitment, but we’ve put together the strategies and tactics to guide you through the process.

And once you see your engagement (and revenue) rising, you’ll see that it’s all worth it.

Before we dive in, we are going to cover some common questions we’ve received from businesses and members of our community. Perhaps you’ve asked these time and again, so we want to answer them (per our opinions about and experience with Instagram) before moving forward with this guide.

Instagram Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1

Why is Instagram so popular?

The purpose of Instagram is to authentically connect with your target audience through visual imagery. Consumer response to visuals is stronger than text, and visual data is more memorable than words or sounds.

On Instagram, visual imagery can refer to product photos, customer features, videos about company culture, text images with quotes, or more. Instagram as a social media platform, and marketing tool, offers brands lots of flexibility and options when connecting with their audiences.

Instagram is also primarily mobile. This makes engaging with the network inherently more intimate, creating more human-like interactions between consumers and brands. It also offers businesses the chance to reach their consumer base on the go, right in their pockets.

Question 2

How long will it take to build a popular profile?

Your timeline will depend on how much time and effort you put into building and developing your Instagram community. The strategies in this guide will certainly help you, as they did us. Within the first few weeks of its existence, the Foundr Instagram grew from 0 to 10,000 followers. And in just five months, we had gained more than 110,000 followers.

But within that time frame, we had also shared 777 posts, which is about five per day. It was a lot of work, and still is…but we’re now up to 1.2 million followers. Also note that Instagram is always becoming more competitive. Thankfully, it’s also a platform that’s brimming with virtually every niche community you could imagine. It really allows you build strong connections and loyalty, even if you’re well below Kardashian-level in terms of size.

Question 3

Is it easy to get followers and grow a community?

Yes and no. In this guide, we outline a pretty clear road map to building a highly engaged audience and Instagram community, so you won’t be stumbling around in the dark wondering what’s next. But we can’t promise that these steps will be easy. Getting followers and growing your business through Instagram is work. It requires a lot of research, time, and trial and error to figure out what works for your specific business, niche, and target market. But once you establish yourself on Instagram, your business and bank account will thank you.

Question 4

Which businesses benefit the most from Instagram?

Brands in every industry and niche can benefit from Instagram. But the platform might not be as helpful marketing-wise for B2B companies. Due to its visual nature and user base, Instagram tends to cater more to B2C businesses.

Instagram can also be effective for services like photographers, makeup artists, plastic surgeons, and any other businesses for which images can help showcase your work. It’s not just for physical products businesses. In fact, Foundr is a digital media company with only a handful of physical products, and Instagram is our biggest marketing platform to date.

Question 5

I already have Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts. Should I add Instagram?

This answer is less about the accounts you already have and more about the time required to add new ones. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are valuable social networks, but in our experience, they won’t cultivate the kind of engagement and interest that Instagram can for your brand. So, we think you should add an Instagram.

But on the other hand, if you truly don’t have the time and resources to put into growing an Instagram account, it may not be worth setting one up. It is better to not have Instagram at all than to have a measly, half-active account. Thankfully, if you’re already creating content for other social networks, you can adapt those strategies to your Instagram feed until you figure out what works best for your brand on the platform.

Question 6

Will I be wasting my time if I market my business on Instagram?

We can’t answer this question, because when marketing on Instagram, you get out of it what you put in. While Instagram’s design caters better to highly visual B2C businesses, all businesses can benefit from having an account—if they put in the time and effort to create great content and cultivate an engaged following. So, we don’t believe that you will be wasting your time marketing on Instagram if you execute it wisely, which is exactly why we have put together this guide to help you.

Question 7

Which type of Instagram profile is right for my business?

There are three main types of Instagram profiles you can create when it comes to growing your business. Note that for all three of these types, you can set your account to a “Business Profile,” which unlocks some analytics options and a few other little perks. The following distinction is more about what kind of content you’ll post.

01

Business Profile

The first type of Instagram profile is a business account. In this type of account, a brand is represented and products or services are clearly sold. Foundr (@foundr) is an example of this type of account, as our account represents the Foundr brand and markets our products, podcasts, and more.

Business Profile
Personal Brand

02

Personal Brand Profile

The second type of Instagram profile is a personal brand account. Take a look at Gary Vaynerchuk’s profile (@garyvee). His Instagram account promotes his personal brand, blog, and subsequent books and courses. A personal brand Instagram account is a good fit for thought leaders, bloggers, and individuals who are selling themselves, more than they are a product or service.

03

Fan Page Profile

The third type of Instagram profile is a fan page account, like @thinkgrowprosper. These profiles don’t sell anything. Instead they focus on cultivating an audience and community. In turn, they tend to grow quicker than other types of accounts. These profiles make money from advertising, getting sponsored, or doing shoutouts (which we’ll talk about in Chapter 5).

Think Grow

Whether you choose a personal or company branded page depends a lot on your business, and what will serve it best. If you plan to sell products through Instagram, a fan page on its own is probably not for you. But since fan pages grow so quickly, you can set up a business profile and then create fan pages that showcase your product and promote your business page.

Gretta van Riel creates Instagram fan pages to drive traffic to her health-focused brands. Here are two of her pages:

Be Fit Babes

@befitbabes

Be Fit Food

@befitfoods

Exclusive FREE Instagram Masterclass

HOW TO GO FROM 0 TO 1 MILLION+ FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM & BUILD A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BRAND IN 2 YEARS

In this Instagram masterclass, you will learn:

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The Instagram Domination Method – The secret method that enabled Foundr to generate 500k followers in 12 months & 1M+ in 2 years

star

How to create content the RIGHT WAY that gets an insane amount of engagement

star

“The Bio Formula” – How to generate over 20,000+ clicks to your website in 1 month using just Instagram

star

How to create the content that attracts your target audience to follow your page, like your content, share with their friends and buy your products and services

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A case study on how we built a FRESH new 6 figure ecommerce business in 6 months using ONLY Instagram. In a recent month, it generated $45K+ and over 1000+ new customers spending $0 in acquisition on Instagram

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How to create ‘Money Posts’ that effortlessly turn your fans into customers WITHOUT being ‘salesy’ or spammy

Don’t take our word for it.

Austin
Ruben
Hannah

CHAPTER

GETTING STARTED ON INSTAGRAM

STEP

01

Step 1

Creating Your Account

If you don’t have an Instagram account, creating one is pretty easy. Instagram is primarily mobile, so grab a phone or tablet to get started. (And if you already have an Instagram account, don’t skip this section. You might discover a new way to optimize or clean up your profile.)

The most valuable part of your Instagram account is your profile. It tells your followers and other Instagram users who you are, what you do, and where to find you, physically or online. Your Instagram profile includes four important sections: username, profile name, bio, and website.

The last component of your profile is your profile picture, but this step is pretty straightforward—upload a picture of your logo (or a variation of your logo) so that your account looks legitimate and is identifiable to customers and followers. Be sure to upload a square photo at 110 x 110 px to optimize it and make it easily recognizable.

Profile Name

Next, choose a profile name. This is the bolded text above your bio and essentially identifies your profile and business. Your profile name shows up under your username in Instagram search results, so rather than just repeat your business name (if you secured it as your handle), accounts sometimes use this space to add a little more detail about what their business does. You can also use this section to get creative with your business name, add a location, or more.

@Username

When you create your account, you’ll choose a username. This is also called a handle and is how your profile is discovered and tagged. Foundr’s username is @foundr. Do your best to choose a username that is your exact business name, URL, or matching your other social media accounts. (For example, Foundr’s Twitter is also @foundr.) You can always change your username later, although it is not recommended as any links to your Instagram on your website or other profiles will break. Pressure’s on!

Bio

Your Instagram bio is the most important part of your profile and will probably take you the most time to complete. You’ll also likely update this often, as most brands add information about company updates, discounts, or lead magnets to this section.

Within your bio, you’ve got to define your business, state your purpose, establish credibility, and share your brand voice—all in 150 characters. Use keywords and hashtags to help make your profile searchable, and consider adding another user account if you’re making a fan page or have a personal or other business account you want to link to. Also, don’t shy away from emojis to add some personality and flair, such as using a finger emoji to point out your website.

Website

(Speaking of your website…), always (always!) include a website on your Instagram profile. One of Instagram’s calling cards, and part of why it’s been so popular, is that hyperlinks are prohibited almost anywhere (we’ll get into stories later on)—except in your profile. That’s right, as Eminem said, you only get one shot.

This link could go to your business homepage or a landing page for a current lead magnet campaign. Use a custom bit.ly link or WordPress plugin prelink so you can track the views. (We cover tools for this in greater detail in Chapter 7.) This link is the lone bridge between your Instagram account and your website—and all of your conversions—so make it count.

Finally, we recommend you set your account as a Business Profile, which is a simple option in the settings menu. This opens up the analytics features (more on that later), allows you to run promotions and ads, and gives you a nice “Contact” button on your profile.

After you complete your Instagram profile, your next goal should be to get five to 10 posts created and published, fairly soon. In the next chapter, we will discuss more about what content to post.

STEP

02

Getting to Know Your Instagram Followers

The goal of your Instagram account is to connect with your followers, who ideally will be the same people or at least largely overlap with your business’s target audience. So understanding your Instagram following offers a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the people you want to engage with and eventually serve as customers.

One way to do this is to review your competitors’ profiles. Make a list of your top 10 competitors and find them on Instagram. Take a look at the users who are commenting and review their discussions. What are they saying and asking? What are they interested in? Research these followers’ profiles—the ones who are really engaging with your competitors—and see what other pages they are following. Look for similarities and themes.

Follow this same process for business partners, industry influencers, and any other accounts you think might have the same audience as you. This research can be time-consuming, but it’ll help you build out your target Instagram audience, and run an account that’s relevant and serves your ideal customer base.

Of course, if you already have general target market research, you can apply that knowledge to your Instagram audience, too. But if you’re finding the two areas of audience research are conflicting, that’s a good sign that maybe you don’t know your market as well as you think you do.

Remember: You cannot post valuable, engaging content until you know exactly who’s viewing that content, and you want those viewers to be the people who are likely to buy what you’re selling.

STEP

03

Cultivating a Consistent Theme

Your want your Instagram account to be like a favorite TV show or channel. Your followers will enjoy it because it consistently gives them something they like and depend on (whether that’s products, quotes, videos, images, etc.).

A big part of the affection they’ll develop for your brand will come from a sense of familiarity and comfort, and you can reinforce that through a coherent theme. People flip through Instagram fast, and you want your stuff to be instantly recognizable.

Think about all the visual stuff you create for your business: product catalogs, advertisements, and even menus for restaurants. You spend a lot of time on the design and aesthetic of your business’s visual assets, and you should do the same for your Instagram, for the same reason—because it will attract followers and convert them into customers.

It’s also important to create a consistent theme so that people understand what you’re all about. Your visual theme speaks just as loudly as your Instagram bio and individual captions. More so, actually, since lots of people will scroll by without reading.

Take a look at Pantone (@pantone). At first glance, one might think that Pantone is merely a design company. But their Instagram account tells a different story, one of deep love for color and aesthetic consistency (they are the world’s leading authority on shades of color, after all). Using creative photo illustrations based on vivid colors, Pantone’s Instagram communicates the importance of its brand through visuals.

So, ask yourself: What is your voice? And how does it translate into imagery?

Start by defining your brand aesthetic using personality traits. For example, Foundr is bold, passionate, trustworthy, and practical. We use a lot of clean, sparse layouts, sans serif typefaces, and a healthy dose of red. Try to turn your brand’s personality traits into colors, photography styles, and typefaces. There’s no wrong answer here; decide what feels right and be consistent.

If you’re struggling to establish a theme, return to your brand for inspiration. Take a look at those visual assets we mentioned above. What’s the vibe you get from those visuals? Do you use a certain color palette, filter, border, or frame? Does your brand set a bright or dark mood? Do you notice any recurring patterns, angles, or photo compositions?

And of course, without stealing, take inspiration from other accounts and even competitors’ accounts that you enjoy.

Take Tough Mudder’s Instagram (@tough_mudder), for example. The majority of their posts don’t match a specific composition or pattern, but they still exhibit a certain, predictable mood that matches the feeling of camaraderie and toughness of the overall Tough Mudder brand.

Step 1

Your Instagram aesthetic should be an extension of your overall brand. When people visit your Instagram page, they should be able to tell what you’re all about, and the photos that appear in their stream when they follow you should back that up. You don’t want to damage the brand or cause confusion.

Some Examples from the Pros

Let’s discuss some real-life examples of successful Instagram accounts in each industry.

01

For Ecommerce and Physical Products Businesses

Take a look at Frank Body (@frank_bod). This skincare line sells their health and beauty products through Instagram and shares some beautiful imagery in the process. Frank Body also leverages branded hashtags like #thefrankeffect and #frankcoffeeart to build up their community and showcase user-generated content.

Example 1

02

For Service-Based Businesses

Take a look at designer Shauna Glenn (@shaunaglenn). Shauna is an interior stylist based in Texas, and she features her colorful design work all over her Instagram account. Her high-quality imagery and authentic captions give her followers a glimpse of her personality – as a designer, writer, mom, and person.

Example 1

03

For Blogs and Content-Based Businesses

Take a look at Portland, Oregon (@portland). This travel website account does a stellar job of sharing gorgeous, engaging content. It’s also directly linked to the ecommerce business account @portlandgear (giving you an example of a fan page promoting a business page). You’ll see Portland Gear used frequently as an example in this guide.

Example 1

04

For Digital Products Businesses

Take a look at Foundr (@foundr)…if you haven’t already. Foundr’s account is a healthy mix of a business account and fan page. This is because Foundr’s community is a very big part of its company brand. On the account, you’ll find promotional posts mixed with motivational quotes. Foundr knows their audience extremely well and posts content that motivates, and engages them.

Another B2B example is Shopify (@shopify). B2B brands typically aren’t as popular on Instagram as fan pages and physical product brands, but Shopify does a good job engaging its followers and providing value.

Example 1

05

For Local Food Businesses

Take a look at CREAM, which stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me (@cream_nation). This Hollywood-based ice cream shop takes sweet tooth to the next level by posting gorgeous, colorful photography featuring their menu items and the customers who enjoy them. Most posts don’t even promote CREAM’s products (instead featuring captions like “C is for cookie” or “Treat yo’ self”), but the quality and personality of their photos has a positive impact on its brand.

There’s a place for every type of business on Instagram; you just have to know what your target audience wants to see and how to deliver that content in a way that cultivates an audience and eventually drives that audience to your website, blog, or storefront. Keep reading to learn how to do exactly that.

Example 1

Exclusive FREE Instagram Masterclass

HOW TO GO FROM 0 TO 1 MILLION+ FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM & BUILD A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BRAND IN 2 YEARS

In this Instagram masterclass, you will learn:

star

The Instagram Domination Method – The secret method that enabled Foundr to generate 500k followers in 12 months & 1M+ in 2 years

star

How to create content the RIGHT WAY that gets an insane amount of engagement

star

“The Bio Formula” – How to generate over 20,000+ clicks to your website in 1 month using just Instagram

star

How to create the content that attracts your target audience to follow your page, like your content, share with their friends and buy your products and services

star

A case study on how we built a FRESH new 6 figure ecommerce business in 6 months using ONLY Instagram. In a recent month, it generated $45K+ and over 1000+ new customers spending $0 in acquisition on Instagram

star

How to create ‘Money Posts’ that effortlessly turn your fans into customers WITHOUT being ‘salesy’ or spammy

Don’t take our word for it.

Austin
Ruben
Hannah

Ready to dominate Instagram? Sign up for our FREE instagram Masterclass today.YES, SHOW ME HOW TO MASTER INSTAGRAM

CHAPTER

03

CREATING ENGAGING INSTAGRAM CONTENT

Now that you’ve got an account set up, you know your Instagram style, and you know who you’re talking to, it’s time to create amazing content that will get people to stick around.

If they find your content valuable, entertaining, and/or educational, they’ll follow you forever. If not, there are a million other feeds out there worthy of their limited attention. From here on, all tips and tricks aside, focus on creating and sharing solid content before anything else.

Types of Engaging Instagram Content

Let’s review some popular options.

Quote Images

Posting quote images is a great way to connect with your audience, regardless of your niche or industry, which is why they’re really popular. There’s just something about an inspirational message that gets people fired up. Quote images are a favorite at Foundr because 1) we know our audience appreciates and responds to motivation and inspiration, and 2) the digital nature of our business gives us very little to share in terms of physical objects. We traffic in ideas.

Quotes

So quote images are a great option if your business doesn’t naturally provide many visuals to share. Otherwise, your followers might get tired of seeing pictures of Larry in customer support working at his desk.

To get started, check out apps like WordSwag and Typorama for text-focused Instagram posts. We use these very same apps for our own Instagram account! (We’ll talk more about Instagram tools in Chapter 7.)

People photos and selfies are a great way to share your company culture and the kinds of experiences you want your customers to have. Regardless of your type of business, including humans in your Instagram photos is sure to engage your audience in a fresh way. Just make sure you’re being creative—get Larry away from his desk!

Selfies and People Images

Instagram photos that feature faces get 38% more likes than those without faces. Featuring humans can give your brand personality and help your audience relate to you. Take a look at @CocaCola. Coca-Cola sells bottles of sugar water, yet their Instagram account features more faces than drinks.

Instagram Coca Cola

Landscapes

Instagram images of nature are a hit with audiences, and some of the most popular accounts specialize in them. Like inspirational quotes, everyone has an appreciation for scenic photos. Even if your business isn’t focused on the outdoors, like @LifeisGoodCo is, you can still wow your audience with a gorgeous landscape photo.

Instagram Landscapes

Landscapes and scenery can symbolize where you’ve been as a company, or create a shared point-of-view that reminds your followers that there’s a person behind your brand.

Use Instagram to be transparent and give a glimpse of the goings on at your company. Be sure to have fun with it, as you want to demonstrate that your team are the kind of people your followers would want to hang out with. Remember, people want to do business with people, not brands.

Behind-the-Scenes

Behind-the-scenes photos can be powerful for businesses because they remind their audiences that there are, in fact, humans operating behind those fancy logos and amazing products. In an overwhelmingly digital world, it’s more important than ever to create a human connection with your customers.

Behind the scenes

Curated Images and Video

(User-Generated Content)

User-generated content (UGC) is curated and reposted from other Instagram users, typically featuring your products or brand in some way. The goal with UGC is to showcase your brand in a real-life setting and pair it with a customer testimonial on your own account. @GoPro is a popular account that mainly features UGC.

Instagram Landscapes

In their Instagram bio, they encourage followers to share their images taken with GoPro by tagging #GoPro in their captions. (We’ll discuss tools for reposting content in Chapter 7.)

Depending on your type of business, if you decide to go this route, it’s good practice to post curated images and videos about 50% of the time. When you do repost from other users, always get permission first (being tagged in a photo usually implies permission), and be sure to credit the original account in the caption and by tagging the image with their handle.

Beauty brand @Birchbox posts lots of videos of their team members trying on their makeup or skincare products. This allows their audience to better understand how their products are used and what they look like in real life, while getting to know the team better.

Video

First introduced in 2013, video has become highly popular on Instagram. As of this writing, you can post video between 3 and 60 seconds long. Instagram video can be captured through the in-app camera, or you can use the tools mentioned in Chapter 7 to publish time-lapses and boomerangs. Video can be useful for products demonstrations, posting customer testimonials, or showcasing your company in a new way.

Video

Product Photos

Note that we saved this type of Instagram post for last. Why? Because it’s not the most important. I know this may seem counterintuitive if you’ve got this great-looking product, and you just started an account designed for sharing pictures. But trust us.

Sure, you can share content that features your products (we recommend one in every four to five posts), but it shouldn’t be the focus of your Instagram account. If your followers wanted to peruse photos of your stuff, they’d visit your website or pick up a catalog.

Instagram Product Photos

The goal of your Instagram account should be to provide value and connect with your audience, not to consistently sell to them. If you do post photos of your products, make sure you do so in a way that is consistent with your theme and account aesthetic, or in a way that downplays the product itself. Clothing brand @Anthropologie offers a visually appealing Instagram account, and in some photos, you can hardly tell they’re featuring a product or two. That should be your goal when posting about your products.

Because of their unique engagement and linking abilities, Stories are often used by brands for conversions (which we’ll explain further below). But you can use them for a variety of purposes. Stories are valuable for sharing practically all the types of content we described above – behind-the-scenes, selfies, product photos, and even UGC.

Stories

Introduced in 2016, Instagram Stories are a step up from posting on your feed. These short, disappearing video clips (the feature was shamelessly ripped off from Snapchat) are imperfect and fleeting and can feel like a very real interaction to audience members. Instagram Stories humanize your brand, which is important in a world where people prefer to buy from a brand they trust and feel connected to. Besides driving traffic and boosting awareness, posting to your Instagram Story helps build your brand’s personality and character.

Instagram Stories

Regardless of what type of Instagram content you share, quality is always more important than quantity. Cultivating a high-quality Instagram account is about more than a quick snapshot from an iPhone. Valuable, shareable images need to be visually appealing and ideally taken with a professional camera, although there are plenty of apps and tools that can help you take great photos with your phone. (We’ll cover these in Chapter 7.)

What Content You Should Be Posting

The specific type of Instagram content you should be posting is a question only you can answer, and you’ll likely not answer it right away. But after some research and testing, you’ll find a theme and content type that suits your brand and schedule best.

01

Understand Your Niche

Your target audience research from Chapter 2 should help with this, as will your competitor research. If there’s one thing you know for certain, it’s that your competition is likely being followed by those in your target audience. So tap into their accounts for inspiration and ideas (don’t steal).

What are they posting? What themes do you see, and what are their most popular posts? (In Chapter 7, we will cover tools you can use for this step.) Ask yourself how you can make your content better than your competitors. What are they missing that you can offer?

As you complete this step, you should be able to answer the question: What type of content makes sense for my audience, industry, and niche?

Themes

02

Identify Your Themes

Let’s turn that general understanding of your niche into themes around which you can create real content. What do we mean by themes? Well, consider the categories you might use to organize your blog content. What types of content would your audience want to read or see?

For example, if I were selling social media marketing software, I’d target small business owners and digital marketers who want to streamline their social media and learn new strategies. My blog (and Instagram) themes might be:

Social media strategy
Social media industry news and updates
Productivity and marketing tips
Product and company updates

Your brand might have many themes or just a few. Take a second and jot down your themes before moving on.

03

Break Down Your Themes

Now, let’s take your brand’s key themes and break them down into smaller topics. This step will help you come up with real, actionable content ideas. No topic or idea is too small.

Returning to our social media marketing SaaS example, here’s how I’d break down my key themes:

Social media strategy
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and

Pinterest best practices
Best posting times

Social media industry news and updates
New Facebook algorithm
New Instagram algorithm

Productivity and marketing tips
Social media editing apps
Inspirational marketing quotes

Product and company updates
Release of iOS app
New blog posts
Team updates

We’ve illustrated just a couple ideas for each theme, but it’s clear how deep you can go while brainstorming. No idea is too small or silly; remember, you won’t know exactly what your audience is looking for until you start posting and test engagement.

And when you do start posting on Instagram, you’ll want to plan far ahead so you can stay consistent with your content. So it’s best to come up with as many ideas as you can in this step. Your future self will thank you.

Latermedia

04

Find Images

Some brands struggle with Instagram because, while they have things they want to communicate about their business, they aren’t sure how to visualize it. Granted, not all content ideas come with clear image ideas, so this step will help you plan a visual for each topic idea.

Take a look at @LaterMedia, an actual Instagram scheduling software. Not only is their profile fun and colorful, but they’ve chosen interesting, gorgeous photos to illustrate product and company updates. In the examples below, they’re illustrating a team update, and a new product.

Once you settle on your content type and strategy, don’t stray far from that theme. Consistency is what brings people back to any brand or business, whether it’s for a Starbucks Macchiato or a Snickers bar. The same thing goes for your Instagram content.

The reason Foundr has so many authentic Instagram followers is because people can expect a consistently high level of quality from us. They know that on Instagram, we produce a certain kind of post, and that trust is what keeps them coming back for more.

What Size Should My Instagram Posts Be?

Instagram Image Size

At this point, you have a good idea of what you can and should be posting on Instagram. But before you run out there and start posting images, let’s talk technical details.

The standard Instagram image size used to be 612px x 612px, but Instagram switched to 1080px x 1080px in July 2015 to keep up with high-resolution displays on smartphones, tablets, and computers. Later in 2015, Instagram also added the ability to post vertical and horizontal images. Here are the maximum sizes for square, vertical, and horizontal images:

Square 1080px x 1080px

Vertical 1080px W x 1350px H

Horizontal 1080px W x 566px H

You can use any sizes within those measurements.

If you screenshot and upload an image to Instagram, it may not fit perfectly. The best way to work around this is to crop it first in the photo gallery, then use an app like Whitagram and select Full Resolution. That re-optimizes the photo to fit on Instagram. (We’ll discuss more posting apps in Chapter 7.)

Lastly, depending on the type, consider branding each image before posting. Foundr brands all of our original posts to make them more recognizable and build brand awareness when images are shared with others. A logo or brand also sets original images apart from curated and user-generated content.

How to Write Captions that Convert

Instagram Image Size

Most people think that all you need to do is create great images for your Instagram audience and the work is done. For the most part, they’re right—if all they are looking for is to raise brand awareness.

While a big following is impressive, it ultimately means nothing if you don’t do anything with it.

While your visual content is crucial for attracting and entertaining your audience, your captions are the key to engagement, and eventually, conversion.

Conversion, in this case, could refer to a follow, a bio link click, an email entry, or even a purchase. Regardless of what you’re aiming to do through your Instagram content, each and every caption must be engaging in some way.

Your captions are incredibly important because they help frame each image and provide context for your audience. With Instagram’s latest update, your audience will see only the first two or three lines of your caption. So, you’ll either need to provide context immediately, or create a line that’s so attention-grabbing that people can’t help but want to click “…more.”

Learn to Love Hashtags

Instagram Hashtags

For newcomers, a hashtag is simply text following a pound sign that acts as a hyperlink to other similar posts that share the same tag. They are one of the top ways users discover new accounts and content on the platform.

You should use hashtags in every single caption. But don’t stuff too many in the caption itself. Great captions are compelling and readable, and too many hashtags can turn users away. Include your branded hashtags and perhaps a few more in the caption, but add the majority (30 is the maximum) as the first comment on the post.

Branded hashtags are custom, brand-specific tags that cultivate a community around your brand and help collect all the content posted by your users and customers. Branded hashtags are also how businesses discover and share user-generated content. L.L.Bean (@llbean) encourages their audience to tag any photos of products with #BeanOutsider, which the brand then shares on their profile.

Thankfully, Instagram makes it easy to discover hashtags. Search for a hashtag, and 10 to 20 other relevant ones will pop up, too. Instagram also shows a “Related” tab next to the most popular posts in the Explore tab.

TIP: Get hashtag inspiration from top influencers and competitors in your niche. This method helps you not only generate more exposure and gain more followers but also get on the radars of influencers (which will be important when growing your following and marketing your products). Finally, use Tag for Likes or Display Purposes to find trending and relevant hashtags.

When posting, use both popular hashtags (with millions of searches) and less popular ones (with ~50,000) to give you a better chance of popping up in Instagram searches.

To maximize exposure, create at least three different hashtag blends of 30 hashtags each. As you publish content, switch up which blend to post so that your content reaches a mix of people within your niche. Save the blends in your favorite notes app so you can easily copy and paste them in.

When and How to Post

Instagram How To

Similar to your content strategy, when and how you post on Instagram takes some time to figure out. There’s no single answer, because your posting patterns will depend on who’s viewing your content and when they’re on Instagram. Ultimately, you’ll need to start gathering data to answer this question.

As you begin building out your posting strategy, we encourage you to post all the time and for all time zones, especially if you’re aiming to be a multinational brand like Foundr. Start with 10 to 20 images to lay a foundation for your feed, then post at least once a day. If you want to grow quicker and see results faster, post more. Foundr posts six to 10 times per day and gets 800 – 1,000 new followers and tens of thousands of likes daily.

The more you post, the faster you’ll grow and the quicker you’ll be able to see what times of day and types of content are drawing the best responses. Later on, we’ll get into the variety of applications that can help you gauge which times are working best.

All that said, never post just to post. All content must be on-brand, high-quality, and targeted to your audience.

Scheduling Instagram Content

Scheduling your Instagram content can help you stay consistent and take away the daily hassle of editing and posting. If you’re not careful, social media can absorb your time and productivity, so scheduling content can help you stay present and focus on other tasks.

Tools like Later, Planoly, Grum, and Schedugram can help you schedule content in advance and also review how images will look on your feed prior to posting. You can also drag and drop to move images and create a more attractive overall feed. Later also allows you to schedule from your desktop or laptop.

Note: Some tools will post automatically from the app, while others will send a notification when it is time to physically publish content. In early 2018, Instagram officially allowed businesses to schedule content directly to the platform, so some scheduling apps might be changing their posting processes in the future.

On the other hand, you don’t have to schedule your posts. In fact, sometimes it’s helpful to upload posts in real time if you’re following a trending topic or need to post a certain image at a specific time. But scheduling can help you stay consistent, so it’s good practice to check out these tools. (See Chapter 7)

Consistency is Key

We’re big believers in quality over quantity, but posting consistently is one of the most important factors when growing a business account through Instagram. You don’t have to be a posting machine, but find some routine that’s reasonable, and stick with it. The goal is to never have days go by without new content, or to have a bunch of posts cranking out all at once (unless it’s part of an intentional campaign).

Instagram rewards consistency and continued momentum. So once you start, don’t stop. If you feel like you can’t keep up with daily activity, schedule a bunch of days (aim for 30 or more) in advance so you never fall behind.

The only thing that can’t be scheduled is Instagram engagement, and rightfully so, because to cultivate real followers, engagement should be authentic and organic. We’ll cover this more in the next chapter.

Exclusive FREE Instagram Masterclass

HOW TO GO FROM 0 TO 1 MILLION+ FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM & BUILD A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BRAND IN 2 YEARS

In this Instagram masterclass, you will learn:

star

The Instagram Domination Method – The secret method that enabled Foundr to generate 500k followers in 12 months & 1M+ in 2 years

star

How to create content the RIGHT WAY that gets an insane amount of engagement

star

“The Bio Formula” – How to generate over 20,000+ clicks to your website in 1 month using just Instagram

star

How to create the content that attracts your target audience to follow your page, like your content, share with their friends and buy your products and services

star

A case study on how we built a FRESH new 6 figure ecommerce business in 6 months using ONLY Instagram. In a recent month, it generated $45K+ and over 1000+ new customers spending $0 in acquisition on Instagram

star

How to create ‘Money Posts’ that effortlessly turn your fans into customers WITHOUT being ‘salesy’ or spammy

Don’t take our word for it.

Austin
Ruben
Hannah

Ready to dominate Instagram? Sign up for our FREE instagram Masterclass today.YES, SHOW ME HOW TO MASTER INSTAGRAM

CHAPTER

04

HOW TO DEVELOP AN ENGAGED INSTAGRAM FOLLOWING

If you remember one thing from this chapter, it’s this: Not all Instagram followers are equal.

On social media, and especially Instagram, it is much more about quality than quantity. If your goal is to grow your business through Instagram (as opposed to your Instagram account itself), you should aim to cultivate a following of users who will engage with you and be interested in your brand. There are a lot of growth hacks for Instagram, including some shady ways to boost your follower count. But they’re not always going to get you the engagement you’re after.

Beyond the embrace of the cardinal rule that you must create great content, here’s how Foundr grew our engaged follower base to over 1 million, and how you can grow yours.

Follow for Follow

This method is manual and time-consuming, but it’s a great way to start growing your followers if you’re a new business or are new to Instagram. To leverage this strategy, start following people within your target niche. Wait to see if they follow you back, and unfollow anyone who hasn’t followed you back after a few days. One piece of Insta-etiquette—don’t follow an account just to get the follow-back, and then unfollow them anyway to keep your following count low. Rude.

One way to identify those users in your target niche is to check competitors’ Instagram accounts and see who’s engaging with their posts. The users that comment often, tag friends, and ask questions are likely the most interested, engaged followers, so follow them.

One way to identify those users in your target niche is to check competitors’ Instagram accounts and see who’s engaging with their posts. The users that comment often, tag friends, and ask questions are likely the most interested, engaged followers, so follow them.

Share for Share (S4S) / Shoutouts

To grow your Instagram following, you’re going to have to help out your competition.

What?

That’s right. On Instagram, community is valued over competition, and accounts within the same niche that target the same users frequently work together to grow their followers and engagement. This method is called share for share (S4S) or shoutouts.

The premise is simple: You post an image for and/or mention in your caption a certain Instagram user, and they do the same for you. The goal with this method is to help each other (you and the collaborating account) build brand awareness, gain exposure, and access new audiences. You both benefit from the exchange.

If you’re just starting out on Instagram, wait until you have about 1,000 to 2,000 followers before you reach out to anyone. If you expect to collaborate with a successful account, you must have something to offer in exchange. Successful Instagram brands likely won’t be interested in brand new accounts with few followers (unless they are paid, and we’ll get into paid shoutouts in the next section).

There are many ways you can provide value for partnering accounts, even when you’re a small account up against a big one. When pitching larger accounts, calculate your engagement rate (number of likes and comments divided by number of followers). This will show other accounts how active and engaged your audience is, i.e. that they’re likely to take note of whatever content you post on their behalf.

To further improve your leverage for shoutouts with bigger accounts, consider offering up your live bio link or proposing multiple shoutouts for the “price of one.” Follower count doesn’t have to be the only way to measure value when negotiating a shoutout.

Choosing the Right Shoutout

When you start reaching out to other accounts, approach people with the same number of followers and audience demographic. Offer to post a shoutout with their Instagram username and an image in exchange for the same.

You can offer/ask for two types of shoutouts:

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A collaborating account can tag your Instagram username in their caption

They can share your photo while also tagging you in the caption.

Newer accounts might find more success in asking for a caption shoutout so that the original account can still post their own content while tagging you. If you’re exchanging an image shoutout with a brand, consider offering up one of your best performing images for them to share. Regardless, be sure their caption about you includes a strong call-to-action like a question or encouragement to follow you.

Besides researching similar accounts on Instagram, you can also join S4S and shoutout groups with like-minded Instagram users. Instagram users often use Kik, Slack, or GroupMe to discuss and collaborate on shoutouts.

Not unlike S4S groups are Instagram engagement pods, which typically live in Instagram DMs. An Instagram pod is a small group of Instagram users, bloggers, and businesses (about 10 to 15) that like and comment on each other’s content to organically increase engagement. These pods are especially valuable as Instagram’s algorithm favors engagement and value over chronological posting. Some Instagram pods focus on a specific niche while others are based around general engagement.

Whether you join an Instagram pod and connect over Kik for a S4S, you’re sure to experience increased engagement—perfect for new accounts on Instagram!

Paid Shoutouts

Paid shoutouts are similar to free shoutouts, except they are typically a one-way transaction. When you pay for a shoutout, the collaborating account will post your image and/or tag you in a caption in exchange for compensation. You don’t post anything on your account, which is why this is a comparable option for smaller, newer accounts that don’t have much value to offer in terms of engagement or audience.

The types of paid shoutouts are just like free shoutouts – the account will either tag your account in the caption (which you could write, depending on what you’re paying), or they’ll post your image and tag you in the caption.

Choosing the Right Paid Shoutout Account

To choose a good account for a paid shoutout, look for those that have similar audiences but much, much higher audience numbers and engagement. Remember, the goal here is to tap into an audience that you’d otherwise not reach, so don’t immediately settle for a small to midsize account.

When you find five to 10 accounts that share your industry and niche (competitors, influencers, or otherwise), take a look at their engagement levels. Look for an engagement/following ratio of 1% to 3%. For example, an account with 500,000 followers and 2.5% engagement would have at least 10,500 likes and/or comments on their images. Review their last eight to 10 images to check for engagement levels, and consider using an app like Social Blade to check the legitimacy of their account. You don’t want to pay for a shoutout on an account that has a bunch of bot followers, or low value followers who don’t engage with their content.

What and When to Post

There’s no magic number of paid shoutouts. You can do as many as you can afford with your marketing budget, or you can start with just one or two to see how your account responds. For example, Foundr spent about $100 on shoutouts in the first two weeks of our Instagram account, and it was instrumental in reaching our first 10,000 followers.

Obviously, doing multiple swap posts each day leads to maximum growth, but you shouldn’t commit to that expense until you’re absolutely sure you’re working with the right accounts and the right content. See how a couple go first, and take it from there.

As with free shoutouts, you should use a top-performing image from your account. Don’t hesitate to reuse images that you’ve already posted, as this image will be shared on someone else’s profile (preferably to a brand new audience). If you have a lead magnet offer, consider leveraging that through your paid shoutout, whether through the image itself or in the caption. In Chapter 5, we’ll cover more details on how to use Instagram to get website traffic.

The Cost of Shoutouts

There’s no hard and fast numbers for how much paid shoutouts cost; typically, it’s up to you and how much you feel that an account’s engagement, post quality, and audience are worth. What you want to do is assess the future return you can expect from working with these brands and then price accordingly. For example, for one of our ecommerce brands, we once paid an influencer with only 100,000 followers $1500 for a shoutout post because we knew we would get a strong return. That post generated hundreds of sales. But, some influencers with 100,000 followers who love your product may take your product for free as the only form of payment. Every influencer is different.

Having said that, here are some guidelines to help you get started. According to a 2017 study of almost 3,000 accounts, the cost of a sponsored post is directly proportional to follower count. Those accounts with less than 2,000 followers charge, on average, about $124; on the other side of the spectrum, accounts with between 150,000 and 250,000 followers charge around $400, and those with more than 1 million charge well over $1,000.

When negotiating a paid shoutout scenario, be prepared with a cost range and time limit. Accounts that run paid shoutouts may also slap on a time period, as they’ll eventually delete the post. This could be anywhere from one hour to one day. Try to get maximum exposure for a reasonable price.

Lastly, always test paid shoutouts. Use tools like Linktrackr or Social Blade to review and test the results of your paid shoutouts. If the first one doesn’t pay off and draw engagement, don’t work with that account again.

Giveaways

Giveaways are another surefire way to organically grow your audience and to leverage the followers of fellow Instagram accounts. To get the best engagement and ROI, though, we recommend waiting until your account has at least 10,000 followers to run one.

Giveaways work by requiring people to share and engage with your Instagram content for a chance to win a prize, so it can really drum up a ton of exposure and interaction.

One common approach is to partner up with another Instagram account that shares a similar audience and goal. You want to find a partner that isn’t quite a competitor, but is still related to your niche and product, and shares a comparable number of followers. For example, a skincare product line could run a contest alongside a cosmetics brand. By partnering, both brands experience even more exposure by sharing audiences.

Giveaways

As for the giveaway itself, make it creative and interesting. Your goal should be that your followers can’t help but enter. People love free stuff, so no prize is too small. But as you grow, your prizes should, too.

Require your audience to do two or three things to enter your giveaway. Typically, brands will ask their followers to 1) follow their account, 2) tag a friend or two, and 3) follow the partner’s account, leave a review on another social media site, or something else. The possibilities for engagement here are endless.

Some brands conduct these contests manually by randomly choosing a commenter then double-checking that just that one person followed the other instructions for entry. This is a good option for new businesses or brands testing the effectiveness of giveaways. On the other hand, tools like Woobox and Shortstack are helpful for running and tracking Instagram contests and campaigns as things get more advanced.

Genuine, Regular Engagement

At the end of the day, authentically engaging with your audience is the best and purest way to grow an engaged follower base. Sure, the methods above are straightforward ways to cultivate followers, but a good ol’ like or reply in the comments can work wonders when it comes to building affinity among your audience.

As your account and audience grow, stay engaged with your community. Interact with comments and questions. Whether you like a comment, comment back with an emoji, or leave a lengthy response, your audience will see that you’re paying attention and operating your Instagram like a real person, not a faceless brand.

Exclusive FREE Instagram Masterclass

HOW TO GO FROM 0 TO 1 MILLION+ FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM & BUILD A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BRAND IN 2 YEARS

In this Instagram masterclass, you will learn:

star

The Instagram Domination Method – The secret method that enabled Foundr to generate 500k followers in 12 months & 1M+ in 2 years

star

How to create content the RIGHT WAY that gets an insane amount of engagement

star

“The Bio Formula” – How to generate over 20,000+ clicks to your website in 1 month using just Instagram

star

How to create the content that attracts your target audience to follow your page, like your content, share with their friends and buy your products and services

star

A case study on how we built a FRESH new 6 figure ecommerce business in 6 months using ONLY Instagram. In a recent month, it generated $45K+ and over 1000+ new customers spending $0 in acquisition on Instagram

star

How to create ‘Money Posts’ that effortlessly turn your fans into customers WITHOUT being ‘salesy’ or spammy

Don’t take our word for it.

Austin
Ruben
Hannah

Ready to dominate Instagram? Sign up for our FREE instagram Masterclass today.YES, SHOW ME HOW TO MASTER INSTAGRAM

CHAPTER

05

How to Convert Instagram Followers to Paying Customers

I’m guessing this part is where a lot of folks need guidance, and it’s likely the source of some frustration when it comes to using Instagram for business purposes. The Underpants Gnomes of South Park may come to mind as you’re putting in all this work to post pretty pictures and clever captions.

Blue Arrow

Like we said above, growing your follower base doesn’t mean much if you don’t do anything with it. Fortunately, businesses can find a ton of success when it comes to using Instagram to drive traffic and, ultimately, revenue. That is why, after all, we’ve spent all this time building your account, creating incredible content, and cultivating an engaged audience—to eventually convert your followers to paying customers.

The “bridge” between Instagram and your company is commonly formed by way of a lead magnet (usually a free, high-quality piece of content) and driving people to a landing page where they can enter their email addresses in exchange for said lead magnet. At Foundr, we cycle through a handful of different lead magnets so our audience doesn’t get bored or annoyed by the same old offer.

But while the lead magnet method is powerful for content-based businesses and bloggers, it might not work for everyone. For ecommerce businesses, an effective “bridge” might just be product shots with links to your online store or to a landing page that offers some sort of discount or special offer in exchange for an email signup. For service-based businesses like makeup artists or wedding photographers, the “bridge” could be photos of your work in action, with similar links to purchase or score a deal.

The Instagram Sales Funnel

Before we dive into some traffic-driving strategies, let’s take a quick trip through the Instagram sales funnel. Most modern marketing can be organized into the AIDA sales funnel model: Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action.

Instagram Funnel

If you haven’t noticed, your Instagram strategy isn’t that different from a typical marketing strategy.

Awareness

The top of the funnel, awareness, is how many users you’ve reached and how many have seen your content. These are the highest number, which is why it represents the top of the funnel.

Interest

As your funnel narrows, so do your numbers. The next section, interest, represents how many users have taken interest in your content and followed or engaged with your posts. In the previous chapters, we’ve discussed how to create rockin’ content and grow an engaged follower base to maximize how many people make it to this stage.

Decision

The next section is called decision, because it represents the users that click on your link. By doing this, they’ve decided to interact with your brand and move off of Instagram to your website or landing page. In this chapter, we will mainly cover strategies on how to lead people through this step. It’s a big one—where things escalate from merely looking at cool photos, to potentially giving you money.

Action

The final part of the funnel, action, is how many people end up completing your desired action. This action could be joining your email list, subscribing to your blog, or purchasing a product or service, and it’s what we mean when we say “converting” Instagram followers. Your success at this stage will depend on the effectiveness of the previous stages, as well as the general value you provide through your website or link destination.

Regardless of your end goal, cultivating a healthy Instagram sales funnel means that you must be driving your audience through each step of the process. Changing your perspective and viewing your Instagram as another marketing funnel will help you stay focused and remember your end goal: To use Instagram to convert your audience and drive revenue.

Blue Arrow

Here are some strategies for driving Instagram followers to your website or landing page:

How to Post Traffic-Driving Images on Your Instagram Feed

In Chapter 3, we discussed how to create breathtaking images that beg for engagement. Now, we’re going to take those strategies and apply them to the images you post in order to drive traffic to your website. This could be lead magnet images, product shots, or photography featuring your work—we’ll call these “bridge” images.

Because you only post these images once out of every four or five posts, they should be your very best, most compelling photos. That, or they should present such an enticing offer that followers won’t be able to resist clicking (or at least considering it until the offer shows up the next time). The same goes for your caption. Always add a strong call-to-action and include “Link in bio” or a super simple URL (we’ve used links like “foundr.com/free”) whenever you promote your lead magnet, product, or service so your followers can easily know how to access your landing page.

Instagram Traffic
Instagram Traffic

If you’re promoting products, aim to post something other than a straightforward product shot. Lifestyle images are always good for promoting products, if you can show an actual person using your product. This is why user-generated content is great for authentic promotion—you can showcase your product in real life and someone else does the photography work for you. It’s a win-win!

Drive Traffic via Instagram Stories

Because Instagram Stories are more real-time than normal posts, lots of brands use them to share new products, lead magnets, and sales. Brands also do this because you can now add a live link within them—effectively bridging the gap between Instagram and your website. It was a pretty big deal when this change was made, because for years before, the only other spot for a live link was in the Instagram bio. Suddenly, Instagram Stories became scorching hot real estate for conversions.

Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories

But hold your horses, because at this time, only accounts with 10,000 or more followers can access the “Swipe Up” link feature. You’ve got your work cut out for you before this superpower is unlocked.

Once you hit that point, within your story, the live link will show up at the bottom with a small arrow and the text “See More.” You can see this in the example above. When users swipe up, they are taken to the web page you linked to in your story. To ensure that your viewers see this link and access it, don’t forget to add a noticeable call-to-action within any story that has a link. Whether it’s “Check out the link below…” or “Swipe up to see…”, you need to alert your audience that there’s a live link attached to the photo or video. Otherwise, they might miss it and simply tap through your story. Here are some examples:

Another tool within Instagram Stories that drives engagement and traffic is the new polling feature. Accessible within the stickers section, the story poll allows you to ask a question and provide two customizable answers.

Instagram Polling System

You can view the results of your poll where you see who viewed your story, by swiping up on the image or video. This poll feature is a neat way to conduct simple target audience research, but use it sparingly. Too many polls, and your audience can get burned out.

Instagram Influencers

Drive Traffic by Collaborating with Influencers

Collaborating with influencers follows some of the same principles behind the shoutout, but takes it a step further by focusing on one main goal. While shoutouts are conducted to expose your brand to a new audience and gain followers, working with influencers typically involves them promoting a specific product, lead magnet, or overarching goal.

But let’s back up. If you’re wondering what the heck we’re talking about, influencer marketing is basically a modern take on the concept of a spokesperson, but using popular Instagram accounts to promote a brand. Believe it or not, it can be a lot more powerful too.

That’s because people often feel highly, personally connected to the people they follow on social media, and someone you’d consider an influencer on Instagram is often not at the level of fame that you’d think of as “celebrity.” So they’re much more relatable, which means influencer marketing feels more like a word-of-mouth recommendation than an advertisement.

Word-of-mouth marketing is more powerful than ever. Consumers are tired of being pummeled with promotions by brands; they respond more positively to honest recommendations. So when an influencer posts about something, it comes across more like authentic advice than a blatant pitch. That’s why working with influencers is a powerful way to drive people from Instagram to your website.

What Do Influencers Cost?

There’s no rhyme or reason to what influencers charge, but it typically comes down to the number of followers and the quality of their engagement. The more followers and the higher the engagement rate, the more expensive a post will be. Accounts with over 150,000 have been reported to charge anywhere from $400 to $1,000.

Cash isn’t always the best method of payment though. As we mentioned in a previous chapter, it depends on the influencer. We have worked with many influencers who accepted our product for free as a form of payment because they loved the product and were excited to receive it. You may find that this is the case more often than not.

Can’t quite afford a large cash payment for big-time influencers? Understandable. Thankfully, a lot of brands have had more success working with micro-influencers, which are accounts that have anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 followers. They also have highly-engaged followings, which makes these influencers valuable in their own way.

Instagram Influencers Cost

Engagement Rate

Ideally, you’ll see an engagement rate of 2% to 3%. (Remember, this rate is calculated by number of likes and comments divided by total followers.) Ratios in the 4% to 6% rate are even better, and anything above 10% is considered outstanding, with cost to match.

Follower Quality

Numbers are great, but actions are better. Review each influencer’s most recent five to 10 posts and see how authentic the discussions are. Are there substantial questions and messages, or do you simply see a lot of emojis and meaningless “Nice!” comments? The quality of comments will speak to how connected the influencer’s followers are, which could translate to more engagement and revenue for you.

Follower Total

This number isn’t quite as important (compared to engagement and follower quality), but it’s still relevant to your decision. If a number of the influencers you’re eyeing rank similarly in engagement rate and follower quality, those with the higher follower counts will translate to better numbers overall.

Instagram Influencers Rates

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to three to five, contact each influencer to discuss rates. Like we said above, there’s no magic equation to help you navigate the cost of influencer marketing. Take a look at what these influencers have promoted before (if anything), and that may give you an idea of what types and sizes of businesses they work with.

Thankfully, some influencers are open to negotiation and may be willing to exchange a post for a free product, especially micro-influencers who are operating smaller accounts.

What Should Influencers Post?

What influencers promote in their posts is completely up to you. Perhaps you have a new product that requires exposure or an underperforming product that needs a little push. If you’re uncertain of what exactly you’d like to promote (or if you’d rather just get your brand name out there), take a look at the influencer’s page. You may be able to pinpoint one or two products based on their theme aesthetic.

In terms of design and content creation, the influencer typically possesses most of the creative freedom. Part of what makes an influencer so valuable is the authentic, coherent feed they’ve curated, so you can expect your sponsored post to at least fall in line with the theme they’ve established. If you’re curious about what your specific post will look like, consider asking the influencer to outline how they plan to capture the image or video or to send you a draft post for approval.

Working with influencers is like any other marketing campaign, so discuss metrics and analytics so you can be sure your post is performing well. The influencer will have access to that data, so perhaps you can establish a routine check-in to touch base on your post(s), with benchmarks at three days, one week, and one month (or whatever you deem appropriate). Depending on your influencer’s posting package, they might have a pre-established metrics process, too.

Finally, it’s your responsibility to follow Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines when promoting products through influencer marketing. In the past year or so, the FTC has been cracking down on influencer marketing activity, so it’s up to you to remain compliant or otherwise risk your account being shut down.

The FTC requires influencers to disclose when a “material connection” exists between themselves and a brand. This type of connection includes the exchange of fiscal compensation, free product, and even a business or family relationship with the brand. The FTC enforces this in order to provide transparency to consumers. Basically, Instagram users want (and deserve) to know when an influencer is being compensated to share a product with their followers.

Disclosure per the FTC is pretty simple. When working with influencers, remind them to place #ad or #sponsored in the caption. (Those are the only two hashtags that count as disclosure.) You may also want them to tag your Instagram account in the photo as well as include your handle in the caption. The same disclosure rules apply to Instagram Stories, too.

Influencer is the leading Instagram marketing tactic, and for good reason. It leverages word-of-mouth marketing, captivated audiences, and beautiful imagery to spark engagement and conversions. Depending on what you promote through influencers, this tactic can lead to an increased email list, increased website traffic, and everything in between—ultimately creating and leading to another valuable sales funnel.

Drive Traffic via Shoppable Images

Introduced in the US in 2017, Instagram has now expanded Shopping on Instagram (shoppable images) to include more users. With this feature, your Instagram followers can click on your product image and be instantly directed to a place where they can purchase them. In order to participate, you must have an Instagram Business Profile connected to your Facebook Shop Catalog, be selling physical goods, and be located in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, or Brazil.

To get started, make sure your Facebook Shop page is set up with your correct product specs and images. This is where Instagram gets your product information. You can either set up your own integration or, if you use Shoppify, BigCommerce, or WooCommerce, you can use their integration.

Once you complete your Facebook page setup, head over to Instagram. You should see a pop-up that prompts you to “Get Started” with tagging on Instagram. If you don’t see the banner, go to your settings, scroll to Products, click Continue, and select a product catalog to connect to your Business Profile.

Once you connect a product catalog, tagging products is just as easy as tagging people (although, at this time, both can’t be done in the same photo). When you post a new photo, you’ll see the option to tag a product. Simply search your product catalog and voilà! Your post is tagged. You can also scroll back through old posts, tap Edit, and add product tags to those, too. (You can add up to five product tags in one post and up to 20 in a carousel post.)

Shoppable Images

When someone checks out your feed, they’ll see a white bag logo in the corner of Shoppable posts. Within each post, they’ll see the same little white shopping bag logo in the corner. All they have to do is tap the image, and your post instantly becomes shoppable. Remember that this information is directly linked to your Facebook Shop page, so if you need to add more information on a product, you can do it there.

Shopping on Instagram is yet another way to drive traffic to your website and directly convert Instagram users to paid customers. If you’re a physical products business, we encourage you to take advantage of this feature and turn your Instagram feed into a digital lookbook!

Blue Arrow

Exclusive FREE Instagram Masterclass

HOW TO GO FROM 0 TO 1 MILLION+ FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM & BUILD A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BRAND IN 2 YEARS

In this Instagram masterclass, you will learn:

star

The Instagram Domination Method – The secret method that enabled Foundr to generate 500k followers in 12 months & 1M+ in 2 years

star

How to create content the RIGHT WAY that gets an insane amount of engagement

star

“The Bio Formula” – How to generate over 20,000+ clicks to your website in 1 month using just Instagram

star

How to create the content that attracts your target audience to follow your page, like your content, share with their friends and buy your products and services

star

A case study on how we built a FRESH new 6 figure ecommerce business in 6 months using ONLY Instagram. In a recent month, it generated $45K+ and over 1000+ new customers spending $0 in acquisition on Instagram

star

How to create ‘Money Posts’ that effortlessly turn your fans into customers WITHOUT being ‘salesy’ or spammy

Don’t take our word for it.

Austin
Ruben
Hannah

Ready to dominate Instagram? Sign up for our FREE instagram Masterclass today.YES, SHOW ME HOW TO MASTER INSTAGRAM

CHAPTER

06

Measuring and Analyzing Your Instagram Activity

Only part of your Instagram marketing strategy involves posting content and engaging followers. The other part is all about making sure that what you’re doing works. Tracking results is a crucial step in ensuring that your resources are being used wisely. Analytics can also alert you to new strategies you might want to pursue at higher levels.

There’s a variety of tools available for measuring progress and analyzing results.

Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights is an excellent analytics tool built right into the platform. It’s only available for Business Profiles, but switching over to one is simple and free, and anyone can do it.

For an in-app reporting tool, Insights provides some great data. It measures your account views and displays it right on your profile, and it links each post’s insights right under the image, making it easy to see the number of comments, likes, saves, as well as reach and impressions, from both your followers and new users. It also provides a handy glossary that explains what each metric means.

Instagram Insights

In the general Insights dashboard, you can view your reach and impressions for the last seven days, follower demographics, popular post statistics, and data on any Instagram Stories you post.

Foundr gathers a lot of data from Instagram Insights that helps us make decisions on content types, posting times, demographics, and hashtags. We also use a few third-party apps to help diversify our analytics and dig a bit deeper.

Third-Party Tools

Command for Instagram (Paid, iOS)

Command for Instagram is a paid analytics tool that operates as another app on your smartphone. Designed specifically for influencers and brands, Command offers a wide array of metrics on your account and gives you a report card that measures your activity against industry standards. The tool also makes it easy to track competitor activity.

Command

Social Blade (Free)

Social Blade is another Foundr favorite. It summarizes your growth statistics and compares them to your daily posting activity (for free!), making it easy to see what kinds of content and engagement leads to the quickest growth.

Social Blade

Social Blade also allows you to track your competitors and other accounts in your niche. Use the “Compare With” feature to compare your account to others.

Keyhole (Paid with 3-Day Trial)

Keyhole is primarily a tracking tool. It offers two main paid services: 1) hashtag and keyword aggregation, and 2) account tracking and reporting. For your Instagram account, Keyhole measures both live and past data and makes it easy to review your data by organizing it in easy-to-read graphics and tables.

Keyhole

In Chapter 3, we discussed how important hashtags are when creating and publishing engaging content. Keyhole is a helpful tool for discovering new hashtag opportunities and comparing them to popular tags and competitor captions.

Iconosquare (Paid with 14-Day Trial)

Iconosquare is our favorite third-party analytics app. We recommend this tool as it helps us determine when our followers are most engaged. It also tracks our posting times and compares them to the best times to post per our audience.

Iconosquare

Iconosquare also provides a variety of statistics, including your growth rate and specific hashtag performance. You can also view and manage engagement from the Iconosquare platform.

Union Metrics (Paid with Some Free Tools)

Union Metrics is yet another paid analytics tool, but with an added “intelligence” component. Alongside analytics and reporting, Union Metrics offers social listening and competitor analysis, making it easy to keep an eye on your audience and better understand their interests.

Union Metrics

In their comments, truly engaged followers will tell you what they like about your photo or your profile, answer a question you’ve posted or ask a new one, or even tag a friend who might appreciate it. Union Metrics has a “social intelligence” feature that helps you track the meaning of each comment to understand what your most engaged followers like or dislike about your content.

Considering the number of Instagram analytics tools available, the best approach to finding the best fit is to simply be patient and test out as many as you can. Most paid applications offer a free trial so you can get a glimpse of the interface and analytics details. These options will give you the best idea of which tool is best for your account, activity, and audience. Once you discover your favorite, don’t be afraid to dive in and apply your findings to your Instagram.

Exclusive FREE Instagram Masterclass

HOW TO GO FROM 0 TO 1 MILLION+ FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM & BUILD A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BRAND IN 2 YEARS

In this Instagram masterclass, you will learn:

star

The Instagram Domination Method – The secret method that enabled Foundr to generate 500k followers in 12 months & 1M+ in 2 years

star

How to create content the RIGHT WAY that gets an insane amount of engagement

star

“The Bio Formula” – How to generate over 20,000+ clicks to your website in 1 month using just Instagram

star

How to create the content that attracts your target audience to follow your page, like your content, share with their friends and buy your products and services

star

A case study on how we built a FRESH new 6 figure ecommerce business in 6 months using ONLY Instagram. In a recent month, it generated $45K+ and over 1000+ new customers spending $0 in acquisition on Instagram

star

How to create ‘Money Posts’ that effortlessly turn your fans into customers WITHOUT being ‘salesy’ or spammy

Don’t take our word for it.

Austin
Ruben
Hannah

Ready to dominate Instagram? Sign up for our FREE instagram Masterclass today.YES, SHOW ME HOW TO MASTER INSTAGRAM

CHAPTER

07

Instagram Tools to Take Your Account to the Next Level

Throughout this guide, we’ve spoken volumes about how amazing content, engaged followers, and network connectivity is crucial for growing your Instagram account—and your business. Instagram itself is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, but the app alone can’t always meet your needs as a brand and marketer.

Thankfully, there are a lot of third-party tools to help you reach your goals as you grow your Instagram presence.

To Take and Edit Images

While Instagram offers users a sufficient in-app camera and editing suite, brands might want to look elsewhere to ensure their content stands out in the crowd.

VSCO (Free, iOS & Android)

VSCO is a photo editing app that offers many different filter, color, and correction options. You can adjust lighting, composition, and many more features. It is easy to use—simply upload a picture from your camera roll, clean it up, and save it back to your phone for posting.

VSCO

Foodie (Free, iOS & Android)

Foodie comes from the makers of LINE Camera but is specifically for food photography. So, food bloggers, chefs, restaurants, and cafes, listen up. Foodie helps combat poor restaurant lighting and ensures your overhead food shots are perfectly lined up. It also comes with filters designed for specific cuisine, like Tropical, BBQ, and Crispy.

Foodie

A Color Story (Free, iOS & Android)

A Color Story was developed by the creators of the blog, A Beautiful Mess. It’s a photo editing app like VSCO and others, but it’s focus is on creating fresh, colorful photos. So, if you’re a designer, painter, florist, or blogger that simply loves painted walls, check out A Color Story. This app can help your Insta-grid explode with color.

LINE Camera (Free, iOS & Android)

Is your Instagram filled with selfies? Are you a blogger, makeup artist, fashionista, or Instagram personality whose marketing strategy is contingent upon pictures of yourself? Check out LINE camera. This app comes with a built-in camera that helps you optimize each and every selfie. Not only does it turn your entire screen into the camera shutter (so you don’t have to reach for the bottom button), but it also offers an in-app editing suite so you can smooth wrinkles or enlarge your eyes.

To Get Creative With Images

Not every post you share on Instagram has to be an original photo taken by a professional photographer. All sorts of content can be shared on your feed, including quote- and text-based images (quote images are a Foundr favorite).

Checkmark

Typorama (Free, iOS)

Typorama is a photo discovery and design app. You can pull images from the tool’s free stock photo source, Pixabay, or you can upload your own to overlay with text. And just like other photo editing apps, Typorama comes with its own set of filters.

Checkmark

Photofy (Free, Android)

Photofy is just like Typorama but for Android users. It provides text in the form of templated stickers that you can place over your images. Photofy also has a web app if you’d rather spruce up your photos on the big screen.

Checkmark

Over (Free, iOS)

Over is a graphic design app that lets you add text, stickers, filters, and more to your photos. You can also upload your entire brand design suite to Over, making it easy to watermark and brand all of your images. Over also offers thousands of pre-designed templates for quotes, product announcements, events, and more.

Over
Checkmark

Layout from Instagram

(Free, iOS & Android)

Layout is a simply collage maker. Upload up to nine images to the app, and Layout will help you create a combination that can be posted straight to Instagram.

Checkmark

Whitagram (Free, iOS)

Whitagram is a photo editing app that helps you reposition and reframe your photos. Many accounts use Whitagram to upload images with a white (or colored) background. You can also add stickers or text to your images.

To Capture Video

Posting videos to your Instagram feed and Story can engage your audience in a different way. If you’re looking to diversify the type of video you post, check out these handy apps.

Video

Hyperlapse from Instagram (Free, iOS)

A timelapse video is essentially tons of photos stitched together in a sped-up video. If you’ve ever seen a video of a quick makeup application, recipe, or even the sunset, you’ve watched a timelapse. Hyperlapse from Instagram helps you capture those long processes or events and creates timelapses that meet Instagram’s video standards.

Boomerang from Instagram (Free, iOS & Android)

A boomerang is another type of video that is really popular on Instagram, and you’d recognize immediately. It’s basically few seconds of video played forwards and then backwards. Boomerang for Instagram allows you to capture boomerang videos and post them to your feed or Story. Note: Instagram Stories has a boomerang video option built in, but downloading the app allows you to take more than one and then chose which is best for either a story or a post.

To Post and Manage Content

Posting content directly using Instagram itself is a fine strategy, but if you want to diversify your content or increase your posting frequency, you might need a little help. These tools can come in handy when posting and managing content.

Later (Paid, iOS & Android)

Later is one of a few dozen Instagram content scheduling tools. Tools like Later and Planoly can help you visualize and strategize what content you’re posting and when, as well as what hashtags to use. Keep in mind that some scheduling tools can automatically post images for you, but there are some media not yet approved for direct scheduling: videos, carousel images, and location tags. With these, you’re still required to manually post, but at least all of your content creation, caption writing, and scheduling is done in advance!

Repost for Instagram (Free, iOS & Android)

Posting user-generated content (UGC) to your website is a great way to show your product in a real-life setting and share customer testimonials through a reposted image. Repost for Instagram makes it easy to share others’ content to your own feed. Not only does the tool make it simple to capture an image straight from Instagram, but it also includes the original poster’s handle so that you don’t forget to attribute the image to its source account. (Note: When posting UGC, it’s also good practice to tag the original account as well as mention them in your caption.)

Manage Content

To Track Links

Using a third-party link tracker can help you see how effective your promotional posts are and accurately measure your conversion rates and Instagram funnel health.

Links

PrettyLink

PrettyLink is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create short links from your own URL, as opposed to tinyurl.com or bit.ly. That’s how Foundr has been able to offer landing pages like Foundr.com/free and Foundr.com/leaveyour9to5. These short links come in handy when leaving a URL in your captions. Since the only live link is in your bio, promoting a short link makes it easier for your audience to manually type in the URL and visit your landing page. PrettyLink also tracks each URL and provides a full report on the source of the click-through.

Bit.ly

Bit.ly is an alternative to PrettyLink. While it’s a great option for those who don’t have a WordPress site, it doesn’t offer short links from your main domain. It does, however, offer comparable link tracking that you can find right on the bit.ly website.

To Network on Instagram

To succeed on Instagram, you not only have to communicate and engage with your followers, but you also must network and work alongside your competitors and industry partners. That’s where these apps come in handy.

Kik

Kik (Free, iOS & Android)

The direct messaging feature on Instagram is helpful, but apps like Kik can connect you directly to groups for S4S and shoutout opportunities. It’s also great for networking with influencers and members of your target audience.

Telegram

Telegram (Free, iOS & Android)

Telegram is another cloud-based direct messaging app that brands use to connect with like-minded users to set up S4S campaigns. Through shoutout groups and direct chats, Instagram users network and organize liking, commenting, and sharing opportunities.

Conclusion: Lights, Camera, Action!

Instagram is a platform that’s ripe for opportunity when it comes to marketing. Just look at Foundr’s own success, our Instagram Domination course students, or the scores of brands building up devoted and authentic followings. Even the most old-fashioned businesses (one of our most successful students is a dentist!) can make tremendous gains once they know their way around.

Cultivating a social media community isn’t as daunting as it seems. Focus on one strategy at a time, and you’ll find that managing your Instagram becomes as easy as (if not easier than) keeping a blog or updating a website.

Growing your Instagram account isn’t an overnight endeavor, but by preparing, strategizing, and posting consistently, you’ll see results sooner than you think. You might even have fun with it, considering the rare opportunity it offers to make authentic connections with your audience.

And once you see your engagement, conversion, and revenue numbers rising—you’ll see that it’s all worth it.

Grow your Instagram, grow your business.

Exclusive FREE Instagram Masterclass

HOW TO GO FROM 0 TO 1 MILLION+ FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM & BUILD A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BRAND IN 2 YEARS

In this Instagram masterclass, you will learn:

star

The Instagram Domination Method – The secret method that enabled Foundr to generate 500k followers in 12 months & 1M+ in 2 years

star

How to create content the RIGHT WAY that gets an insane amount of engagement

star

“The Bio Formula” – How to generate over 20,000+ clicks to your website in 1 month using just Instagram

star

How to create the content that attracts your target audience to follow your page, like your content, share with their friends and buy your products and services

star

A case study on how we built a FRESH new 6 figure ecommerce business in 6 months using ONLY Instagram. In a recent month, it generated $45K+ and over 1000+ new customers spending $0 in acquisition on Instagram

star

How to create ‘Money Posts’ that effortlessly turn your fans into customers WITHOUT being ‘salesy’ or spammy

Don’t take our word for it.

Austin
Ruben