How can I use Instagram for marketing

Instagram Marketing

With almost 3.4 million users, Instagram is one of the social networks with the greatest reach in Germany. Ascending trend. Reason enough to take a closer look at Instagram Marketing. In this3,500+ word Instagram marketing guide I'll give you important strategies to be successful on Instagram.

Topics in this post:

Instagram profile: your profile picture


With your profile picture, make sure that you are recognized really well on the one hand and that you may even be seen while you are a photographer on the other. A landscape photographer should ideally choose an image in which he can be seen in a breathtaking setting. A portrait photographer on a studio or available light shot created in his style. A wedding photographer in a chic suit or in action with the bride and groom.

My tip: Don't change your profile picture every few days. Your followers will recognize your pictures much faster in the timeline when they see a familiar face or profile picture and click - almost automatically - on a heart or leave a comment on your latest Instagram picture.

Instagram profile: Write a meaningful biography

You have a total of 150 characters on Instagram to leave a meaningful biography. Not a lot when you consider that there should be reasons why you should be followed on Instagram and what types of photography you can expect from your absolute passion and on Instagram.

My tip: don't even start writing in sentences. That doesn't work with the limited character length of 150 anyway. I like to use emojis here and in a kind of “bulletpoints” I write in a nutshell what I will publish on Instagram. If you have already made it to a real me-brand or notoriety (congratulations!), You should also include your own hashtag in your biography. Followers often use this for their own Instagram pictures where they want to attract your attention and automatically ensure more awareness of your Instagram profile. Of course, you should also use this hashtag under each of your pictures!

Instagram profile: your website

Whether you offer photography workshops, instructions for Instagram marketing or want to sell your services as a photographer - you usually can't do without your own website. That is why it is extremely important that you link them to your Instagram profile.

If you already have your own photographer website, you should pull out your smartphone right now and save it in your profile. Important: Instagram is a mobile-first product. This means that more than 95% of your visitors will come to your website with a smartphone, so it is very important that you have a mobile-friendly website. You can read more about this topic in my SEO for Photographers article.

Strategies for effective Instagram marketing

After you have already learned a lot about optimizing your Instagram profile in the first three chapters, it is now important to strategically consider how and with which content we can reach your target group.

In Instagram marketing - similar to Facebook marketing - there are several different types of posts for photographers with which we can reach our target group in the best possible way.

It all depends on the right storytelling

The most promising contributions are pictures with a real story about you, your company or photography. In this area, brands such as Oreo (the ones who make the delicious biscuits that vegans can enjoy ;-)) show how to do it right and offer opportunities for adaptation for your own marketing.

You can also use so-called behind-the-scenes pictures from photo workshops, shootings or other activities that are customary in the industry.

Reactive storytelling on Instagram

Does the term “reactive storytelling” mean anything to you? With reactive storytelling, you encourage your followers to say something about your picture or to further develop your idea or thoughts about the picture. Be creative here and develop a strategy that encourages your followers to participate.

Use user generated content correctly

Unfortunately, this form of Instagram marketing is only for Instagram profiles that have already built a decent number of followers. Images generated by users that were only made for the purpose of being associated with you or your hashtag are almost the supreme discipline on Instagram.

Imagine 500 people every week using your hashtag on Instagram just to show other Instagram users that they are related to you or your project. That would have something, wouldn't it? In order to be able to achieve such effects, as already mentioned, you need a not entirely irrelevant number of followers or general awareness within photography, but you can also ensure such synergies in a smaller circle.

With weekly photo competitions.

Simply come up with a weekly topic and create a cross-project hashtag for these projects, which the participants have to use every week if they want to take part in your contest. The hashtag you choose should of course relate to you and your person - even better: All participants must mention you in the description of the image. In this way you ensure even more reach of yourself and pictures on Instagram. I'll tell you more about hashtags on Instagram later in this article.

Inspiration and motivation on Instagram

The meanwhile very widespread and, if you ask me personally, annoying "quotes", which are supposed to inspire inspiration or motivation, are of course another way to provide your followers with appealing content. If you don't like quotes, but you don't want to do without this effective follower building method, I recommend you just look outside the box. Personally, I really like Japanese haikus. These short but very creative poems are, on the one hand, extremely short, making them ideal for social media posts and, on the other hand, highly inspiring for new photo ideas. You can find an overview with many haikus here or on Pinterest.

Instagram marketing for real pros 😉

In the previous section you got to know some types of post that you can publish on your Instagram profile. However, since you are not the only profile that your followers are following, it is now up to you to promote your pictures as best as possible so that a large number of followers can see your pictures at all. In this section I will explain what the Instagram algorithm is all about and how you can reach as many old and new followers as possible with your pictures.

This is how you describe your postings correctly

So that your posts are automatically liked and commented by your followers, you have to make a lot of effort when describing them. Of course, you can't save a bad picture with it, but a picture alone is often not enough to generate a high number of likes and comments - this usually only works for profiles that have already become a real brand within the photography industry. This includes profiles like Benjamin Jaworskyj and Calvin Hollywood or the profile of Pavel Kaplun, all of whom have very large communities and commitments on YouTube and Facebook.

So that your descriptions are really good, you should basically plan to include at least 3 of these 4 tips in your picture descriptions:

  • Draw attention by choosing the right words
  • Ask your followers specifically for answers to your picture
  • Use a call-to-action for desired actions (what that is will come a little later in this guide)
  • Use relevant hashtags so that your Instagram post can "go viral through the roof"

Use emojis as stimulus triggers

You probably already know emojis. These are those little smilies, houses, hearts or nature icons that have been on every smartphone for some time. Use them wisely in your picture description and get even more attention in the Instagram feed. You can find a selection of possible Instagram emojis on this page or here:
👩, 👰, 🎊, 💏, 🎈, 💔, 😎, 👍, 👎

Call on your followers to tag

Another way to draw the attention of new followers on Instagram to your profile is to draw the attention to "tag" a friend in your picture descriptions. An example would be: "If you like my photos, tag a friend of yours to show him your great taste!"

Hashtags for more reach on Instagram

Hashtags are the icing on the cake and belong in large numbers under EVERY picture on Instagram. A picture without hashtags has almost no way of reaching new followers on Instagram, as Instagram users always search for hashtags in their search and Instagram's search algorithms depend on them. Please make sure that you always use as high a number of relevant hashtags as possible for your picture under each picture. Please note: Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per picture - therefore you should really only use suitable hashtags and, if possible, choose them in the respective national language of your target group. TrackMaven discovered some time ago that Instagram posts had the highest engagement rate with 11 hashtags. Maybe you use these numbers as a guide for your posts on Instagram.

#TagsForLikes - if you've heard this term or this website before: Keep your hands off it if you want to use your profile a little longer. Not because Instagram blocks your profile, but much more because more and more less relevant spam and fake accounts will enjoy your pictures and bring you nothing more than dubious push notifications for a new like or spam comment.

Call-to-action button on your pictures

Call-to-action - in German please-do-now-what-I-want-from-you - is a common term in the conversion optimization of any goals. Our goal on Instagram is of course to get lots of likes and comments.

What many do not use, however, is a reference to this directly on the picture.

In order to be able to provoke a targeted action from our followers, we first have to familiarize ourselves very carefully with the functions of Instagram. A function that not everyone knows is the double-touch-2-like function. Every time you quickly press a picture twice in a row, you give the picture a like. So what could be more obvious than positioning such a call-to-action directly on the picture? Give it a try!

Of course, it doesn't always have to be a button that triggers the call-to-action. Even a text hint to comment or 'like' is often enough as a stimulus to get your followers to take the desired action. Just give it a try!

Editorial plan for Instagram

Now it's going to be wild. You shouldn't take content planning for Instagram lightly if you want to constantly inspire new followers on Instagram. If you only post a picture every 4-5 days, you will get lost in the Instagram stream of your followers and may not even get noticed. That is why it is so important to post fresh content all the time. The best thing to do is to prepare this content on your computer so that you can only publish new content on Instagram once or twice a day.

To make it a little easier for you to get started with editorial planning, I have planned a possible Instagram feed for you here:

  1. In the morning: Inspiration and motivation to start the day
  2. Midday to afternoon: A behind-the-scenes picture that you can do well on the go with your smartphone without having to go into planning beforehand. A picture from the photo editing on the computer is also ideal for the picture at noon.
  3. In the evening: A real highlight of the day! A pretty portrait, a great landscape or a picture of something very abstract. Try to find a way that suits you best and that focuses on your photographic goals.

If you now think that 3 Instagram posts a day are a lot, I would like to introduce you to another study by Quintly. It shows you how many Instagram and Facebook posts were published per month and what number of followers or fans these brands / pages have. Since I made similar observations on my nail design page on Facebook, I was personally not particularly surprised at the result.

This is how I plan my social media content

I usually schedule my content for the social channels for 7 days in advance. This distracts me less from everyday life and I can concentrate on my actual work. Of course, this should not mean that the topic is less important than my work, but I prefer to concentrate on the topic of social media / Instagram for a few hours once a week than for a few minutes several times a day.

Instagram benchmark: what is actually good?

Fortunately, almost everything has a study, right? TrackMaven took a closer look at the 500 top brands on Instram and found that the average number of likes and comments was 37/1000 Instagram followers.

What does this mean for you and your Instagram marketing now?

Let's assume the following scenario:

  • You have 1000 Instagram followers: Then 37 likes and comments are a good result per post
  • You have 500 Instagram followers: Then 19 likes and comments are a possible goal of your efforts

If you want to apply this formula to yourself, you can simply take the number of your followers times 0.037 and you have the benchmark or at least a possible goal for your very personal Instagram profile and marketing.

As a further clue, you can assume that there will be a new comment for every 100 likes. Of course, this always depends on your follower base, but it serves as a good house number and arithmetic aid in the strategic planning of your Instagram activities.

Instagram Videos - Tips on Instagram Video Format

In 2013 Instagram launched its own video format alongside Vine. Unlike on YouTube, for example, you are limited on Instagram and Vine by the maximum running time of 15 seconds on Instagram and 6 seconds on Vine. However, this limitation has its appeal, since many videos on YouTube, Vimeo & Co. simply contain an enormous amount of unimportant information and as a producer you are well advised to get to the point within 15 seconds.

Another advantage of Instagram videos, unlike YouTube, is the connection to Facebook and its reach. Facebook itself makes no secret of pushing its own video format (which also includes Instagram videos) and reducing the reach of competitors such as YouTube if someone shares such a video on their Facebook timeline.

My tip: Even if you don't use Instagram videos but have a YouTube channel + Facebook page: In addition to YouTube, upload your video to Facebook or your Facebook page. Your video will get a lot more reach and have a better chance of reaching your target group.

The filters that you can apply to Instagram images also work with videos.

Use Instagram filters whenever possible

Oh oh ... really hot iron for photographers, right? Using ready made filters on our beautifully edited photos? But only if we don't have Lightroom or Photoshop on hand.
If you don't want to use Instagram filters, you should stick to a few principles - if you want pictures with lots of comments and likes on Instagram:

  • Use bright photos with a high dynamic range
  • Strong contrasts
  • Warm temperatures usually make the viewer feel more comfortable

A study by Georgia Tech and Yahoo has shown that bright images with a high dynamic range provide significantly more range and warmer images provide noticeably more comments - if you reverse the values, you get correspondingly fewer likes / comments and range. The study was based on an image set of 7.6 million images. You can find out more about the study here.

Hold an InstaMeet in your city

An InstaMeet is a great opportunity to attract local attention. InstaMeets are meetings / events that every Instagram user can organize himself. The nice thing about these InstaMeets is the direct line to new followers and users of Instagram. The exchange of knowledge, new Instagram marketing methods and and and ...

This is how you plan your first InstaMeet event

Find a very photogenic and easily accessible place in your city or area: For me in Leipzig that would be the main train station or one of the many beautiful parks in the city, for example

Coordinate your InstaMeet: So that you are not alone on your InstaMeet, you should beat the drum. The easiest way to do this is to address the “Local Stars” on Instagram personally via Instagram Direct and draw their attention to your event. As a rule, these ensure - if there is interest - good advertising, which makes your InstaMeet better known

Matching hashtag for your InstaMeet: With their own hashtag, it will be easier for all participants to find the pictures of the other InstaMeet participants on Instagram. Just be creative here and try to include your city's abbreviations in the hashtag. Here in Leipzig, for example, you could #InstaMeetLE or #LEJInstaMeet

More awareness for your InstaMeet: In order to make your InstaMeet even more popular, you should inform Instagram yourself. Instagram has set up a separate reporting page on which you can register your InstaMeet. Is in 5min. done and creates extra buzz.

You can find more ideas about possible topics or locations directly on the Instagram blog under the hashtag #instameet. Do you like the idea? Then take a look at the report by Tina Bauer from - there is a great report about an event at Hamburg Airport.

Follow and like similar Instagram profiles

Of course, if you want to achieve something within your target group, you have to have followers who comment and like your pictures vigorously. Therefore, follow as many Instagram profiles as possible that are very similar to your own profile and like their pictures. A mention in a comment will also attract attention and show your interest in them as a person. So do what you yourself would most like to have and you will see: They will thank you for it!

Anyone who has already heard the term “follow like like like” can save the following part about Instagram marketing - everyone else urgently read on!

Unfortunately, we humans all work the same way in our original ways: We like it when others think we or our work are great. You can also use this effect on Instagram. With the follow-like-like-like method, you try to get Instagram users with a high reach (influencers) to follow you by following them yourself in step 1 and a picture in each of steps 2, 3 and 4 liked by exactly this user. This constant attention in the timeline of the user creates interest and if your profile is well structured, nothing stands in the way of a follow-back.

Since it's impossible to do this process by hand - unless you have anything else to do, please - there are of course a few social media tools that will help you with your work. Take a look at Followliker, Pixifly and Banjo when you get the chance.

When using Followliker, however, you shouldn't overdo it - Instagram doesn't like such automatic methods and may be tough here. I therefore do not guarantee that you will use this software to build Instagram followers yourself.

Think different - if you want to achieve something on Instagram

And you should take this headline seriously. It doesn't make sense if everyone implements my recommendations 1 to 1 in the same way. Instagram marketing or social media marketing in general is characterized by the creative use of stories. The times in which all content can be presented according to the scheme-F and motivate your followers are long gone! Try regularly with new and fresh ideas to inspire your followers and you will see that your Instagram marketing will work.

My tip: Follow big American brands like GoPro, Oreo, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Gucci, Nike or Converse tonew trends on Instagram to discover that you can adapt and prepare optimally for you.