Make the Instagram algorithm work in your favor and get the most out of your posts.


Active Instagram accounts range from 1,000+ to 100,000+ followers. Read how to keep fans engaged, add location stories, use hashtags, and track everything.




How Can Instagram Help Your Business?


Let's start by giving some stats about Instagram and what makes this social network so great.

Instagram is a very popular social network pulling its fame from the joint venture with Facebook. Instagram has more than 1 billion users, surpassing other major networks like Twitter. The last 100 million people joined a lot faster due to the popularity of the platform and its new features like stories, live video and Direct messages that disappear 24 hours after they are viewed up to two times, similar to Snapchat.

Instagram is hugely popular (53%) among 18 to 29-year-olds. 75% of its user base exists outside of the U.S, with half of the last 100 million users coming from Europe and Asia.

When the Millennial segment (18-34 age group) is concerned, the business that targets them needs to understand and speak their language. Millennials have a lot of experience in the digital space. They see the social networks as a medium to share and create experiences within their community. They are ready to praise a business if they see it is environmentally or socially responsible. When a company shows its competitive edge, it will speak to the mind of a Millennial as it is price- and innovation-oriented. Millennials do not see themselves as a group with the same identity or personality. There are different sub-groups within the Millennial segment each one expecting a customized marketing approach. Sub-group values, needs, lifestyle are all critical when targeting the Millenials.

The major networks have introduced some features catering to the needs of these segments. I will present them below.



monthly active instagram users



Business Instagram accounts will want to grow their following because numbers do matter and increase brand awareness. Building a large following is not enough, businesses will want to attract those Instagram followers that match their target customers and keep them engaged. And of course, give priority to conversions by offering one conversion element above the fold.

To get more Instagram followers, a company account needs to act socially. To like other people's pictures, follow their updates, and leave genuine comments to their targetted follower uploads. These actions can make a difference. It's a way to show that the brand cares about the interests, life, and well-being of their follower community.

Setting reasonable business goals and having a detailed action plan or publishing schedule is essential. Consistency matters, regular uploads, fresh and relevant content.

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How to Track ROI


The business needs to have an efficient tracking system in place so each day they know the exact value of Instagram to business to justify the budget spent. Without proper tracking, it looks unprofessional and will probably cease in a while because the management will not understand what the ROI from Instagram is.

When it comes to tracking, the business team will want to make sure they follow the growth and get reports with all the campaign KPIs. or example, some valuable KPIs are the growth of followers, total engagement from likes and comments, after each post. They will want to know the posting frequency that delivers the most, the best time to post, how users react to types of content and business messages, how much incoming traffic they get from Instagram and what are its conversion rates, and of course the spending.

Depending on the posting frequency they track those metrics Week over Week or even on a daily basis. The growth in incoming traffic and other metrics can be tracked Month over Month. This way they will know what works and what doesn't, how much they are spending and how effective their campaigns are against various audiences.

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How to Measure Follower Engagement?


Instagram offers 20 times more engagement than LinkedIn, but research shows that Instagram engagement trends downward. Ways to avoid the negative engagement is to interact with the followers, i.e., to like a person’s pictures and videos to attract his/her attention. Create content that will position the brand as a niche influencer.

Be open and direct with followers. If the brand wants something from the followers why not ask for it? Nobody likes getting bombarded with advertisements, so I recommend to plan the content carefully. Below I give more tips on creating engagement.

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What is the Role of Visual Content?


Good photos matter. Research shows that visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. That means that photos can be one tool to keep the followers engaged. Good looking or impressive photos will be the best marketing tool in hand, and excellent images don't have to be in numbers. One good picture is enough to get likes and comments.

Now, photos, videos and any form of content must be consistent with the brand messaging. The target audience will appreciate the fresh content; that stays consistent with the niche. Publishing the wrong content without any strategy will only alienate the followers. The message or its intent shown in the uploads must be clear, align with the business scope and increase engagement. Irrelevant photos work the other way, and not everything is suited for Instagram.

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brands on instagram



How Do Conversions Take Place on Instagram?


Conversions are the prize, the reason behind spending all those resources. So everything posted should be optimized for conversions right away in the Instagram environment not waiting for them to convert on the website. Again, if the message is clear, we need to have the conversion ready on the spot.

Conversions do not necessarily transform into a sale. Ultimately we may want them on our landing page, but other KPIs are important too. Everything that makes sense to the business and can represent growth can be a KPI (Key Performance Indicator). The company may need to increase brand awareness than getting a follower or get a Like; all of the above can be conversion KPIs too.

Have the conversion element ready in the content visual, in the message caption or the comments. Can be a phone number, a contact email, or a link to an offer. Conversions are important.

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Can Location Stickers Help Local Businesses?


Instagram users may use the network to search for local businesses especially when they are close to the area. Instagram works as a business listing, much like a local directory, so it is useful for contacting purposes with the firm.

Local businesses can be restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, venues, etc. Now, Instagram would love to populate content that matches a location-based firm with its address set up through Facebook or Instagram. So, by entering your location in an Instagram Story, this story might get populated with the local users. Stories get the Instagram-colored ring, and they aggregate together into topics, location stickers, and hashtags (see related section below).

A business without a physical location can also exploit the geolocation feature, just by entering the place to a story that relates to this area. It can be a particular point of interest or a public landmark to attract more local people to their account. So the location is necessary (I will describe how to insert a location sticker beneath) because the content shows by area and can be clicked to get to the business page. Besides that, when users open the Instagram’s Explore page, they will get the content based on the topic relevancy (user interests and history if kept). Also, recent stories shared are posted at the top of the screen to attract more people.

You may add the location label when you create the story. Creating a new post via the Instagram Stories app, be it a photo or a video, you can then click on the Sticker icon at the top of the Story screen.

When you type in the location, Instagram will offer you the most popular matching results. The location sticker can be rotated, resized or moved around the screen of the story. So, by tapping on the location sticker, viewers can find more Instagram results for that area. This way, your story can be seen even if users are watching another user's account.

Location stickers overall promote local businesses or populate the content tagged with a location even if the company has no physical address.

I think I have shown enough the importance of place attached to an Instagram story, so let's pass on to the Hashtags feature, and how these can help businesses overall outside the location radius (reaching a national/global audience).

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Can Hashtags Increase Visibility?

Hashtags will help if relevant to the business message and the topic of the photo/video. Instagram Hashtags can improve your account and lead generation performance. That said the hashtags should not overload the feed or make it look spammy, so using a handful relevant hashtag is the right way to do it.

Tagging people is also an excellent way to raise interest in their brand and attract followers. Reposting photos because of tagging helps increase the following. Adding a location (geotagging) is also helpful. Events around an area tend to gain from the position awareness. Promoting the Instagram account with other means, i.e., print media, website properties, email marketing, radio or TV, etc. will help too.

Hashtags help businesses to be found on Instagram with location-based, service-based tags, or any online business overall. To re-iterate, hashtags to be helpful and thus, converting, they need to relate to your business industry. You may place the Hashtags into the post captions or comments.

Remember that the use of hashtags is to build lists of favorite search results. When Instagram users click on such a list, results under the same topic come up, and that serves for clicks, conversions, etc. I should stress here that hashtags need to be relevant to the post/story. If they are not, then it looks spam, it's not useful for the readers, and in fact, when the search algorithm matures, the lack of relevancy with the topic will make the post look spammy and might flag it. So, always put only the hashtags that make sense for your particular post/story.


Don't add more than one or two hashtags to your stories/posts.


A hashtag public story will get the typical colored ring at the top, so users can check the story and the story gets more exposure if the hashtag is popular. That is the commonality between the hashtag and location-based stories. Popular hashtags can drive more Instagram followers who are the first step for lead generation.

There are two ways to add hashtags to Instagram stories:

A. Hashtag as a Sticker

To add a hashtag as a sticker, you can tap the sticker icon at the top when starting a story and choose #hashtag from the label list. Instagram will recommend some favorite or frequently used hashtags that you can choose. Then, you can edit the colored hashtag by moving, rotating or resizing it on your story.


B. Hashtag as Text

When writing your text and ready to insert a hashtag, you can click on the icon (Aa) and add your hashtag starting with the #. Instagram will recommend the most popular hashtags. Again, you will have the option to move, rotate, or resize your hashtag within the story.


Clickable Hashtags

Now that we have gone through the ways to add hashtags to your stories and the reasoning behind it let's go briefly through the clickable hashtags. Once you are ready with your story and its hashtags, users that see in their feed your post can tap on the hashtag in the story. Then the See Hashtag option comes up that will take them to the search results page.

As we said, hashtags help by aggregating similar content, on the topic/industry, so using a few of them and only related to your story, or branded, will help you get more popularity/traffic and increase your brand visibility.

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How to Create Engagement with Different Personas?

I should mention here that people are social beings, so they tend to follow other people and will not be attracted so much to a business account without a face behind it. That's why I suggest building personas that best match and can target an audience segment and through this person(a) promote the business message.

The persona topic is a big one and exceeds the scope of this article on Instagram.

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How much does it cost to advertise on Instagram?

Instagram advertising costs range from $0.20 (CPC) to above $6 (CPM). Why would a business want to advertise on Instagram?

- Higher click-through rates (CTRs): 2.5 times greater than other social media networks.

- Advanced targeting options: by location and interest.

- Higher order values: Instagram users order in average $65 (higher than Facebook).

- Instagram ads are cheaper than Facebook.

- Higher engagement rates compared to other networks: 10 times the ones of Facebook.

- Higher conversion rates: the average conversion rate for Instagram ads is above 1%.


How does the Instagram ad billing system work?


- It works with bids. You place a bid to advertise. Instagram has higher bid amounts compared to other networks. Higher bids result in higher budgets but not necessarily in more clicks.

- Ad relevancy score: Instagram assess the relevancy of your ad with the target audience feeds. Instagram tracks the reactions of the audience (clicks, comments, likes, hiding the ad, etc.) and comes up with a score that defines your final ad costs. If your ad is relevant enough you spend closer to the minimum bid and get more clicks.

- Action rate: Instagram has an algo that estimates how likely the audience is to engage (clicks, conversions), interact with your ad and also defines the final spending.

- Competition strength: it works the same way as with any other ad network. One competitor outbids the other.

- Holidays, events, days of the week: seasonal e.g. Christmas, sport events, etc. Users engage on Instagram more on the weekdays than the weekends.

- Gender differences: females audiences are more likely to engage on the platform and to reach them it costs more.

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