How To Create A Winning Instagram Marketing Strategy

Need a strategy that will kick start your Instagram marketing? Follow these 9 steps…

With over 8 million business profiles on Instagram, the app is a hub for brands and so Instagram marketing is a necessity in any social media strategy. But with all that noise, how can you be sure your company will be heard? The answer is with a killer Instagram marketing strategy!

This article will help guide you through the process of making a winning Instagram marketing strategy, and ensure you reach your business objectives through the app…


  1. Audience 👥
  2. Objectives 📊
  3. Competitors📱
  4. Content Strategy 📸
  5. Editorial Calendar 🗓
  6. Schedule Content ⏰
  7. Plan Captions ✍
  8. Brand Guidelines 📋
  9. Track Progress 📈

1. Determine Your Audience 👥

First thing’s first, who are you trying to reach with Instagram marketing? Are you certain your audience are using the app? For example, it’s good to know that 68% of Instagram users are female and that the majority of users are under 30. Carrying out market research into your target demographic is vital before you start putting out content. Determine the age, gender, location, interests (even diets) of your ideal audience so that you can ensure you’re catering your content appropriately!

Once you have that demographic in mind, go a step further to determine other behaviour:

  • What kind of hashtags are they using?
  • What locations do they hang out at?
  • What other brands are they interested in?
  • Who do they follow on Instagram?

This audience research does not take long, and is an important first step in focusing your Instagram marketing strategy!

2. Determine Your Objectives 📊

What do you want your Instagram marketing to achieve?

When creating an Instagram marketing strategy, it’s important to keep tangible business objectives at the forefront to avoid wasting time and resources. Write a list of targets that you’re aiming to hit through Instagram marketing. These will naturally vary depending on business and industry, but could be anything from growing an engaged community, to increasing brand awareness, to driving conversions!

Each of these objectives will have different KPIs and metrics to track, and will require different forms of content. If you can narrow these down early in your Instagram marketing strategy, it will help you and your team stay on track — especially because it’s easy to get carried away making content! There are lots of tools out there that will support every stage of your Instagram marketing strategy — take a look at this Instagram poster maker.

Plan & schedule social media ahead of time.

> Video, gallery & image posts
> Calendar, feed & grid preview
> Instagram, Facebook & Twitter

3. Analyse Competitor Content 📱

As important as market research is for determining your audience, it’s also very beneficial for analysing your competition! When creating an Instagram marketing strategy, identify big players in your industry on Instagram and see what they’re doing well, and what you think you could do better. Remember that their target audience is also your target audience, so here are some things to consider:

  • What is their engagement rate? (likes + comments ÷ no. of followers x 100)
  • Do they respond to comments?
  • What kind of questions are their followers asking?
  • Which hashtags are they using?
  • What form of content are they predominantly using?
  • What is their call to action?

Running an audit check like this on your main competitors is useful for learning about the space, finding what works best, and getting to know your Instagram audience better!

When creating an Instagram marketing strategy, identify big players in your industry and see what they're doing well on the app, and what you think you could do better! Click To Tweet

To take your Instagram marketing to the next level, check out:

#️⃣ All-In-One Guide To Instagram Hashtags #️⃣

4. Create A Content Strategy 📸

Potentially the most crucial part of your Instagram marketing strategy is deciding what to post in order to best showcase your brand AND reach your business objectives. Content creation uses a huge amount of resources in a company, so you want to be getting it right. This stage of the Instagram marketing strategy involves weighing up the following forms of content for your audience:

And then considering other Instagram marketing techniques such as:

All the while ensuring your Instagram feed is cohesive and aesthetically pleasing! ✨

Based on your audience and competitor research, you probably already have a good idea about the form of content that will work best for your Instagram marketing. For example, if you sell a product which is photographable, naturally your product will be the foundation for your content. Whereas if you sell an online or in-person service, it might be that you share useful information or updates in the form of text posts, or document your company lifestyle with behind-the-scenes insights.

Take a look at these very different examples of Instagram marketing side by side. As a product-based brand, GATO use their Instagram account to display their desserts in a creative and attractive way. Whereas SaaS brand Slack uses theirs to share business announcements and company culture. Both are valid Instagram marketing strategies for very different brands and audiences!

instagram marketing
Instagram marketing: Product vs. Software

⭐ Click here for in-depth tips on producing great Instagram content for your business! ⭐

5. Creating A Content Calendar 🗓

Hand in hand with a content strategy comes a content calendar. Now you know what you’re posting, the next step in your Instagram marketing strategy is deciding when and how often it should be published. You don’t want to end up scraping the barrel for last minute content, so having an editorial calendar will enable you to be organised and plan your feed around upcoming events, announcements, or social media holidays!

instagram marketing
The content calendar planner on Hopper HQ – visually manage what posts are going out when, and easily drag and drop to change their scheduled date!

Using a calendar to manage your Instagram marketing will also help to see the gaps in your content plan to ensure you’re posting consistently. Consistency is more important than frequency on Instagram to help build a reliable relationship with your audience! The Instagram algorithm will also favour an account who posts twice a day every day, over one that posts 6 times on a Monday and then not again til the weekend.

The best tactic for choosing how regularly you post is looking at when your followers are most active during the week! You can connect your business Instagram account to our free Best Time To Post On Instagram tool to access this data – and then plan your content calendar accordingly!

instagram marketing

6. Schedule Content In Advance ⏰

Make your Instagram marketing easier by turning your content calendar into your content schedule! Using an automated scheduling tool like Hopper HQ, you can bulk upload your photos and videos for the month (or even further in advance) and have them published straight to Instagram when you want them. Including scheduling in your Instagram marketing strategy massively helps organisation, and frees up loads of time for the big (and more fun) tasks like content creation!

The content schedule on Hopper HQ helps you visually plan beautiful social media feeds — just set the time and we’ll do the rest!

Instagram scheduling offers great foundations for incredible Instagram marketing, but that’s not to say that you can’t also post manually if something comes up that you hadn’t planned. It’s there to help your content plan — not restrict it!

Take a minute to read to our guide: How To Schedule Instagram Posts (And Why You Should) for more info ✨

Simple Post, Story + Reel Scheduling ✨

Visually plan your social content. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn + Pinterest

7. Plan and Schedule Captions ✍

Another important thing to factor into your Instagram marketing strategy is captions! This is where you actually speak to your audience and get the chance to convey a narrative about your brand. Your audience will get to know you through your captions, and so you need to be confident in the brand voice you’re putting out. Depending how many people manage your account, you’ll need to decide and agree on the tone of voice for your captions, as well as smaller details like whether you use emojis or not (more on this in the next section).

Hashtags are also a vital part of your Instagram marketing strategy, and your captions or first comments is where they’ll go! Throughout the process of analysing your target audience and  competitors, you should have gained an idea of the hottest hashtags for your industry, but it’s always worth doing more research. Using a tool like Hashtagify you can get analytics for any hashtag to make sure it’s going to get you the most reach.

You can also check out our top hashtag lists across this range of industries:
Top Photography Hashtags 📸
Top Food Hashtags 🍕
Top Health & Fitness Hashtags 🏋️‍♀️
Top Fashion Hashtags 👗

As captions are so important, they’re not something to be rushed on the spot! You can also schedule your captions and first comments on Hopper HQ, in order to craft the perfect narrative.

instagram marketing
Enhance your Instagram marketing by planning your captions and first comments in Hopper HQ.

8. Establishing Brand Guidelines 📋

Brand guidelines are vital when creating an Instagram marketing strategy, especially if you operate in a large team. This stage refers to your company’s behaviour/activity on Instagram! You need to get these small details down into a communal document so that all team members are on the same page when it comes to Instagram marketing.

Make this accessible to anyone who works on your Instagram marketing for reference when uploading, writing captions, and speaking to customers. Here are some things to include, re-capping on all the information in this guide:

  • What type of content your brand posts
  • How often your brand posts
  • What hashtags are always used
  • What hashtags are never used
  • Language used in captions, comments and direct messages. Is your brand voice casual or formal? Do you sign off personally or always reply as ‘the brand’?
  • Use of emojis
  • Protocol on responding to tagged photos and mentions in Stories
  • Banned words/topics

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer for brand behaviour/voice on Instagram, as long as it’s consistent! Engaging with your audience is very important, so make sure if people are taking time to comment on your content or send you messages that they get a quick and engaging response. This is a step in creating an Instagram marketing strategy that people often overlook so if you take the time to do it you’ll be a step ahead!

9. Track progress 📈

The important thing with Instagram marketing is that you’re always testing, learning, and optimising your content. There’s no point spending time and resources on content that doesn’t achieve its objectives. In crafting your Instagram marketing strategy, make sure you’re dedicating time to track important metrics that will help you find out what content works best!

instagram marketing strategy
Track engagement rate and other metrics using Hopper HQ Analytics

Using Instagram Insights you can gain a basic idea of what’s working and not working for your audience — take a look at our guide to Instagram Insights to find out what all the metrics mean. However, for businesses it helps to use a specific desktop tool such as Hopper HQ Analytics!

Taking an example from our own Instagram account — we can see that our Tuesday Tips are some our best performing types of content. This then informs us what our audience are looking for. For example, if you notice that the behind the scenes snaps of your colleagues bring in more engagement and start more conversations than your quotes of the day, prioritise the former! Using Analytics you can easily keep on top of your best performing content and ultimately discover the perfect recipe for Instagram success. Take lots of time on this step in the creation of your Instagram marketing strategy, as it’s definitely one of the most important.

Explore The Data Behind Your Social Media Accounts 📊

Find the best time to post, track your follower growth, and understand what content works best with post and account analytics.

Parting Words 👋

Good luck creating your Instagram marketing strategy! Let me know if there’s any other steps you and your team find helpful when mapping this stuff out 😄 Tweet me @Nicola_HHQ

Want even more info? Take our Everything Instagram video course, where each section will cover important aspects of an Instagram marketing strategy and guide you through how to make your own! ⬇⬇⬇

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Happy posting! 😍

Hopper HQ is a visual planning and management tool for Instagram, bringing the creativity back to social media scheduling and freeing up time to focus on the areas of marketing you enjoy most 💙 Try for free with our 14 day trial.

Simple Post, Story + Reel Scheduling ✨

Visually plan your social content. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn + Pinterest.