You might not have the budget of Nike, but don’t let that limit your Instagram marketing strategy. With these Instagram tips for setting up your account for success and large brand marketing, you’ll come away with some fresh ideas.

According to the Q3 Sprout Social Index, 57% of customers are annoyed by too many promotions on social media. And when 41% will unfollow because of a brand sharing irrelevant information, you need to make sure you’re paying attention to your audience.


Research Your Audience & Their Interests

Paying attention to what your audience likes to do and talk about is important to not just Instagram marketing, but marketing in general. Take a moment to research your Instagram community.

Why is knowing your audience so important? You can use information like their favorite drink to find the top brands in those industries. For example, if you own a sports clothing store, you could look at Gatorade’s Instagram page for marketing tips.

Use High-Quality Images and Videos

Instagram is a visual platform. If you can’t hire a photographer or videographer and you feel like you need to boost your skills, take some online courses. There are many classes out there that are designed specifically for Instagram photography.

The Instagram algorithm favors posts that have more engagement within the first few hours of being posted. This means that you need to share highly relevant and eye-catching content.

Selena Gomez Has the Most-Liked Post on Instagram

According to Social Times, the most liked post of 2016 was the one below from Selena Gomez. What’s even more astonishing is that the post itself is an ad.

when your lyrics are on the bottle 😛 #ad

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

In fact, Selena was so good at Instagram this year that she nabbed eight of the top 10 most-liked posts. What is she doing and what can you take away from her account?

If you look at Selena’s account, you’ll see she mixes her professional photos with fun selfies and videos. This gives her fans an inside look at her real personality. The posts help her connect to her fans which in turn, helps her sell more records. You’ll also be able to tell that she cares a lot about her fans by the group photos she posts.

Finally got to meet this sweetheart -she owned it fully

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

Give Your Audience a Backstage Pass

Don’t be afraid to show what’s happening behind the scenes in your company. As consumers we see so much marketing these days that anything that isn’t polished stands out.

This doesn’t mean you should sacrifice photo quality. Give your audience a sneak peek on how your company operates. You can show this through office or factory tours. If you feel uneasy about this, test out the idea with an Instagram Story instead.

Atlanta, GA

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

West Elm Regrams Its Customers


In an effort to connect with their community, West Elm puts their company hashtag (#mywestelm) directly into their bio. There are over 107,000 photos and videos tagged with the company’s branded hashtag. In this user-generated content strategy, the best customer photos are regrammed. Aesthetically, these photos blend seamlessly into the rest of the stream.

How does this benefit West Elm? First, regramming customer photos acknowledges the customers that you already have. West Elm’s home furniture offerings are best showcased in their customer’s homes. It makes sense for their strategy to feature customers who are outfitting their homes with West Elm items. Second, the content on the designated hashtag can be easily sorted for responses. This is especially true if you use an Instagram management tool like Sprout Social.

instagram integrations collaboration

Use a Community Hashtag

If you do not have a hashtag already, create one that is short and easy to remember. It’s possible your most ardent fans are already using hashtags that relate to your company. Your job is to place the hashtag everywhere: in your bio, in your photo captions and even when you’re commenting on a customer’s photo.

The more you use the hashtag, the more your customers will use it and engage with your brand on social.

Pantone Creates Visual Themes

As one of the leaders of the design world, Pantone unsurprisingly uses color in an eye-catching way. When scrolling through their account, you will find that the company oftentimes has a theme for each row. Whether it’s a specific color or a design aesthetic, the theme is very apparent.


Without even clicking into the posts to read the captions, you get a good sense of the company’s aesthetics and expertise on visual design.

Test out a Theme in Your Posts

A takeaway Instagram tip from Pantone is to choose one theme that relates to your company and create three posts around it. For a restaurant, it could be three different ways you use eggs on your menu. For a clothing store, it could be three ways to style the same dress.

The great part about this tip is that you have a lot of room for creativity. If you feel brave, you can invite collaborators for a theme. Having a collaborative series would be mutually beneficial: you receive creative content while the creator is able to play a small role in your company’s marketing.


REI Shares Employee Stories

REI is known for their consumer cooperative business structure as well as their dedication to an outdoor lifestyle. REI clearly showcases their products through their customer and employee stories.

Employees are the backbone of your company. Telling employees’ stories gives your audience another facet of the company. The way your employees use your products or services makes your brand more personable.

It makes sense for REI’s employees to have a dedication to the outdoors. When you shop in one of their stores, you would want the cashier to have hands-on experience with the equipment. When you can just as easily buy clothes from Amazon, REI’s employee expertise shines through as a major advantage.

Showcase Your Employees & Their Interests

As a standard business practice, your employees should be familiar with your business offerings. You can showcase the way they use your products like REI does. Alternatively, you can also ask them to share their own interests and passions with your audience. Doing so gives you another opportunity to show appreciation for your employees.

New York City Ballet Takes Advantage of Grid Format

In an effort to showcase all the details of their company, New York City Ballet uses Instagram’s grid format to create composite images. While each image is beautiful in its details on its own, the larger design format is intriguing.

Creating this setup on a consistent basis ensures that their audience will be more likely to click on their profile just to see the larger image. This means more customers are going to see your single link you can promote on Instagram.


Why does this grid format work for them? A big part of ballet is the performance aspect but costumes and form play an important role. Their account shows the care they put into each detail without being overtly promotional.


Utilize Grid Format for Special Occasions

The best execution of this strategy is making sure the individual photo posts can hold their own. This means that you don’t want a single photo to be a big white square of white or a strange crop of someone’s hand.

Plan out how you want your collage to look and decide why you want to use it. You can use it to showcase a new product or a new store location.

Choose Chicago Hosts Takeovers

The winning idea behind Choose Chicago’s account is their ability to introduce people to fun places only locals would know. Every few weeks, they pick a local Instagrammer to tell their story of Chicago on their account.


Why does this work for Choose Chicago? Each influencer brings their own secret spots and expertise to the rest of the followers. For one person, it could be sharing the architectural views of the city. Another user could be showing off new vantage points.

Host an Instagram Takeover With a Customer

An Instagram takeover works like any collaborative project. For the best takeovers, you should plan the photos and captions out ahead of time with the influencer. Just like when you share customer stories through regramming, an Instagram takeover offers another perspective on your brand.

If executed well, both your audience and the influencer’s audience would gain exposure from the experience.

Always Analyze Your Strategy

Take advantage of our Instagram reports to identify top influencers, hashtags and posts. Using our in-depth presentation-ready reports can help you discover new influencers, relevant hashtags and successful post types.


An important aspect of managing your Instagram strategy is interacting with your audience. When you’re able to keep track of how your audience interacts with your posts and at what percentage, you can fine tune your strategy even more.

sprout audience engagement report

Even if you don’t have the enormous budget of Target or Apple, you can still use some of their marketing strategies on a scaled-down level. The key to executing well is often in the preparation. While REI may not be relevant to your own interests, you can still take away some useful Instagram tips from their account.