Social Media Marketing on Instagram

By: Andie-Jane Phinney & Thomas Washington

Instagram is a social media platform, founded by Kevin System and Mike Krieger, which was launched on October 6, 2010. Instagram holds the record as the quickest social media platform to reach 1 million downloads. Within the first 24 hours of its launch, it became the number one app in the app store. As of today, it has records of 400 million monthly active users, 80 billion photos shared each day, and even 2.5 billion likes every day. These numbers show how popular and beneficial Instagram just is! It was bought out by Facebook in April of 2012 for $1 Billion dollars, and has been on the rise ever since.

Instagram has unique features that allow users to post and share pictures and videos, as well as edit them to their liking. You can see what other people share, their interests and even hashtags to narrow down commonalities. This allows users to customize their photos and share them with friends and family around the world.

Instagram is used not only to share photos and videos with friends or family, but many companies also use Instagram to advertise themselves. With the popularity of digital marketing continuing to rise, Instagram is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to market a company or a brand, don’t you think so?

Instagram is a platform that can help build awareness, boost engagement, and drive foot traffic to your business. It allows companies to showcase their products which allows for growth of followers and attracts leads. Not only do they gain attraction from current followers, they also gain free publicity when followers tag their friends to share their products.

By companies posting photos of products, promotions, or services, they allow viewers to see what they offer and put the products or services in front of the specific audience they want to reach.

Instagram pictures provide the audience with a better vision of the company and allows it to connect with fans, visually. Customers want to see what they are interested in and the pictures allow companies to tell a story and invite customers to see it.

Companies post pictures that they feel are the most attentive to the viewer. Their goal is to gain the viewer’s attraction to their brand and company. The pictures they post are designed to be simple, but effective. The famous quote we all know, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” has been put to use through Instagram advertising.

Not only does Instagram provide the audience with just photos, they now provide video content as well. When Instagram first launched, there was not an option for video. It was all about sharing photo content. With video content marketing becoming so popular, it has allowed companies to flourish through Instagram.

According to studies, 71% of marketers say video conversion rates outperform other types of marketing content that is used. Using videos to advertise on Instagram allows for a quick connection between viewers and the company. A video can explain products or services, provide detail, and catch a viewer’s eye all in the matter of fifteen second video. The companies who succeed at marketing through instragram, provide efficient, quick and loyal content.

Marketers use Instagram to showcase much more visually compelling and content-rich videos to create useful advertisements for viewers. For example, some companies provide how-to videos, which can be useful for answering consumer questions before they need to contact customer service. Other companies will provide soundless videos to allow the viewer to retell the brand’s story in their own eyes and to propel their own thoughts and ideas of what the company and video brings to them.

Both photo and video content marketing is something that has changed the way companies can advertise and market their business. It has opened up endless opportunities to promote services and products that companies are trying to get into the public eye. Instagram marketers have become so successful with visual content as well as adding hashtags into their marketing ideas.

One of the most effective ways to market on Instagram is by using hashtags. First you have to understand what a hashtag is: a hashtag is a unspaced phrase prefixed with the # sign. They also have unwritten rules to them: they generally cannot have capital letters in between the words or in the phrase at all, nor special characters, but numbers are allowed.

If you are trying to find more followers than what you currently have hashtags can be the way, and if you want to share your photos with a larger audience this is the best way to reach them. A hashtag is placed in the comments section under a photo before it is officially posted on Instagram.

One of the most important steps in using the hashtag is being specific in what you say. For example with a picture of a Volkswagen van, instead of posting a broad hashtag like #van, it would be a lot better to use #vwvan. After posting a specific hashtag like that, the photo will better reach people who are Volkswagen lovers. The specific hashtag of the #vwvan helps the Volkswagen lovers not get caught up swiping through the Fords, Toyotas, Hondas, etc. The hashtags have to be relevant as well; for example, if we used #photo there may be 1,000,000 photos tagged that way, so using #vwvan is better.

Then we can also add the #volkswagen to that same post and it targets the photo more efficiently. The third and final step is to be observant. You have to look at the hastags that are applied to other photos that are related to yours. People use #vw twice as much as #volkswagen in order to describe their Volkswagen, so you have to be observant of trends like this and repeat it with whatever type of photo you are posting.

Another perk of using Instagram as a marketing tool is that you can use it for marketing research. The 400 million monthly active users is the market, but the hashtags helps segment the photos, and makes target marketing easier. A hashtag like #sneakers may a couple million of tags, but #nikesneakers on the other hand may only have tens of thousands of tags. If you are Nike and you are looking for how much market share you potentially have on Instagram you can search different hashtags with your name in it, but in order to penetrate competition and see what people are liking from your competitors you can hashtag their names or broad posts related to the market.

Instagram has an advertising system called Sponsored posts in which large companies can pay Instagram to post their own pictures of whatever they want, to a specific target market. Users cannot get away from sponsored posts. They show up in their feed no matter what. Sponsored posts come across as being more organic and relevant on Instagram than they do on other social media sites; users don’t even realize, most of the time, that it is a large company advertising. A study shows that Instagram marketing actually drives more orders (sales) than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; even though Facebook has over 600 million more active users than Instagram.

Cross-marketing on Instagram is easy to do, as in the Instagram settings there are options for social sharing. In this way, marketers can make posts and transfer them over to fuel other marketing channels, like Twitter and Facebook. Instagram Direct, which was established in 2013, was an effort to compete with Snapchat; this may one day become a key in the engagement people have on Instagram. The feature called Instagram direct, which users refer to as Direct Messaging, was also supposed to play a key role in company advertising, but that has not been the case thus far. Facebook, the parent, company hopes to one day have companies convert the Instagram direct feature into a sales machine.

Hotels, restaurants, and bars are amongst some of the best types of businesses to market on Instagram, because many of those customers love to take pictures and post them of where they have been, and what they have eaten or drank. People go to restaurants and snap away with their smartphones to show off their food. Even if they do not hashtag the company or put the location, it will generate engagement most of the time. The engagement leads to telling someone in the comments under the photo about where they got the food from. The same practice occurs with drinks from bars – videos are included if there is a dance floor. Hotel photos frequently have the location in them because they are a part of a big trip or vacation.

In regards to what we found about Instagram, the key to successfully marketing on Instagram is finding new and interesting ways to connect through visuals. Posting creative use of imagery by using pictures and videos is what the public enjoys seeing. This said, Instagram truly is one of the most effective ways to market a company or a brand.


  • “5 Ways Marketers Can Use Instagram.” Wishpond Simple Marketing Software. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
  • Atkinson, Dane. “Four Reasons Video Marketing on Instagram Is So Much Better Than on Vine.”MarketingProfs. N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
  • “Instagram for Business.” Instagram for Business. N.p., 3 Apr. 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
  • Helm Rich, Brittney. “Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know.” Business News Daily. N.p., 11 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
  • “How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy | Sprout Social.” Sprout Social. N.p., 27 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
  • Shenker, Marc. “Social Media Examiner.” Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle. N.p., 2 Mar. 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.


18 thoughts on “Social Media Marketing on Instagram

  1. Olivia Sullivan April 11, 2016 / 9:57 pm

    I agree that Instagram is a successful marketing tool for businesses. Since smartphones have been developed no one has been able to put their phone down, meaning they are constantly on the web or social media apps. Instagram provides pictures and videos which help to engage consumers without them getting distracted or bored. The hashtags and locations also help when marketing a product and trying to create awareness.


  2. Sharon Masucci April 12, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    I think Instagram is one of the most important an beneficial marketing tools right now. It is very easy to find what you need by either searching for a specific hashtag or company. Instagram is also a good way to do sponsorship. There is a lot of “famous” instagramers who promote products. I have often found certain products this way.


  3. Derek Lawton April 13, 2016 / 1:32 am

    I think Instagram is the most successful social media app right now and more companies need to start capitalizing on its possibilities. There are so many perks to Instagram and I feel as though it is going to be used by a wide variety of consumers not just the younger generations. Both photo and video content marketing has kept Instagram ahead of its competitors such as Vine. I see a bright future for Instagram.


  4. Justin Flory April 13, 2016 / 2:22 am

    I agree with you that Instagram really stands by the well known quote that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Instagram has become so popular over the past few years and has been used as a successful and creative way for not only people to brand themselves, but for companies to brand themselves as well. People have always liked pictures more than reading words, so Instagram really gives audiences the best of both worlds. Instagram can be so powerful for marketing initiatives because it really shows people what the company is all about and shows people who they are. Everyone wants to know more about the companies and products they love, so Instagram is a great way to do that.


  5. Ronald Zampanti April 14, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    Instagram, being a visual based social media, appeals to many people. Brands and products can be and have been effectively promoted on Instagram. Using Instagram for market research is a great perk for companies. I agree that bars, hotels, and restaurants are great businesses to market on Instagram. Many pictures are posted from these establishments.


  6. Marisa April 14, 2016 / 4:03 pm

    I agree that Instagram has changed the way that many companies advertise to potential customers. It is very easy to use. There are also people of all ages on Instagram so it makes it easy to target all different people ages 13 to even 60. The older generation is probably the generation that would search for #volkswagon and things like #antiquecars.


  7. reganka April 14, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    I also agree that Instagram is a great tool for marketing. We are living in a world revolving around social media and short attention spans. With creative images and short video clips, companies can easily utilize Instagram to create both brand and product awareness. Additionally, the use of hash tags and geographic locations can help with reaching your target market.


  8. Colleen Flynn April 14, 2016 / 6:29 pm

    Prior to reading this blog, I was not aware of the initial success of Instagram. I was shocked about the fact telling how “Instagram marketing actually drives more orders (sales) than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; even though Facebook has over 600 million more active users than Instagram.” That was surprising and very interesting to me. I completely agree about their marketing techniques and think that social media has completely opened the world to marketing and market research. Pictures provide customers with a true image to view and almost adds a trustworthy component to their buying process because they can actually see the business and product personally. Instagram has undeniably impacted as a major role to social media and the internet.


  9. Hechuan Lou April 14, 2016 / 9:31 pm

    I don’t use Instagram frequently, but I agree that it is a very useful social media for companies to conduct their marketing activities based on social media. There is no disadvantages. In addition, I am also very shock about the fact that “Instagram marketing actually drives more orders (sales) than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; even though Facebook has over 600 million more active users than Instagram”,this is so impressive. I believe more and more companies will use Instagram as a platform to sell their products in the future.


  10. cimminoc April 18, 2016 / 2:24 am

    Instagram is a great tool for marketers. Images provide much more detail than a written advertisement. Pictures on Instagram allow a brand to impact the way it is perceived amongst it’s followers. Hashtags also provide organization and specific targeting for marketers. They can utilize their hashtags to get more people to view their brand, but more importantly get the right people to view their brand to spread brand awareness. Instagram is a great tool for marketers.


  11. Meghan Gulbrandsen April 18, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    Instagram is great for marketers. Hashtags allow viewers to group various pictures of exactly what they are looking for in a nice and organized way. Also having this one picture for a post keeps it very simple so the viewer doesn’t get distracted with everything else on the site. This is very important so you don’t lose the interest of the viewer.


  12. Samantha April 18, 2016 / 11:58 pm

    Instagram is one of the best Social Media platforms for marketers. They can create native posts, so people scrolling through their Instagram might not even notice that there is an ad in their face. It is all about the image of your brand and company. You can post about products, customers, events anything! The photos can end up on other people’s explore pages. This helps the marketers reach a larger audience. The hashtags are a great way to also get more viewers to your page and hopefully create engagement by getting them to follow you and like your posts.


  13. Meg April 19, 2016 / 6:03 am

    Instagram is one of the most popular social media apps, especially in regard to the younger generation. Pictures are a great form of advertisement, especially as younger consumers are demanding faster messaging as they tend to just scroll past posts. Companies need to focus on quickly grabbing the attention of consumers and delivering information that makes them want to learn more. As several other comments stated, I was stunned that: “Instagram marketing actually drives more orders (sales) than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; even though Facebook has over 600 million more active users than Instagram.” I figured Facebook would drive the most sales, as there can be more information about a product.


  14. cassidylebert April 21, 2016 / 1:18 am

    One of the best practices for marketers is to do business where the people already are. Rather than reinventing the wheel, why not just take advantage of the 400 million users already on Instagram (if they fit your target market)? Given the statistic regarding Instagram as the top social media platform for driving sales their success in doing so speaks for itself. The features of Instagram are great for businesses trying to meet the demand of a society who looses focus easily but provides them with the right amount of content for short videos and enticing photos. One of my favorite features of Instagram is being able to search a hashtag of a product to see how other consumers have been using it. Marketers too could capitalize on this information.


  15. Sean April 21, 2016 / 6:19 pm

    All marketers need to be on Instagram. With the extended time for videos, and unmatched engagement rate from users, it is a must have. The simplicity of the platform makes it quick and easy to interact with your favorite brands,


  16. Joe Velozo April 21, 2016 / 6:34 pm

    Instagram is the most beneficial social media, the reach is unlimited. Common hashtags generate so much traffic as well as it being a free social media to use. Anyone can master the art of instagram with just a little bit of practice in order to figure out the right hashtags and geotags to use. People feel more comfortable with companies that show their true colors on Instagram.


  17. Joseph Sanfilippo May 5, 2016 / 7:06 pm

    I personally don’t have an Instagram, and don’t really see the difference between it and Facebook. However, it must be a great marketing app for companies since most people love it and can’t get enough of it. I think companies should be aware of just how popular Instagram is, and make their social media marketing focus mostly on Instagram for how successful it is. I also think that whatever Instagram is doing, Facebook should look into making their brand more like Instagrams, since Facebook not only has the ability to post pictures but to put up statuses and a lot other features that Instagram just doesn’t have. It is mind boggling to me that Instagram is more popular, despite having less features then many of the other social media platforms.


  18. cbernard7778 May 7, 2016 / 2:34 am

    I feel like there really are endless possibilities with marketing on instagram. I 100% agree with your statement that a picture is worth 1,000 words, because in all honesty, its true! Instagram in my opinion quickly surged past twitter for effectively reinforcing a brand’s character and positioning because of the overwhelming use of visuals. People enjoy looking at pictures more than reading statements, and when social media is used throughout the day often in shorter time periods, companies can get their point across a lot quicker in a picture than in 140 characters. It’s definitely a platform that allows endless opportunities for marketing; from background photos, to new campaigns, and even the use of video.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s