Buffer, Hashtags, Influencers: The Brand Guide To InstaSuccess

[su_box title=”Note from the Editor” box_color=”#e15f24″]

Instagram is all the craze nowadays on social media. Not only are users getting a kick out of posting visual content for their enjoyment and their followers, but businesses are only riding the train of Instagram success. However, before you hit “Publish” on your very first Instagram post for your brand, take heed of the tips and advice presented by eCommerce expert Victoria Greene to make sure that you’re on the right track using this social media platform.


Instagram is swiftly taking over Facebook as consumers’ preferred platform for brand interactions.

Figures from Selfstartr show that 68% of Instagram users engage with branded content on a regular basis, compared with 32% of Facebook users.

This could be due to the fact that brands can reach 100% of their follower count with every single Instagram post. Facebook’s algorithms, in contrast, attach filters, making for a more controlled stream of sponsored posts on their users’ news feeds.

Typically, Facebook users will feel annoyed if they feel they are being spammed by advertising, whereas, Instagram users are generally happier seeing branded posts as they choose to follow these accounts based on the quality of their content.

So for brands looking to make a real impact on social media, getting to grips with Instagram aka, ‘Insta’, ‘IG’ and ‘The Gram’ will be crucial to your brand marketing success as time goes on.

Here is a guide to utilizing the platform for your digital content marketing strategies and reach Instagram success.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Learn the step-by-step process to succeed on #Instagram in this post about @vickyecommerce” quote=”Learn the step-by-step process to succeed on Instagram by reading this post. Mentions scoping your audience, writing #winning captions, and more.”]

The Brand Guide to InstaSuccess

Step One: Scoping Your Audiences

Regardless of what your brand sells, you can find your niche of interested Instagram users. Currently, the site draws in over 700 million regular users, so using the Explore tab will help you begin your search for content ideas.

  • Make a list of competitors, influencers, hashtags and notes in your content strategy search.
  • Make detailed notes on the most relevant and ‘liked’ posts and what they feature in the image.
  • Consider the color schemes used in the imagery.
  • Note the composition of photos and how the products are presented
  • List the types of user-generated content your competitors and industry leaders create.
  • Analyze the tone of language in the captions.
  • Take note of the number and types of hashtags per post. Also, look at the most popular branded hashtags.
  • Chart the frequency of posts. You may need to follow some of these accounts for a week or so, to get a feel of their content strategies on a day-to-day basis.

Step Two: Creating ‘Instagood’ Photos

This platform is visually focused, so learning the basics of good photography will help you attract and retain a loyal fanbase.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a digital SLR whizz, take your photos with your camera and upload them through the platform. Although, if you are just starting out, your phone’s camera is enough to create some fab branded images.

Some Photography Pointers;

  • Use natural light as far as possible, phone flash looks unappealing in photos, so avoid it as much as possible.
  • Create a cohesive look with your filters. You want the ‘tone’ of the colors to be uniform as, on the whole, the most popular accounts create an aesthetic. VSCO has a number of unique, professional-quality filters and you can save and uniformly apply these to all of your photos.
  • Look up the rule of thirds, lead-in lines, symmetry and asymmetry, depth of field, fill the frame, bokeh, light leaks, the list of photography tricks and tips is endless.

Step Three: Writing #Winning Captions

Based on your research of popular users and competitors, you should have a good list of hashtags and posting styles to experiment with. Keyword research can help you come up with a lot of caption ideas.

Your aim here is to attract users and get them clicking through to your website.

There are many popular hashtags that are shared amongst hundreds of millions of users daily. for example, #dogsofinstagram, or #ootd (outfit of the day).


If you’re a brand that sells jackets for dogs, including these examples in your captions would attract some views. However, if you’re looking to sell, you should be more specific and include hashtags like #dogfashion and #dogsweater, to help you attract more potential buyers.

One thing with Instagram as a branding platform:

You cannot post links within posts. You can post one link within your Instagram bio and that’s it.

From a branding point of view, it may be tempting to put up a link to your homepage. But, try to be more flexible, if you want to make more sales.

You could also change your bio link to match your current marketing campaign. For instance, if you have a new line of stock, link to the landing page, and mention it within the caption of your post. You can change your link weekly, even daily. Just make sure that you use your one link allowance purposefully, to see the best sales results.

Step Four: Engaging Instagram Influencers

The days of ‘passive’ brand voices have long since passed, as internet users crave the ‘real person’ feel of businesses that use social media platforms to answer inquiries and present their products in a way that feels relatable.

Follow users and influencers in your industry and make sure that you respond to inquiries promptly, politely and effectively, to ensure you build trust with your customers.

In terms of engaging niche influencers, check if the personalities have a method for collaboration included in their profile and approach them with a branding proposal that is tailored to their needs as an Instagram promoter.

In working with influencers, you have to accept that once your product is handed over to the influencer, they have creative control in how the present and promote your products online.

If you have researched your influencers thoroughly, you should be happy to entrust your brand’s reputation in their hands and be looking forward to the (hopefully) large number of new followers interacting with your profile as a result of the collaboration.

You should also encourage audience interaction through branded hashtags or competitions.


#Bodenbyme from Boden clothing and #cantclutchthis from Studio DIY are two great examples of brands doing user-generated content (UGC) right. Posts that catch your eye can be reposted and shared with a wider audience, giving your profile a community atmosphere rather than a purely promotional narrative.

Step Five: Streamline Your Instagram Schedule For Success

Automation can help you manage your promotion, marketing, and social media campaigns, all from your centralized online store or website. Depending on the site you use to create your own website, you can find additional plugins that will allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time and even create shoppable galleries of products, allowing your customers to click and buy immediately. Ecommerce brands should definitely look into Instagram product tagging in order to integrate social into their mobile commerce strategy.

In maintaining a strategy that continues to grow your follower count and subsequent sales, make sure that you take note of your posting trends and reactions via your Instagram profile Insights tab.

Instagram has exploded in popularity since its creation in 2012. From a brand marketing perspective, ‘Instasuccess’ hinges on your ability to engage fans with irresistible offers, closing the gap between social media surfing and shopping through utilizing clever tips and tools of the trade.

[su_note note_color=”#ffff66″ text_color=”#333″]

victoria greeneVictoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant

I love working with brands and businesses, as well as running my own ecommerce stores. Big advocate of social media storytelling, and I’m also a huge animal lover.


About the author

Christopher Jan Benitez

Content marketer during the day. Heavy sleeper at night. Dreams of non-existent brass rings. Writer by trade. Pro wrestling fan by choice (It's still real to me, damnit!). Family man all the time. Hire me to write your content!