Written by James Scherer
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The 7 Characteristics of a Profitable Instagram Strategy

Are you wondering how to improve your Instagram profitability?

Would you like to boost Followers and engagement on the Instagram platform?

This article will break down 7 profitable Instagram strategies. I'll show real-world examples of what it looks like when these strategies are implemented by some of the most successful and profitable Instagram brands out there.

Let's get filtering!


1. Appeal to your target market


Instagram is a large enough platform that almost every business' target market has a sizable presence. As a result, you need to be focusing in rather than going generic with your Instagram marketing strategies.

Creating content on Instagram which would be appealing to your target market just makes sense. You'll attract Followers who are more likely to actually be interested in purchasing from you down the line.

It's a lot like when you run a social media promotion: you need to offer a prize which appeals to your target market, otherwise you'll get thousands of useless leads and Followers who only want that iPad, cash or trip to Tahiti.

TheChive (901k Instagram Followers) does this as well as any brand account out there.

Their target market is 18-35 year old males. As a result…

  • They post humorous memes
  • They post education and "student-life" content
  • They post "Argh, Mondays!" content
  • They post pictures of pretty girls in bikinis
  • They post "90s kids" content

Profitable Instagram Strategy Example from TheChive...

Profitable Instagram Strategy

Ready to start ramping up your Instagram strategy? Check out Wishpond's Instagram contest tool with a 14-day free trial today.


2. Go behind-the-scenes


Social media is about relationship-building, and giving your Followers unrestricted access to your company is a huge part of developing that relationship.

People love to learn the ins-and-outs of the companies they like.

And any business can do this (not just the ones running fashion shows or a TV series)...

  • Create a video walkthrough of your swanky new office
  • Run a biopic series on your team which is fun, but also educational about how you market your SaaS company
  • Ask your restaurant's frequent customers for their life stories. Then create a video of your interview shared over a meal.
  • Do a Q&A with your CEO or CMO, talking about the origins of the company and how it's grown to what it is. For all of these, I recommend creating two videos: one full-length video hosted on a landing page within your website and another, 30-second clip for Instagram and Facebook. Get creative and make it fun!

Ben&Jerry's (632k Instagram Followers) does a lot of videos on their Instagram page, but not every "behind-the-scenes" post has to be a video...

Profitable Instagram Strategy Example from Ben&Jerry's...

Profitable Instagram Strategy

Ben&Jerry's Instagram profile is awesome in a lot more ways than just going behind-the-scenes. For the complete breakdown, check out How to Kick Instagram Ass Like Ben & Jerry's


3. Feature User-Generated Content


Instagram users are all amateur photographers (why do you think the filter tool is so incredibly successful? It makes amateur photography look awesome).

So featuring the Instagram posts of your own fans (ideally with a brand-centric hashtag is a great way to drum up excitement.

If you're a brand on Instagram you're already more exciting than a personal profile. If you have more than 5,000 followers (through an Instagram hashtag contest, perhaps) you're practically a celebrity. Featuring someone's content immediately creates a brand advocate. They'll show their friends, and every one of your Followers who wasn't put in the spotlight will want to be.

Mountain Equipment Co-Op (50.3k Instagram Followers) features UGC (user-generated content) in about a third of their total posts.

And it's not just a great way to drum up excitement and create a community around your brand. The fact of the matter is that this is a fantastic way to get high-quality images for free!

Profitable Instagram Strategy Example from MEC...

Profitable Instagram Strategy

Top, Controversial, Instagram Tip: Tools like Instagress allow you to automate Liking and commenting on posts related to your brand. While you remember that automation does come with baggage (and remember to never buy Instagram followers), this strategy might be worth trying for those small businesses looking to increase engagement without devoting 40 hours a week to Instagram.


4. Make it Possible to Buy


Abercrombie & Fitch (2.9mil Instagram Followers) is, on Instagram, just like any other Ecommerce company.

They're looking to encourage their Fans and Followers to not just Like their posts, but also to purchase the items they see.

Now, Instagram (unlike Pinterest doesn't actually allow you to buy products you see on the platform, but what it does do is allow you to provide links in your author bio. In Abercrombie's case, that's a link to Curalate's tool Like2Buy.

Like2Buy is a separate ecommerce platform whose product display corresponds to the images you post on Instagram. "Like a product you see in a photo? Click the link in our profile to check prices and see more info!"

And here's what you'd see:

Profitable Instagram Strategy

Profitable Instagram Strategy Example from Abercrombie & Fitch...

Profitable Instagram Strategy


5. Run Brand-Buzzing Social Promotions


Instagram is built for social promotions.

I mean, it's not of course, but it damn well could be: image heavy, product centric, built for sharing and referrals, and the hashtag function might as well be screaming "#Enter2Win!"

Instagram promotions are the fastest-growing promotion type among Wishpond's users. And it's no wonder why: they're super simple to set up, the visuals are already in place, and the Instagram platform makes it super easy to spread the word.

No matter if you run a smaller promotion directly in a post (like the example below from Canon) or incorporate a 3rd party contest provider (which will allow you to "Follow-Gate" your contest and require people to Follow you to enter), incentivizing engagement with a chance at winning a prize is a great marketing strategy on Instagram especially.

Canon Photography (1.2mil Instagram Followers) runs several social promotions a year, often theming them around a holiday or photo subject (the example below is for landscapes). They've done a great job of incorporating a few different hashtags into their post as well as asking people to use hashtag #Can_Landscape to enter.

Profitable Instagram Strategy Example from Canon...

Profitable Instagram Strategy


6. Tap into What's Current


Your brand doesn't exist in a vacuum. Market factors, the economy, competition - all this affects the way you run your business. So why should the outside world stay out of your social media strategy?

Integrating what people (and your Fans) are thinking about in the real world is one of the top best practices or Instagram marketing.

It could be anything...

  • Holidays like Christmas and Easter as well as Earth Day, Pancake Day, Sibling Day, etc
  • Seasons, weather, news stories
  • Special events like the Superbowl, a celebrity's birthday, a new employee or colleague's baby
  • The release of movies, albums or politics
  • Etc, etc, etc. A creative marketer is never at a loss for inspiration from the outside world

This example from The Seattle Seahawks (1.6mil Instagram Followers) is a great one. The Seahawks incorporated not just their newly-drafted players (in this case guard Germain IfedI) but also the release of the new Star Wars movie:

Profitable Instagram Strategy


7. Use Video if Possible


I won't get into this too much, as it might be prohibitively expensive or difficult for some small businesses out there, and I don't want to depress you.

But if you can incorporate video into your Instagram marketing strategy you 1000% should do so.

Video is the #1 way to show your brand's personality, introduce your team and communicate ideas easily and well. A professionally-done video increases brand reputation and a professionally-done, well-written and entertaining video can go viral.

For instance, y'know that company DollarShaveClub? Their entire company is, essentially, founded on an hilarious two minute video which went viral. The video has been seen more than 22.5 million times on YouTube alone and they're now valued at more than $600 million.

Here's an example from Hootsuite (24.2k Instagram Followers) that I just love...


Wrapping It Up


Hopefully those 7 strategies have given you some inspiration to make your own Instagram strategy a profitable one.

Keep it professional but friendly. Use high-quality images (exclusively). Use hashtags often and intelligently and interact with your community by both sharing and commenting on their own content.

Instagram can be an incredibly profitable platform, but it's also an unforgiving one. Misstep, don't take the time, or forget these 7 best practices, and you'll need more than a filter to sort it out.

If you're ready to start ramping up your Instagram strategy, check out Wishpond's Instagram Hashtag contest tool with a 14-day free trial today.

Written by James Scherer

James Scherer is the content editor at Wishpond. When he's not writing or designing for Wishpond he's risking his life biking around the city. Reach out to him on Twitter @JDScherer.