It seems like things never stop changing on Instagram. The network keeps adapting its features to compete in the increasingly crowded social media landscape. So, do the Instagram best practices that worked in 2022 still apply in 2023?
While the fundamentals of your Instagram marketing strategy should stay consistent, some of the tactics you need to achieve your goals are shifting. Keep reading for a list of best practices that will help you succeed on the platform in 2023 and beyond.
Bonus: 14 Time-Saving Hacks for Instagram Power Users. Get the list of secret shortcuts Hootsuite’s own social media team uses to create thumb-stopping content.
25 Instagram best practices for 2023
Instagram marketing best practices
1. Set clear goals
You’ve heard this from us before and you’ll hear it again. Every great social media marketing strategy begins with a solid set of clear, measurable goals.
What you want to get out of Instagram will determine what you should put into it. Think about how the platform’s various surfaces – feed posts, Reels, Stories – can contribute to real business goals.
2. Post at the right time
Hootsuite research shows that the best time to post photos on Instagram is 11 a.m. on Wednesdays. For Reels, it’s 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Keep in mind that the average Instagram business account posts 1.71 main feed posts per day.
That’s a good place for you to start. But to find the most effective time to post for your particular account, you’ll need to understand the Instagram habits of your particular audience.
Hootsuite Analytics provides a heatmap showing when your followers are most likely to be online. It also provides custom suggestions for the best time to post to your followers based on your chosen Instagram goals.
3. Schedule your content in advance
Once you know the best times to post, you can start planning and creating your content in advance, then scheduling it to post at the appropriate time.
This allows you to create quality content in dedicated blocks of time, which maximizes your creative resources. It also gives you the breathing room to edit and review your content thoroughly before it goes live.
Hootsuite helps you post consistently with no effort. It allows you to schedule your Instagram posts, Reels, and Stories alongside other social posts, so you can see the complete picture of your social posting schedule in one content calendar.
This also gives you a good overview and allows you to ensure you’ve planned the perfect mix of photos, videos, and carousel posts.
4. Engage with your followers
Remember: Instagram is not a broadcasting service. It’s a social network. That means your followers expect two-way communication and a sense of community. If you want people to engage with your Instagram content, you’ve got to get engaged yourself.
When you’re first getting started, it’s easy to reply to DMs and comments on your own. As your following grows, it can become overwhelming to keep up. At this stage, it’s a good idea to bring in some tools (and team members) to help manage your Instagram communication.
Hootsuite Inbox allows you to effectively manage your Instagram comments and replies by assigning messages to other team members for a response or follow-up. You can also create templated replies to common comments and questions to help speed up your response time.
5. Tag your products
Nearly half of Instagram users shop the platform weekly.
Brands that tag their products in feed posts see 37% more sales on average. And brands that tag two or more posts per day see a 117% increase in transactions.
Tag across surfaces: Reels, stories, posts, and even ads. Sixty-one percent of weekly IG users say ads with tags make them more likely to shop.
6. Analyze and improve your results
We’ve already mentioned a few times that you’ll need to do some experimentation to learn what works best for your particular audience. That will continue to be an ongoing theme throughout this post.
To learn the results of your experiments, you need to use Instagram analytics. The native Instagram insights tool provides some good information to get you started. To take things up a notch and get a richly detailed picture of your results, it’s a good idea to incorporate professional analytics tools like Hootsuite.
The Instagram analytics within Hootsuite include downloadable and exportable charts and graphs that make it easy to understand what’s working and what’s not. You can also see how your Instagram efforts compare to those on other social media platforms.
One particularly useful tool in Hootsuite Analytics is the ability to compare the performance of Instagram Reels to TikToks. This can help you refine your short video strategy – not just within Instagram, but across platforms.
Instagram Reels best practices
7. Make (more) Reels
Not using Reels yet? It’s definitely time to start.
Instagram is leaning hard into video in general and Reels in particular. Reels already account for 20% of time spent on the platform. And Hootsuite research shows that Reels get up to 300% more engagement than regular Instagram videos. The Instagram algorithm loves Reels, too.
So, this is a simple but very important Instagram best practice. Just make (more) Reels.
8. Show your human side
Reels that show a person have a 25% higher clickthrough. They’re not the right format for stuffy product videos. Be dynamic and show real humans using your products. Get your team involved. Show a little personality. Be human and have fun.
9. Make the most of the first 3 seconds
Capture attention right upfront with dynamic motion and teaser titles. (Just make sure you deliver on the promise of your title – watchbait is a big no-no.)
Show (and tell) people in the first three seconds what they’ll get out of your Reel and why they should keep watching. On that note…
10. Add text to your Reels
Adding text to your Reels offers a number of benefits. First and foremost, it makes your content accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It’s also important for the 20% of Reels views that happen with the sound turned off.
Closed captions are now automatic on Reels unless you turn them off. Users can always adjust this on their feed if they don’t want to see captions, so there’s no advantage in turning them off on your end.
You can also add timed text to emphasize specific points in your video.
11. Use trending audio
Incorporating trending audio into your Reels is a great way to boost your exposure. You can identify trending audio by the little arrow next to the name of the sound in any reel.
Tap on the audio to see how many reels have already been made with that sound. Your best chance for getting a boost is using trending audio that doesn’t yet have too many other competing Reels. Aim for 30K or fewer.
In this case, the track already has 285K Reels, so you might want to keep looking for one with less competition.
If you come across audio you love, you can save it for later by tapping the Save audio button. If you specifically want to use it for that trending boost, just be sure to check that it’s still trending when you’re ready to use it.
12. Try a template
If you want to use multiple photos and/or video clips in your Reel, a template can be a great way to get started. Using a template automatically syncs your clips to the audio in the original Reel.
To find templates, open the Reels tab and click on the camera icon in the top right, then scroll to Templates at the bottom of the screen. Scroll until you find a Reel you like, then tap Use template.
Instagram Stories best practices
13. Use interactive stickers
Interactive features like the vote button, quiz button, and question button really let you get to know your audience. They also provide a great opportunity for getting your community involved and driving good engagement rates.
Try asking followers what kind of content they want to see from you. Or use the Question sticker to do a follower Q&A.
14. Save your best Stories to highlights
Instagram Stories are a great way to experiment with new ideas and more casual content because they disappear after 24 hours.
But sometimes you want your Stories to stick around. For those occasions, there are Stories highlights.
Highlights live on your Instagram page above your grid. In addition to saving your best Stories, you can also use them to create space for extra information about your business or products.
For more ideas, check out our full blog post on how to use Instagram Stories.
Instagram post best practices
15. Develop a consistent style
Your Instagram grid should have a visually consistent style, and viewers should be able to recognize one of your posts instantly when it appears in their feed.
16. Use the right hashtags
Social SEO may be reducing the importance of hashtags, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid them altogether.
In particular, using specific niche hashtags can help you connect with existing passionate communities on Instagram. And creating a brand hashtag can help you collect user-generated content and social proof.
Here’s everything you need to know about using hashtags on Instagram:
17. Write catchy captions
Yes, it’s the quality of the image that will grab attention and stop the scroll. But you can’t ignore the power of captions on Instagram. Instagram captions help users connect with your brand and learn about what you stand for.
Writing great captions is also one of the best practices for Instagram posts because they help the Instagram algorithm understand what your post is about to help with Instagram SEO. Captions are one of the sources the algorithm checks for relevant keywords when someone searches for content on the platform.
18. Use alt text
This is another quick thing you can do to make your content more accessible while also boosting your Instagram SEO ranking signals.
Alt text on Instagram works just like alt text on the web: it provides a text description of what’s in the image or photo.
Instagram uses artificial intelligence to create auto alt text for all posts, but you can customize the alt text yourself for better results.
Check out our detailed instructions for adding alt text to Instagram posts.
19. Pin your best posts
The first three spots on your Instagram grid are prime real estate. Fortunately, you can now choose what appears there. You can pin up to three posts (or Reels) to the top row of your grid.
Try pinning your most popular posts, or your most timely. Have a promotion going on? Or a new product about to launch? Pinned posts keep users’ eyes on the prize.
You can also get creative with pinned posts, as Rocky Mountain Soap Company did to tease a new product launch:
Instagram ads best practices
20. Experiment with ad placements
Instagram ads can appear in feed, stories, Reels, and the Explore tab, with the potential reach ranging from 713.2 million for the Explore tab to 1.32 billion for feed.
Instagram data shows vertical ads have a 48% lower cost-per-action than non-vertical ads, so Reels and Stories are an obvious choice to test if you’re running video ads.
As with your organic strategy, you’ll need to do some testing to see which placements tend to work best for your audience and your goals. The important thing is not to get locked into one format and rely on it to serve your needs. Instagram is constantly changing, so it’s important to keep testing to see if the effectiveness of various formats ebbs and flows with time.
21. Partner with creators
Working with influencers – aka creators – to create branded content can give a credibility boost to your Instagram advertising campaigns.
Meta research shows that 78% of consumers say influencers help them discover new brands. In addition, campaigns that include branded content ads alongside business-as-usual ads have an average 53% higher click-through rate.
22. Unify your product catalog
Using a single product catalog for Meta ads and your Instagram shop make tagging easier while allowing you to get the most complete Pixel data.
Here’s how to get your product catalog set up:
The Shopify integration in Hootsuite makes this easy if you already have a Shopify store.
Instagram bio best practices
23. Make it complete
You don’t have a ton of real estate in your Instagram bio – just 150 characters to tell users who you are and why they should stick around.
But you can bulk this up by completing all the fields available on your Instagram profile – like your profile picture, address, a link, and an account category. On that note…
24. Choose the right account category
Using the correct category in your Instagram bio makes it easier for people to find you and understand what your brand is all about.
It’s also an important feature for enhanced tagging. If you collaborate with other brands or creators, enhanced tagging shows each account’s contribution to a post, including the account category.
25. Get verified
To give more credibility to your account, think about getting that blue check and applying for Instagram verification. Instagram verification goes a long way in helping your business account look more professional while preventing impostors from stealing your thunder.
Find out how you can get verified.
For more Instagram bio tips (and even some templates), check out our full post on how to create the perfect Instagram bio. Or, get a quick overview in this video:
Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and publish posts directly to Instagram (and other social networks), engage the audience and measure your performance. Try it free today.
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