In May 2019, an Instagram influencer with 2 million followers famously failed to sell even 36 shirts. How can Instagram marketing go so wrong?

You need to understand the platform and its audience inside and out if you're going to run a successful marketing campaign.

Here's how.

15 Tips for Improving Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

Instagram is a social platform that attracts people who are largely looking to be entertained or to display their photographic skills. For brands, that doesn't automatically translate into sales.

If you want to receive benefits from Instagram, you need to begin with a comprehensive strategy. Millions upon millions of accounts are producing content on Instagram. You need to be able to stand out.

1. Avoid being too transparent or too commercial. No one really wants to feel like they're being sold to. They may want to learn about new and unique products, but only those that are going to solve a problem in their lives. If you introduce content from their perspective, you'll eventually have a better chance at conversion.

2. Spend as much time as possible reviewing the competition. You need to get acclimated to what your audience is seeing, and they aren't seeing only your posts. They're seeing the posts of many other accounts that are similar to yours. You need to follow as many people as possible and see what they're posting to get ideas for how to separate your videos from the pack.

3. Focus your hashtags. Your hashtags need to be as specific as possible. If you're selling a car, you aren't just posting "#cars," you're posting "#FordTaurus." You want to be able to narrow down to an audience that is likely to be interested in your content. Hashtags are everything on Instagram, and you can post as many as you'd like.

4. Vary your video content. That can range from brief product updates to lengthier, behind-the-scenes videos. Posting varied types of videos will help you build your audience and give you data regarding the type of content that your current audience seems to like the most. Your analytics information will let you drill down to the content your core audience is interested in.

5. Consider how-to videos. Look to create videos that have real substance for your audience. How-to videos are particularly beloved because they show your audience an actual skill that they may need. How-to videos also tend to be shared quite a lot, both on Instagram and on other platforms.

6. Keep it simple and short. Most Instagram videos should be shorter than 26 seconds. Aim for a video that's as brief as it possibly can be. People have fairly short attention spans today. They also have a lot of content to get through, and yours is only one out of potentially hundreds (or thousands) of accounts they're following.

7. Leverage other social media. If doing so make sense, reshare your Instagram posts via your other social media accounts, and likewise direct your Instagram audience to follow you on other platforms. Your social media accounts will be able to feed into each other, supporting each other and ultimately improving your overall following.

8. Pay attention to the times that you post. Most people are available during the evenings on weekdays and throughout the weekend. But the timing can be different, depending on your demographic. Pay attention to which posts of yours get the most traction, and when they were posted; that will help you home in on the optimal times.

9. Improve the quality of your videos. On average, high-quality videos are naturally going to get more shares than low-quality videos. Your videos should be professionally shot and polished, and they should always come with captioning: Many people aren't going to be willing to view a video that has loud audio.

10. Be as consistent as possible. Sometimes consistency matters more than quality: As long as you're posting regularly, you should be able to develop a following over time. If you aren't posting consistently, even the best content may end up ignored.

11. Tag your posts geographically. When you post a video, you have the option of tagging where you are. This is particularly important if you're trying to capture a demographic in a specific location. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you don't want to market to everyone—just those who are likely to come by.

12. Keep your content branded. Add logos and watermarks to your content. If it's shared online, you want it to point back to your account. When people casually watch a video, they may not remember whose account they were viewing... but they will notice branding and a logo on the video itself.

13. Post to Stories. Your Instagram Stories are held in a separate section of the app, and therefore have greater levels of visibility. Think about what you can contribute to your Stories every day. Some people may not see your individual posts, but they may be willing to catch up on your Stories from time to time.

14. Get to know the Instagram app. The app itself allows you to do things like add text, images, and stickers, all of which can add some additional flair to your videos. Instagram is also adding new features, such as Shopping, which highlights products inside of videos and images—perfect for marketers.

15. Look at your comments. As people like and comment on your posts, like and comment back! Interacting with your community is going to lead it to growth. Interacting and engaging with an audience is the best way to get conversions in the future; it'll also give you insights into what your audience is thinking and what content they like and appreciate the most.

Over time, you'll get a better feel regarding what content is most likely to be shared on Instagram. Just like anything, it's a skill: You need to be mindful about your growth and your techniques in order to get better.

9 Excellent Tools for Instagram Marketers

What's a marketer without their tools? Instagram's best tools involve categorizing data, scheduling posts, and creating compelling video. Instagram is a platform that's intended for use on a mobile phone, so some special applications and software are often used to control it.

1. Sprout Social. A scheduling and analytics solution, Sprout Social will help you keep track of which of your posts are performing well, in addition to scheduling your posts out in the future. With the right information, you can schedule your posts to be published when your audience is most active. You can also identify the content that is most valuable.

2. Ripl. Create accessible, engaging animated posts with the help of Ripl, an Android and iOS application. Animated posts are more likely to be shared, especially if they're turned into GIFs that can be used on other platforms. Don't be afraid that people will "take" and share your content: As long as it's properly branded, it'll eventually bring exposure to you.

3. Clipper. Make short movies, clip existing movies, and add some special effects with this app. Making movies for Instagram can be a challenge, especially if you need to create a lot of short on-the-fly videos. Clipper makes the process fast, simple, and easy.

4. Boomerang from Instagram. The Boomerang feature takes images and creates a mini movie from them, which can then be shared on either Facebook or Instagram. These images are designed to loop, and they're often both fun and shareable. If you have the perfect idea for a looping GIF, you can do all of it in Boomerang.

5. Adobe Spark Post. Adobe Spark Post is a professional-grade program that can be used to create either animations or videos for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. You can professionally edit a video together in Adobe Spark Post and then upload it to multiple platforms for the greatest amount of exposure.

6. Final Cut Pro. One of the more advanced video editing solutions available, Final Cut Pro can be used to edit and update videos for posting on Instagram. As a professional software suite, Final Cut Pro can also be used to professionally cut videos for corporate websites and other social media platforms.

7. Agorapulse. Schedule out your Instagram posts with this all-in-one social media platform. Few social media management tools let you schedule directly to Instagram.

8. Hyperlapse. You can create a time-lapse video easily with Instagram's Hyperlapse, which takes a large number of pictures one at a time and then turns them into a single, lengthy video. This type of video is very popular on Instagram.

9. Later. A platform that's specifically intended for strategizing and planning on Instagram, Later will make it possible to schedule and track your planning and to consult your Instagram analytics.

It's Time to Get Out There

Now you know how to boost your Instagram video marketing. It's time to get out there! Start posting your pics and videos today, and you'll see your viewership start to swell.

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15 Tips and 9 Tools to Boost Your Instagram Video Marketing

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image of Joe Forte

Joe Forte is co-owner and producer at D-Mak Productions, an Arizona video production company based in Phoenix and specializing in full-service video production from script to screen.

LinkedIn: Joseph Forte Jr