Cheat Sheet: How To Optimize Instagram For Marketing

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I've spent my career building brands, designing websites, and sharing my seasoned marketing experience with companies and entrepreneurs just like you. I already know you're doing great things. My mission? To show you how to build a profitable brand experience that continues to grow with your business (and your bottom line).

Hi! I'm Tracy Dungo.

The Cheat Sheet You’ve Been Waiting For: How To Optimize Instagram For Marketing


By Tracy Dungo

It’s been a hot minute since I last talked about Instagram for marketing.

You either love it or ya hate it. Or maybe you just tolerate it (and that’s cool, too).

Instagram for marketing can be invaluable to your overall strategy for building a gorgeous visual brand presence for your business. Unlike other marketing platforms, it literally runs on visual content!

Here’s the thing — customers, as humans, are visual beings. So information that is presented visually is much more likely to stick in your customers’ minds than another type of content format.

It’s all in the data. Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. And while consumers only retain 20 percent of what they read, they can retain 80 percent of the visuals they see.

So when you create a lead magnet to grow your mailing list or graphics for your next paid ad campaign, the colors you use, where you place your copy, and the way you balance all of those components together play vital roles in how your consumer will engage and retain that information.

It’s easy to forget this when you go through the motions of posting picture after picture on your Instagram feed. But what if you knew how to squeeze every last drop out of those little squares?

Is your Instagram content doing enough to captivate your followers and make a lasting impression long after they scroll past your post?

Even if the answer isn’t a resounding “yes!” (maybe it’s more like, “I’m not sure…”), let’s get you there.

After reading this post, you will learn how to optimize your Instagram for marketing with intention and strategy to align with your visual brand and grow your bottom line.

3 Key Things To Keep In Mind For Growing Your Visual Brand With Instagram for Marketing

You might already be using Instagram for marketing to sell your products or you might just be getting started. But if you’ve been hanging around us for a while now, you already know that your visual brand strategy doesn’t actually begin and end with the visual piece.

So no matter where you are in your journey, there are three major components you need to hit in order to drive growth for your visual brand on Instagram. I want you to remember this 3-step framework:

Traffic <> Impression <> Conversion

Traffic is getting people to your profile. How are people finding your account?

Impression is the kind of impact you make on them once they discover you. Hopefully, you brand is making a good impression on your audience.

Conversion is your ability to convert people. This can be whatever action it is you want them to take — whether the end goal is getting someone to follow you or even eventually buying from you.

While it’s easy to only focus on how your account looks, being strategic and intentional about what you post means making sure you also focus on how you’re showing up when it comes to these three components. Give every piece of the puzzle some love and you can be confident that your visuals are set-up for success. And then that growth you’ve been chasing? Hold onto your hats because it’s a-coming!

How To Optimize Your Instagram for Marketing


Let’s be clear. It’s not about getting just anybody to your profile. You want an audience of good quality followers that is super on-board with your content and value you provide. That is where the money’s at.

First, nail down your niche. You create a profile of the exact person you want to attract to your account (this is a very similar exercise as identifying who your ideal customers are for your actual business as well).

SEE ALSO:  How To Create The Perfect Brand Color Scheme

Another way to nail down your niche is to find 5-10 people or accounts that your ideal followers also follow or look up to. What other products or services might they buy? Look into ones that are complementary to what you’re offering but not competitive. This is how you will find people to engage with and how you can also model content after. What other kinds of non-product or non-business content are these peer accounts posting about that their followers are also loving?

Part of building a visual brand is being mindful of the company you keep. Associating yourself with other like-minded people and businesses whose ethos align with your own will also make it easier to tap into other audiences that your ideal followers may be hanging out in.

Once you do these things, then you can utilize effective marketing strategies like hashtags, engagement groups, cross promotion, guest features, and giveaways to get these exact people (your ideal followers that are already primed to engage with your content and eventually purchase from you) to discover your profile.


Once you get people to your account, the kind of impression you (and your content) make will determine whether or not they decide to hang around and follow you for more of what you have to offer.

There are a few different ways to do this.

When you first land on somebody’s profile, one of the first things you check is their bio right? How do you represent yourself in your bio? In other words, why should people be following you? Do a quick audit of your own bio with the following list of questions:

  • Does your bio tell people what sets you apart from other accounts in your niche?
  • Is your bio optimized for search results? Are you using hashtags?
  • Do you have any credentials you can feature?
  • What’s your transformation statement? This is a single-line blip that tells people “who I am, why I have authority in what I do, and this is what I do”
  • Are you using emojis to add personality? (small way to add visuals)
  • Do your bio include a clear CTA?

Bottom Line: People want know what you can do for them. Your bio should answer this.

In addition to your bio, you can also utilize your Story Highlights to make the right impression on your audience. Think of your Story Highlights as an extension of your website or your own mini-magazine. What main content categories or pillars do you want to be known for? Visually speaking, you can get really creative with your story highlights covers. Can you do something that’s visually different and eye-catching? Some of our favorite apps to use: Unfold, Over, Adobe Spark Post.

Another way to make a strong impression on your audience is through your overall aesthetic (but you already knew that!).

What kinds of imagery are you sharing? Is it engaging? Aesthetically, are your images on brand, of good quality, and do they fit well together?

Instead of shooting on the spot or creating in real-time, schedule and plan out content shoots to have unique content regularly. This will enable you to create lots of content for months at a time.

Your photo style also needs to be consistent. You can use a custom brand preset to align your social imagery with the rest of your branding. This will also let you edit your normal phone pics just like your brand content photos for more continuity across all of your channels.

SEE ALSO:  5 Visual Marketing Tactics That'll Give Your Content a Boost

Along with photography, you can also utilize graphics to share your own thought leadership. These are also known as infographics.

To have influence, you have to have some authority on a certain matter. Use gorgeous infographics or use long-form captions to showcase and share your area of expertise with your audience. Infographics are great for growing your visual brand because they have a great shareability factor. It’s also an easy way to reinforce your branding because you are sharing what would otherwise be written content in an eye-catching visual layout.

Ways to optimize your content posts:

  • Structure your content around “theme days” (Motivation Monday, Workout Wednesday, etc) so your followers have engaging content to look forward to and it makes it much easier for you to post.
  • Make your videos accessible by adding subtitles for followers who can’t listen to the audio or aren’t able to watch your Stories with the sound on.
  • Use gifs and stickers to boost energy of your Stories.
  • Invite conversation by encouraging followers to answer a question in the comments or using the Polls or Ask Questions features in Stories and get your audience to join in on the conversation.

However you go about strengthening the impression you make on your audience, be consistent across the board (how frequently you post, your aesthetic, etc.). Consistency is the secret to growth.


The last piece of the puzzle is conversion. This is your ability to get someone to follow you or even eventually buying from you—whatever success action you want them to take to achieve your end goal.

You worked really hard to get people to your account. And you’ve been taking lots of consistent action in what you’re posting to build a relationship with them. So now that they’re engaging and are hooked, how do you get them to take action?

Just go ahead and ask them!

If you want them to follow you, tell them to click the follow button so they don’t miss next week’s content. If you want them to join your mailing list, talk about the amazing subscriber content they’ll receive and say, “Be sure to click the link in my bio to join, you do *not* want to miss this!”

That’s it! So effective yet insanely simple. It’s easy to assume that people will automatically engage in next steps but unless you (the expert!) hold their hand and ask them what it you need them to do for you, you can’t bank on the fact that all of them will.


Itching to get started? I made a nifty checklist that lists out all of these action items we discussed here. I’m all about removing friction and taking action so don’t be afraid to use this tool if it makes it easier for you to follow along and keep track of your social media to-dos. Download here:

Free downloadable checklist instagram for marketing

Instagram for marketing can feel overwhelming (especially if you’ve been working on growing your account for some time and not seeing results). But realigning your Instagram so it’s optimized to grow your visual brand doesn’t have to be. With the 3-step framework that you just learned, you now have the roadmap you need to optimize your Instagram profile with intention and strategy to grow your visual brand and your bottom line.

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