Instagram Marketing

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Update: Instagram Stories

Since Instagram introduced "Stories" in August 2016 the whole Instagram User Experience changed. Actually Instagram transformed itself into a completely different product. This new and completely different product needs new marketing strategies and tactics.

Put differently: due to the war against Snapchatism Facebook decided to upgrade Instagram's feature arsenal.

Seen from yet another perspective: Instagram is now a split world

  • a) The old Instagram experience.
  • b) The new Instagram experience.

You still can use Instagram in the old way, but you have the option to use it in completely new ways.

Do i like any of these changes?



I don't know. Maybe i'm getting old, maybe i just like products to stick to what they are good at. I don't like constant user interface changes. I don't like if companies change their logo - and yes - Instagram changed their logo - what a waste of time.

I liked Instagram the way it was, now it's simply no longer Instagram to me - now it's Instagram with a metastatic Snapchat-cancer.

Well like it or not - Instasnapchatcrap is there - now play with it.

Everything beyond this point is about the old instagram experience and most of it can still be applied today, but newer, more snapchatty marketing moves might bring you a higher return on investment by now... ...or waste your time :)

Instagram Basics

Instagram facts:

  • The only way to post a picture to Instagram is via the Instagram app. (Yes, there are exceptions.)
  • You can log into the webinterface of Instagram in your browser and perform the following actions:
    • NOT upload
    • NOT post
    • comment
    • edit profile and account settings
    • change username
    • search with the omnipresent Instagram search engine at the top of the Instagram website. You can search for
      • hashtags
      • accountnames
        • I wonder how the instagram search algorithm works and which accounts end up on top of the search result box


Instagram image sizes:

  • Square
  • 1080 x 1080 pixel is possible by now
  • 640 x 640 pixel

What can you optimize?

  • Username: becomes the your Instagram profile URL and is the first thing people see in the search.
  • Name: becomes the tagline of your username and is the second thing people see in the search.
  • Bio: 150 characters, use them wisely
  • Website URL: this is the ONLY link that you can use to link out of Instagram, so use it wisely
    • Some use it for affiliate links, some for leadpages - use it to help achieving your instagram goals - people actually click that link - we could even turn that into a KPI - clicks on link divided by followers = daily follower CTR... ...could be improved :)

Visibility / Growth Tactics

  • Choose the right hashtags for your niche/brand/topics
    • hashtags are a weird mix between a keyword and a link, very powerful, play with them A LOT until you grasp all the ways they can be used

Tap by tap howto for getting the right followers:

  • Tap on a hashtag that matters
  • You get a result page that consists of 2 important sections
    • 9 Top Postings
    • Infinite stream of Recent Postings
  • Tap on all 9 Top Postings and follow the posting accounts
  • But way more important: follow the people who like and comment the according postings

Tactic 1: Dominate the top postings for your hashtags

  • this is pretty obvious
  • whenever somebody taps on your key hashtags they will end up on the SERP for this hashtag and see the top results
  • so, if you are in the top results for your key hashtags you will get noticed by your key audience
  • just keep thinking of Instagram as a search engine, forget the social network part for a second
  • if Instagram would be Google, then the Top Postings tab would be the Search Engine Result Page, aka the SERP :)

Tactic 2: Dominate the recent postings for your hashtags

  • this is harder to do as you don't want to flood your own account with tons of postings just stay on top of the recent postings
  • i didn't find out how to do that yet, but there must be a way, possibly a second account that exists only to stay on top of recent postings and then either passes on traffic to your site via the bio link or the messages in the comments or the message on the actual image

Instagram API

Instagram has an API but seems quite strict about keeping automation away from the network, which is a great idea because it protects the user experience from too much spam - still i bet there are tons of options to automate the hack out of instagram.

Official Instagram API documentation:

Instagram Tools

Instagram account management & analytics:

Browse and manage Instagram from MacOS - without posting!

Post to instagram from webinterface via the instagram app on your phone:

  • Hootsuite
    • You can prepare your postings on Hootsuite which then pushes your post to your phone on scheduled time and enables you to simply approve / paste the prepared post.

Instagram Uploader

Instagram uploader for MacOS:

Would love to have some scheduling in there.

Instagram Like & Follow Bots

How does the shady business of Instagram manipulation work?

"If you don't know how the sharks move it will be hard to understand the dynamics of the game - so you better look and learn."

The crowd already did the work, so get crowdsmart over here at quora:

And here come my personal explorations.

Bot methods:

  • Bots are performing actions on other peoples posts and profiles in the hope that your liking, following or commenting makes the account owners curious about your account. What can these bots do?
    • Like
    • Follow
    • Unfollow
    • Comment

Likestagram -> rebranded to

  • New URL:
    • Old URL:
    • Login, connect instagram account, choose hashtags, people, locations, buy package, bot starts liking images that match chosen hashtags, you hope that some of these people start showing interest in your posts and profile, like your stuff, follow you and possibly do business with you:
      • 25k likes for 9.99$
      • 125k likes for 34.99$
      • 250k likes for 49.99$
    • You can set options like "likes per hour", default setting is 70.
    • Likestagram offers further settings, the "likes per hour" are called likespeed, i like that KPI :) Likestagram provides detailed instructions how to set the likespeed and what you can if a temporary liking ban should hit you.
    • Test: I bought the 25k like package and will monitor what happens. In the name of science! :)


Closed down in April 2017.

No longer accepting new clients.

Looks like a slightly less shady social media management tool at first click.

OK, only at first click.

Archie does it on:

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Soundcloud

As team Archie is longer in the Instagram business than i am, i might as well learn from them - for example by reading their blog:





Autogram Bot


Site looks crappy - might work anyway.



Autofollower & Autoliker.

Site looks crappy - might work anyway.



Seemingly a desktop client software that you can install on MacOS, Windows or Linux.

Seemingy this software can actually POST to instagram as well.

Looks like a feature-rich tool at first sight.

More tools

Instagram Follower buying

  • How does that work?
    • Can you buy fake follower on instagram?

Manual Instagram manipulation methods

  • Like-for-Like
  • Follow-for-Follow

People use certain hashtags like #like4like or #follow4follow to signal other users that they are willing to follow or like back for every like or follow the get.

To say it with a slightly adapted Gwen Stefani quote:

"So it's not just gonna happen like that
cause i ain't no followback girl
i ain't no followback girl"

Instaspam - spam on instagram

How much spam is on instagram? How to stop spam on instagram?

A simple solution to identify likebots on your instagram account:

  • Post an image with the sentence "Do not like this image. Everyone who likes this image will be reported as spam." and mark it with your favourite hashtags.
  • Your real followers will understand this, the likebots will keep liking it and you will know who's using likebots.

What other people say about instaspam:

Instagram Tool Apps

Apps that help you to choose the right hashtags faster:

How to buy and sell Instagram accounts?

I actually didn't think about buying instagram accounts until i saw someone promoting his instagram account for sale.

So i immediately direct messaged the owner and asked

"Hi :) How much $ do you want for the account?"

And immediately started wondering how one would safely transfer an Instagram account?

There are seemingly already Instagram account marketplaces out there... ...the interweb always follows the same patterns - tons of get rich quick crap.

  •, looks active, alive and clicking, at time of writing (2016-03-31) a 150k account is sold for as low as 100$, which reminds me again that it's not about the follower-count, but about the interaction you are getting, and the brand you are building through the value you are providing. As intriguing as it might seem to buy a 150k instagram account for a few bucks, as useless it might be in the end. If you can't prove your engangement rates it will be hard to sell this virtual reach to any agency or service.
  •, looks active as well and has a few interesting words on account value
    • "Niche, account name, brandability, account age, demographics and post quality are just a few of many variables that affect the bottom line."
    • They have some details on how they close the deal as well, for example they pay first via Paypal, then the account owners passes on the login data, then Viralaccounts changes the passwords, then there's a Skype session where the old account owner shows to the Viralaccounts team that all recovery emails are deleted (doesn't seem 100% safe to me, someone could autocopy the recovery mails to some server without anyone seeing or knowing) - anyway - that's seemingly safe enough.
    • I wonder which tools and metrics the Viralaccounts team uses to judge the value of an account and what they do with the accounts afterwards. Instagram profile link affiliate marketing?
  •, buying likes and followers for tons of social media networks, and seemingly Instagram account buying and selling as well, doesn't look very reliable though

Monetizing Instagram

How to monetize your Instagram reach?

Let's have a look.

Affiliate Marketing via Profile Link

Change the website link in your profile into an affiliate link.

Change your bio text into a call-to-action text that invites people to click on your website link.

Recommend products and send people to your profile.


Affiliate Marketing via LikeToKnowIt Service

LikeToKnowIt offers a workaround for Instagrams "missing" linking and shopping features.

Quote from the profile:

1. Sign up at 
2. Like Instagram photos with links 
3. Get an email with ready-to-shop product details

So, Users who want to shop with LTKI links have to sign up first.

I guess this should automagically improve the lead-quality of these users as they willingly signed up to go shopping on Instagram via Affiliate-Links in their Inbox.

Where to sell product placement and similar offers for Instagram?

So you've got that awesome account with tons of active followers and you want to monetize that reach but don't know how?

I know how to do that theoretically, but never did it practically, so i definitely want to explore that field and learn if there are any agencies and tools specializing in closing deals between Instagram account owners and advertisers.

BTW i heard a podcast today that mentioned that you can't sell your reach if you are big on only one network - maybe that's a safety measure to make it harder to sell fake-reach to advertisers.

Sell your own service and products

This one is pretty obvious :)

If you are creating beautiful paintings - promote and sell them on instagram.

If you are taking awesome photos - promote and sell them on instagram.

If you are awesome at sewing - promote and sell your stuff on instagram.


The same goes for services. Always be as clear as possible that you are actually offering your service and motivate people to contact you right away.

What other people say about monetizing Instagram

Instagram Advertising Agencies and Influencer Marketplaces

Of course i'd love to help you growing your business with my instagrammy worthy skills as a click-ninja :)

But let's have a look at who's making meta-money off Instagram by helping other people to make money on Instagram.

This is a random-list, completely unsorted, i don't recommend anyone, just hire me! :)

Here we go:

Instagram influencer prices

What's the cost of the post?

What's the price you have to pay an influencer to show your product in their posts?

Of course there's a huge spread, from

  • 10 EUR per post
  • to
  • 60.000 EUR per post
    • Whaaaaaaat? Yes, the Instagram-Influencer-Bubble will burst one day, but 2016 was a great year for Instagram influencers and 2017 doesn't seem to change that.

Instagram Ecommerce

  • is dead.
    • seemingly started in 2013 *, the domain is dead right now (2016-03-31).

Printing Instagram Photos

Links to articles and posts about instagram