Instafamous: Tips and Tricks for Marketing on Instagram

There’s that old quip about it taking something like “ten years” to be an “overnight sensation,” and anyone who has ever either had fame or pondered fame quickly realizes it’s very true. It takes knowledge, skill, perseverance and of course timing and “luck” to be an “overnight sensation” on anything, including Instagram. Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas about using Instagram to be “Instafamous.”

Updated: 7/25/2023

Technical Stuff

  • Instagram is available on the desktop at and as App for Windows 10 (on the desktop). Of course it’s an app as well on iOS and Android, plus an extension for Chrome.
  • You can have more than one account (e.g., a business account and a personal account) and can toggle between them. Learn how to set up and toggle between Instagram accounts, here. You can also have a professional or business account, which gets you better stats and the ability to (wait for it…) – advertise!
  • Sharing. Unlike on Twitter, Facebook, or other share networks, Instagram does not allow “one to many” sharing. It only allows followers to “send” a post (one to one), which is more like emailing than traditional sharing. Go figure. Thus, it is not a good platform for “going viral” (as opposed to Twitter or YouTube). Instagram Marketing Tips
  • Instagram Stories. Like the Snapchat stories from which they were stolen, these are “daily videos” and useful for brands or influencers to talk to their Superfans.  You can learn about Stories on Instagram, here and here. One of the pluses of Instagram stories is that you can add additional links to them, explained here.  They appear at the top of your account in the circles. Story highlights are excerpts from Stories that become “permanent” to your account. You can see them, here or here.
  • Instagram Live. Like Facebook live, you can go “live” with a video on Instagram. Learn more, here. If someone you follow is “live” you will see a moving line around their “story.”
  • Comments. You can set it so that only people who follow you can comment on your posts, see here. As on Facebook you can block followers, set your account to private, etc.
  • Link in Bio – Instagram does NOT allow links in generic posts, so the slang is “link in bio.” People use services like Link.Tree or Have2Haveit or LinkInBio. An example would by Nylon Magazine’s account or AirBnB‘s account.
  • Selling. You can either tell folks “link in bio” or use a service like Link.Tree or Have2Haveit or LinkInBio.  An example would by Nylon Magazine’s account or AirBnB‘s account. Another solution is a custom hashtag for your brand and people can post to that hashtag, then you can message them one-on-one about a purchase. New! Instagram is enabling Instagram shopping for selected accounts.
    • Tagging a Product. If you have enabled shopping on Instagram, you can then “tag” a product. This means a cool photo of a couple of runners, and you can tag their shows or pants and then users can click FROM the photo TO your shop to learn about (and buy) the products. Here are three accounts that tends to tag products – Fenty Beauty InPursuit of Tea, and Bass Pro Shops. Note that “tagged products” appear ONLY on the mobile app.
    • Tagging – tagging “in general” is important. You can “tag” a friend / follower, plus for any account you can see who has tagged them as this is public. For example, here is who has “tagged” the (in)famous Kim Kardashian – here. You can also see a post with tagged other accounts, here.
  • Search Instagram. Search Instagram on the mobile app, on the desktop, or via Google using Look for competitors and “companies to emulate.”  On the mobile app, click on the magnifying glass as well to get to the “explore tab.” If you type in a term such as “jewelry” on the app, then you can browse across the top – people, sounds / music, hashtags, and nearby places. Here, the app suggests content to you (and others), so if you engage with content themes relevant to your business, then you’ll see content here that should be relevant.
    • Become “pro” at searching on the app, as you can use it to find people, hashtags, reels, and even geotags (Try for example, searching for “Dallas” and then the geotags”).
  • Hashtags. Hashtags are a “big deal” on Instagram. You can discover them on Instagram by starting a search with “#” as in #organic or #beauty. Then look at the recommendations and content numbers. You can also do this on the mobile app both thru search and by searching a topic, e.g., “organic food” and then clicking on the # icon. You can also “follow” a hashtag that is relevant to you / your business / your brand / your customers. For example, here’s #handmadejewelry. Make a “hashtag” list of DIRECT and/or ADJACENT hashtags / content themes to your business.
  • Icons on Instagram. Icons on Instagram, generally, mean a “feature” is hidden behind them. Just tap and figure out what each icon means. Here’s a great post explaining the most important icons.

Promotional Tips

  • While you can’t share a URL on Instagram, you can embed or share an Instagram post to another network. In this way, you can find a URL and share it to Facebook, Twitter, or even your blog. To find the URL of a post on the desktop, go to your account, find a post, and click the three dots. This then gets you to the “embed” code. You can look at that code and find the URL in this format – On the app, it’s simpler – just find a post to your account and then click the three dots, and then share.
  • You can follow anyone you like on Instagram (including folks more famous than you) and then start commenting on their posts to “attract their attention”
    • Search Instagram for people / brands to follow. (Research what they like, interact with, comment on, hashtags they use, etc.).
    • Comment on what they’re posting to “attract their attention” (please have something useful to say!) – use their hashtags, for example. When you comment you can use Emojis to draw attention to your comments (or not, if you – like me – think Emojis are kind of silly).
    • Hopefully they will a) follow you back, and/or b) engage in an Insta-conversation.
  • Mentions / Tagging. Like on Twitter, you can “mention” or “tag” someone in a post by typing the @sign before their name (just type the @ and the first few laters of their handle). This “mention” should generate an alert.   You can also use the @someonefamous strategy here – start mentioning persons / brands “more famous than you are” to start a conversation or relationship.
  • Follow for follow. Ok this has gone INSANE on Instagram, especially due to “bot abuse.” But in general people still “follow back” on Instagram – so find a competitor and then follow the people that follow them. For example, if you want to know who follows Kim Kardashian just visit her Instagram account and click “followers” or go to Like Twitter, it’s very open who follows whom on Instagram.  (The dark side of all this mentions, follow for follow, comments, etc., is what is called an Instagram Pod. Only for the brave at heart. Or desperate. Or both.)
  • Tagging People. You can “tag” people you know in a photo, and this alerts them that they’ve been tagged. To do it, either do it during the upload process or click the “three dots” in a photo, edit and then tag. Help file is here. For any account, you can see who tagged them at the far right on the mobile app.
  • Reels. Reels is Instagram’s Answer to TikTok. Upload short, funny video content.  Experiment with using “trending sounds” on Instagram. Use Instagram Video for longer-form video content.  To see either click into an account such as RusticCuff and then look for the appropriate icon. NOTE: similar to TikTok, Reels can be built around “trending sounds” – look at the bottom right to see other videos sharing the same sound. “REMIX” is Instagram’s copy of the DUET feature on TikTok (Learn more, here).  Could someone please call a copyright or intellectual property lawyer, please? 
  • Hashtags are big on Instagram, possibly bigger than on Twitter. You can just start typing on Instagram AND you can also search for them on Google. Either use keyword as in “organic food” or “organic food”. Or you can search by hashtag on Google (once you know it) as in #organicfood. You can also use, but note that Twitter search is free and Instagram search for hashtags is paid. Go figure. You can also do this on the app via search > then look for #.
    • Don’t confuse hashtags with geotags.  Both exist on Instagram, while hashtags only are on Twitter. Geotags are helpful for local discovery; Tulsa geotag vs. Tulsa hashtag. If you are a “geo” business, you should probably use both as a promotion strategy. To find geo tag, start a post, and then scroll down to “locations.” For any geotagged post, it will show as the “location” just underneath the post.
    • Branded hashtags. You can create a special “branded” hashtag for your business, such as #optoutside created by REI or #southwestheart by SouthWest airlines. (Notice how those are featured in their bios!).
  • Contests. You can have an Instagram contest – here are the rules, as a technique to promote your account.  To brainstorm good ideas, search for contests on Instagram as a hashtag or search.
    • Browse examples of contests, here.
  • Challenges. Similar to Contests, you can have a Challenge on Instagram. An example, is the MOVEMBER foundation which supports Men’s health and has a moustache challenge. Another good example is the #workoutchallenge. One of the most famous was the “Chipotle Lid Flip” challenge, here and here.
    • Browse examples of challenges, here.
  • Advertise. You can advertise directly on Instagram, though for all intents and purposes it is controlled via the Facebook Ads Manager platform. As on Facebook you have many options for demographic targeting.  Tip – you can link the ad as a URL to your Instagram account to grow followers and use Facebook Audience Insights to create a custom audience. Indeed, you can reach out to “influencers” via marketplaces, and pay them to tout your product or service. The official Instagram advertising megasite is here or flip this around and be an “Instagram Creator.”
  • Insights. View your (business) account statistics on the “insights” feature. Available only on the mobile app.
  • Story Highlights. These are excerpts from your brand’s story and they can include clickable links. See them on REI‘s account, for example – they appear in circles just above posts.

Selling and Shops on Instagram

  • Learn more about shops on Instagram, or browse brands that have shops (as indicated below).
  • Note that there are two versions: #1 – you have a shop icon, but the sale is consummated on YOUR WEBSITE (Example: Basspro) or on “Native” to Instagram (@glamglow).  Click on SHOP and then click on a product and you’ll see that the former is “non-native” (sale is on the website) vs. the latter sale is “native,” i.e., it occurs on Instagram.

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About Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason's motto as a consultant is that he doesn't do SEO 'for you' but rather he does SEO 'with you.' That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.