Are you thinking about using Instagram to promote your business? Or about stepping up your efforts on Instagram? What role should an Instagram content strategy play in your plans?

Our video interview with entrepreneur and Instagram specialist Sarah Stenhouse is a great starting point for companies weighing up the potential of Instagram.

How to develop an instagram content strategy? image licensing insights from sarah stenhouse

Sarah is CEO and Founder of Oodls, an online tool designed to make it easy for marketers and businesses to buy the rights to images generated by users on Instagram.

She began by explaining how the idea for Oodls came about.

Instagram for Business with Sarah Stenhouse

“In 2015 I was working in a marketing agency, I had a client who wanted to do a Father’s Day campaign.

“He didn’t have a lot of budget so there wasn’t the option to do our own photography. It was really based on stock libraries, meaning I spent too much time looking through the larger libraries on the web for images representing Father’s Day.

“But they were very American, and this was for a Scottish client, so there just wasn’t anything on there.

“I was an avid user of Instagram and I knew there were loads of images on there to use. I thought ‘there must be a service where they clear the licensing for you’ but no one was doing it.

“So I thought ‘I’m going to go for it, I’m going to make this a thing’.”

Sarah gave an insight into just how essential Instagram has become for many businesses and outlined how Instagram users could be compared to Facebook users.

“Instagram is the fastest-growing social networking behind WeeChat, so if you have a business now you need to be seeing it as one of your ‘bread and butters’ like Facebook or Twitter. Especially with the younger demographic on Instagram now.

“If you look at the stats for Facebook, there’s always that curve of younger people who are hungry for new technology and a more mature audience who then start to use it and that’s what happening to Facebook. If you are trying to target a younger demographic I would definitely say you need to be on Instagram.”

She explained that Instagram is still a channel many “businesses don’t know how to even go about using”.

“It’s purely visual and it may be perceived to need a lot of effort and resource.

“One of our benefits is that we allow you to find user-generated content so it’s not going to be a huge effort for you to start an Instagram channel.”

How will the 2012 purchase of Instagram by Facebook change the platform?

“They left Instagram alone for a long while and didn’t really get involved with how it was run. It’s only recently, with Facebook starting to see a decline with their platform’s growth, that they’ve put more attention onto Instagram.

“Things are starting to slowly turn towards the way Facebook have been doing things, so we’re starting to see ads a lot more now.

“Instagram isn’t fully monetised yet and there are hacks to get around it without ads, but on Facebook if you want to make an impact you really need to think about ads.

“It’s still early days, the channel won’t turn into Facebook. I feel like a lot of the learnings from Facebook are a blessing as they won’t come into Instagram.”

Sarah shared some advice on publishing the right content on Instagram.

“I believe that you shouldn’t have a social media profile unless you have a plan to post in it consistently. There’s nothing worse than going to an Instagram account and there’s three posts there and it hasn’t been touched for months.

“Have a look at what your competitors are doing and have a look at feedback from your customers such as what are they asking for and what interests them most in your blogs.

“What articles worked on your blog? What has been getting most engagement for you on Facebook?

“You might want to post daily or you might want to post every two days, it really depends how much resource you have. Go for quality over quantity.

“You can post anything on Instagram, as long as it is engaging for your audience. What we do as a business might not fit someone else’s business.

“You really have to get into the mindset of your users: what type of content would they want to see? What’s the goal? Do you want them to engage with your posts? Do you want them to link through to your biog?

“I would take time to research the space you’re going to post and, of course, look at user-generated content.”

To discover more of Sarah’s expertise watch our full video interview.

How To Add A Link To An Instagram Story | Instagram | Instagram Story | Social Media Marketing

Actionable Insights for Your Instagram Content Strategy Outline:

1. Setting SMART Goals and Identifying Your Target Audience:

  • Go beyond generic goals: Ditch “grow my audience” and embrace SMART goals. Explain the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) and provide examples of applicable Instagram goals:
    • Specific: Increase brand awareness by 20% within 3 months.
    • Measurable: Drive 15% more website traffic from Instagram within 6 months.
    • Achievable: Grow follower count by 500 engaged users per month.
    • Relevant: Boost online sales by 10% through Instagram shoppable posts.
    • Time-bound: Achieve a 15% engagement rate on all posts within 1 quarter.
  • Target audience deep dive: Don’t just say “millennials.” Conduct demographic and psychographic research to understand your ideal audience’s interests, values, and online behavior. Analyze competitor and influencer accounts targeting the same audience to discover their preferred content styles and communication strategies.

2. Content Pillars and Themes:

  • Shift from generic themes: Instead of “lifestyle,” define 3-5 specific content pillars aligned with your brand identity and target audience interests. Example: A travel agency might have pillars like “adventure travel,” “sustainable tourism,” and “hidden gems.”
  • Content calendar creation: Provide actionable steps for developing a content calendar. Explain how to choose themes, schedule post types, and plan for seasonal trends and events. Offer downloadable templates or calendar planning tools as resources.
  • Real-world examples: Analyze content pillars on successful Instagram accounts like @natgeo for travel or @goop for wellness. Explain how their content aligns with their themes and target audience.

3. Creating Eye-Catching Visuals and Compelling Captions:

  • Visual storytelling tips: Go beyond aesthetics. Explain how to use color palettes, composition, and editing techniques to evoke emotions and tell a story with each image.
  • Caption writing formula: Provide a template or framework for crafting engaging captions. Highlight the importance of asking questions, using humor, and connecting with the audience’s emotions. Analyze winning captions from popular accounts and deconstruct their effectiveness.
  • Accessibility considerations: Address caption accessibility with tips for adding alt text, using clear language, and incorporating captions for videos and Stories.

4. Engaging with Your Audience: Stories, Reels, and IGTV:

  • Beyond the basics: Dive deeper than “use stickers and polls.” Explain creative Story formats like Instagram takeovers, Q&A sessions, and behind-the-scenes glimpses. Show how to leverage Reels for trending challenges, educational tutorials, and product demonstrations. Analyze successful IGTV strategies from brands like Nike or Sephora.
  • Community building tactics: Provide actionable tips for responding to comments and messages promptly, hosting interactive polls and quizzes, and running engaging contests or giveaways.

Remember, the key is to:

  • Focus on the “how” and “why” behind each topic. Explain the rationale behind your advice and offer practical steps for implementation.
  • Analyze successful Instagram accounts. Use real-world examples to showcase best practices in action and make your recommendations relatable.
  • Offer downloadable resources and templates. Provide tools and frameworks to help readers put your advice into practice immediately.

By incorporating these suggestions, you can transform your Instagram content strategy outline into a actionable guide that empowers readers to develop and execute a winning strategy for their own accounts.

Instagram: Maximise Business Impact Through Visual Storytelling | Instagram Marketing | Social Media

Deepening Engagement Strategies: Mastering Stories, Reels, and IGTV

Beyond posting pretty pictures and catchy captions lies the true power of Instagram: engaging with your audience. Let’s dive deeper into Stories, Reels, and IGTV, exploring advanced features, creative content ideas, and effective strategies for building a vibrant community.

1. Stories: Mastering the Ephemeral:

  • Beyond stickers and filters: Unleash the potential of features like Live Rooms, Q&A stickers, and countdown timers. Host “Ask Me Anything” sessions, showcase product demos with viewers, or build excitement for upcoming events.
  • Storyboarding for impact: Plan your narrative flow with storyboards. Sketch out scene changes, highlight key text overlays, and identify music elements to create cohesive and attention-grabbing Stories.
  • Creative content ideas:
    • Interactive games: Use quiz stickers and polls to test users’ knowledge, spark discussions, and encourage participation.
    • Takeovers and collaborations: Partner with influencers or other brands for a fresh perspective and introduce your audience to a new community.
    • Behind-the-scenes glimpses: Offer exclusive sneak peeks into your workplace, creative process, or team culture to build trust and connect with viewers on a personal level.

2. Reels: Hooking ‘Em with Short-Form Content:

  • Trending challenges and effects: Tap into the power of viral trends and utilize platform-specific filters and effects to increase discoverability and engagement.
  • Educational tutorials and product demos: Break down complex topics or showcase product features in bite-sized Reels. Use clear visuals, concise narration, and engaging music to keep viewers captivated.
  • Creative content ideas:
    • Humorous skits and parodies: Inject humor into your brand story and capitalize on relatable pop culture references.
    • Product transformation videos: Showcase before-and-after results or creative uses of your products to inspire and educate viewers.
    • Inspiring user-generated content: Encourage audience participation by sharing user-created Reels featuring your products or brand hashtag.

3. IGTV: Long-Form Storytelling for Loyal Fans:

  • Strategic series and collaborations: Launch multi-part series with cliffhangers to keep viewers engaged and returning for more. Partner with experts or influencers for diverse perspectives and broaden your reach.
  • High-quality production value: Invest in good lighting, audio, and editing to create polished and professional-looking IGTV content. Offer value through in-depth tutorials, interviews, or behind-the-scenes documentaries.
  • Creative content ideas:
    • Live tutorials and workshops: Host interactive sessions on topics relevant to your audience, fostering a sense of community and personal connection.
    • In-depth interviews and Q&A sessions: Go beyond surface-level talks and offer viewers exclusive insights into industry experts or brand leaders.
    • Virtual tours and immersive experiences: Transport viewers to your world with behind-the-scenes peeks at your headquarters, production process, or unique events.

Building a Strong Community:

  • Respond to comments and messages promptly: Show your audience you care by engaging in active conversations. Highlight interesting questions and use humor or personalized responses to build rapport.
  • Run interactive polls and quizzes: Foster audience participation and gather valuable insights by using interactive features. Analyze results and tailor future content based on their preferences.
  • Host contests and giveaways: Encourage user-generated content and reward loyalty with targeted giveaways or challenges aligned with your brand goals.


  • Experiment and track results: Try different formats, analyze which features resonate with your audience, and adapt your strategy accordingly.
  • Authenticity is key: Be genuine, transparent, and let your brand personality shine through in your content.
  • Community building is a marathon, not a sprint: Show consistent engagement, nurture your audience, and celebrate their participation to build long-lasting relationships.

By mastering these advanced strategies and creative content ideas, you can transform your Stories, Reels, and IGTV into powerful tools for building a thriving community, boosting engagement, and achieving your Instagram goals.

10 Important Instagram For Business Statistics To Elevate Your Social Media Strategy

Highlighting Data-Driven Strategies: Analytics as Your Roadmap

Instagram isn’t just about pretty pictures; it’s a treasure trove of valuable data waiting to be unlocked. Let’s delve into the world of analytics and transform insights into actionable strategies for content and hashtag optimization.

1. Key Metrics to Track:

  • Reach and impressions: Understand how many unique users see your content and track their overall visibility.
  • Engagement rate: Measure the percentage of users actively interacting with your posts, be it likes, comments, shares, or saves.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): Track how often users click links in your bio or captions, gauging your content’s ability to drive traffic.
  • Follower growth and demographics: Analyze your audience’s age, location, and interests to refine your content targeting.
  • Story metrics: Dive deeper into Stories data, analyzing completion rates, poll responses, and live viewer engagement.

2. Actionable Data Analysis:

  • Compare metrics over time: Identify trends and pinpoint performance fluctuations. Track progress towards your goals and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Benchmark against competitors: Analyze performance of similar accounts to identify areas for improvement and discover untapped content opportunities.
  • Correlate metrics and content types: Understand which themes, formats, and engagement tactics resonate best with your audience. Use data to inform future content decisions.

3. Hashtag Optimization Tips:

  • Research relevant hashtags: Utilize Instagram’s search and explore functionalities to discover trending hashtags related to your brand and target audience.
  • Mix broad and niche hashtags: Target a broader audience with popular terms while employing specific hashtags to reach smaller, engaged communities.
  • Monitor hashtag performance: Track which hashtags drive the most engagement and reach over time. Re-evaluate your hashtag strategy based on data insights.
  • Utilize tools and analytics: Tools like Later or Sprout Social offer detailed hashtag suggestions and performance data to optimize your hashtag strategy further.


  • Create branded hashtags: Encourage follower-generated content and community engagement by promoting a unique hashtag specific to your brand.
  • Run hashtag-based contests or campaigns: Leverage relevant hashtags to boost content visibility and reach a wider audience.


  • Data is just a starting point: Insights provide valuable direction, but ultimately, your intuition and brand voice should guide your content decisions.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed by numbers: Focus on a few key metrics relevant to your goals and avoid data paralysis.
  • Regularly track and adapt: Analytics is an ongoing process. Continuously monitor your data and adjust your approach based on what resonates best with your audience.

By embracing data-driven strategies and optimizing your hashtags, you can transform your Instagram presence from a guessing game to a precisely targeted roadmap for success. Remember, data is your secret weapon, but your creativity and brand essence are the driving force behind truly engaging content.

The Yin and Yang of Instagram Success

In the fast-paced world of Instagram, staying ahead of the curve isn’t just about fleeting trends; it’s about striking a delicate balance between consistent content flow and adaptability to evolving trends. Let’s explore how to maintain a reliable posting schedule, embrace new features and audience preferences, and ensure your Instagram strategy thrives in the ever-changing digital landscape.

1. Building a Reliable Posting Schedule:

  • Frequency matters: Define a schedule that aligns with your audience’s activity and your resource availability. Consider posting frequency, content mix, and optimal days and times.
  • Planning is key: Utilize content calendars and scheduling tools to stay organized and ensure consistent content flow. Plan ahead for holidays, events, and seasonal trends.
  • Flexibility is essential: Unexpected challenges or opportunities might arise. Adjust your schedule when needed, but aim for predictable consistency while leaving room for spontaneity.

2. Embracing Trends and Adapting Your Strategy:

  • Stay informed: Actively monitor industry publications, competitor accounts, and influencer trends to identify emerging themes and platform updates.
  • Experiment and analyze: Don’t be afraid to try out new features, formats, and hashtags. Measure performance and adapt your strategy based on audience engagement and platform algorithms.
  • Evolve with your audience: As your audience matures and their preferences change, adjust your content style and voice to stay relevant and connected.


  • Consistency builds trust: Regular, high-quality content establishes your brand as a reliable source of information and entertainment, keeping your audience engaged and coming back for more.
  • Adaptability fuels growth: Staying informed and embracing new trends helps you capture opportunities, attract new audiences, and avoid becoming stale in a dynamic platform like Instagram.
  • Data is your compass: Analyze insights from audience engagement, reach, and platform updates to inform your decisions and refine your strategy over time.

Here are some additional tips for maintaining consistency and adaptability:

  • Repurpose content across platforms: Share snippets of your blog posts, repurpose YouTube videos into short Reels, or cross-promote content from other social media channels.
  • Utilize user-generated content: Repost audience photos or videos featuring your brand, showcasing authenticity and fostering community engagement.
  • Run interactive campaigns and contests: Generate excitement and boost engagement with challenges, polls, and Q&A sessions, keeping your audience actively involved.

By adopting a strategic approach to content consistency and embracing a mindset of continuous adaptation, you can ensure your Instagram presence remains both familiar and dynamic, attracting and retaining followers, and ultimately achieving your brand goals on this ever-evolving platform.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How often should I post on Instagram?

The ideal frequency depends on your audience, content type, and resource availability. Aim for consistency, considering factors like optimal posting times and days. Analyze engagement data to identify what resonates best with your audience and adjust your schedule accordingly.

2. How can I stay informed about Instagram trends?

Follow industry publications, competitor accounts, and influencer trends. Monitor platform updates and announcements on the official Instagram blog. Utilize social listening tools to track relevant keywords and conversations.

3. What should I do if I’m stuck for content ideas?

  • Repurpose content: Turn blog posts into snippets, convert YouTube videos into Reels, or share user-generated content.
  • Run interactive campaigns: Host Q&A sessions, challenges, or polls to spark audience engagement and inspire new content ideas.
  • Analyze data: Learn from your Instagram insights and competitor analysis to identify popular themes and adapt your content strategy.
  • Explore trends and tools: Utilize trending hashtags, platform features, and creative content formats to keep your content fresh and engaging.

4. How can I measure the success of my Instagram strategy?

Track key metrics like reach, engagement (likes, comments, shares), website traffic, follower growth, and brand mentions. Compare performance over time and analyze data to understand what resonates with your audience and inform future strategy adjustments.

5. Should I invest in paid advertising on Instagram?

Paid advertising can be a powerful tool for specific goals like brand awareness, website traffic, or product sales. Consider your budget, target audience, and campaign goals before deciding if paid advertising is right for you.


Instagram is a vibrant platform teeming with endless potential for brands and creators alike. By embracing a content strategy that prioritizes consistency, data-driven insights, and adaptability to evolving trends, you can carve a unique space for your brand and cultivate a thriving community on this dynamic platform. Experiment, analyze, adapt, and most importantly, stay true to your brand voice. Remember, consistency builds trust, adaptability fuels growth, and a data-driven approach unlocks the true power of Instagram to achieve your marketing and brand goals. So, dive in, embrace the endless possibilities, and take your Instagram presence to the next level!

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