Since its launch 10 years ago, Instagram has completely exploded. Pretty much anyone with a social media presence, including their favorite pet, is on there. Just in the US alone, there are 130 million Instagram users and at least 25 million business profiles, many of them taking advantage of Instagram marketing.
There is no shortage of digital marketers and social media managers in today’s FOMO-driven world. Yet, the skills are very much in demand. While being well versed in several social media platforms is still the norm, specializing in a single platform can make you stand out. But how do you learn Instagram marketing?
Read on to learn more about what Instagram marketing is and where you can find the best Instagram marketing scores and resources to further your digital marketing career.
What Is Instagram Marketing?
Instagram marketing is a form of social media marketing where marketers use Instagram to promote a company or a brand, and connect with and build their target audience. It is becoming increasingly popular as a marketing technique for engaging with customers, reaching new audiences, showcasing products as well as company culture.
Common business goals include gaining more followers and increasing engagement, building relationships with potential clients, collaborating with other brands, and marketing new services.
What Is Instagram Marketing Used For?
The visual social media platform is used for social media marketing in many different ways, but it can basically be split into two main categories:
- Paid tactics. This includes paid marketing, such as advertising with Instagram Ads and influencer marketing.
- Unpaid tactics. This refers to the creation of unpaid content, such as posts, comments, Instagram Stories and Live, and sharing other users’ content.
Types of Instagram Marketing
Three types of Instagram marketing are most common.
This is an umbrella term for any unpaid content that marketers post, such as photos, videos, stories, live feeds, content related to a contest, a particular theme, or a recurring hashtag.
This type of content should be the basis of any Instagram marketing strategy because it is much easier for a company to push a product if it already has an existing, organic audience for it.
Using Instagram Ads is a more direct approach to Instagram marketing, where the marketer is actively using the platform to make a sale. There are several different types of ads, including shoppable posts, and story, carousel, image, and video ads.
Influencer marketing is by far one of the most popular kinds of social media marketing. Instagram influencers are social media pros who have built an often large, loyal following based on their content niche, which could be anything from travel to finance and beauty.
Even companies or brands who already have a big number of followers use Instagram influencers to boost a particular product or service, or their image and reputation in general.
Learning Instagram Marketing
Social media marketing is one field within the tech industry that does not require any programming experience, although it does not hurt to learn a bit of HTML in case you are ever asked to fix a broken link.
There is no particular degree required, but a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, business, or public relations will equip you with many of the basic skills required. This includes research, copywriting, and communication skills. Some people also enter the field with a Master’s Degree in Digital Marketing.
It is not uncommon for many people working with social media marketing to be self-taught since the industry is constantly evolving. One of the biggest challenges social media marketers face is to stay on top, and ahead, of the latest features and developments.
Certifications are a great option as they not only show potential employers a willingness to keep learning but also can provide you with a certain skill set that you might be lacking.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Instagram Marketing?
This depends on the individual and their ability to learn the ins and outs of the Instagram platform, and how to utilize it for social media marketing. It can take anywhere from just a few weeks up to several months.
If you are a social media novice with not even an Instagram account to your name, the learning curve will be stepper and it will probably take several months. However, if you are already an avid user of Instagram, you can complete a certified online course and be up and running in a week.
How to Learn Instagram Marketing: Step-by-Step
Are you not sure how to begin your Instagram marketing journey? Allow us to break it down for you in a step-by-step guide.
- Learn the skills. The first step is to acquire the right skills.
- Practice. “Practice makes perfect,” really applies to Instagram marketing. Create your account and write an Instagram bio. Get familiar with the different features and functions, try posting an Instagram Story and a Live video in real-time, then see what works and if there are any hiccups.
- Create a business account. The next step is to convert your personal Instagram account into a business account or Instagram business profile. This will allow you to access insights and data.
- Social media management platforms. As an Instagram marketer, analytics is your new best friend. Sign up for a free trial with a social media management platform, such as Sprout Social, as you will be able to dive deeper into different sets of analytics. It will also give you a general idea of how a social media management platform works.
- Find inspiration. Do some research on Instagram to find a couple of profiles or brands whose posts and activities you like. Study their content and user-generated content. What is the ratio between unpaid and paid content, when are good times to post, how do they interact with their followers, do they include a call to action, what is their brand hashtag, etc. This will provide you with some good insights and ideas that you can incorporate later as you progress.
- Network and join communities. One of the best ways to keep up to date with industry trends, especially within social media, is to network with other social media marketers. Look to Facebook for Instagram marketing and social media groups. Also, check online for any digital marketing or social media networking events in your area or city.
- Build a social media presence. As you practice, continue to build your presence online. It does not have to be just on Instagram, develop your presence on Facebook as well as the two platforms are closely integrated. Or write about your learnings in a blog post. Until you have a portfolio of work, your social media profiles are what will get you into the door and convince clients to let you run their Instagram marketing strategy.
- Take a certified course. There are many certified courses on offer out there for social media marketing, some specifically focused on Instagram marketing which will give you industry-recognized credentials.
The Best Instagram Marketing Courses and Training
There are many ways to learn Instagram marketing, including in-person classes, online courses, and free courses. Browse our list below to discover the best Instagram marketing courses for beginner, intermediate and advanced students.
Best In-Person Instagram Marketing Classes
Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, most in-person degree programs and courses have been moved online, at least until next spring.
But the upside is that students can now apply for and attend a wide range of classes that might otherwise have been inaccessible due to their geographic location. Below are a few courses worth exploring.
Rutgers Business School
- Course: Mini-MBA: Digital Marketing – New Brunswick, New Jersey
- Time: December 7, 2020 – December 11, 2020 (Virtual live – Synchronous 5-day )
- Time: January 25, 2021 – April 19, 2021 (Online – 12 weeks)
- Prerequisites: For seasoned marketers to managers and marketing executives
- Price: $3495
The mini-MBA, featuring ten modules (each covered in under four hours), provides students with a comprehensive curriculum covering digital marketing in an interactive setting. Topics include digital innovation (wearable devices, and the like), and how to manage organization change to improve digital marketing.
Upon completion, students receive a program certificate plus credits that can be used towards earning a degree at Rutgers Business School in the future.
- Course: Digital Marketing Course: Seattle – Seattle, WA
- Course: Learn Digital Marketing Online
- Time: November 16, 2020 – February 3, 2021 (12 weeks)
- Time: November 20, 2020 – January 16, 2021 (9 weeks)
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Varies
This digital marketing course was designed with both beginners and working professionals in mind. Students will explore the essential tactics and channels behind effective campaigns, and when graduating they will have produced a professional portfolio, which is a bonus.
General Assembly offers a broad range of immersive, tech-related full-time and part-time programs. Normally, students can learn multi-channel marketing strategies in Seattle, Washington, but because of covid-19, the course is currently being offered remotely.
Best Online Instagram Marketing Courses
Online Instagram marketing courses are an increasingly popular option for students looking to get started in the field as well as for professionals wanting to upgrade their skills. Below are some great online options for learning Instagram marketing.
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MIT Sloan School of Management
- Course: Digital Marketing Analytics Online Short Course
- Time: Start date – November 25, 2020
- Prerequisites: None (but current marketing professionals and small business owners will benefit the most)
- Price: $3,668
MIT Sloan’s short course covers how to optimize your integrated digital marketing efforts through analytics. But it also allows students to delve into machine learning and artificial intelligence in the context of digital marketing.
Taught by Professor Sinan Aral, who is a social media whiz in his own right, having worked with Facebook, Twitter, Snap, Airbnb, and other leading Fortune 500 firms.
- Time: January 1, 2021 – February 28, 2021 (8 weeks)
- Prerequisites: For beginner, intermediate and advanced students
- Price: $199 – $999
The Advanced Social Media Strategy (ASMS) Certificate is an academically recognized certification by Hootsuite and Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. The course is aimed at directors, social media managers, and digital brand strategists who want to gain a solid understanding of how to build and scale social media within complex organizations. Alumni include leaders at Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, and Safeway.
The Hootsuite Academy offers excellent certification courses, covering social media fundamentals to social marketing mastery. Their social media certificates are well-renowned across the industry.
Best Free Instagram Marketing Courses
If you want to give Instagram Marketing a try before getting your feet wet (or charging a class on your credit card), below are a couple of great free Instagram marketing courses. They are suitable for social media newbies to intermediate users.
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
In this 2.5 hour-long Instagram Training Course, students can learn how to build and implement a successful, organic Instagram marketing strategy.
- Course: Become a Digital Marketing Specialist
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: First month Free
Get into the nitty-gritty of Google Analytics and Adobe Creative Suite with this 25-hour, hands-on LinkedIn course and guide to the best practices and foundations of digital marketing.
The first month is free, which will be enough time to finish the section on Marketing on Instagram. An extra perk is the certificate of completion to highlight on your resume.
- Course: Social Media Marketing Specialization
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
Over the course of approximately seven months, this specialization (consisting of five courses) provides students with the know-how and the tools to build a complete social media strategy from scratch to finish.
- Course: The Complete Instagram Marketing Masterclass
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
In this four-hour Skillshare course (split into 43 short video lessons), students will dive into content planning and scheduling, different types of Instagram Ads, how to grow an Instagram account organically, and how to create traffic-generating Instagram Live posts and Instagram Stories.
Best Instagram Marketing Books
Another way to build your Instagram marketing knowledge is through books. They can introduce you to new ideas, and different ways of approaching social media. Below are Career Karma’s top Instagram marketing book picks.
Instagram Rules: The Essential Guide to Building Brands, Business & Community, Jodie Cook
Jodie Cook started her own social media agency when she was 22, which landed her on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list of social entrepreneurs in Europe 2017. She also gave a TEDx talk titled, “Creating useful people,” about how entrepreneurial skills and role models can prepare the next generation for jobs that do not exist today.
Now, Cook has gathered her social media expertise into a book, which runs through the most crucial aspect of professional Instagram marketing: Strategy, content, community, and growth. Plus, she will teach you the do’s and dont’s of post planning.
Digital Trust: Social Media Strategies to Increase Trust and Engage Customers, Barry Connolly
Trust plays a huge part in creating strong brand identities on Instagram. If the audience does not trust a brand, it is going to be difficult to build and generate engagement. This book gives you practical tools for how to create a social strategy that builds and leverages trust and enables customer empowerment.
Instagram Marketing Certification
One of the best things that you can do to give your Instagram marketing career a head start is to earn a certificate. Not only will it look impressive on your resume, but it will also give you solid credentials that other candidates vying for the same role or project might be lacking.
Digital Media and Marketing Certification from Duke
Duke University Continuing Education offers this online, 12-month course that covers topics such as content- and mobile marketing, web analytics, and SEO.
Targeting industry professionals who either want to upgrade their skills or pursue a new career within digital marketing, the course is taught by speakers, influencers, and consultants well known in the industry.
Best Online Instagram Marketing Resources
For both beginners and experts, these Instagram marketing resources can be extremely useful. Below are some examples of websites that will teach you new skills and allow you to practice Instagram marketing.
Whatever it is that you want, or need, to know about Instagram marketing, you would be surprised not to find it on YouTube. Check out step-by-step Instagram marketing tutorials or professional Instagram marketers sharing their best tips. All for free.
Instagram itself should not be forgotten. In its Brand Resources library, you will find the assets that you need (Instagram images, logos, screenshots, and other brand-related assets to use for your website or other marketing materials) and guidelines for how to use them.
Should You Study Instagram Marketing?
Is Instagram your favorite social app? Even better, do you love the idea of creating awesome content and helping companies tell a story or build their brand? Then learning Instagram marketing might be right up your alley.
As one of the fastest-growing platforms, more and more companies are taking to Instagram. That means that there will be an ever-increasing need for people who can do Instagram marketing, and do it well.
We hope that this article has prepared you to go out there and get your foot in the door as an Instagram marketer.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.