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Instagram Marketing 101 – Part 2: Content

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This is part 2 of our 3 part series on Instagram Marketing – if you’re just joining us now, check out part 1 of Instagram Marketing 101.




They say content is king and at JCI we could not agree more. Interesting and well done content will encourage engagement among users and help spread the word about your work.. There are many things to consider when making a post. You need to get the right photo, caption it and know how to tag it effectively so it can be found.

To build up a strong following online, you need to keep people coming back. Here are our general content tips and guidelines that will help you put your best foot forward on Instagram:


ring light photography

Since Instagram is all about the visual, the first step is taking the right photo. These days most cell phones have a good quality camera that can be used to capture your work. It’s amazing the professional looking photos that can be taken with your average smartphone! However, there are a few other factors which can effect the way your picture will turn out….


Try to use natural light whenever possible. The “golden hour” (hour after the sun rises or before it sets) or just out of direct sunlight are best. Otherwise, a ring light or well lit indoor area can work too. Try shooting a few photos in different places until they come out the way you like.


The number one reason we can’t repost a shot of someone’s amazing work is because the background is messy and takes away from the subject. Think a selfie taken in a smudged up mirror, a stunningly manicured hand resting on a musty towel or the perfect hair style shot in front of a messy work station. Look at the whole picture and move things like coffee cups, cell phones or bags out of the shot. The extra few seconds to shuffle things out of the way will make the end result look so much more professional.


There are tons of great filters on Instagram itself, and a lot of options when it comes to editing your photos. Our favourites for adjusting, touching up and  refinishing are VSCO and Snapseed. Canva is a really user friendly app for adding amazing looking text, making posters or adding in effects and we love PicPlayPost to make collages – though there is an additional cost to remove their watermark from your photos.

While filters can make a photo look sharper, more interesting or help keep a consistent theme within your feed, it’s good to keep things realistic. This is especially true when you might have clients requesting the same look in the future. Keep in mind if you skew the shade of hair, nail or lip colour too much, you’re representing something you can’t recreate in real life.

Get inspired

If you’re having a hard time taking interesting photos, take a look at some popular accounts you follow. Search around by hashtag and screenshot anything that stands out – you can keep these as a reference for the next time you go to take pictures of your work.


Having some interesting additions to your photo can give your work the edge it needs to stand out. This can be as simple as a few rings on the hand of a manicure photo, or a braided section in a hair shot. Using a variety of props can also make similar photos look more interesting or unique.


ice cream makeup

Captions can be informative, funny or even motivational. This is a great place for you to show your personality and set the tone for your page. Think about who your followers are (young, old, professional, informal) and write specifically to that audience. Including a question or asking for feedback is a great way to encourage followers to engage with your photo too.



Having clear pictures, an interesting layout and great captions is important. However, you still need to utilize tags so other users can find your work.  There are a few ways to do this, and we recommend using them all for maximum exposure.


While some users put these in the caption itself, it’s popular practice to have them in the first comment under your photo. If you want to be really slick, format your list of hashtags in Facebook so they only appear as (…) and not a messy pile of #words. Just copy and paste your would-be status into an Instagram comment after typing it out in Facebook. It’s easiest if you also save it as a note on your phone so you can access it later on and post to multiple photos.

Check out similar users and see what hashtags they use to get some good ideas.

Photo Tags

It’s always best to tag any brands shown in your photo. Most large companies have a good following online. You want them to see your work in hopes they will repost –  this can get you in front of a new audience. Your followers will also probably want to know what you’ve used to create your look, or where you bought your clothing.

By tagging another user, your photo will also show up in their “photos of” section. That’s another way for your photos to be found so tag away. If you’re a student or grad of JCI, don’t forget to tag @JCInstitute too!

Geo Tagging

Geo tagging allows you to add a location to your photo, so anyone searching that spot will be able to see it. Most businesses, neighborhoods and tourist destinations will be an option to choose from, so tag away and take advantage of another way for users to find your work.


Now that you have some content for your account, it’s time to build your audience. Next up we will be talking engagement, likes and followers. Stay tuned for the third and final post in our Instagram Marketing 101 series early next week!

What do you think about these tips? Let us know and ask any questions in the comments or DM us on social media! We would love to hear from you.


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