Top 10 Instagram Best Practices for 2022

Marketing Tools & Tips Social Media Best Practices

Instagram has evolved far beyond a fun way to share photos or promote your brand. With its ever-evolving features and interactive elements, Instagram is a primary marketing tool for brands across all industries.

To take full advantage of the platform’s powerful brand marketing capabilities, there are several Instagram best practices social media marketers should keep in mind for 2022. From working with creators to prioritizing video content, there are plenty of tactics to focus your Instagram marketing on, whether you’re starting from scratch or have plans to take your brand’s Instagram strategy to new heights.

Below, we’ve rounded up 10 Instagram best practices for 2022 so you can make sure your brand is ready to stay ahead of the competition.

Instagram Best Practice #1: Cater to your audience

Your audience drives everything on Instagram, so it only makes sense to create content that’s tailored to their interests and desires. But to do that, you need to understand who your audience is and what type of content they engage with.

Start by taking a look at your audience demographics. What is the average age and gender of your followers? What about their geography? You should have an idea of your brand’s target audience already and what their interests are. Compare what you know about your audience to your current content and see what’s performing well.

If you’re starting from scratch, you can even ask your audience what type of content they want to see. Use questions or polls in your Instagram Stories to interact and get their input.

Instagram Best Practice #2: Leverage creators

According to the 2022 Instagram Trends Report, which surveyed Gen Z users ages 13-24, four out of five agree that social media and other online celebrities have more influence on culture than traditional celebrities. The report also found that “83% believe that creators have as much influence as online influencers, if not more.”

The difference between a creator and an influencer is subtle, but important to note. Traditional influencers use their personal brand to influence their audience to purchase products. Creators, on the other hand, are solely focused on creating content. Think: Reels or TikTok videos. While a creator may naturally influence people who follow them, their primary goal is simply to create content.

Elf cosmetics reposts content from a creator which is an Instagram best practice.

Gen Z’s inclination toward authenticity demonstrates why digital creators have garnered more credibility than traditional celebrities or influencers these days: it’s all about being real. Creators seamlessly incorporate products into their content which gives them a natural and relatable vibe.

So, how does this translate for social media marketers planning their 2022 Instagram strategy? While the data above is especially important if your brand’s primary audience falls into the Gen Z category, this report also points to a larger trend of leaning on online creators to create content.

If you want to dip your toes into working with creators, consider micro-influencers. While the industry definition of a micro-influencer varies, a micro-influencer is typically considered someone with a following anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000. If you don’t have the budget or a product to create a full-fledged influencer marketing strategy just yet, take advantage of user-generated content by staying tapped into the accounts your audience is interested in.

Instagram Best Practice #3: Post content consistently

Keeping up with a consistent posting schedule has always been important and will continue to be a top Instagram marketing best practice in 2022. When it comes to exactly how often to post, we recommend posting at least four times per week on Instagram. According to our 2021 Social Media Benchmark Report, the average brand posts on Instagram about 4 times per week, but the top brands are posting every day of the week.

If you’re thinking, “Every day?! I don’t have the time/energy/resources to post on Instagram every day!” that’s okay. You don’t necessarily need to post on Instagram daily to make an impact. Every brand is different, but the key is consistency. Find a cadence that makes sense for your brand based on when and how often your audience is engaged with your content, and stick to it.

A chart with the best times to post on Instagram

We’ve found that the best time to post on Instagram can vary depending on industry. But to really understand what works best for your brand, dig into Instagram Insights to see when your audience is most engaged with your page.

Once you’ve identified a posting frequency that works, stick to a schedule to maintain steady engagement. Consider using tools to help you stay on track like a content calendar and a social media scheduling platform.

Instagram Best Practice #4: Embrace new features—especially video

You don’t have to be a social media industry veteran to know that Instagram is always evolving. From new features to algorithm changes, savvy social media marketers must be able to adapt quickly to incorporate new features into an existing strategy.

Syracuse University, a top-performing school on Instagram according to our Higher Education Social Media Engagement Report, has embraced Reels to position its school as a desirable option for prospective students.

A Reels from Syracuse University showcases their use of video, a top Instagram best practice for 2022.

For 2022, the first place to harness your content energy is video. Video has become a top priority for Instagram and the interactive element is not showing signs of slowing down on the app anytime soon. From Reels to IGTV, Instagram has made a point to prioritize video content in order to keep up with the competition, TikTok and YouTube.

Plus, now that Reels are visible in the main feed and can be easily discovered while scrolling through the Explore page, there’s a good chance they’ll get a higher reach. While we’ve found that photos, specifically carousels, were king on Instagram in 2021, the app’s focus on video elements is a sign that video should be incorporated into your Instagram marketing strategy in 2022.

Instagram Best Practice #5: Prioritize social listening

Are you listening? Social media marketers have caught onto the importance of social listening when it comes to staying tapped into the conversations happening around your brand and industry. But when it comes to Instagram best practices for 2022, social listening should also be used to see what your competition is up to.

Whether you have five competitors or 50, it’s near impossible to keep up with everything they’re posting and everything that’s being said about them online by relying on native analytics alone.

Rival IQ dashboard featuring popular topics tool

With Rival IQ, you can get a glimpse into the popular topics your competition is talking about in their Instagram posts and see how you stack up. These topics come from some of the top hotel brands on social media.

The key to staying on top of these instant communications (without staying glued to your screen 24/7) is to invest in a social media listening tool like Rival IQ. Our platform alerts you when the competition has a breakout post or even changes their Instagram bio. You can also use our tool to track brand mentions, trending topics, and hashtag research so that you’re always tapped into everything your target audience is interested in or talking about.

Instagram Best Practice #6: Don’t be afraid to use memes

Instagram users love memes. And who can blame them? Funny and timely content can capture the attention of your audience simply for being on trend.

While not *every* brand on Instagram may be able to get away with posting a meme or similar type of post, most can stand to have some fun every once in a while — even if humor isn’t your brand’s primary tone. Take Mint, for instance. The financial app from Intuit offers tools for budgeting, managing your bills, and tracking your spending. While this could result in pretty dry content, the brand uses Instagram to make its content relatable and fun for its users. Mint typically posts tips-based content that directs users to its blog, but occasionally they’ll throw in a fun meme that shows that the brand knows what its audience is interested in and how it connects back to their product.

A purple Venn diagram referencing Mercury retrograde used as a meme on Mint's Instagram.

Instagram Best Practice #7: Maintain cohesive branding

There’s something about a perfectly put-together Instagram page that’s really satisfying. But aside from being aesthetically pleasing, cohesive visuals help create an instantly recognizable look and feel that help your audience connect with the brand.

Pixi Beauty, a top beauty brand on social media, is a prime example of how to create a strong aesthetic. The brand’s signature mint green is carried throughout its Instagram page, from the profile picture with the logo to the Instagram Stories Highlights, and even throughout most of the images in its feed. One glance and it’s immediately clear that you’re on Pixi Beauty’s page.

Pixi Beauty's Instagram page features a consistent brand aesthetic with mint green accents.

While you certainly don’t have to create an aesthetic as visually strong as Pixi’s, it’s important to consider how you can maintain a consistent look and feel that will help your audience associate your Instagram page with the company.

This could translate in the tone and voice you use throughout your Instagram bio and captions, or it could be the type of content you publish, whether that’s a series of IGTV interviews or humor-driven Reels. Ensuring your brand is clear starting with the bio helps set the tone as soon as a user lands on your page. However you choose to establish your brand’s presence on Instagram, be sure to keep it consistent so your audience knows what to expect.

Instagram Best Practice #8: Get creative with Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories continue to be an essential element for any active brand on Instagram. According to our 2021 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report, brands are posting Stories at a higher frequency than ever before. And it’s easy to see why. From questions and polls to stickers and GIFs, Stories offer followers more opportunities to interact with brands than Feed posts do. Not to mention, the ever-evolving tool seems to always offer a new feature, the latest of which is the Link Sticker.

Instagram Story from Clay Imports displaying the new Link Sticker feature that says "Apply Here"

Instagram now offers the ability to add links to your stories in the form of a sticker. This is a gamechanger for social media marketers. Previously, the only way to promote a link in your Stories was through the now-retired swipe-up feature — and this was only an option for those with a verified account or who have at least 10,000 followers. The link sticker is available to anyone on Instagram, regardless of follower count. If you’re trying to increase website traffic or send your followers to a specific page, this Stories feature is definitely worth experimenting with.

Domino Magazine's Instagram bio features branded Story highlight covers with a cohesive burnt orange color that matches the logo.

And when talking about Stories, we can’t forget about story highlights. Highlights are an extension of your Instagram bio and help communicate your brand from both a visual perspective and an informative one.

Domino Magazine is a great example of how to use the highlight cover images to not only create a cohesive look and feel, but present categories of information that highlight what you want to share with followers right off the bat. You can organize this section to introduce quick tidbits you want Instagram users to know about your brand like your popular products, recent events, or service offerings.

Instagram Best Practice #9: Engage your audience in giveaways

Giveaways and contests continue to be a major driver of engagement. Over the past year, we saw many top brands on social media receive peak engagement whenever they ran a giveaway, so it’s safe to say contests are a tried and true way to get people to interact with your page. Food brand Impossible Foods received an engagement rate that was more than double the median for the food and beverage industry, according to our recent benchmark report.

Rival IQ dashboard analyzing an Instagram giveaway post from Impossible Foods

If you’re looking for a boost of engagement and an influx of new followers, hosting a giveaway is a relatively low-cost tactic.

Pro tip: If you don’t feel like your product alone will be enough to entice a large following, partner up with similar brands for a joint giveaway so you can leverage each other’s audiences and spread the love with a major prize.

Instagram Best Practice #10: Measure and learn

We can’t talk about Instagram best practices without mentioning data. Data doesn’t lie, and digging into the metrics behind your Instagram content is the key to understanding not only what your audience engages with but how you can stand out from the competition.

You can learn a lot about what’s working with your audience by tracking your best-performing posts. When measuring your content that performed above your average engagement rate (especially if it’s above the average rate among the competition), ask yourself these questions:

Knowing what works can help you identify opportunities that your competition may not be taking advantage of. Maybe one of your top-performing posts was a video. Are your competitors posting a ton of video? If they aren’t, then you may have found an opportunity to give your brand an edge.

When it comes to measuring the results of your content’s performance, it’s important to set clear objectives. You could aim to get a higher than average engagement rate (our recent report found that the median engagement rate on Instagram is 0.98%) or make it a goal to get a 50% increase in followers over the next year. Whatever you do, make sure it’s measurable and you have a tool to accurately analyze the data.

Wrapping it up

Instagram continues to be a powerful tool for brands across all industries. While there will always be some tried and true ways to succeed on the platform — making data-driven decisions, understanding your audience, and maintaining a cohesive brand — 2022 promises plenty of opportunities to explore new features and incorporate them into your social media strategy.

By following these Instagram marketing best practices for 2022, you’re already one step ahead of the competition in preparing your brand for success.

Sam Lauron

Sam Lauron is a freelance writer based in Austin, TX. She currently works with creative brands and B2B companies to support their content writing efforts and SEO strategy, and has a writing expertise in digital marketing, branding, and entrepreneurship. When she’s not writing, she spends her time listening to true crime podcasts, tackling DIY projects, and soaking up the sunny Austin weather.

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