Instagram app marketing tips

Instagram has just overtaken Twitter for most active users. At least by some estimations.

Regardless of what the actual numbers are, there is no doubt that Instagram is growing much faster and is already one of the top social media platforms. This means that you should consider using Instagram as part of your overall app marketing strategy.

In this post, we will give you five actionable tips for promoting your app on Instagram. Since Instagram has the potential to reach such a large audience, it can be an effective marketing platform for apps of all sizes.

Only Post High Quality, Native Images

In order for you to be able to travel successfully in another country, you need to be able to speak the native language. The idea is the same for social media platforms.

You need to understand why people use each platform and you need to speak the language. On Instagram, that means posting beautiful, artistic pictures.

Even when you are promoting your app (and not just posting food pictures), your images need to pop. But don’t just post screenshots either.

People on Instagram post pictures of themselves and their everyday lives. Think about how you can tailor your pictures to match that asthetic.

You can post pictures of people using your app, fan artwork and more! You are only limited by your imagination.

Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags

One key to gaining traction on Instagram, especially in the beginning, is to leverage hashtags. Unlike other platforms like Twitter, where you can only add a few hashtags, Instagram allows you to add up to 30.

This is like adding ASO keywords to your apps. People search for and follow these hashtags closely and will like your posts and follow your profile if you post things that they like.

But adding random hashtags is a waste of time. You need to find related hashtags that people are following.

There are two ways to do this. First, you can do a hashtag search on Instagram.

Hashtag search on Instagram

This will show you the number of posts that have been tagged with these hashtags. Really popular hashtags can be too noisy and hashtags with only a few posts may not give you enough visibility, so experiment to see what works for your app.

Another method is to use a website that compiles popular hashtag data, like Simply search a related hashtag category and add a few that relate to your picture.

Hashtag suggestions

For example, here is a picture that I didn’t tag at all. It is not a fantastic picture, but it isn’t bad either. I got a grand total of zero likes.

For this next picture, I did five minutes of research and added a few of the most related hashtags that I could find. This resulted in 22 likes and two new followers. Again, not the most amazing picture ever, but the only difference was the hashtags.

If you don’t want to add your hashtags to the caption because it looks spammy, you can add it to the first comment. The result is the same.

Understand The Audience

I have been following the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) Banzai Pipeline event on their website. I’m really impressed with how they promote the contest on social media.

One thing that caught my eye was that instead of listing each announcer’s Twitter handle, they were posting their Instagram accounts instead. To me, this is a clear sign that Instagram is becoming a major marketing platform and deserves a closer look.

Instagram on TV

The Instagram demographic is currently a younger crowd with disposable income. This may change over time, but that is what current studies are telling us. Therefore, you must post pictures that people in this demographic would like.

In addition, people on Instagram must have a mobile phone to upload pictures. Other platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also be accessed via a desktop computer, making them much less mobile centric. This makes Instagram a prime platform for mobile app marketing.

Although Instagram doesn’t allow direct links in your captions or comments, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get some traffic to your website or download page. Since your links won’t be hyperlinks and users cannot copy/paste from the Instagram app, you will have to make them as short and easy to remember as possible.

You could opt to use Bitly to shorten your links, and that is a good start. Using Bitly will allow you to create a short link that is easy to remember and type into a browser. Bitly also provides stats on how many people clicked on your link.

Track number of Instagram clicks

But if you want to step it up, you can purchase a custom shortlink domain and integrate it with Bitly for free. This gives you a more branded link that can be easier to use and be more memorable.

A good way to find these domains is to use Domainr. The site provides suggestions for any creative short domain idea you have. Keep it as short and easy to remember as possible.

Searching short links with Domainr

You can also set a custom URL in Bitly so the end of your link is easy to remember too. Here is an example.

Custom Instagram link

Also be sure to include a link to your website or app store page in your profile. This is a hyperlink that people can tap, so it is a valuable source of traffic.

Utilize Text Overlays

Even if a picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes it helps to give your audience clues as to what you are trying to communicate.

Adding some text to your pictures can help viewers decide if they want to read your caption or not. Since Instagram allows relatively long form text captions, you may want to use your image simply as a way to rope people in and read more about your app.


Social media platforms will come and go. Do you remember Friendster?


Your job as an app marketer is to stay on top of what is working now. It can be easy to settle into one or two platforms, but that is the kiss of death.

Don’t limit yourself to Instagram either. Explore other opportunities on Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat and whatever comes up next.

Just like with any other social media platform, remember that it helps to make friends with people who have large, related audiences. One of my friends has grown his Instagram account from zero to over 8,000 followers in just a couple of months, primarily through networking. He has not purchased any followers and as a result, his engagement is very high.

Instagram also offers sponsored posts. Building an audience organically is a much more powerful and cheaper option, but buying ads can work too.

Do you use Instagram to market your app? Why or why not? We would love to hear your opinion in the comments below…