MxM Open Classroom: Day 2 of Digital Marketing ‘School’ by Bhuvi Gupta | The 10 Commandments of Instagram in 2020

05 May,2020

By Bhuvi Gupta


Instagram is a photo and video-sharing app owned by Facebook, which as of March 2020 has over 1 billion monthly active users globally. India is one of Instagram’s top 5 markets with 86.4 million users with 41 million users (40%) belonging to the age group of 18 to 24 years. India is a focus market for Facebook, as we all know after the USD 6.4 billion investment that was made in Mukesh Ambani owned Jio Platforms. Amongst the many reasons, for this focus is the potential that India’s relatively unpenetrated digital population has.


To put into perspective, there are 400 million smartphone users in India, & 86.4 million Instagram users in India. This means that four of every five people with a smartphone do not use Instagram. However, the one in five, which do still offer a sizeable opportunity for brands, especially when targeting the urban individual below 34 years of age. Facebook’s investment in Jio Platforms is a sign of how ubiquitous Instagram will become in the future for audiences across different strata. This means that understanding how the platform works to leverage it for maximum visibility for your brand is key, irrespective of who the target audience is.


Instagram for the uninitiated, is a photo and video sharing app, which allows users to upload photos, and short videos, which can be edited with filters and organised with hashtags and location. Profiles can be either public or accessible only to pre-approved followers. Users can browse other users’ content by tags and locations, and view trending content. Users can like share and comment on content posted by people they follow.


Other features also include messaging, stories, Explore tab and IGTV. Stories are 15 seconds of video or static content, which disappears after 24 hours, & IGTV is a YouTube competitor add-in app, that can be accessed from within Instagram. The Explore tab is a collection of trending content customized to each user by Instagram’s algorithm on the basis of his browsing habits. A users newsfeed is also customized according to their browsing habits. However, it contains content posted by people they follow.


Instagram is an essential social media platform to understand today. It also has evolved and keeps evolving as new features are added. Below are the 10 Commandments of Instagram, understanding which; irrespective of the changes it may go throw will hold –


Commandment I – Conduct a Basic Hygiene Check of your profile.

To ensure that the page is primed for optimum performs its necessary to ensure that all the below are in place. –

• Ensure that the profile name is the same as your brand name.

• Apply for account verification (by going to ‘Business Settings’) as the blue tick against your brand gives the page extra credibility

• Descriptor should include keywords & taglines for which your brand is most likely to be found when searched

• Add a call to action in your profile to your website, your Amazon shop front, landing page for your current campaign etc.

• Ensure that comments are switched on for all posts

• Ensure profanity filters are switched on so as to filter out abusive comments

• Ensure that the account is a ‘business account’ so that there is access to analytics. A business account makes it necessary for you to include the industry you function in. In this case, Jay Shetty, a popular Purpose coach has ‘Public Figure’ in his industy field,as he is an individual


Commandment II – Optimise your content for Discovery –

• Instagram allows discovery of content primarily via hashtags & location. Hence all content should be posted with related, and popular hashtags & geotags to increase discoverability.

:: While it allows using up to 30 hashtags on each post, it is advisable to use at least 10 hashtags per post.

:: Geotags, which are optional, should be used whenever applicable

• Every posts should have a story announcing the post, as increasingly users view stories without viewing their content feed.

• All content should be high quality & in correct dimensions

• All content should be true to your brand personality.

• Captions accompanying posts should be short


Instagram Video  & IGTV preview –

Thumbnail– Ensure that you choose a thumbnail that communicates what the video is about. While thumbnails can also be screenshots from within the video, a best practice is to use a customized thumbnail with a descriptive click-bait title to increase clicks.

• Aspect ratio –ensure the right aspect ratio is used for posted videos

• A great rule of thumb to ensure that a video grabs attention for a user scrolling his newsfeed is to have a lot of action & bright colors during the first 3 seconds of the video.


Commandment III – Optimise your content for virality & stickiness –

It is key to ensure that while building a page organic reach and followers are a focus, as an engaged community will help to drive ROI. Jonah Berger’s book, ‘Contagious’ gives 6 concise principals which help define what will trend and what won’t, easily identifiable by the acronym STEPPS –

• Social currency – people share things that make them look good, when they are the first to discover it, or it is for a noble cause

• Triggers – products need to be put on the back of people’s minds via reminders. This helps in creating desire.

• Emotion – people need to feel a strong emotion like awe, amazement, anger to feel motivated to share

• Public – when people see other people engaging with a trend it creates a domino effect which helps to make it trend even further.

• Practical Value – it has to be useful.

• Stories – there has to be a story around your content. Stories make content easier to remember and humanize a piece of branded content

• Many trends have been a combination of a few of the STEPPS. Case in point, Dalgona coffee recently can be associated with both the P’s – people saw their friends make the coffee with easily available ingredients and they made it themselves.


Commandment IV – Optimise Stories for interactivity

Instagram stories are ephemeral content, which have a lifespan of 24 hours. Stories are interactive and have entertainment value. They are a great way to showcase brand personality & to participate in trends & moment marketing. This is because they allow the usage of stickers and augmented reality filters.

Stickers – Instagram has the option of adding multiple stickers on stories, which can help give your brand more personality.

• Interactivity – The most popular stickers include polls, multiple choice questions, polls, emoji sliders etc. which help increase engagement with your community.

• Brand Personality – music stickers, locations, gifs.

• Add landing pages to stories to achieve other business objectives using the ‘Swipe Up’ feature.

• Add hashtags as that makes stories discoverable


Commandment V – Don’t forget to use Instagram Live & IGTV

Instagram Live- is a video format of the AMA (Ask Me Anything) format, made popular by Reddit. ‘Lives’ as a format have gained prominence in the last 2 years and can also be hosted on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube.  Followers can tune in to the live, ask questions and interact with other members of the community on the ‘Live’. Instagram also allows you to invite viewers or a co-chair on the ‘Live’ via a screen share thereby adding to the interactivity. Can be used for product launches and announcements, tutorials, general Q&As, press conferences etc.


IGTV is an app similar to YouTube. Its biggest USP is that it can be accessed from within the Instagram app, which allows you to leverage your Instagram community to discover longer content without leaving the platform. IGTV is a platform that is in the nascent stages of its growth; hence it is easier to build an audience on it as compared to YouTube.


Commandment VI – Engage with your community

The follower base that a page enjoys is the key asset for a brand or page on any social media platform. Followers can be present customers who are brand evangelists or future customers who relate to your brand personality. The community is a great way to build loyalty, as a follower becomes more engaged and loyal to you. Instagram’s algorithm uses the Page’s engagement rate, to decide how visible it makes your content, in feeds or in the ‘Explore’ tab. Visibility on ‘Explore’ tab can help exponentially boost your follower base. Best ways to engage with the community are –

1. Reposting User Generated Content (UGC) mentioning or using your brand, keeps your community engaged, with you.

2. Run contests so as to encourage your community to communicate with you. A caveat, ensure that giveaways linked to contests are aligned to your brand and not greed-inducing prizes like IPhones or IPads. This will ensure that reach achieved due to the contest is genuine.

3. Responsiveness – Responding to post comments on especially those made in the first hour is how Instagram will decide the engagement rate of the post, which will in turn determine the post visibility. Being responsive also acts as encouragement for users to engage with the page on future posts, as they know that someone is listening and responding to them.


Commandment VII – Supercharge your community base with Influencers

Influencers enjoy loyal follower bases, which trust their recommendations. Hence, identifying accounts whose beliefs are aligned to the brand can help your page gain visibility & credibility in the right target audience. Influencer marketing can take many forms –

• Posts reviewing your product and service offerings

• A ‘Live’ recorded at a press conference or product launch or any other events

• A page takeover, where the influencers interacts with your page’s followers all day long, answering the community’s questions about the brand, their experiences with the brand etc.


Commandment VIII – Leverage analytics

Analytics will help you understand how different content performs and give you insights about your community. Community insights include age splits, locations, gender splits, times when your community is most active.

This should define, the content you post and the time at which you post.  Instagram analytics will give insights about –

• Content: insights on your posts, stories, and promotions.

• Activity: your profile, including Interactions (such as profile visits and website clicks) and Discovery (how many people see your content and where they find it).

• Audience: about your followers and audience, including growth in follower count by day or week.


Commandment IX – Instagram Advertising

Using advertising to increase the reach of important posts, about launches, brand campaigns, upcoming events etc. is a key supplement to any digital campaigns. Instagram’s algorithm limits the visibility of posts, even when engagement rates are above average, so it is important to budget for advertising for visibility.


Commandment X – Ensure frequency of posts to maintain engagement

Last but definitely not the least; ensure that your page is active with frequent posts. This frequency may be twice daily or 4 times weekly, but it is key to ensure that regular posts are done to ensure that Instagram classifies your page as active. Even if there is limited content that you create, leveraging user generated content, leveraging moment marketing on trending topics should be done so that, during a crucial time of a launch or event, your community is active and engaged with you.


Images taken from, and currently running public pages on Instagram. Instagram definition source: Wikipedia


Bhuvi Gupta is a marketeer with over a decade of work experience, of which the last six have been in the media & entertainment industry. She has been a part of many launch marketing campaigns with experiences at the Times of India group, Republic TV and the latest in marketing a Bollywood film




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