Instagram Post Best Practices for Beginner ‘Grammers

Learn how to create visually engaging content for your business on Instagram, even if your industry isn't traditionally "exciting."

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・6 min read
Best Practices
Social Media

Instagram - it’s synonymous with young people and their 21st century terms like “influencer,” “brand,” “lifestyle” and things you may be struggling to fit into your marketing approach.

If you’re reading this post, you’ve most likely decided it’s important to be a part of the platform that sees 1 Billion active users every month. Smart move!

But if your business doesn’t fall into the category of art, food, beauty, travel, or “lifestyle” (whatever that even is) you may be struggling to know how you can create hip, visually striking content that appeals to scrollers.

You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll go over the best way to get your business the attention it deserves in this brave new world of Instagram marketing, which starts with posting.Here are the best practices, including how and what you need, to create the perfect post on Instagram.

What should you post?

This may seem obvious to some. If you’re a florist, post your gorgeous floral arrangements, if you’re a restauranteur, post weekly dishes or specials, if you’re a retailer, post new products, or even sale items. Get the idea?But as I alluded to above, “wow” factor may not come easily for some businesses simply because of the nature of what they do. For example, what if you’re an accounting firm? Or a funeral home? Or a vacuum cleaner repair shop? Even businesses with less *ahem* exciting products or services can still create visually engaging posts. Here are some ideas that every business can use to create content worthy of the ‘Gram.

Work culture

No matter what your daily productivity looks like, snapshots of that funny fridge note to the “sandwich thief” or the adorable unicorn cupcakes the office got for Cheryl’s b-day make great posts. Maybe you and your sales team do one of those spunky morning chants to get you pumped to sell, sell, sell. It’s fun for others to get a sneak peak into a different office’s work culture; yours is no exception.

Quotes or phrases related to your business

Maybe your business’ mission revolves around specific core values or philosophies that helped you become successful. Give potential customers a glimpse of why you deliver quality work and great service with some designed quotes or phrases. If you don’t have a graphic designer to help you make post-able text, use a service like Canva.

Use quotes related to your business


Testimonials are gold because they’re so powerful. If you don’t want to nag your customers for a written testimonial, just ask them if you can take a quick photo shaking their hand or handing over the keys with a caption like “another happy customer.” A profile full of smiling, satisfied, real customers can go a long way in helping others to decide if they want to give you their business.

Post happy customer stories and momentsAnd if you want to ask customers to write a few sentences about their experience, a super simple way to collect testimonials on Instagram is with the use of a hashtag. We’ll talk more about hashtags later, but by setting up a branded hashtag, happy customers can post their own testimonial which can automatically be pulled into a feed and displayed on a landing page or on your website.

ShortStack's Hashtag Testimonials template

News and success milestones

Social media is the perfect stage to share even the smallest achievement with your audience. Moving into a bigger location? Just helped your thousandth customer? Hired someone new? All of these events make great fodder for your Instagram profile. They paint a picture of success for your business, boosting confidence among current and soon-to-be customers.

Contests and giveaways

I saved the best for last. Contests and giveaways have the amazing ability to get you engagement, new followers, and can even help you grow your email list. You can run a giveaway right from a post - we call this a Timeline contest. You can then import the entries into a list in a contest builder like ShortStack to choose a winner. You can also direct participants to a link in your bio to lead them to an actual landing page with an entry form. We’ll talk more about the link in your bio later on.

Run a hashtag contest on Instagram

What to Include in your post


Even if you’ve never seen an Instagram post, you probably know a thing or two about hashtags. Hashtags are used a little differently from platform to platform. Whereas you may only use one or two in a Tweet, recent analysis shows that using nine hashtags with your Instagram post can increase its ranking, i.e. more people will see it.

Recent analysis shows that using nine hashtags with your Instagram post can increase its ranking.

When hashtagging your post, there are a few dos and don’ts. Make sure to use a combination of relevant hashtags and branded hashtags. Whatever you do, don’t use irrelevant hashtags simply because they’re trending. You’re not just looking for engagement, you’re looking for the right engagement from those legitimately interested in your business.It’s also recommended to keep your bundle of hashtags spaced out to not clutter the post. You can do this either by adding some spacing between the text and hashtags, or creating a new comment. This won’t do anything for your ranking, it just looks a bit nicer for your reader.

Bundle your hashtags into another comment so as not to clutter your postFor more on hashtags, we wrote this handy guide.


If there are people or other business represented in your post, tagging them will help you increase the post’s reach. Their audience as well as your audience can potentially see your post, compounding your discoverability.


If you’re looking to tap into a region, i.e. if you’re looking to attract foot traffic, this is especially important.


They may seem silly, but emojis serve a purpose. Mostly, they’re eye-catching so feel free to use them, just don’t overdo it.

When’s the best time to post?

The global reach of Instagram is jaw-dropping. 88% of Instagram users are outside of the United States. With round-the-clock scrollers, you would think anytime would be a great time to post on instagram. However, research shows that posts get the most engagement when they are posted between 2:00 and 3:00 pm Central time. The best day of the week? Thursday.

Beyond posts

Research shows that Instagram users have money. 60% of those earning $100K and 55% of $70k - $80k salary earners use Instagram. Don’t leave this money on the table. For the most customer-conversion potential, use your Instagram profile to drive traffic to where they can become real, money-spending buyers.

Your profile

Unlike other social media platforms (where the profile section is a traffic ghost town) your Instagram profile is vital, or at least, it can be. Instagram prohibits the use of outside links in posts.

Therefore, if you want to link to an online store, a blog post, or video on YouTube, Instagram has a major limitation.

There is only one spot - in the bio section of your profile - to use an outside link. If you want to continuously promote your new content, updating that link can be tedious and also confusing.

For example, what if a follower sees an older post and clicks your bio link directing them to your new content?

What’s a ‘Grammer to do?The ‘go to’ link most people include in their profile is to their main website because it’s a catch-all for directing traffic to an online store, blog, etc.

However, this isn’t a best practice. Instead, try using a contest or giveaway as part of a complete conversion funnel to drive traffic from your Instagram account to where they can make a purchase.

The key is that the contest or giveaway is an incentive for followers to leave Instagram and submit their content details via entry form - opening up a whole world of possibilities for you to market to them further.

And if you are looking to consistently offer giveaways, sales, promotions, or blog posts, we’ve created this Instagram Interactive Gallery which allows you to keep the link in your bio the same while updating a landing page - your followers will never miss a beat.

Built with SHortStack's Interactive Gallery templateWhen you’re just starting out, it’s easy to envy Gramzillas - profiles with perfect posts and thousands of followers. But you’d be amazed at how much time, effort and money goes into achieving the status of “influencer”. For beginner ‘grammers, and for most businesses, this is not a realistic goal. Instead, focus on the #1 Instagram best practice of them all - be genuine. Being true to your brand will help you grow an interested an engaged audience, which, when all said and done is far more valuable than a mob of disinterested followers.

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About the author

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・6 min read

Jessica Miller-McNatt has been with ShortStack for over a decade and has served in every role from Marketing Team Lead to Customer Success. Her journey in martech continues to fuel her fascination for what drives growth. Jessica's favorite weekends are spent in the North Georgia mountains, chasing waterfalls and exploring with her family.

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