10 Unmissable Tips for Agencies Using Instagram in 2021

August 12, 2019
Hugh Stephens

How can you improve your engagement for your agency and your clients? Discover our top tips.

If you run a marketing agency, it's likely you already know plenty about Instagram and how to use it to get results for your clients.

But how much time do you spend on campaigns to promote your own business?

The marketing industry is increasingly competitive. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to get results for both you and your clients.

Instagram is the perfect place to start.

Here are eight of our best tips to help you market your clients' businesses, as well as your own.

1. Always Start with a Strategy

Always start with a Social media strategy

The strategy is arguably the most important part of any Instagram marketing campaign.

Yet it seems to be the part many agencies skip — especially when it comes to their own marketing.

But here's the thing:

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone.

If you want to get results, you need to customise your strategy for each client, as well as your own brand.

Here are some key points to think about:

Set Clear Objectives and KPIs

If you want your strategy to be successful, you need to have something to measure it against.

Do you want to...

  • Increase brand awareness?
  • Showcase your client results?
  • Get more leads for your business?
  • Establish yourself as an industry expert?
  • Build an engaged community of followers?

Once you've established your objectives, take the time to match them up with KPIs. How will you know your agency is performing as it should? How will you prove results to your client?

Make sure each KPI is objective and measurable so you can accurately quantify your results.

NOTE: When setting KPIs, it's important to track the right things according to the objectives you set.

An increasing follower count might make you feel good. But if your audience isn't engaged — if they're not clicking through to your website — is this going to help you generate more leads?

Conduct Thorough Market Research

How well do you know your audience? Is this knowledge based on research or assumptions?

No matter how well you think you know your customers, you should never assume. Instead, take time to conduct thorough market research.

Make sure you can answer the following questions:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • What's the best way to reach them on Instagram?
  • What do they like and dislike?
  • When are they online, and how do they use Instagram?
  • What are their biggest problems and challenges?
  • What kind of language do they use?

You should also take some time to check where you sit in your industry. How are your competitors doing? What are they doing well, and how could they improve? How does your agency compare?

For client work, you should first sit down with their team to understand the market research they've already conducted. It is important to understand the client's perspective. You can then fill in any gaps necessary to create the social media strategy.

Provide Value

Once you've taken the time to understand what your — or your client's — target audience wants, it's time to get to work.

When you plan your content, always focus on providing value to the end-user. It's much easier to get results from Instagram when you get this right.

Create a content plan that centres on solving your audience's biggest problems.

Review Your Strategy Regularly

A strategy isn't an activity you do once and forget about.

It should be a living document, evolving with your agency. Make the time to review it regularly.

It's likely you will do this already with your clients when you sit down to update them on your progress. But make sure you don't neglect your own strategy.

2. Prioritise Sustainable Audience Growth

Identifying sustainable social media audience growth

We've already mentioned how followers aren't the be-all-and-end-all of Instagram marketing.

As an agency, you might feel under pressure to focus on follower counts — even when you know it isn't the right thing to do.

It's important to set the scene with your clients early on.

Remember, it's a balancing act.

On the one hand, it is important to grow your audience. You want to reach more people — and reaching 10k followers unlocks some of Instagram's most valuable features.

But you should never do so at the expense of engagement.

Here are a few rules to follow:

Never, ever buy followers

This should go without saying, but there are still some agencies out there doing this.

When you start working with a new client, you should also check their followers are real before you get started. Fake followers can seriously hinder results.

You might need to have a frank conversation with your new client if you suspect they have done this in the past.

Prioritise engagement over followers

How much your audience engages with your content is far more important than how many followers you have.

Don't get caught up in the vanity of large follower numbers at the expense of your account.

More engagement equals more love from the algorithm, and that's what we're all about. Make sure your clients understand this point too.

Interact with your audience

People are so done with bots commenting on their posts.

Stand out from the crowd by posting genuine, considered comments. This will help you grow your followers much faster than any other approach.

Granted, it takes time. That's why you need to plan your resources and price your services accordingly.

This is the easiest step to skip for your own business. Try not to. We get time is short, but what's your agency without any leads?

Think tortoise, not hare

The key to growing an audience successfully on Instagram is to do it slowly and consistently.

You need to focus on consistent growth that protects engagement.

This is true no matter whose account you're working on.

3. Plan Grid Content Carefully

Instagram grid planner - Sked Social

One of the biggest challenges agencies have is finding the time to create all the content they need to.

This includes the content for your own Instagram profile.

It's easy to overcome this challenge with careful scheduling. It's also essential if you want to make a good first impression and convert profile visitors to followers.

Here's what you need to consider:

How will the content look on the grid?

This is so important.

Instagram has always been a visual network, and that's not going to change any time soon.

To make an impact, the content needs to look good when a user lands on your grid (or your client's).

This is where an Instagram grid planner comes in useful. You can create content ahead of time and move it around on the grid to make sure it works.

Each account you manage will have a different theme, colour scheme and audience. So make sure you create clear brand guidelines as part of each strategy.

Who's going to create it?

You should also consider who is going to be responsible for creating the content in your team.

Batching content ahead of schedule is a good idea. Set aside time each week — for each of your clients and for your own agency — and use it to create, finalise and sign off any content.

We also recommend creating defined workflows for your business. You can then assign roles and responsibilities across your team to make sure nothing gets missed.

This is really easy to do in Sked Social.

The collaboration feature allows you to create a customisable workflow for your business. Each post can be created and signed off within the application — even if you need to get external approval from the client.

What actions do you want to inspire?

As well as looking good, each post on the grid should have a purpose.

Do you want followers to click through a link in your bio? Sign up to your lead generator? Use a shoppable link to go directly to a client's product page?

Make sure each piece of content has a strong call-to-action to increase conversions.

For your agency, it's a good idea to offer some kind of freebie on your website. Followers can sign up to your email address to receive it, taking them one step closer to becoming your next client.

4. Make Use of Every Instagram Feature

Instagram story example - Skirt PR

Have you been slow to adopt Instagram's new features? Do you spend a lot of time creating a variety of content for your clients, but fall short on your own?

The way people use Instagram is evolving.

It's no longer all about the grid (although it's still important). If you want to maximise results for yourself and your clients, make sure you're using these features too:

Schedule & Post Instagram Stories

In January 2019, Instagram stories had an average of 500 million daily active users.

That's huge.

With numbers like these, you can guarantee you'll be able to find your target customers there too. And your clients' customers.

Showing people how your agency works behind the scenes will increase trust in your brand. It also provides you with an opportunity to showcase client results and establish yourself as an expert when it comes to all things marketing.

If you want to get more local clients for your agency, make sure you tag the location in your stories where appropriate. This will make your content more discoverable — and increase the likelihood you'll be noticed by your ideal customers.

Once you reach 10k followers, you can use the 'swipe up' feature to share links in your stories. This means you can promote blog content and new products — driving traffic directly to your website.

To make the most of Instagram Stories, you need to share content throughout the day. This isn't always workable when you're managing multiple accounts.

The Instagram Stories feature in Sked Social enables you to batch schedule stories as well as grid posts. This means you can batch create them ahead of time, ready to be auto-posted.

You might still want to post some content as you go about your day — and it's also a good idea to encourage your clients to do so.

The unfiltered, authentic nature of Instagram Stories is the perfect way to connect with your audience.

Don't be afraid to have fun with your stories. Use stickers and gifs. Run polls. Show your (or your client's) personality. Ask questions. Make use of everything Instagram offers.

Story Highlights

Instagram Story Highlights example

Instagram Stories are only available on your profile for a limited time — 24 hours, to be precise.

If you want to showcase your best stories for longer than that, you'll need to add them to a story highlight.

These appear at the top of your profile, just underneath your bio. Check out how to do it here.

Bringing all your related stories together in one highlight enables you to create an ongoing story. It gives followers a slightly different angle on your content.

They are especially useful for new followers and can speed up the "getting to know you" process once they've discovered your profile.

If you've shared links in your stories, it also makes them all easily accessible at the top of your profile. Driving traffic to your website (or your client's) is key to increasing conversions.


A relatively new addition to Instagram, IGTV is growing in popularity every day.

But it's use is still trailing behind other features — and this is exactly why you should be using it.For starters, Instagram wants you to.

They've invested a lot in this new video platform, and they want to compete with the likes of YouTube. This means they're going to reward you for using it.

The main thing you need to remember with IGTV is that it's all about value. Focus on creating videos that solve your clients' problems or answer their questions. Make it something they want to want.

Currently, Instagram is allowing us to share links in the video descriptions on IGTV. You can make the most of this by sharing engaging video content, with a call-to-action and link to your website.

If you're going to create IGTV content with your clients, work with them to film high quality and engaging videos. They will thank you when they see the results in their engagement. Check out some of our ideas here.

Shoppable Posts

Instagram shoppable tag example

Unless your agency has physical products to sell, it's unlikely you will use shoppable posts for your own Instagram profile.

But it's still important to be aware of them, and use them, with your clients. They enable followers to shop directly from your clients' Instagram feed.

This is a great opportunity for you to show some instant ROI for your clients, so don't miss it.

5. Get to Grips with Ads

Instagram story ad example

Advertising on Instagram is an effective way to invest your clients' marketing dollars.

With access to Facebook's user data, Instagram is a great way to target niche audiences, build brand awareness and grow sales.

According to Instagram, 60% of users say they discovered new products while using the platform. Here are some things to think about if you want to get maximum results from advertising on Instagram:

The cost and ROI

Instagram ads CPM & CPC come in at a higher cost than Facebook, but engagement is much higher.

There are enough tools provided by the platform to control your spending. It's worth taking the time to fully investigate the back end and how it can assist your digital marketing strategy.

Use Instagram Story Ads

There are several types of advertisement available on Instagram — including Instagram Stories.

If you're going to invest your money (or your client's money) in one place, we recommend you start here.

Due to the fast-paced and disposable nature of Instagram Stories, advertisements here seem less intrustive to the end user. They also allow you to include a link, which can increase traffic back to your website.

Avoid sales overload

"Nobody likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to buy."

This might sound counter-intuitive, but hear us out. Just because you're posting an advertisement, it doesn't mean you have to always focus on the hard sell.

Although some businesses get results from this approach, it's unlikely to work for agencies.

Instead, focus on getting people into your sales funnel. Start with a blog post or an opt-in — and retarget from there, until you get a sale.

Play the long game, and you'll start to see results.

6. Use the Right Tools

Instagram feed planner from Sked Social

One of the biggest reasons clients come to you is that they don't have time to create content consistently.

Find the right tools to help you manage your workload and effortlessly provide a consistent stream of content for you and your clients.

If you're looking for one tool that can help with this? Look no further than Sked Social.

As well as the features we've already discussed, here's what else we have to offer agencies just like you:

Detailed analytics and reporting

Our detailed analytics and reporting combine with Instagram's insights to help you demonstrate results to your clients.

You can also export posts to PDF to share with clients.

Unlimited users

Agencies can include an unlimited number of team members. This encourages collaboration — whether internally or with freelancers or other third parties.

This makes it easy for you to gather all the content for your clients in one place, no matter what stage of the workflow you're at. And no need to share passwords!

Post approvals for clients

In some plans, Sked includes social media post approval workflows for your clients. They get an easy-to-use link to approve or "reject with comment" each post that you have planned. And it's all integrated end-to-end!

Hashtag management

Instagram hashtag recommendation system

Do your hashtag research once, instead of each time you post.

You can save your favourite hashtags for each client in our hashtag manager, making them easily accessible next time you post.

We also use artificial intelligence to identify the best hashtags for your posts, and recommend the most effective hashtags to increase your engagement.

Need More Inspiration? Here Are Some Agencies to Follow

You spend all your time promoting your clients' businesses via Instagram — with incredible results. But when it comes down to it, you really struggle to replicate their online success in your own business?

We get it, and we're here to help.

If you need some more inspiration, here are some agencies currently killing it on Instagram.

1. @y.media.labs

Y Media Labs - Instagram social media agency example

Looking for simple-but-effective brand identity? This can be a challenge — especially if you don't have time to create high-quality photos or complex graphics for your own Instagram feed.

YML show it doesn't have to be difficult to create an impactful, cohesive and visually appealing grid that works.

2. @hugeinc

Huge Inc - Instagram social media agency example

Huge Inc. is an example of a brand that has done its market research. They know their ideal customer inside out — and regularly share content that appeals for them.

Because they're confident in who they're selling to, they know what will resonate. This means they're not afraid to share controversial content or get behind political causes they deem to be important.

Following their lead gives you an opportunity to connect with your audience and show your authenticity.

3. @heystudio

Hey Studio - Instagram social media agency example

For a brand that delivers on all counts, take a long at Hey Studio. This creative agency's feed is instantly recognisable. The colour scheme, high-quality images and strong brand identity make them stand out in a crowded marketplace.

They use Instagram Stories and highlights to their full advantage, as well as dabbling in IGTV. And it works — they have the follower count, and the engagement, to match.

4. @Skirtpr

Skirt PR - Instagram social media agency example

Skirt PR is a PR agency that has worked with some of the industry's biggest names: from GAP to Conde Naste. Its founder, Adrienne Eckert Petersen, knows the importance of sharing valuable content with her audience.

They regularly update their blog with content that helps readers, rather than focusing on promotion. They showcase the best of their blog in their story highlights, keeping it simple, so this is where new followers' eyes are drawn straight away.


If you want to grow your agency on Instagram, the most important thing to do is make time and have a solid strategy.

Sked Social can help you with this — reducing the amount of time you spend on both yours and your client's Instagram feed.

Invest time in getting to know your audience, create a strong brand identity and make the most of all Instagram's features. If you can get results for your clients, you can get them for yourself too.

Spend less and get more with Sked Social

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