Increasing ROI on Instagram: From the Desk of a Social Media Manager

Social media has become an essential part of any business’ marketing strategy, and Instagram has emerged as a leading platform for reaching out to potential customers. With more than 1.3 billion active users, 3.76 billion visits every day and 500 million people using Stories daily, Instagram presents a vast opportunity for businesses to connect with their target audience and increase their ROI.

In fact, 81% of users turn to Instagram to research products and services — but as more retail brands compete for attention on the platform, it can be challenging to stand out and make a meaningful impact. Here are some strategies that social media managers can use to scale reach and, in turn, increase ROI on Instagram.

Engage with Influencers

An increasingly effective way to increase your brand’s reach on Instagram is by partnering with influencers and creators. These are individuals or businesses with a significant (and loyal) following on the platform, who can help you promote your brand to a wider audience.

According to eMarketer, nearly three-quarters (72.5%) of marketers in the U.S. will use some form of influencer marketing this year — and that number will only go up over time. However, before selecting an influencer to work with, it’s important to first understand what goals you’re trying to achieve to prove the ROI of your influencer marketing campaign.


  1. Determine your goals: The number one goal for brands using influencer marketing is to reach new target customers. Before making any influencer considerations, think about how your influencer marketing plan will fit into your broader social media marketing strategy and create measurable goals you can report on and track. Define who your audience will be for your campaign and develop audience personas to ensure you understand who you’re trying to reach.
  2. Consider the 3 R’s — relevance, reach and resonance: As you’re vetting influencers for your marketing campaign, consider their relevance to your brand, the number of people you could potentially reach and the potential level of engagement, sales, conversions, traffic and follower growth the influencer can create with an audience relevant to your brand. A macro influencer with a huge follower count is meaningless if those followers aren’t interested in your offer, and micro or niche influencers can have very dedicated and engaged followers. Instagram users are savvy and can quickly detect insincere advertising. That said, it’s essential to work with influencers who align with your brand’s values and messaging to avoid coming across as pushy or inauthentic.
  3. Reach out personally and professionally: When you’re ready to suggest a partnership, a direct message (DM) is a great place to start. Provide as much information as you can about your brand and tell them what you hope to accomplish together with your proposed Instagram campaign. If the influencer has their personal or agent’s email in the bio of their social profile, try reaching out that way too.
  4. Collaborate to develop effective content: You’ve secured your first influencer and the contract has been signed — now what? Work closely with them to determine what kind of content you want to create together. Remember, creators are experts in their space. You’ll get the best value from their work by allowing them to showcase those skills while they stay true to their personal brand ethos.
  5. Measure your results: While measuring vanity engagement metrics remains important, track metrics beyond likes, comments and shares. To measure the effectiveness of a campaign, you must understand its value in terms of return on investment. Some tried-and-true ways to attribute success from these types of collaboration include establishing UTM parameters (codes added to the end of URLs that enable tracking) and giving influencers their own discount codes to track the visitors an influencer sends to your website.

Purchase and Publish Ads

Instagram’s advertising platform can be a powerful tool for increasing your brand’s reach and engagement on the platform. With the average user spending 30 minutes a day on Instagram and 63% of American users checking Instagram at least once a day, it’s a powerful way to strategically maximize your ROI and get eyeballs on your paid content.

The first point to consider when purchasing ads is the objective of your ad campaign. This objective should ladder up to an overarching social media or campaign strategy. For example, are you trying to drive traffic to a website, video views, engagements or purchases? Another key consideration when purchasing ads is your target audience. Instagram allows you to target your ads based on a range of demographic factors, such as age, location, interests and behaviors. Understanding your target audience and tailoring your ads to their interests and preferences can help to increase the effectiveness of your advertising efforts.

Another critical factor to consider is the balance between your organic and paid social strategy. In order to maximize your social content, build community and get the most out of your content, you need to fine-tune how often you are running paid campaigns versus publishing content organically — ideally a mix of both to get the full potential from Instagram. It’s important to have a consistent presence on the platform, but bombarding your audience with too many ads can lead to ad fatigue and decreased engagement.

The more you post, the more likely you are to show up in the Explore feed, be featured on another account or be in the top search ranking of keywords and hashtags you commonly use. Think about how often your audience wants to hear from you and focus on building a regular cadence. You can double your followers by simply posting every week consistently, compared to those that post less than once a week. In fact, our social experiments have proven that post timing does have an impact on Instagram engagement.

Keep Your Audience Engaged

While ads have become an increasingly effective way to scale reach on social media, this tactic has also led to more challenging audience engagement. A common challenge brands are facing with advertising on Instagram is keeping their audience engaged during the ad experience. Users are overwhelmed with ads on social media and it’s easy for them to become disinterested or scroll past your content.

To combat this, consider using eye-catching visuals, compelling messaging and interactive elements in your ads. For example, you can play with formats like Reels, Carousels and Stories to showcase your brand or include a call-to-action that encourages users to engage with your brand beyond the ad. You can use tools to support your efforts, such as Hootsuite, which has recently integrated with Canva to make the content creation process easier through captivating templates.

Another effective strategy is to leverage user-generated content (UGC). This could involve reposting user-generated content from your audience or working with influencers to create authentic content that resonates with your target audience (always remember to ask for approval first). User-generated content can help to increase your brand’s credibility and engagement on the platform, as users are more likely to trust content created by their peers.

Instagram presents a significant opportunity for brands to connect with their target audience, and there are multiple ways to increase ROI. It’s essential to approach the platform strategically and creatively to stand out and make a meaningful impact. By implementing these strategies, you can improve your brand’s presence on the platform, connect with your target audience and ultimately achieve your marketing goals.

Brayden Cohen is the Manager of the Social Marketing team at Hootsuite. Over the past several years, he has worked in customer-centric marketing roles with startup and purpose-driven brands. In his current role, Cohen works on strategic campaigns for Hootsuite’s social marketing channels of more than 9 million users, along with managing the company’s employee advocacy program.

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