Free vs Paid Marketing on Instagram


There are a number of ways for marketing on Instagram, both free and paid. Both are effective means of gaining more followers and potentially making more sales.

Free Marketing

Getting free followers, also referred to as organic or natural followers, does not cost anything, but it can take time to build them up, in the same way it takes a tree to grow. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to market for free on Instagram. Using all these methods can help you boost followers and sales.

A Customized Page

Set up an impressive page on Instagram that is fully customized to show who you are and what your business is all about.

Shareable Content

Produce a range of content that will be of interest to your target audience.

This can include:

  • Written content
  • Images
  • Memes
  • Infographics
  • Video
  • Stories

Don’t forget to remind them to share with others who might be interested.

For your images, brand each piece of content with your URL so that as it gets passed around, those who see it will know where to go to find similar content.


Stories are highly visible because they are above the news feed. They can be a combination of text, images, video, stickers and more, for an eye-catching presentation that will last for 24 hours unless you pin it to your account feed.


Hashtags (#) are a way to get in on the latest content trends and make yourself more visible. Use popular hashtags related to your content. If a reader clicks on the hashtag, they will be able to see all the content published about that topic, including yours.

Custom Hashtags

Create your own catchy hashtag related to a product or your company so you can track its popularity.


You can sell physical products right in the news feed.

Paid Marketing

Most social media ad systems are similar to one another in terms of format. For Instagram ads, you first need to have an ad account at Facebook and can then cross-post.

Promoting Pages

Click to Boost or promote your page in order to get people to like it, so you will get more followers.

Promoting Posts

Click to Boost or promote a popular post to get even more people to see it. If they like it, they might click through to follow you and/or buy products.

Ads from Scratch

You can create an ad from scratch rather than a page or post. You will need:

  • An image
  • An interesting headline
  • Descriptive content
  • An URL they can go to for more information.
Ads Manager Objectives

You have three main options:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Conversion.

Each of the three objectives will have options underneath as well, such as Traffic and Lead Conversion. Choose carefully, because your choice will determine which template they will create for your ad.

You will follow the instructions provided for that template.

The most important part of this process will be your audience selection. Who do you want to see the ad? Instagram followers tend to be 18 to 30, so that would be a good option, and then keyword related to the niche you are working in.

Influencer Marketing

This can be free or paid. Find people on Instagram working in your niche who have a large following. Get to know them, and eventually ask them if they would be willing to give you a mention in their posts. Some will charge money for it. A halfpenny to a penny per follower is a typical starting price.