DTC 98: 📦 What the heck is Instagram SEO?
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

How to explain what narrowing audiences means to your non-marketing friends.

If you’re new to DTC, welcome! You’re in good company with fellow newcomers from Beyond Meat, Billie, Dollar Shave Club, Green Sprouts, Birdies, and Fortify+ Skincare. 🥳

In this newsletter you’ll find: 👇

🔑 Key tips on improving your SEO strategy.

🤔 Comparison ads.

✅ How to prepare for Q4 – UGC edition.

🚧 Breaking down industry barriers with David Mifsud.

Read till the end to access exclusive DTC swag. 😎

👉 If a pal forwarded this to you, subscribe so you never miss out. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram.


SEO isn’t just for search engines like Google. It’s also a part of social media platforms— and we’ve got 8 steps for starting an SEO strategy on Instagram.

Quick summary: what is Instagram SEO?

It’s the strategic placement of keywords in your captions, handle, name, and bio to get your posts to rank higher in Instagram’s search engine.

Like any search algorithm, the purpose is to show content that reflects what your audience is searching for.

While it’s a more long-term strategy than paid ads, Instagram SEO is a worthy investment. In fact, 81% of users use the platform to research products and services.

OK—now let’s dive into how to actually do Instagram SEO.

Step 1: Learn how your audience is talking about your brand

Understand how your customers are talking about your brand to get an idea of what keyword opportunities there are for you to be discovered by like-minded people.

Research your customers by using the "tagged" section of your profile or searching your brand name to see what populates in the results.

Away gets tagged in posts by customers all the time.

In the picture below, you can see how one customer talks about traveling, exploration, adventures, and wanderlust. These are all good topics that Away can use, and even leverage some of the same keywords to connect with more customers.

Step 2: Research and harvest keywords from competitors

Similar to how your customers talk about your brand, your competitors can also give you keyword inspiration.

Check out what they're talking about and how they’ve set up their name and bio.

Harvest those keywords for your strategy, and look for keyword opportunities that your competitors haven’t yet discovered.

Step 3: Outline your primary and secondary keywords

Once you learn how your audience is talking about you and the keywords your competitors use, create your list of primary and secondary keywords.

Primary keywords: Also known as head terms, these are the main words to describe your topic or product (ex. "navy pants). These should always be used in your bio and near the beginning of your posts (especially above the fold –before the "see more" button).

Secondary keywords: These are better for complementing the primary keyword and can be used near the end of the post text and in the hashtags.

These are going to be long-tail keywords that get more descriptive than your primary keyword. (ex. "long navy pants" or "navy pants for women.")

Step 4: Be strategic with your keyword placement

There are four key areas to place your primary and secondary keywords: in your username, name, bio, and post captions.

Your username/handle: An example of a primary keyword may be "skincare" or "makeup," and some brands are able to add it right into their username.

For example, Sukin is a natural skincare line, and their Instagram handle is "@sukinskincare."

Whenever a user searches for "skincare" on Instagram, Sukin is one of the top results.

This tactic won’t work for specific primary keywords (remember our other example "navy pants") but it is a good way to get discovered with more generalized ones like "apparel," "candles," or "furniture."

Your name: Instagram has the option to create your profile name. This also shows up in the search engine.

As you can see in the pic below with E.l.f., the keywords "cosmetics" and "skincare" are added to the profile name.

Even though "skincare" isn’t used in their username handle, E.l.f. still showed up in the search results.

Your bio: Since you have more characters to use in your bio than you do in your username or profile name, adding both primary and secondary keywords here is a good way to get discovered.

Check out Versed, which includes the main keyword "skincare," and a secondary one about sustainability.

Your post captions: Every post caption should use a primary keyword right away. This keeps it above the "see more" button, so users see the post is actually related to what they’re searching for.

Secondary keywords go near the end of the post, and they complement the primary keyword.

In the example below, Versed used "skincare" (primary keyword) as the third word.

Other keywords in the caption (secondary), such as "hyperpigmentation," "dermatologist," "targeting hyperpigmentation," are also search-worthy terms.

We’ll be back with part 2 on Saturday!

In the meantime, give these tactics a try and let us know how it goes – feel free to reply directly to this email.

We love chatting. :)


It's official: Influencer marketing is the new norm.

So how can you create influencer campaigns that *actually stand out* this Black Friday and holiday season? 🤔

If anyone knows the answer, it’s Grin.

And lucky for us, they’re spilling the beans in their 2021 Influencer Holiday Toolkit, which includes:

  • A step-by-step guide to creating winning influencer holiday campaigns – with examples!
  • A complete breakdown of what a successful holiday email strategy should look like
  • The exact holiday promotions timeline you can follow (spoiler alert: you should already be in the "Preparation and Planning" stage!)

Plus soooooo much more.

Black Friday will be here before we know it. Are you (and your influencers) prepared? 👀

👉 Download Grin's Influencer Holiday Toolkit to find out


Have you tried comparison ads yet? 🧐

These Ugly ads do a killer job of showing the drastic differences between them and their competitors making it EASY for the customer to understand.

If you’ve tested this format before, reply to this email and let us know. We’re curious how it performed!


Got a DTC brand? There's a podcast for that. ✅

Nowadays, there's a podcast niche for just about everything and everyone. But how do DTC brands connect with the right podcasts to reach ideal listeners and run advertisements that actually drive ROI?

Well, Podcorn's here to tell ya they help do just that.

With over 50,000 podcasters to choose from, Podcorn makes it easy for brands to advertise with some of the most prominent shows out there, or to discover the best independent podcasters (with hyper-loyal listeners).

They have an easy-to-use self-serve platform, where you can launch a campaign in just a matter of minutes and instantly begin receiving proposals. Or leverage their full-service option and have Podcorn's experts take care of every last detail – all with guaranteed deliverables.

👉 Launch your campaign brief or schedule a strategy session with Podcorn today!


We’re back with more Q4 tips from the Pilothouse team. This time we’re covering User Generated Content.👇

Number 1: Start Now!

The process for working with content creators has a few timeline constraints. Mainly being how fast you can ship the products, and what the content creator’s schedule is for making the requested content.

Shipping could be delayed during the holiday season and content creators are getting booked for more work in Q4 than the rest of the year.

Allow for extra time in the process from recruitment to production.

Number 2: Make your pitch to content creators stand out

The competition is not only fierce in ads, it’s also more competitive to engage with content creators for your brand.

Good content creators often work with multiple brands that are fighting for their attention. Make sure your brand’s values are inline with their personal brand and think outside the box when it comes to what you can offer them in the partnership.

Tips for standing out:

  • Pressbox-style packaging with a note from the founder or extra swag/products.
  • Can you offer an ongoing commission as opposed to just a one-time payment?
  • Joint partnership. Maybe the content creator posts about your brand once, but you agree to re-post that content in future months giving them more exposure, and if they have a referral link, an extra opportunity to earn commission.

Number 3: Gifting Angle

The customer persona who buys your product as gifts may not be the same as your main customer persona.

If you have a menswear brand as an example, wives/girlfriends/partners will be buying your products this season. Switch up the demographic you usually go for in content creators to also include gifters!

Number 4: Don’t make UGC content too specific

One thing to avoid when creating Q4 UGC content is that you don’t want to make content creators focus on a specific, limited-time promo/sale.

If this creator resonates with your audience and the ad is working well in your campaigns, you don’t want to have to scrap it completely!

We suggest making 80% of your content requests to a creator focused on evergreen messages, and the other 20% can be holiday or sale focused.

Number 5: Make your content unique

More ad dollars, more eyes, and more content being consumed, means your UGC creators need to stand out from the rest!

Encourage out-of-the-box ideas and make their first few sections of content grab the viewer’s attention. UGC content should start with an exclamation.

For example:

"I can’t believe this worked so well" or "I’m throwing out my {comparison} products"

Jump into frame. Dance into frame. Fall into frame! (We all love to watch bloopers!)

Add a shocking intro:

For coffee brands: Spill coffee on a white carpet, then pour again and go into product features videos.

Premium Toothbrush brands: Use your old brush to scrub the toilet because you found something better.

Anything that will make the audience shocked or slightly uncomfortable will grab attention. TikTok is the best place to look for creators if you are going for a humorous angle!

Thanks to the Pilothouse team for the awesome tips!


This week on the pod we chatted with David Mifsud, co-founder and board member of Missouri Star Quilt Co., a family-founded quilting company.

MSQC got its brick-and-mortar start during the 2008 recession, but that didn’t stop them from becoming one of the biggest quilt brands in America –online and in retail.

Here’s what we learned from one of the most heart-warming, interesting brands we’ve had on the podcast to date!

‍The Takeaways: 👇

💥 Missouri Star Quilt Co. succeeded by breaking down industry barriers:

There are usually three obstacles that prevent people from getting into quilting:

  1. It’s too expensive
  2. It’s too time-consuming
  3. It requires too much skill

MSQC strategically worked to break down each of these barriers and make quilting more available to more people.

For example, to cut costs, they run Daily Deals where one product is significantly marked down.

To reduce the amount of time involved, they started selling more pre-cut fabric and quilting kits.

And to teach quilting skills, they published tutorials on YouTube (like, way before it was ever cool 😎).

🤯 How they grew without spending a dime on paid marketing for the first 8 years.

"We didn’t have a marketing budget, so we basically had to be creative in how we got customers."

When they got started, David and his business partner noticed there was a lack of interesting quilting content on YouTube… So they got to filming. 🎥

Luckily, one of the founders Jenny Doan is fantastic in front of a camera.

These authentic, genuine quilting tutorials were one of the secrets to their early success.

Now they have over 230M views and 800K subscribers, and the biggest YouTube channel for quilting in the world. 🚀

"I think it was a real blessing to grow organically, and the result of that was an extremely loyal base."

💸 The mechanics of their "Quilter’s Daily Deal"

In order to lower the cost barrier of quilting, MSQC began running "daily deals."

Each day at midnight, they heavily discount one product –anywhere from 30-100% (yep, you read that right).

But it’s not just a deal. It’s an experience. 🙌

  • Shoppers can only buy one of the products on sale (exclusivity factor).
  • The deals are always shared with a story, crafted to teach, inspire, make you laugh, or even make you cry (value factor).

Many of their customers look forward to the Daily Deals, even if they don’t buy anything!

👉 Listen to the full pod here and get ready to fall in love with this quilt shop.


🚨 Learn how to create performance creative that is laser-focused on driving conversions featuring Nik Sharma, Nick Shackelford, and more!

🎯 Snapchat previews coming ad targeting options to help improve campaign focus.

💵 Facebook launches $10M maker fund for re-branded Horizon Worlds.

📍 Pinterest’s new ad formats target creators and international brands.

✍️ YouTube adds new caption options, including the expansion of automatic captions for live streams.

🌎 Google Merchant Center allows one feed for all countries.

🐦 Twitter announces broader roll-out of new spaces tab, adds new spaces invite process.

🔊 Have you heard our latest podcasts?

🧵 Cornering the $4.2 Billion Quilting Market, with David Mifsud from Missouri Star Quilt Co.

🚽 Why YouTube is the secret behind this DTC bidet brand’s success, with Thomas Lotrecchiano from Omigo.

👨‍🎓 Retention for Consumables, with Troy Petrunoff from Every Man Jack.

🌎 Omsom’s Emily Chan shares the secret behind 90% of their growth, and it’s NOT paid ads.

Don’t forget to rate the DTC Podcast on Apple (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

DTC Newsletter is written by Thomas Schreiber, Kelsey Hess, Tina Donati, and Rebecca Knight.

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