An Effective Instagram Strategy
While you could just blindly post pictures and captions and hope that these efforts reward you with lots of followers and interaction, it is much wiser to start with an Instagram strategy that is designed to maximise the time you spend on this increasingly popular social media platform for business. This strategy should include the following elements:
- How often to post and when
- The types of posts you will create – a varied scheduled of content
- The images and graphics you will use
- Relevant hashtags
- How you will grow your followers
Posting – Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to posting on Instagram, it can be all too easy to feel intimidated or pressured by what others are doing. You might see your competitors posting multiple times a day and feel that this is an effective Instagram strategy to follow. In fact, taking a different approach and following your own schedule could be what sets you aside from the competition. While it’s good to check out what the competition are doing and get some ideas and inspiration as to what works and what doesn’t, you don’t have to copy them verbatim.
While posting 2-3 times a day can be really time-consuming and leave you struggling for a fresh flow of content, its also not necessarily the best strategy. Instagram has an algorithm (granted it changes like the wind) that means often, over-posting can lose ou followers Your audience can view it as spammy and inflow you. Instead, we recommend sticking to a consistent, yet less frequent posting frequency where you post once a day or perhaps a few times a week.
Quality Images and Captions
When you do post, ensure that the quality of your post is such that it capture the attention of your audience and engages them. Think high quality photos that stop the scroll, quality graphics that engage people and make good use of the captions and hashtags. When it comes to captions, you literally have the first line to engage your audience. You will see what we mean if you go to your own instagram account and start scrolling down the page. A good post will start off with a question that captures attention, a bold statement, emojis or something that makes the post stand out from all the others. The image is going to capture their attention first – after that it’s the caption that will engage them. After using the first line to encourage them to click on the post, then you can include the rest of your information – people dont have time to read essays but a few points, well laid out will make the information easier to consume and digest.
Hashtags for Instagram
Hashtags are an important part of an effective Instagram strategy but they aren’t the part of the post that are going to engage people. Instead they are how your content is going to be found. Often, people follow hashtags based on their interests. For us, we follow things such as trail running and fell running. This way, the content that contains these hashtags is more likely to be shown in our instagram feed. We can go looking for hashtags and scrolls he content but much easier for people to follow a hashtag. Be sure to include a mixture of popular and less conventions tags. If you see the most popular hashtag has 5 million posts, its going to be a lot harder for your content to be shown when using this hashtag in your own posts. Instead, find less popular but relevant hashtags and mix it up, Use a mixture of popular, relatively popular and your own fun hashtags that dont necessarily have any particular following but that can be unique to you.
What Time of Day Should You Post?
If you are new to Instagram and don’t have many followers, it can be tough to know when to post. What time of day, what day of the week, morning or evening? All of these questions can be answered when there is enough data in the insights section of your account. If you have been active no ‘Insta’ for a while, you can discover this information by going to page insights. Here you will discover useful data on what time of day that your audience is online.
The same goes for the day of the week or weekend – the numbers will show you when your audience is online. If you don’t have enough data yet, it will be a matter of trial and error. Create different posts at different times of the day and experiment with the day of the week until you have enough information collated to work out what works best. That said, I have posted at 6pm on a Friday and got excellent results only to try it the following Friday at the same time with less success.
Consistency is Key
We have already mentioned that consistency is key and it really is. Posting once one week and then 5 times the next followed by 0 posts the week after will not help your engagement levels. Your followers will begin to expect some sort of pattern from your content. 4-5 posts per week will keep you in their news feeds just enough to keep you front of mind without being in their newsfeed too much.
Keeping Your Content Fresh
This can be tricky. Having a really successful post that depicts a beautiful sunset or landscape is great but emulating that is no mean feat. Trying to live up to that expectation is going to be tough but it’s a key part of an effective Instagram strategy. By the same token, posting the same sort of photos every day is very quickly going to turn off your audience. Try and mix up your content. If you like to keep it all. Informs, you can keep tot he same colour themes, styles of posts etc and post in grids or lines of 3 but that can be hard to keep up if you are trying to run a busy company. Instead, keep to a brand image – the same colours, fonts, logos etc. Maybe alternate a photo with a graphic or post a line of photos then a line of graphics etc. Use some of the following ideas for posts:
- Quality images that need very little explanation
- Product images
- Team images
- Scenic images
- Reviews created as graphics
- Inspirational quotes
If you want to ensure that you are sticking to a brand theme and image, then consider a platform like Canva to create some templates – this way you can create themes, templates etc using the right colours and fonts and including your logo. Canva allows you to get creative without having to be a graphic designer.
Engaging With Your Audience
If someone comments on a post, thank them. If someone tags you or mentions you in a post, be sure to comment and thank them. One of the biggest things you can do to start conversations and engage with your audience is to reshare their content. There are a couple of ways in which you can do this. Either screen shots and crop the image and repost the image with your own caption and hashtags or using an app called regram which will allow you to share the link and copy their post with their caption. Be sure to tag and credit the person whose content you are sharing. Also be aware of the various features of Regram which will automatically add a Regram credit (you can remove if you choose).
Alongside looking out for great user generated posts from your competitors, this is also a chance to exercise ‘social listening’. This is where you virtually listen to what people are saying about your business. Are they mentioning you, recommending you, saying good things, bad things – check in with the tags and mentions to make sure you are staying on top of the buzz around your brand. Social listening is a core part of building an effective Instagram strategy and will help you to find out what others are saying about your business and discovering what it is that your audience wants.
Follow the Right People
Building followers is a core part of an effective Instagram strategy. Tempting as it is to follow a raft of people for follows, you will quickly end up with a load of content in your own news feed which can muddy the waters and mean that you miss critical posts. Consider the type of people you want to see in your news feed and follow them. Don’t follow for follows and certainly NEVER buy followers. These kind of spammy tactics can ruin your engagement. We cant testify to whether this is a tactic that works but we recently started cleaning up the lists of accounts that we follow for a client and their engagement went up. If you have a historic account that followes thousands go through and unfollow those that haven’t posted for 6 months or those that dont have any posts. You can also unfollow those that have little or no relevance to your business. While we don’t know if it works for everyone, we certainly noticed an uptake in the number of followers that we were getting. If nothing else its worth cleaning up the accounts that you follow to unclog your newsfeed.
Keep Up to Date With Latest Changes
We have already mentioned that Instagram makes regular changes to the algorithm. It is worth reading the latest Instagram news from time to time to check what has changed and how it might affect you. Also, every 3 months, carry out a mini audit of your page. What has worked, what hasn’t, what are your competitors doing and what’s new. This way you know that your efforts aren’t in vain and that you are investing your time wisely in an effective Instagram strategy.