With over a billion active users, the recent release of Instagram Reels, and a new-monopoly on the aesthetic-oriented sector of social media, Instagram can be a goldmine for the right business with the right strategy.
With that being said, if you’ve tried it, you’ve realized it’s not the simplistic photo-based platform it used to be. In fact, Instagram is more of a microcosm within the social media universe, with different aspects and features that can take you (and your audience) in several different directions.
So the question is, how do you market on a platform that packs a huge bank of options in a small package?
Let us help you simplify it so you can develop your best Instagram marketing plan.
Understanding Your Instagram Marketing Options
Like we said, Instagram is a multi-faceted platform with a lot of options for how to connect with your followers and your target audience at large. There isn’t just one way to post. So if you want to understand how to use the platform, you have to understand how it’s built to be used.
The Instagram feed is the foundational feature of the platform. While it’s evolved over the years, the user experience hasn’t changed too dramatically. The feed is where you post images and videos that you want to be visible on directly your profile and in your follower’s feeds.
The best way to use your feed is to build out an aesthetic for your brand.
Think in terms of “first impressions”. What do you want your followers to think and feel about your brand as a whole? What do you want to be associated with? Put those visuals on the feed, where they’ll stay long-term while catching the eye of your audience (and potential new followers).
Stories are probably the most popular Instagram feature. They appease ever-shortening attention spans while giving creators just enough room to get a highly-engaging message out.
Built to compete with Snapchat, Instagram stories give you 15 seconds to shoot an attention-grabbing video or picture for your audience that expires after 24 hours.
They also come with interactive features like questions and polling, which encourages your followers to interact with you directly (without having to put a bunch of effort into it).
Use stories to start conversations, run short-term promotions, give your followers news updates, give snapshots of a day in the life, and ride the wave of current events.
IGTV is exactly what the name implies, a localized television station right inside the Instagram Platform. This is where you can host longer videos including interviews, tutorials, long-form creative segments, or anything your audience is interested in.
Instagram Live gives you the ability to connect with your followers in their stories in real time. This is a great feature to connect with them doing Q&A’s, giving live announcements of changes and product/service rollouts, and live tours of behind the scenes with you.
Diehard fans love an opportunity to connect directly with brand leaders to interact with them.
Ultimately, you want to find a good balance of using every post type listed, so your users have different ways to interact and engage with you.
Figure Out What Types of Content Your Audience Wants
Once you have a good idea of what types of content you can post, where, and for what reasons, it’s time to figure out what type of content your audience really wants.
There are two simple ways to do this:
- Take a look at what your competitors are doing. What’s their posting flow look like? How are they using each individual feature of the platform, and how can you model what they’re doing while putting your own personal spin on it?
- Consider asking your audience. Run a survey to see who they’re following and what they like to interact with. Getting it from the horse’s mouth is going to ease your learning curve compared to throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something sticks.
Don’t be afraid to give them an opportunity to co-create their experience with you. After all, a room should be designed to accommodate the people spending time in it. Their opinions are what matter most.
Decide on a Consistent Posting Schedule
Consistency is critical on Instagram, probably more than any other popular platform. If you have no idea where to start, use our quick guide to help you gather your footing.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to use a tool and determine what days and times your followers are most active and engaged. Also toy around with different days and times for paid promotions — you might be surprised with what your audience reacts best to.
Expand Your Reach
Reach is another critical piece of any Instagram marketing strategy.
Most people like to think that reach is all about hashtags, but there’s more to it than that. Use hashtags, tags, and mentions to increase the number of “locations” your posts show up within the platform.
On your stories, you can add hashtags and mentions and then “squeeze” to size them down. You can do this so much so that the mention or hashtag itself becomes invisible to the naked eye even though it’s still there, so your brand visual isn’t interrupted while you expand your post’s reach.
Ultimately, you want to land on the explore page, popular hashtags that people follow, and local feeds for cities and states you want to target.
Beat the Algorithm
Like Google and other platforms, Instagram has an algorithm you have to cooperate with to succeed.
According to Hootsuite, there are three primary ranking signals:
- Relationship: the history of an individual user’s interaction with your feed (this helps Instagram personalize each users feed)
- Interest: what interests your post is playing to
- Timeliness: how recently was the post published
Instagram also has its own @creators account where it shares updates on algorithm changes, so you can stay up to date on what’s important.
Dive In and Have Fun
Ultimately, remember that Instagram is a social platform.
Understanding the algorithm and data points go a long way, but remember that the algorithm is simply supporting accounts that are using the platform for what it’s meant for - connecting with your followers on a genuine, entertaining, and engaging level through the screen.
So, dive in, have fun, be generous with the attention you’re showing to your followers and enjoy receiving some business-driving attention in return.
Need help navigating Instagram? Contact us — we’ll walk you through it.