Today almost every business has its presence in social media, and Instagram is not an exception. Of course, you are not an individual using Instagram. Some people can compare business with a sport, so in that case, Instagram is one of the games, where you are not a single player. Remember that it’s a competition with other participants and its own rules and random posts sent out whenever you want won't lead the business to success.
As every game demands, you have to build your own winning strategy. On Instagram, you need a solid digital marketing plan to build a strong community that delivers real results. Your content strategy should rely on important rules of Instagram, which should not be broken.
Let’s see what rules will help you to win.
Rule #1: Post content on schedule and with a regular frequency
Success on Instagram often boils down to how frequently you’re able to post content on the channel. If you maintain a good posting frequency you will get more engagement with your followers. Test out different posts at different times and figure out which timing and frequency work best at generating the highest engagement.
One of the earliest and biggest mistakes I made with Instagram is I never found out the times most of the following I built were active at. I posted every day but only at times when I happened to be most comfortable or free. This meant late evenings or early in the morning or some random time. For a long time, this resulted in muted response to videos and images I posted. As I gained experience I learned of the importance of posting content at times my followers were most engaged in.
How did I do this?
I posted content during different times of the day for a period and noted down times during which content got the highest engagement rates. Zeroing down on those times I was able to find time slots that always resulted in most people seeing the content I posted and my strategy took off.
I realize that doing this manually isn’t always possible. Also, doing this manually is a tiring and long drawn out process. However, a third-party tool called Grum helps you fix this. Even if you are away the tool takes care of posting content in its entirety. Besides Grum, there are a lot of tools of scheduled posting which you can use in your work.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on vacation or in the middle of your wedding. You can schedule content in advance and put those posts out in advance. With this, you will be able to post consistently and on time helping drive growth ahead and send out posts on a consistent basis.
Without a clear content schedule, you’ll be out of the game.
Rule #2: Use overarching content topics
For your business profile, the only goal should be to keep followers engaged. To that end post content with varying topics so they don’t get bored. For instance, if you’re a business in the productivity SaaS niche— talk about different things like health and productivity, Yoga, meditation, productivity tips and so on a rotational basis.
There’s also another tool that can help you with content, Crowdfire, for example. It lets you schedule posts in advance as well. It has relevant content you can search for and post automatically directly from their site. Along with this, you should be able to schedule content in advance.
You remember that we’re still in the game, right? Here you have not only competitors but teammates. You can use the help of other Instagram users. A special tool, called Repost, will give you the content when you need it. It was one of the first tools I started using for Instagram growth and still do. The free version is limited but yet enough to get some steam going.
With Repost, you can post content from any Instagrammer and also credit the original creator or poster of the content which you should do to avoid problems in the future. It’s a great tactic for those days when you don’t have original content to post and still want great content to go out.
Keep in mind that you’re not posting on Instagram to gain a lot of likes and shares. Of course, they do have their place. But ultimately what matters is the content should tie back to real revenue goals. They should be campaign oriented that has some significance to the overall health and growth of the campaign.
It needs to be very tangible either. You could create socially conscious campaigns to engender trust or post about fans receiving gifts to engender loyalty. Airbnb frequently posts photos of homes their guests have visited and stayed to generate both trust and loyalty that go a long way in driving meaningful revenue goals.
Instagram users are very demanding. Inappropriate or boring content will force them to show you a “red card”.
Rule #3: Stick to an engagement schedule and be consistent
Growth doesn’t come merely through organic discovery. Growth is achieved when you work with different strategies, discover the potential of each and keep applying the few strategies that fuel the highest levels of growth. Unwavering commitment to sticking to an engagement schedule is what keeps fueling things forward. One of these techniques involves engaging with other accounts. You should comment, like and share what similar accounts are posting and this will help you generate engagement to your own account.
A study from Simply Measured bears testament to this. The study found that the top brands on Instagram post at least once per week. Another report says that 60% of top brands use the same filter on Instagram every time with two filters being the most popular.
To create a visual consistency.
Any post from the brand reposted anywhere feels as if coming from the main brand. Followers too become attuned to the style and since they’re familiar with the content they will stop right on their tracks and engage with the post. Among these filters that were applied Lo-Fi remains the most popular filter and Valencia garners the most engagement on the platform.
Remember this—Instagram is quite popular today and this is only going to get bigger. When you try things for the first time you may not always taste success. As you progress adjust your approach, experiment and improve your campaign. Bring experienced marketers or brand builders to your team. Work until you get actual data and make decisions based on that data.
Your fans should be really involved in the game of your brand.
Rule #4: Invent and use branded hashtags
Next thing you could do is use a branded hashtag that’s relevant to your company and something that people will relate with. Nobody uses the company name as the branded hashtag but something else that’s quite at heart with the company values and what the brand espouses and represents as a whole. A branded hashtag is about everything the brand is about and encourages followers to share the hashtag with photos of their own to what they think is relevant to the hashtag. It’s a must-have for increased engagement. This helps you take your brand’s message to many more people.
A furniture brand could use different hashtags to denote the conditions in which their products can be used and depict the use of their products in picturesque settings.
To get the traffic it isn’t enough to post content, have influencers share your content and post on a schedule. You must ensure you do everything to use hashtags as well.
All Hashtag is a great tool that I’ve been using since the last two years to generate hashtags. It isn’t one tool but a combo of four tools. There’s a hashtag generator that lets you generate random or live hashtags and lets you choose best hashtags as well. Hashtag Analytics lets you analyze a hashtag and generates analytics data you may use for your marketing strategy.
Remember this—Never use hashtags just for the sake of using them. Visitors are quickly going to get offended if they don’t find what they came looking for. Engagement metrics would go down and this will result in lower reach in the future. It has to be relevant to the post you’re sharing and the business you’re running. You don’t want unqualified leads signing up or visiting your site. No traffic is better than irrelevant traffic.
Finally, it also lists top hashtags that are currently in vogue and lists the most popular ones from the list.
Always take into account such a tool as hashtags while playing.
The future of Instagram
Instagram has over 800 million active users. Teens and millennials are frolicking to the platform by the hordes.
Instagram is primarily a community of photo enthusiasts that’s slowly evolving into a community of video enthusiasts.
The community will continue to grow to attract both kinds of people. Since it has been acquired by Facebook as a business owner you don’t have a lot of time to make the most of the platform. Slowly but surely organic reach would be killed and you would have to pay for traffic. Start perfecting organic traffic strategies right now so that you may be able to ease into PPC ad spend when the time comes.
Author bio: George started Kamayo and other blogs to share in-depth advice on startup marketing, SEO and keyword research with insights gained from 8 years of working with all sizes of companies.