In June 2018, the number of active monthly users on Instagram hit one billion. That’s a huge number of people, and a good percentage of them may be your target audience. Whether you’re a part-time blogger or a full-time social media manager, you can’t afford to be ignoring Insta. But with so many users and even more posts each day, how can you cut through the noise and get yourself heard and grow your Instagram following effecitvely? Amy Stenson, Social Media Manager at digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab, shares her secrets on how to develop an Instagram strategy for your business or blog.
- Get back to the basics
And by basics we mean your profile.
Start with your bio. There’s a lot of pressure on your bio; there’s a limited number of characters you have to play with but it needs to be informative, interesting and attractive all at the same time. You need to hook people straight away and convince them that you will make their timeline better. What’s going to make them hit that magic ‘follow’ button?
Don’t forget to link to your website. The bio section is the only place you can put a clickable link, so make sure it’s not left blank.
Your online presence should always be supporting your offline business so, if it’s applicable, remember to add your correct address using the location tag. It lets your followers know where they can find you but also helps you appear in Instagram searches when people are looking for things close by.
- Stay true to yourself
Who are you? Or, we should say, who is your business? Spend some time figuring out the tone and personality of your brand. How do you want to come across to your followers? Once you have those things figured out, make sure they’re apparent in your feed. Above anything else, you need to be honest and real, that’s what people love. Don’t try to be someone you’re not!
If you’re a business, then this may also involve coming up with some clear brand guidelines. This’ll make it much easier for multiple people to craft spot-on Instagram posts. Here are some points to think about:
- Type of content
- How often you post
- Hashtags to use
- Hashtags not to use
- Language and tone e.g. formal vs informal
- Do you allow the use of emojis?
- Policy and protocol on replying to comments and responses on Instagram Stories
- Words and topics that must not be talked about
- Be consistent
Whatever you do, don’t let your online identity slip at any point. It will only truly become an identity if it stays consistent, that’s how you’ll become recognisable. Be sure you’re happy with because changing in either content, aesthetics or your captions will only cause confusion, and may result in people unfollowing.
- The content
Knowing what to post is the most important decision of them all. This is the stuff that is going to keep your audience coming back for more, and content creation will undoubtedly be the biggest eater of your resources. Thankfully, there’s a lot of different types of content you can use:
- Photos (obviously)
- User generated content
- Contents, competitions and giveaways
- Influencer marketing
- Collaborations with other brands or people
- Instagram Stories (more on this later)
Remember to diversify and don’t put all your eggs in one content basket.
- Caption creativity
Some people, especially bloggers and influencers, will have long captions, almost like mini blog posts, accompanying their Instagram photos. That’s their brand and it works well when you have a dedicated following, so if you find yourself in this category then it’s a good option to consider.
But if you’re a business, and your ultimate goal is trying to sell something, then you only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention before they scroll away and you’re forgotten. We’re going to be honest, the most interesting and engaging Instagram captions will keep it short and sweet, and will have complementing emojis. What can we say, the people love emojis!
Be clear and concise. Say what you want to say with 10 words instead of 30.
- Be clever with #
Hashtags allow people to find similar content in one easy place when they search for something they are interested in. Using hashtags strategically (but sparingly) will help. Here are our recommended best practices:
- Use two to eight hashtags per post. While you are allowed up to 30, using that many runs the risk of you looking incredibly spammy
- Use hashtags that are commonly searched for
- But also don’t ignore exclusive hashtags. Although these may get fewer searches, the searchers themselves will be more relevant
- If you’re running a campaign, create a hashtag that is unique and specific
- Use Stories
A lot of people scoffed when Instagram first started offering Stories, saying it was just jumping on the bandwagon of Snapchat. Years later, Stories is thriving and has fast become one of people’s favourite social media functions. It’s perfect for people who are busy or in a hurry as it allows people to get a quick fix without lots of scrolling.
Your Stories could be anything from short narratives and videos to behind-the-scenes snaps, and as long as they are in line with your brand identity, then it’ll help your followers connect with you on a more emotional level.
Don’t use too many – not a lot of people like to watch dozens of Stories back-to-back – but make sure they are engaging and interesting enough to keep people from swiping away. Once they’re gone you’ll probably never get them back.
- Get engaged
Too many brands out there, whether it’s businesses, bloggers or influencers, just post their content and then ignore the rest of the online world, and that’s not the way it should work. In order to create a real online community, you need to be active and engaging with your followers and the people you follow. You need to be aware of the surrounding landscape, after all. If you’re overwhelmed, you could look to hiring a company to help you out with this. Taking a look at Growthoid’s rating may show them to be a good fit, to name but one example.
Regularly like posts that you genuinely enjoy, hold polls or ask questions on your Instagram Stories, ask for feedback in the comments below, and reply to people when they take the time to comment on your photos.
This isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to Instagram, and neither is it a strict set of rules on what you should and shouldn’t do. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try new things; even if they don’t work, the online world is so fast-paced that it won’t even matter. Just stay up-to-date with the latest algorithm changes, keep making on-brand, friendly and engaging posts with high quality images and you’ll be well on your way to achieving Instagram success.
Do you have any tips on how to develop an Instagram strategy to share?