Since social media changes rapidly, it is important to stay on top of best practices. Last year, we wrote about why Instagram is an exciting platform to use. Now, we have tips on how to master it.
A user sees your profile first when they arrive on your page and spend seconds deciding to follow or explore the account, so craft an expert image.
In fact, some experts have argued your Instagram profile is akin to a website homepage. As a result, you should make it immediately clear who you are and what you offer. To do so, make sure your handle and profile picture are your official name and logo.
Next, work to improve your bio. You can now add other handles and hashtags into it, so take advantage of this with branded hashtags. If you run any secondary accounts, link to them so users can explore these. And, most importantly, make sure the coveted link in your bio is always your most relevant page.
Your profile is an immediate introduction to who you are, so make it clear, consistent and clean.
Content is Key
Instagram is a visual platform, so the key to earning results is publishing impactful images. These should be eye-catching and bold – you want to stand out in a user’s feed. Your posts should also have consistency between each other. On Instagram, you want your feed to seem cohesive. Check out the profiles for some of our favourite accounts like motherlondon, tate, happysocks and grind for inspiration.
However, Instagram is more than just photos. Captions are key to the new algorithm, with experts agreeing you should use a call to action. This could be questions to generate comments or even asking users to tag friends. The algorithm favours posts with high engagement, so the more comments the more impressions. Furthermore, you will begin to connect with audiences and drive traffic in an authentic way. You’ve worked hard on this content, so make sure you earn the results.
Lastly, don’t post the same thing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hitting three birds with one stone seems good, but each platform has a different audience. Did you know 80% of Instagram’s users are under 35 while 70.3% of Facebook audiences are over 35? To maximise engagement create copy that appeals to each audience. Take a few extra moments to create bespoke content on each platform.
Don’t post for the sake of posting. Ask yourself if it provides value to your audience? Does it teach a lesson? If it doesn’t, back to the drawing board!
Engage, Engage, Engage
Have you ever heard of a “sticky comment”? This new(ish) feature highlights comments from verified users or accounts related to yours. The tool pins their comments to the post without needing to click more. If you can get your comment to stick, you earn free exposure! One influencer even claims to have gained 70,000 followers with this feature. Try commenting early on posts from peers to see if your comment will stick.
However, you want more than to earn a “sticky comment.” You want to be a leader in your niche. Stand out by interacting with others, offering advice and supporting similar content. Visit accounts within your niche and follow them–then follow some of the accounts they follow. If you interact with the kind of content you create, users searching for that kind of content will quickly see you as an influential figure. So the next time you’re stuck on what kind of content to create, consider interacting instead.
You can’t expect to grow if you’re not seen. Make sure you engage with similar creators and content and they’ll return the favour.
Highlight Your Values
If you’re not using Instagram Stories in 2019, what are you doing? These are perfect for growing your engagement, building brand awareness and driving traffic to your website. Stories allow for more casual content than your (hopefully) curated feed. They also offer endless possibilities. You can share a glimpse into office life, poll your audience or ask a question, or even include a dancing cat GIF. Stories are a great way to connect with your audience and get their buy-in.
As you go, get creative with your story layout. You can work in the app itself with pre-made stickers or create branded layouts on Photoshop. These should offer consistent content. After all, stories have now surpassed feeds as the most-viewed content.
Alright, so you’ve mastered stories. Now it’s time to pin them to your profile using the “Highlights” feature. These give users an immediate glimpse into who you are. It also allows for cohesive and clear branding on your profile (if you take advantage of the custom highlight covers.) Highlights are an essential part of a strong profile and a strong profile means more follows.
Instagram Stories are a great way to quickly connect with audiences. But don’t forget to pin your best clips to your profile to share these for more than 24 hours!
Get Smart! (About Hashtags)
More than any other platform, Instagram is a great space for hashtags. The app lets you use up to 30 per post, but should you? Absolutely not. In our experience, the sweet spot is about 7-9 hashtags per post. However, this based on your campaign goal.
Since hashtags are essential on Instagram, be strategic about which tags you use. Do your research in advance of writing your posts. Figure out what hashtags your targeted audience engages with and what hashtags boost posts. It’s vital that you determine what your goal is when tagging your posts, and do your research on how to achieve that goal.
For example, generic tags like #coffee or #sunset are overcrowded with content. Each of those hashtags has over 100m posts! But if you combine phrases for more niche searches, you have a better chance of being seen. Combine #photography and #dance and you’ll have a better chance at users browsing #dancephotography finding your post. Similarly, try the more specific #socialmediatools to target yourself to a smaller market. Research into targeted hashtags can yield more engagement on your posts.
Using specific, strategic hashtags can gain you more impressions and engagements.
Stuck for content? Consider incorporating stock images! Unsplash and Shuttersplash are great resources for high-quality photos, royalty-free. This is a great way to share high-quality content in your feed without spending all your time or money on creating content. You can even customize them to fit your needs. There are so many ways to incorporate stock images into your feed, so why not try it out?
Successful accounts also re-purpose content from real people. These photos, or user-generated content (UGC) can be essential to your presence. Reviews from real customers are essential to your Instagram strategy. Consider creating a hashtag for users to use, such as #MyDSW, or creating asking users to tag you in their photos and stories. You can easily share these posts to your stories or even your feed, and demonstrate how in-demand your brand is.
To create great content in a tight spot, consider re-purposing stock images or UGC. You can easily showcase great photography for free that look great in your feed.
Evaluate and Analyse
When planning content on Instagram, it’s most important to understand your audiences. If you don’t know what your audience responds to, how can you deliver content they like?
The easiest way to find out this information is by looking at Instagram Insights. Check out our previous blog post, which walks you through the main features. The most important tip? You’ll need to turn your account into a Business Account. From there, you can see top posts and trends.
However, Insights will only scratch the surface. If you’re unsure of the next step in your Instagram strategy, HdK can help. We offer audits of client’s social media platforms and develop personalised strategies for growth. We even offer content creation packages to help you manage your account. Drop us a line and we can work on a plan that’s right for you.
There’s no point in using Instagram if you’re not being strategic. HdK can help you develop an expert plan to maximise your account and connect with your audience.