Instagram’s reputation is growing, catching up with Twitter and edging out Snapchat. Serious marketers are watching closely.

If you want to be successful on Instagram, you’ll need to craft a marketing strategy that’ll help maximise your returns on the platform. If this sounds like something you and your team would be eager to try, then read on! Here’s our step-by-step guide to excelling at Instagram Marketing.

Step 1: Define your Content Strategy

Instagram is a purely visual platform, defined by beautiful, aspirational imagery. So, without an appropriate content strategy, one that is finely tuned to your target market’s needs, your IG efforts are likely to fail.

Therefore, to begin, you’ll need to plan what sort of photographs will make up the bulk of your IG posts. For example, will you be featuring mostly product images, behind-the-scenes images, humorous images, motivational images, travel and lifestyle images, or a mix of everything.

Spend some time researching the brands you really love on Instagram. These don’t only have to be brands in your industry (although they are important), research all companies that interest you and try to figure out what makes them so unique and why you enjoy their feeds. Draw your inspiration from there and start brainstorming ideas that you can leverage to your advantage.

Step 2: Define your posting schedule

Once you’ve decided on the range of post images that will be suitable for your brand, you should turn your attention to the frequency with which you’ll post. You’ll need to consider a post frequency that you’ll be able to maintain in the long run as sporadic, infrequent posts can discourage potential followers. Also, be mindful that posting frequently increases your visibility and helps you stay front of mind with your target audience.

It’s worth thinking about your posting timings as well. Although IG’s algorithm now gives preference to posts that generate a lot of engagement, your chances of engagement increase if you post when your audience is most likely to be online. Therefore experiment with different timings to find out what works best for your brand.

Step 3: Create your content

Possibly the most important part of your Instagram strategic plan. Your images will make or break your Instagram feed so set some time aside to create the best range of images that you can, using the equipment you have to hand.

Try to ensure that all of your images are consistently branded and are of a suitable high quality, i.e., sharp, in-focus, and well-lit. By all means, use image editing apps, but try not to go overboard as this will often put your audience off.

When preparing your content, you should also plan the following:

  • Image captions: While your brand’s tone of voice is important, IG can be a casual, fun, and informal platform so your image captions do not need to be serious or sales-ey. Think about captions that pique people’s interest, make them laugh, encourage them to engage with you, or directs them to a specific action
  • Call-to Actions (CTAs): You should also plan what action you’d like people to take after viewing your images. Instagram doesn’t yet allow links in feeds so you’ll need to direct your audience to a link in your bio if you’re trying to direct them to your website, landing page, or ecommerce site.
  • Hashtags: IG hashtags are a brilliant way of categorising your posts and attracting new audiences who search IG using hashtags. It’s worth spending a little time searching for popular IG hashtags relevant to your brand, and you can use up to 30 hashtags per post!. Adding hashtags definitely increases your exposure and will most likely increase engagement as you attract the attention of those enthusiasts who follow your hashtags passionately.

Step 4: Schedule and Post

So, you’ve planned your content types, worked out your posting schedule, and created at least a month’s worth of images with accompanying captions and appropriate CTAs. What’s next? Well, now it’s time to post those images and engage with your followers.

Try using a scheduling tool such a Buffer or Hootsuite. The tools will allow you to upload multiple posts and schedule them at times and dates of your choosing. These are worthwhile considerations as they’ll free your time up to focus on other key aspects of your IG strategy such as the following optional content types:

  • Image Carousels: You most likely have seen these already. Instagram now lets you post a series or set of images within a single post. Fans simply need to swipe left to scroll through all of the images in a set. Carousels are great as they allow you to get really creative with your posts. For example, you can use them to display a selection of products from a specific product range. You can tell a particular story or share a journey where fans are eager to see the end result or punchline. And they’re particularly great for sharing a set of images from an event or social gathering. And the best thing about them is that you can now mix a range of content within a carousel, including images, videos and even boomerangs.
  • Instagram Stories: Yes, it’s true, IG have obviously tried to capitalize on Snapchat’s success by creating their very own alternative. However, IG stories are really worth creating because if nothing else, they keep you at the top of everyone’s feed, with most recent stories shown first. Another great thing about Instagram stories is that they tend to be raw, unpolished videos that give followers a candid insight into your brand – which your fans will hopefully find fun and endearing. Develop a habit of updating your IG story every couple of hours.
  • Instagram Live: Similar to Facebook Live, IG Live videos are an excellent way of interacting directly with your fans, in the moment, and in a very personal and authentic way. It’s a great tool to use for a live Q&As, product reveals or product demonstration, particularly when new products have been eagerly anticipated by your fans. Again, your Live videos will show up front and centre of everyone’s feed so it’s an incredibly effective way of staying front-of-mind with your loyal followers. Moreover, for those that have switched on IG notifications, they’ll get a pop up notification on their mobile phones as soon as you start your live video.

 

Finally, don’t forget that there are a number of additional types of content that are worth incorporating into your IG marketing strategy. For increased exposure, try experimenting with a variety of Instagram Ads as these tend to be a very effective way of reaching new audiences. Alternatively, if budgets are an issue, consider launching IG contests and sweepstakes. In their simplest form, ask you followers to like and comment on a photo as well as tag a friend to be entered into a prize draw. If you can come up with a prize that your fans will really love, these contests tend to be an excellent way of generating interest, engagement and boosting follower count.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to strategize and start building your empire of loyal fans through Instagram. And of course, if you need help with any of the above, you know who to call: Nina Epellé of Digital Gold HQ on +44 (0) 203 598 8661.

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Nina Epellé
Nina Epellé
Founder and Principal Consultant, Digital Gold HQ

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