I can say with 100% confidence that Instagram is winning for favorite social platform among the humans I know. But why do people love Instagram so much?
The most common response I hear when asking my friends, family, and acquaintances this question is, “The pictures!” In 2017, digital asset management company Webdam noted that visual social media platforms were growing faster than text-based ones.
Instagram makes it easy for people to beautify their photos with filters and editing tools. People are naturally attracted to these beautified photos and crave more – not to mention the psychology that goes behind receiving “likes” on your own photos, as well as the element of FOMO present when falling behind on your friends’ posts. All of this makes Instagram slightly addictive.
So what do the stats say? Well, currently there are over 1 billion Instagram accounts active every single month, with 80 percent of those accounts following at least 1 business! Furthermore, 60 percent of people report discovering new products on Instagram. These stats alone should be a hint to business owners that if they are not on Instagram, they absolutely should be.
Assuming you have already caught on to the Instagram trend, you may be wondering what more you can do, and what effect your Instagram posts are having on the bottom line of your business? This is where we can help.
In this guide, you’ll learn the basics you need to define an Instagram marketing strategy. We’ll cover:
Having a clearly defined Instagram marketing strategy is key to accomplishing your social media and business goals. The first step in the process is to define your goals.
Now that you are ready to take your Instagram account down a more strategic route, it is time to define why you are posting content there in the first place. Are you hoping to raise brand awareness, collect new leads, convert warm leads, or perhaps connect with customers to build brand ambassadors?
Perhaps your account was created to do more than one of these things, but having a clear goal in mind before you create each post will help your account stay focused on what you are ultimately trying to achieve.
Your primary goal will inform your Instagram growth strategy. For instance, you may be trying to raise brand awareness with a larger budget; your strategy will then likely be to run ads that target a large net of relevant individuals to increase exposure to your brand.
On the other hand, if your primary goal is to strengthen customer loyalty, your Instagram marketing strategy should likely include running some customer contests to increase engagement, as well as providing educational material (such as video tutorials and interactive posts linking to additional resources) to help your customers enhance their use of your products and/or services.
Once your goals are set, it’s time to refine your audience. If you’ve had experience with Facebook’s Ad Manager in the past, this step should be pretty easy – you’ll be using the same platform, but for Instagram.
Ads Manager will allow you to highly customize your audience based on parameters from age range and location to detailed demographic, interest, and behavioral targeting. You can also make a custom or lookalike audience to upload a list of people who have already interacted with your business.
For example, let’s say you want to target middle-aged women, who have graduated from Harvard Medical School, are interested in baking, and have had an anniversary within 61-90 days. You can do just that!
Refining your audience before running a new Instagram campaign will ensure you are staying on top of your strategy by reaching the right people. (Just don’t OVER-specify or your audience will be tiny.)
Now it is time to determine your Instagram budget. The good news is that a little money can go a long way on Instagram, especially if your audience is refined to reach the right people.
So how much should you spend? Well, first off, you need to consider if you want to use a daily or lifetime budget. A daily budget will ensure you never spend over X amount of dollars per day on your ads. A lifetime budget is more flexible in terms of how much is spent each day, and allows you to set a total budget for a longer period of time.
If your budget is more restrictive, it might make more sense to start with a daily budget, and then analyze as time goes on. It’s hard to say how much you should spend each day, but once your ads begin running you’ll be able to find a sweet spot through trial and error.
Next you will want to determine how you want to optimize your ad delivery. This again will tie back to the goal you set at the beginning of the process. If you are looking to get website visitors to convert on a specific page, it might make sense to optimize for links clicked. On the other hand, if brand awareness is your goal, you may want to optimize for impressions.
You also may want to have a higher budget for certain days of the week or times of the year when business tends to boom. This is where ad scheduling will come in handy. Ad scheduling allows you to run ads on a specified schedule down to the day of the week and hour of the day.
We’ve talked through some of the more technical aspects of your Instagram strategy. But it is just as important to ensure your posts are consistent with your brand image.
Follow these Instagram best practices for a consistently impressive feed.
The first step is ensuring the photos and videos you take are visually consistent. For instance, if you run a restaurant, don’t photograph your menu items against a different background for every post. Perhaps you’re going for a rustic vibe. In this case, you may want to use a large wooden slab or board to photograph your food to give them that rustic feel. Light backgrounds typically work well, and if you’re using natural light you want to ensure you’re taking your photos either outside or close to a window, but not in direct sunlight as the glare will likely be too harsh.
Take a look at L.L Bean’s feed for example. 99 percent of their photos are taken outside, with plenty of natural light, blues, greens, and adorable puppies. Their Instagram feed feels cohesive and goes along with their headline: “Welcome to the outside.”
Try to emulate something similar, but consistent with your own branding.
Going along with the last point, using the same filters will ensure your images appear cohesive. Figure out what filters work best on the look you’re going for, and even play around with your own editing capabilities. I typically love doing my own edits by brightening up the photo, adding some saturation to bring out the colors, and some tilt shift to focus on the main subject of the photograph.
The sunglasses brand Kaenon does a great job at keeping their image edits consistent. They often use sharp focus on the product itself and then a faded background in their photos. You can see at a glance that their target market is the outdoorsy type.
#Huh? Why is this important? Not only will it save you time, but if your hashtag list is well-researched then you’ll be able to reach the right audience every time you post.
What I recommend is keeping a list of your most used hashtags as a note on your phone and/or computer so you can easily copy and paste it into each photo you post. It doesn’t hurt to add a few unique ones from time to time, but keeping hashtags consistent will make your life easier, and also help your feed get in front of key people as often as possible.
Hashtagging is also a key part of Instagram SEO, which can improve your visibility in search results and garner even more engagement.
Posting on a consistent schedule is extremely important to maintaining your audience’s expectations and keeping them interested. If you post once a day for a week, and then you don’t post again for a month, your followers may be less likely to see your post. In fact, they may no longer be following when you finally decide to post again.
Luckily, Instagram makes this simple for all of you social media marketers out there. Remember when we discussed the ad scheduling feature in Ads Manager? This can be used to easily schedule your posts and keep your strategy on target. You may also decide to look into third-party social media management tools to help with this. Check out this list if you are interested in doing that.
Last, but certainly not least, it is important to ensure your copy and content is always aligned with your brand voice. The copy accompanying your Instagram posts or ads shouldn’t be overlooked. It needs to always be written with your core audience in mind, and provide context to the image. Putting yourself in the shoes of your followers will help ensure you’re delivering the most relevant, consistent, and engaging posts possible.
Check out this example from Mailchimp. Trying to be funny on social media is always risky, and for some brands, it just doesn’t work. But Mailchimp’s brand persona is very cheeky, so this totally fits in with their brand style, while reinforcing their iconic chimp logo at the same time.
Once you have nailed down your strategy, and you know how to keep your presence consistent, you can focus on improving your account performance based on your Instagram analytics. Your love and addiction to Instagram is only going to grow!
As Instagram is always evolving, there will always be new tactics to add to your Instagram marketing strategy. But the foundations of a successful strategy are evergreen:
Margot is a content marketing specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.
See other posts by Margot Whitney
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