If you’re new to Instagram, it may seem daunting. Everyone seems to be on Instagram and it has never been harder to get that portion of attention. It’s true, but if so many people made it, there is no reason for you to be unable to make it.
1. Check if your competitors are using Instagram. If they do, and if they are successful, there is no doubt that you can also be successful. More importantly, analyze what they do on the platform, what kind of content they share, what works for them and how fast they grow.
2. Is your target audience on Instagram? Yesterday, you defined who your target audience is. Now, it’s time to find out if they are on Instagram. Again, you can check your competitors and see who their followers are. You can also search for relevant hashtags and see who engages with that content.
3. Are your business goals aligned with your Instagram goals? A moment ago, I asked you to create a list of your Instagram goals. Are they in line with your overall business goals?
4. Can your content be visually captivating? Instagram is a highly visual platform and your posts should compel. No worries though if you’re a service provider or B2B business, there are plenty of great Instagram accounts, such as Spotify, Airbnb, Hubspot or Squarespace that do not have a physical product, but captivate audiences.
Once you have answers to these four simple questions, you will be ready to start building your Instagram marketing strategy.
Proactively do competitor analysis
This doesn’t actually mean that you have to stalk your competitors consistently. What it means is that you should be hands-on on their Instagram activities. You should analyze what kind of content they post, what hashtags they use, what content drives the most engagement and how they engage their audiences.
You should also always analyze the hashtags that you use or that are popular and can help you connect with your audiences. A simple search on your industry hashtags can help you discover people who are interested in your niche and who can become your customers or followers.
Track posts that are relevant to your niche and analyze them.
For example, if you run a small boutique restaurant, you could be looking at hashtags or accounts of other restaurants. This will give you an insight into what content people love engaging with and what makes a good post. Similarly, it will help you engage with the people who follow or engage with similar accounts to yours and in this way you’ll be able to raise your brand awareness.
The analysis and your Instagram goals will help you determine what metrics you will be tracking to measure your success.
What KPIs (key performance indicators) do you want to track?
If you’re using the Instagram Business account (and you should be doing that), you can see some of the basic metrics, such as impressions, followers, demographics of the followers, times when your audience is the most active, views, engagement, etc. These are some great metrics that you can use to measure the success of your Instagram marketing strategy.
Having a clear set of metrics that you’ll track on a regular basis will help you measure the effectiveness of your Instagram marketing strategy.
How does the Instagram algorithm work?
You know by now that Instagram is a highly visual platform. Did you know that 95 million photos are uploaded on Instagram every day? That’s a lot of content! Naturally, some posts are more visible than the others and that’s where the Instagram algorithm comes in.
The tough part here is that the Instagram algorithm keeps changing. However, the general idea is always about engagement. How much time people spend viewing and engaging with your content?
Today, there are four main avenues for you to share your content on Instagram: feed, stories, Instagram Live, and IGTV. It all depends on the consumption of your content whether Instagram will push it for more people to discover. If you write engaging captions on your posts, people will tend to spend more time reading them, which is a positive signal for Instagram’s algorithm. If people engage with your stories by answering questions or participating in polls, it also shows Instagram that your content is engaging. Naturally, such content will be pushed to a broader audience.
Based on this, Instagram’s algorithm will prioritize the content that is relevant to audiences. This means that posts that have higher engagement will be more likely to be shown to your audiences and for others to discover. This is a big shift from Instagram’s initial idea of having a chronological line of posts. Posts that are relevant and engaging will be favored by Instagram and will be shown to a larger audience.
Instagram is a social network where relationships are important. In the end, socializing is impossible, if there are no connections between people.
That’s why Instagram prioritizes to show content users from accounts that they frequently interact with. This means that if your followers frequently engage with your content, Instagram will make sure to show your content to them as it believes you having a strong bond with the user.
What this means for brands is that they have to engage with their followers regularly. They should post content regularly, reply to the comments or messages and engage with the audiences in all possible ways.
Here are some common misconceptions about the Instagram algorithm:
Photos and videos are differentiated in the algorithm. Many believe that videos are favored, however, it isn’t true. Maybe videos tend to perform better because the users spend more time watching them and are sometimes more engaging than photos.
Business accounts get a lower ranking. This isn’t true, both business and personal accounts get the save visibility on Instagram. What matters is the quality and relevance of the content posted.
Stories don’t matter as they are seen only by followers. This isn’t true, because engagement on stories is one of the components in the algorithm. Stories are a great way to make your users view your content for a longer period of time, which is actually positive.
Instagram will only show your content to 10% of your followers. This isn’t true. Instagram will show your content to those followers who it thinks will find it the most relevant based on previous interactions with your content.
How to use the Instagram algorithm to your advantage?
Well, first off, play according to the rules and post relevant content to your audience. Make sure they engage with your posts. However, apart from this, I have another secret weapon – POST CONSISTENTLY.
Believe me or not but consistency is very important on Instagram. Businesses need to take their Instagram marketing seriously and be consistent in what they do.
You may not see a tremendous increase in likes or followers overnight, but what will happen is that people will view your content longer. Imagine you post one post a day and 100 people see it, maybe only 40 of them will double-tap. However, your result is much better than someone’s who posts once a week.
The 100 people who you attract daily spend more time than the hundred people someone attracts once a week. The duration in terms of engagement with your content is one of the crucial components for Instagram to determine the relevance of your content.
Have you noticed that your engagement drops substantially when you post for one week straight, but then disappear for two weeks? Once you post two weeks later, your engagement will be lower than before. The reason – your content was viewed by fewer eyeballs and Instagram deems it less relevant to show to a broader audience.
Apart from this, you should also:
Have a strong call to action in your captions (these can be questions, or a simple reminder to like or save the post)
Reply to comments and messages regularly, don’t leave them hanging for days or weeks
Keep experimenting with hashtags and use trendy ones, however, avoid the ones that are extremely broad and have hundreds of thousands of posts already
Tag others in your posts
Collaborate with others and ask them to tag you in their posts
Use high-quality visual content