Instagram has become a must-use social media platform for businesses.
This is especially true for companies targeting millennials and younger generations.
According to Statista, the social media platform now has over one billion users that are active on it every month, and the large majority of them are between the ages of 18 and 34.
That’s a lot of people who are actively scrolling through their feeds and interacting with the content posted on Instagram.
So, it’s important you no longer think that you’ll just pop a post up with no real thought or planning behind it.
You have to create a feed that people want to follow to really get the most bang for your buck on Instagram.
So, how do you create an enticing feed?
There’s many an influencer and brand that is getting it right on Instagram, and they all have the following four steps in common:
Step 1: Plan
None of the content you see is done on the fly.
A lot of effort may go into making it look like the posts were just snapped and published, but they are not.
Even the live posts from an event are thought out beforehand and created with the person or company’s overall aesthetic in mind.
Try to work at least a month in advance and make a content calendar of what you want to post.
Look at public holidays, important days, and events that you may be attending.
Then decide exactly what you want to post on each day.
Step 2: Edit and filter
The latest mobile devices and digital cameras are amazing with what they can capture.
However, even the most experienced photographer will edit their work to enhance what they’ve taken.
Little tweaks to lighten, brighten, and make colors pop will go a long way towards improving your feed.
The best Instagram feeds are all using a filter.
Pick one filter that you like and fits with your brand CI and apply it to every image before you post it.
You can use an editing app or one of the filters in Instagram itself and set the level of the filter if you just want a light effect.
This will give every image on your feed the same look and feel, creating a brand identity for you on the platform.
Step 3: Write catchy captions
While the purpose of marketing may be to sell your goods or services, the purpose of Instagram is to share images.
This means that in order to sell well on the platform, your images should do the majority of the talking for you.
Your captions should never be a hard sell.
Think about rather selling a lifestyle, so write your captions as if your brand were a person.
Step 4: Use your Stories
This is the place where you can post those images that aren’t perfect but still reflect your brand and the persona behind it.
You can post behind the scenes images of staff members, video clips and quick snaps of events, or flyers for specials or promotions you’re running.
Using these images on your Stories allows you to show a real, human side to your brand without messing up a carefully planned and executed digital PR strategy.
Your audience will love this side of you even more.
How to place your shoppable posts
Last year, Instagram included the option to create shoppable posts.
These allow a business to include clickable links to their products on their feed, in their Stories, and also on IGTV.
The next evolution is a checkout feature that is currently in beta testing and will be rolled out soon – users will be able to buy the products natively within Instagram.
Aim for a healthy split of shopping posts and regular posts
This is a great update to the platform and is sure to boost sales and conversion rates for brands that use it well.
The key will be to find the right balance between regular posts and shoppable posts.
Remember, Instagram is not a hard sell platform and switching your focus to only shoppable posts will drive people away from your brand.
In your planning phase think about how the overall view of your feed will look and consider whether your existing customer engagement strategy will work on this platform.
Make sure that the posts with the shoppable icon on them don’t overwhelm the feed and remain balanced throughout the month.
You can use an app like Preview or Planoly to help you visualize the end result.
Rule of thirds
Aim for a split of one-third shoppable and two thirds regular in your posts.
You can slowly start to increase this to 50/50 and gauge how your audience responds.
Remember to do this change over several months so that you can look for trends in responses.
In the current climate, you may see a big uptake in positive responses to your new shoppable posts.
It’ll certainly help your brand to have another method of selling online now that many retail shops around the world have been forced to close or minimize opening times due to the COVID-19 crisis.
When to share your posts on other platforms
Cross-posting between platforms is one of those ongoing debates in the digital marketing world.
Many believe that just because you can, you shouldn’t.
Some studies have shown that you actually get higher engagement reach stats with cross-posting.
If you would like to try this out for your content, here are some useful rules or strategies to test out:
- Don’t post the same content at the exact same time. Rather wait a day or two before sharing from one platform to another.
- Change up the copy before sharing it. If your users are on both platforms, they may get bored reading the same captions.
- Remember that people use different social media platforms for different purposes. Make sure that what you’re cross-posting applies to both, or can be adapted to apply to both.
Get 'gramming the right way
By planning and carefully crafting your Instagram account you can create an engaging content marketing platform that your audience will truly love.
You’ll see your customers begin to get involved with your brand on a personal level, which will boost your reputation and your sales.
Erin Merrill works as an editor over at OnCourse, an innovative sales CRM tool for smart businesses. Specialized in relationship management, she enjoys helping out sales teams develop a personalized, sniper-targeted approach to close qualified leads.