There are more than 2 billion monthly active users on Instagram. The users are a younger demographic; Gen Z and Millennials and actively look to hear from brands. If you want to survive on the network you must be active, engaging with your community, and pushing out content that speaks to your fanbase.
Building Your Community
Instagram is very unique in the ways that you can engage with your followers. They are not simply taking in the content you create but are actively commenting, following, and sharing what you post. We refer to Instagram as a community for this reason. Those who follow your account don’t just standby and observe what content you push out to them, they can truly engage with your organization. The two-way communication efforts through commenting, DM’ing, and liking make instagram a very powerful social media channel.
What Types of Content Am I Able To Post?
When using LinkedIn, YouTube, or even TikTok, you’re often restricted to a single content type when you post such as a graphic or a video. One of instagram’s most unique qualities is its diversity of content that works on the network. You can post videos, reels, still graphics, going LIVE, carousel posts and all will work in engaging your community.
Even taking it a step further is the ability to story capabilities. When you post a story you can add the following elements:
- Location Tagging
- Account Tagging
What’s so important about these offerings is the extended ability to understand more about your community without bringing them away from your page. For example, if you’d like to know whether your fans are enjoying the new video series you just released the past month, you can create a simple poll in your story and ask them if they’ve been watching them, if they like them, if they want to see more, etc. You know in 24 hours if you should continue your strategy or reevaluate.
By utilizing these features you’re able to engage your community, develop the relationship, and eventually turn them into customers.
Get Comfortable with Change
We just touched on all the different content options on Instagram and it’s important to know that your success truly depends on the use of them all. You probably don’t create content currently that exudes all these different strategies but if you want to break the instagram algorithm, using a multitude of content types will help you stand out.
We mentioned how different content formats will be the best to getting and keeping the attention of your community but here are some differentiators to using each of the formats and WHY it’s important to use them all.
Reels: They have taken Instagram by a storm and are hugely growing engagement rates on personal and business accounts every day. They are short-form, vertical, 60 second videos. The biggest advantage of a reel vs. a video is they aren’t just able to be seen by your followers but by all of instagram on the “reels” tab.
Because they are shown vertically, it’s best to create content with an aspect ratio of 9:16, and with a size of 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels.
The algorithm for reels is based on high engagement, the use of text, effects, vertical scope, and music used or added. Stay away from low resolution videos, videos that are text heavy, have borders, and are copied from other social media platforms.
Carousel Photos: The Carousel option allows you to post multiple images in a row that your community can swipe through. These are really great for posts and ideas that require more explanation.
If you have new members of the community that are trying to understand a little more about you as a business or your product/offering, these are a great way to get a lot of information across without creating a text heavy image. You can also conclude the carousel post with a video to add a personal touch or a call to action.
Stories: Instagram stories allow you to post short videos or vertical graphics that are displayed on the top of your Instagram feed for a short period of time. They are great for engagement purposes and getting to know your audience as we briefly mentioned above.
It’s important we caution you about the format of stories you post and again, you should mix it up. People are now spending more time on Instagram because of these temporary stories so it’s important to take advantage of them but get creative with the way you use them. Here are some examples:
- “Quick chat”– talk with your community and record a personal selfie-facing video
- Exciting News!– announce something exciting that happened or is coming soon to your business that customers can get excited about
- Event Highlight– go LIVE at a work event or show a quick video or photo from your event you’re currently at to give the community a preview
- Product/Service Use– highlight how to use your product or service that your business offers and what that experience will look like when they decide to become a customer
- Preview Blog/Video– show a snippet of a video or blog post your company has fully released whether that’s in a post on instagram or on your company website
- Cross promote other companies or businesses- tag or repost things that other companies you work with are sharing or tag them in something you’re working on together to broaden the audience that views your stories
In addition to all those examples, don’t forget to utilize all the fun features like stickers, location tags, hashtags, and all the others we mentioned before. Just remember to mix it up and you’ll be sure to increase the interaction on your stories which will lead to an increased engagement, overall.
We now know the importance of switching up the kinds of posts you create but let’s get to the specifics. The more engaged people are with your content, the more your business will show up on their main feed but what is going to keep them an active community member?
Expertise In Your Business
You’re trying to turn your “fans” into customers so it’s important your page shows the level of engagement that hopefully you will have to them once they sign up or purchase your product. Posting regularly will show commitment to your page but also will highlight the reasons your product or service stands out from the rest.
People are choosing to follow your account for a reason and because you’re adding something to their daily lives with your content. Whether that’s a new idea, product knowledge, simple motivation, or truly expertise in your industry, give them something to look forward to each day they view your content.
Who Are You?
It may sound silly but who are the actual people behind the content? Yes, YOU reading this post. They want to know who you are! Remember, we are all human and your users want to empathize and get to know the people they are potentially getting into business with and separate from this virtual world.
Show videos and photos of the humans behind the scenes. It’s nice to get a better sense of the personalities creating the content we are following. Re-introduce yourself if it’s been a bit since you’ve done so. The human element welcomes your community into the space and allows them to grow familiarity and attachment to the brand you’ve created.
I know it may seem odd to post content solely about promoting your content but that is the goal at the end of the day to get more customers. It reminds people and makes it often easier to actually initiate the call to action. When they see a display that directly links to the offer or shows the pricing, it eliminates any uncertainty.
The posts themselves may have low engagement (likes, comments, etc.) but the clicks or shares you’ll see will get higher. By promoting what you sell, this gives your community an understanding of exactly what your product or offering is. That’s great if they love engaging with the videos or selfies you post but if that’s all they hear about, they may forget you actually have something to offer.
If you’re worried about overselling or promoting too often, you can choose a day of the week to share expertise or even a client success story. Your community habitually knows it’s coming and can look forward to this content. Make sure you include your call to action!
Talk To Your Community Members
A truly overlooked tool on Instagram is the DM’s. You have direct access to your followers through their direct message. Using this can help enhance your relationship with them on a one-on-one basis to build brand reputation and reliability. It obviously personalizes the experience and in return, they know there is a person on the other side that took the time out of their day to really understand their needs. Again, humanization is so important.
A really awesome way to understand if there’s an initial interest before reaching out via direct message is through a post. Prompt your community to send a message or a keyword if they’re interested in learning more about what your offer is. That way it feels less forced and you know there is an interest. You can build the conversation and understand their specific needs from there and can redirect them appropriately.
Analytics and KPIs
Instagram makes it incredibly easy to keep track of metrics and analytics regarding your posts and following. The business insights tab on your dashboard gives you a quick snapshot of where you’re at.
With that being said, we want to caution you to understand the metrics that are in front of you. Every business is extremely different and your goals will not be the same. Make sure the KPIs you are setting for your business align with what you’re hoping to accomplish. If you want to see more sales, is the amount of likes and comments detrimental to your success? Or would clicks and shares be more relevant to your goals?
Be consistent with your attempts and make sure you’re utilizing all the different content strategies. It may not work overnight but if you keep up with your strategic content and align your KPIs accordingly, your business will succeed and your community will continue to grow.