Instagram. Welcome to the 2019 version of social digital photos. By now you have either connected to your family and friends on this platform or are waiting to see if it’s absolutely necessary to add another social media platform to your device. If you are trying to navigate the digital world of photos and descriptions while trying to figure out and use this beauty of a tool to educate, entertain and empower your followers. I have good news you are not alone.
According to Oberlo.com, there are 1 billion monthly active Instagram users. You heard that right. ONE BILLION users actively using IG every month. Instagram is the most engaged network after Facebook. 71% of the billion monthly active users on the Instagram app are under the age of 35. This means, 29% are over the age of 35 and that percentage IS in fact growing. Instagram has an eager user base in Latin America among female users (source)
Another interesting, IG approximately 80% of all Instagram users follow a business on Instagram. You heard that right…out of 1 billion monthly users, 80% of them follow their favorite businesses. Wow. So if that’s not enough motivation to get you excited to become the next Instagram influencer then I don’t know what else I can say besides, let’s go!
Okay, now that I have your attention, and before you run out and flood your profile page with photos of your adorable pup and selfies of you and the hunky husband of yours. Let’s take a look at this platform very strategically and methodically! After all, you are an entrepreneur and business-minded lady. So, we shall approach all things Instagram with the same finesse that you create your services and products for your clients. Keep in mind the mission of Instagram is for you to connect with your audience. I like to think of it as a Party! You don’t immediately invite them over to your home, but you are there to mingle and connect and share something that you value.
Instagram Posting Strategy
Here are some Instagram Posting Strategies that can help make the most of your Instagram experience from the start and use it as a tool to grow your audience and engage with your prospects and clients.
Your BRAND Story
They say a picture is worth one thousand words and on Instagram, it is quite accurate. With each photo, think about the story you are piecing together for your Followers. Whether that means you are showing pictures of your family, your friendships, what you do on the weekend; be sure to include pictures of your work, your end products, shout-outs to your loyal customers, your client testimonials, etc. Share what it is you are doing and letting your audience see a behind-the-scenes look at the story of your brand. Your story should align perfectly with your business goal. (You are an at-home baker who is ready to open her brick and mortar cake shop, show your followers your journey)
People are attracted to personal stories. So be sure to give your followers a glimpse of your business and personal life so you can build their trust and they can get to know you.
Brand Your Profile Look and Feel.
The color temperatures and lighting of your photo should be cohesive and consistent. I’m the first one to admit that before I turned my private Instagram into my public business one all my photos were just random with different colors, lighting, and filters. Play around with this on your own until you find what feels good with your brand. There are different lighting effects and filters you can use as well as other apps that will give you the look and feel you want. Using Instagram’s Hyperlapse, Layout, and Boomerang can give you a fun and creative way to craft your photos.
Schedule your posts.
I can’t say this enough. FEED the Instagram beast. The algorithm is currently created to give the people who post consistently the most preference. Make a promise to yourself to be consistent and methodical about posting. I recommend no less than 1x per day, at the minimum 3x per week.
Best Time to post on Instagram.
As of September 2019, if you want to get the most engagement, Post to Instagram between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM EST from Tuesday to Friday. You’ll get the most consistent engagement that way.
Caption or No Caption.
It’s more than just a pretty picture or graphic. Please use captions. In fact, you can describe the feeling or motivation for sharing that photo. Giving people a reason to connect and learn something. Be inspired or even be able to laugh and feel connected to you and your brand. I’ve advised my clients to always be methodical about what they want to say about the photo they are using. You can think of your Instagram as a microblog. Here you can talk about your product, or service, what Inspired you, why you are sharing the photo.
Use your natural voice, write like you are writing to or speaking to your best client.
There’s a lot of debate on this topic. And there are justifiable views on all sides of the matter. Ultimately what I have noticed is that hte more hashtags that people use that are not relevant to the content the more that content will be demoted. I’m not alone in this, as Hubspot’s findings note that
- The most influential and engaged Instagram users get a substantial number of likes on their content organically vs. the use of hashtags
- These highly engaged posts impact our averages
- Good content will receive high engagement even without hashtags.
- Hashtags will not boost the engagement of mediocre content
- People are using irrelevant hashtags, (I have seen someone use the fitness-related hashtag on a photo of a donut? Okay? Maybe?)
- So much spammy content includes a lot of hashtags, causing Instagram users to ignore them.
The verdict is to stick with 15-30 hashtags or less that are focused and relevant to your post/content.
Using a tool like Planoly can help you work in batches, pre-plan, schedule, and write out your descriptions for your photos ahead of time.
Once you’ve crafted your description or caption be sure to include a CTA (call to action) for your readers to encourage them to do something or answer your questions to them, however, withhold from using the words like “tag a friend”
Respond to your comments
Take the time to reply or respond to each comment. If you have less than 5000 followers this should be standard practice. Taking 15-20 minutes of your time may seem like a lot of work but think of the people who took the time to write you a response and comment. There is something to be said about responding to DMs (direct messages). Take note of all the questions and responses you get. If you aren’t the finger to keyboard writing type…you are in luck because Instagram allows you to send back a reply via either a voice recording or a video direct message. How wonderful is that?! You can show your followers how much support and care for them.
Post your own content and feel free to tag other brands or people but reposting content from other profiles is something that Instagram’s algorithm will be demoted.
Reach More Customers Using Stories & IGTV
People want to learn, laugh, and live their best life. In fact, “People come to Instagram to be inspired and discover things they care about.” – Instagram
By using the 3 E’s Educate, Entertain, and Empower you can help your audience and customers. Interestingly only 1-2% of your followers will get to see your content at all. This is why being consistent and clear about your brand, who you help and why you do it is crucial. IG’s Explore page is the main area of curated content that Instagram deems noteworthy, trending, or viral. It appears that Instagram’s algorithm is promoting more video content in this area.
Going Live. Go LIVE and connect your followers and friends in real-time to your brand story. Make sure you have sufficient WiFi and battery life on your device. Hold your phone upright. Swipe right from the feed to open your Stories Camera. Tap Live, then Start Video. You can be live for up to one hour.
You’ll see new people join your live story; the longer you stay live, the more time your followers have to join you. While you’re live, you have the ability to pin a comment. When you’re finished, tap “End Live Video.” Your broadcast will stop and automatically disappear.
You and your followers will be unable to rewatch it, but it’s saved to your camera roll so you can repurpose that content.
Wash. Rinse and Repeat.
It may seem like you are the star of the movie Groundhog Day but believe me, building awareness around your brand, your business goals, and who it is you are here to serve gives your audience the understanding of who you are and what it is you do. The next time they need a home organizer (or fill in the blank) they will know exactly who they need to reach out to. Because you will have brought that awareness to them in your photos, stories, microblog. They will have felt a connection to your brand and to you and when they finally need to hire a home organizer, guess who they will be DMing for a consultation.
Be sure you are providing value and teaching your followers about you and your craft. Whether that means sharing a tip they can use, showing them your personality, or helping them figure something out. The main thing is to offer value, fun, and connection with your audience.