Instagram has risen from 100M monthly users to a whopping 1B users in just 5 short years. And with all this growth, the days of “hashtag marketing” are truly and well over with.
Which means that if you plan on being serious with Instagram marketing, you are going to have to freshen up.
What’s working and what isn’t?
For this guide, we are going to go through 5 steps to replenish your Instagram strategy with the latest trends and insights.
The goal is to help you build a stronger brand presence, amidst all the ferocious competition.
Ready to work? Let’s get to it.
Step #1: Get your Instagram strategy in order
Adweek reports there are more than 8 million business profiles on IG, though this number will have reached well over 10M by now.
This is important to know because with so many businesses competing for new customers, you have to have a strategy to follow.
Know Your Audience
Foremost, who is the ideal person that you are trying to target?
Is it a male or a female? What age group does your perfect target fall under?
Market research is an essential part of your IG strategy. It is so because once you know your target demographics, you can publish highly relevant content to that specific audience.
Interests, age, location; these are the types of ‘metrics’ that will help you draw a solid picture of your audience.
Instagram lets you gain Insights into your existing audience, but if you want to go a step further, check out tools like HypeAuditor.
You can get results like this and much more for ANY Instagram profile. That means you can keep a close eye on your competitors too.
What’s Your Objective?
What do you wish to get out of your Instagram campaigns?
The type of goals you set are going to differentiate based on the industry you’re working in, but try to identify at least the following:
- Do you want to build brand awareness?
- Are you looking to generate leads and ultimately drive sales?
- Does it benefit your business to build an active and engaging IG community?
Once you have your goals on lock, you can focus on creating and publishing content that will help to grow each specific area you are promoting.
Content types for reaching your goals
Creating fresh, engaging and unique content takes a lot of effort.
In fact, you can say that you get in return what you put in.
So, the more you focus on creating the best content possible, the more likely it is that you are going to stand out.
Here are your choices:
- Photo and Video
- Content provided by Users
Many brands focus only on Photos and Short Videos, leaving Stories and User-Generated Content on the table.
Also, as part of your content strategy, you can implement different marketing tactics.
Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Prize/discount contents.
- Product giveaways.
- Collaboration with influencers; including micro-influencers.
The goal is to create an impact every time you hit the Publish button.
This gets a lot easier when you have figured out the exact demographic of your audience.
Step #2: Create a routine and stay consistent
Most Instagram campaigns fail because brands start to get sloppy and inconsistent.
If you are going to build an audience of supporters, you have to prove that people can both trust you and rely on you. And to do this, you need to focus on building a brand identity.
Everything in life has a character, a personality, and you can either create one that people love or one that people avoid. For this step, you need to focus on creating content that emphasizes your vision and goals.
Also, you want to figure out a ‘theme’ for your posts and overall brand narrative. Something creative, simple, but catchy enough that people will immediately recognize you.
This is exactly how big brands have done it for years.
Step #3: Create unique Instagram Stories
Instagram’s Stories feature has been around for a while, but many brands still fail to utilize this potent marketing channel.
The key to successful Instagram stories is to make them as creative and unique as possible.
And the reason is simple: all stories disappear after a 24 hour period.
This makes them an ideal choice to promote special deals, let people in on a brand “secret”, or simply to engage with your followers in a new way.
In the example above, Airbnb is using Stories to engage their audience in a more direct way.
The said example also highlights the creative potential of Instagram Stories.
You can add text, create doodles, use stickers, and otherwise “personalize” your stories to match your brand style.
Scott Wyden, who runs The WordPress Photography Podcast, uses the following approach every time there is a new episode:
- Start by publishing a 1 minute (or so) teaser on IGTV
- Take the teaser(s) and use an app called CutStory to chop it into 15-second pieces
- The teaser clips are then posted on Instagram Stories with hashtags and mentions as needed.
- Those teasers are added to a Highlight called Latest Episodes which contain the last 3 or so episodes.
- We also post episode images and teaser clips in the Instagram feed.
It might be daunting to publish your first IG Story, but you might learn to enjoy it thanks to how easy it is to engage your audience with stories.
Step #4: Explore what other brands are doing
You can learn a lot from analyzing what other brands are doing on Instagram. And this applies to both big and small players alike.
You can use a free tool such as SocialBlade to monitor competitor performance over time.
E.g. You might notice that on a specific day, your competitor saw a 500% increase in followers.
How did this happen?
You can visit the competitors’ account and see which specific post triggered the sudden growth.
And, of course, it’s also the day to day postings that other brands make.
Step #5: Create partnerships with other people
There has been plenty of controversy surrounding fake influencers, but this shouldn’t stop you from creating relationships with other Instagram users.
Fact of the matter is if you team up with other influential people — you can get your brand name in front of an entirely new audience.
Many IG users team up with other brands for paid sponsorships.
But it’s not necessarily a method that you need to follow suit.
Instead, you can reach out to influential users and offer them a special deal in exchange for promoting your brand page.
Neil Patel recommends that you focus on making the partnership equally beneficial to both parties.
Instagram is in a great spot right now, and it is an absolute goldmine for new opportunities.
In their annual Instagram trends report, Forbes lists Influencer authenticity, Augmented Reality, and Stories as the hottest channels for marketing and opportunity.
How are you going to use these steps to improve your IG strategy? Let us know in the comments!
Alex Ivanovs is a digital marketing expert with more than a decade of experience under his belt. His writing is featured in the Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, TheNextWeb, and many leading tech startups all across the globe. When not writing on tech, Alex loves to explore self-improvement and sustainable living.
Last modified: April 9th, 2019