Instagram Best Practices

Instagram best practices continue to change. This is true of all social platforms. Since more businesses are looking to engage more in Instagram, here are some latest best practices.

First, Know the Instagram Platform

Instagram is the place to showcase your brand expertise and personality. Generic posts won’t cut it on this platform. To find success, you need to be authentic and share unique insights.

Establish a Business Profile

Establishing a business profile on Instagram is a crucial first step. You’ll be able to build your brand image, following, and sales funnel in ways a personal profile won’t allow.

Business profiles can:

  • Include call-to-action buttons which visitors and followers can tap to make contact or do business with you
  • Earn a verification badge from Instagram certifying your authenticity
  • Access real-time data to understand how well your organic content is working for you
  • Launch and track ad campaigns

Populate your profile to appeal to your target audience. In 150 characters or less plus a photo or logo, you need to portray who you are, what you offer, and why you’re different in a way that is meaningful to the audience you want to connect with.

Share Interesting Content

To be relevant on Instagram, you will need to share interesting content regularly.

What to post? A great way to start is to ask your followers what they are looking for. Ask them to submit questions or for feedback on posts. Other ideas:

  • behind the scenes
  • demo products
  • step-by-step tutorials
  • tell a story
  • share your take on an important topic in your industry
  • share your followers’ content

Every post will need a visual. Decide on your style and stick to it. The platform offers filters that can help give your images a distinct look and feel. Strive to make each post eye-catching and identifiable as yours.

You can also use video on Instagram. The first 15 seconds will be visible on your feed. For longer videos, you can post a 60-second preview with an invite to watch the entire video. You can also post a series, allowing viewers to tap on the name of the series to watch episodes.

Research and Use Hashtags

Instagram users search for content using hashtags (#). They can also follow hashtags.  Research the hashtags that are relevant to your expertise and your brand.

Use them in your profile content and your posts. Don’t go overboard – select the hashtags that are most relevant to a particular post.

Create an Editorial Calendar

Building a following on Instagram requires consistent activity. To make sure you keep up a steady pace, create an editorial calendar to define your posts. Determine the pacing, the goals to target, as well as the content (words and image) for each post.

With this planning tool in place, you can also schedule posts in advance, streamlining the time needed to have an effective presence.

Track Impact and Adjust

Instagram Insights offers a detailed view of how your content is performing.

  • Content: Most popular posts as measured by total impressions. You can also see metrics for individual posts including total impressions and users reached.
  • Activity: Profile visits, website clicks, and information about where and how users find your content.
  • Audience: Data about your followers including gender, age, and location, when they’re most active on Instagram, and how fast your following is growing.

Look for trends that help you understand what to do more of (and less of). Both high and low performing posts help you fine-tune your messaging and design.

Pay to Promote Your Best Content

Set aside a budget to promote your best posts.

  • Click the “promote” button below the post
  • Choose a business objective and a call to action (“Learn More,” “Watch More,” “Shop Now,” “Book Now,” “Sign Up,” or “Contact Us”)
  • Choose your audience (let Instagram do it, or create your own)
  • Choose a budget and campaign duration
  • Once your promotion is approved, Insights about the ad will appear in your notifications tab

Social Marketing in Six Easy Steps

Guest Post by Ryan Ayers

Any successful marketing strategy aims to influence consumer behavior. Generally, the behavior a campaign aims to influence is the behavior of purchasing a product or service. Social marketing aims to influence a recurring behavior.

The popular Truth anti-smoking advertisements that influence people to stop smoking are a well-known example of social marketing. Regardless of the message, there are effective steps to create a great social marketing strategy.

Step 1, Evaluate

All steps in the social marketing process require some evaluation, but in this case we’re talking about evaluation of the issue that the social marketing is looking to address. Research is not only important, but it’s also a moral obligation when you’re aiming to inform the public for societal good.

Step 2, Plan

Planning comes after analyzing everything that was collected during the evaluation phase. This, too, is dependent upon the message, but generally the plan involves creating a message that can be shared across multiple channels. Social media if often a key channel when trying to reach a younger audience.

Step 3, Development

Having a plan is very important but sticking to it is even more important or else you wasted your time planning. Some parts of the plan can be released while others are still being developed, as long as it is logical.

Step 4, Track Progress

Part of the plan and the development process should be making the success (or lack thereof) measurable. Google analytics and other analytic programs make this much easier than it used to be, and social media is also very trackable.

The same tactics used to evaluate the landscape can be used to track your own progress within said landscape. Surveys and questionnaires about how often people saw the messages and how much of an effect it had on them, should be a regular part of the process.

Step 5, Make Needed Adjustments

Tracking progress doesn’t do any good if the analyzations are not utilized in making changes deemed necessary to increase reach and effectiveness of the social marketing campaign. With social campaigns, success is a little more difficult to measure, but the more times things are evaluated and adjusted, the easier changes are to implement.

Recap

Social marketing helps things change for the good and motivation is a key component in any successful social marketing campaign. There are plenty of resources online to help with each of these steps, and most campaigns have a similar campaign to learn from. Advertising within social media (Facebook ads, sponsored content on Instagram) is a good way to up the ante a little bit in that medium.

Everything should be evaluated regularly, and change should be more than expected when starting out. If your message is strong and hits people in the heart, it will most likely find success if these steps are followed.

About the Author

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including social media, information technology and education. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on communication and marketing.

5 Inspired Infographic Ideas

Infographics help you tell a story in a visual way. Online, the visual appeal combined with minimal text can attract more attention than text-heavy approaches.

Creating an infographic takes time. You need to research your message and the points you want to share. And, you need a compelling visual way to present that data.

It can be discouraging to spend hours working on an infographic that get’s no engagement. It is important to have a clear message that engages with your target audience.

Here are some ideas to help you to develop infographics that gain attention.

Solve a problem.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target customer or audience. Then, speak to a problem they need solved. Answer a question that you are uniquely qualified to answer for them.

Be sure that the data and the information you include provides value and positions you as a thought leader in your industry.

Provide a unique point of view.

Share your unique insight and perspective to stand out. This is a great way to position you and your company as subject matter experts to listen to.

Creating content that challenges the status quo can feel risky and will often generate controversy and debate. But these types of pieces tend to get the conversation going and truly differentiate you from others.

Offer insight.

Every industry has a knowledge base that is commonly understood. At least we often think so. Often, we toss around words, phrases and references that aren’t as understood as we assume. This makes for great infographic material.

Explain something that is often glossed over. Explain the origin, the data behind it, and anecdote that illustrates. Offer insight that others aren’t providing.

Interpret data with a filtered lens.

When surveys and research are done, the data interpretation is often very general. Provide value to your audience by interpreting the data more narrowly, focusing on the parameters that matter most to them. Your take may vary quite a bit from more global analyses of the data collected.

Bring related content together.

Your industry and your specific client make a unique combination. Creating infographics that bring separate items together to create context and meaning can illustrate that point. Bring data and information together to tell a story that you are best able to tell.