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August 18, 2021

Best practices for creating an Instagram marketing strategy

schedule 8 min read

Marketing

You’re a business with a beautifully designed website.

It carries all the bells and whistles, but there’s just one problem… how are customers going to find this website πŸ”?

We need to build you an online presence and increase your site’s visibility!

Building an online presence doesn’t stop at sending out emails to your subscribers or publishing a series of Google ads.

Social media plays an outrageously big role in establishing an online presence and building brand awareness.

Yes, email and Google ads are still powerful tools and they are here to stay!

But whether you are targeting younger or older customers, social media is where they’re at. More specifically Instagram.

It appears that a whopping 90% of Instagram users are following at least one business, it’s a booming market! It’s a popular platform to visually connect and engage with customers on a personal level.

Now Instagram has been acquired by Facebook, businesses are able to seamlessly connect their marketing channels. It’s only a matter of time before LinkedIn also joins in.

What you will learn:

  • Why Instagram marketing is valuable for your business
  • How to set marketing goals that drive results
  • What metrics to pay attention to
  • Tracking tips that will help you pivot your strategy

How your business can benefit from Instagram

For those of you who aren’t fully convinced to go down the Instagram route yet, I want to address how it can dramatically benefit your business.

Engagement is everything now

Instagram is one of the most appealing platforms you can use as a business to connect with your customers on a personal level. All you have to do is engage in comments and reply to private messages πŸ’¬

If you sell products or services, you’re able to extend this communication cycle between you and your customers.

Yes, more than just a post-purchase email saying ‘thank you for shopping with us’.

Customers can tag your business in pictures they upload from purchases they made.

Not only is this incredibly valuable feedback on how your business is performing, but it gives you a chance to include them and make them feel like they’re part of your community.

An online shopping experience doesn’t have to stop after a transaction, it can be a gateway to build tight-knit relationships with your customers.

Visual and video content are skyrocketing

‘I can add visuals to my email marketing and Google ads, how is Instagram any better?’

I hear you. But I have a feeling that the current savvy customer looks right through your ads and generic email campaigns. They all look the same and smell like templates.

Instagram is a platform built for visuals and it’s not as overrated, not yet at least. It’s an opportunity for marketers to engage with their audience more deeply.

If you own a bakery, for example, you have the power to make people drool over beautiful images of your pies and cupcakes 🀀.

When I land on a website that has excessively large (quality) imagery of their products, I’m sold faster than when I read a bunch of boring unique value propositions.

Seriously, look at this.

Vics vegan bakery website homepage
Yummy! (Vics Vegan Bakes)

It’s love at first sight 😍.

To link this back to Instagram, here is an example of a company named Dharma Fine Vittles that is absolutely killing their Instagram game.

dharma fine vittles instagram feed
Dharma Fine Vittles Instagram feed

And these are just companies in the food industry. Whether you run an eCommerce store, sell online courses or provide a digital service, you can use the same strategy and show your off your products with contextual images.

A couple other benefits of Instagram marketing are:

  • building brand awareness
  • content distribution
  • lead generation
  • and customer support

Setting Instagram marketing goals 🎯

If you have planned several other marketing strategies before, awesome! You can probably skip most of this.

If not, I advise you to go through the following steps with me to make sure your marketing efforts are not ‘all guts and no brains’. It’s hard to know exactly how well your strategy is performing without setting these goals upfront.

Start with an Instagram audit

Chances are you already have a history of instagram posts on your business account. You can skip this step if you’re starting from scratch.

An audit helps you understand how you’re currently performing and it will help us plan in harmony with your existing content. You might have older posts or profiles that are still perfectly usable but they just need to be revived.

Here is how you perform an audit:

  1. If you have more than 1 instagram account for your business, track them down by doing a quick google search
  2. Make sure all accounts are aligned and on brand with the same profile images and banners
  3. Identify your best posts and figure out why they’re doing so well
  4. Evaluate your existing audience. It will save you a bunch of research later in the process
  5. Standardize passwords and ownership across all accounts

Choose your goals

With the information you gathered or already had, think about what goals are important that will move your business in the right direction. Don’t just set goals that are easy to track so they can just sit there and look pretty.

What is your overall marketing strategy? Is that working? If it is, than align your instagram marketing goals with that strategy.

I’ll list a couple of meaningful goals you could set for your Instagram marketing strategy. It’s hard to know what to look for when you’ve never done this before.

1. Increasing brand awareness

  • Grow Instagram following
  • Increase views on my posts
  • Get more mentions from other accounts

2. Drive more traffic to my website

  • Get more visitors from Instagram
  • Decrease bounce rate from Instagram traffic

3. Boost Instagram engagement

  • Get more likes, comments and shares
  • Clicks per posts
  • Number of people participating in your contests or giveaways

4. Offer customer service on social media

  • Increase response time to customers
  • Improve on your customer satisfaction score
  • Number of customers requesting support

5. Generate new leads

  • More clicks on Instagram lead magnets (e.g. posts with CTA’s)
  • Increase conversions for lead magnets
  • Amount of downloads on our free content

Convert your goals into SMART goals

In a previous article, I introduced you to the S.M.A.R.T. goals formula. I found this in a book written by Robert Ashton ‘Sales for non-sales people’.

It’s an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

This formula will undoubtedly transform any ambiguous goals into specific and achievable goals. It’s a timeless formula that keeps you accountable.

Let’s do one example goal together

I want to grow my Instagram following

  • Specific: I want to grow my Instagram following by 50%
  • Measurable: I currently have 2,562 followers and need to get that number up to 3,843 followers
  • Attainable: Having already done an Instagram audit and optimized my account, we only have to start posting content
  • Realistic: Having hired 2 social media marketers, we have enough workforce to achieve this goal
  • Timely: Our target is set for June 12th

Optimize your business profile for engagement

Now you know what direction you want to head in, it’s time to ensure you’re delivering a unified brand experience before you start posting any content.

Besides crafting a compelling 150 character bio, uploading a professional profile picture and adding a link to your website, here are a few things you’ll want to look at:

Convert to a business account if you haven’t already

It’s a pretty straightforward process to convert your account to a business account. When you do this, Instagram gives you access to analytics tools to help you analyze your performance.

You get access to promoted posts and Instagram ads, and you also get analytics tools to grow your reach and engagement.

Figure out which hashtags to use

When used right, hashtags can serve as a powerful marketing tool.

You can use them when you have promotions, host events, contests or have a product launch.

Try to avoid hashtags that are widely used in your industry and try to come up with unique ones. Use these hashtags as much as you can so it becomes a commonly used term amongst your customers.

Allbirds is a good example that has created hype around their hashtag #weareallbirds. It’s their most used keyword and customers can easily use it to find them online.

allbirds instagram post screenshot
Allbirds Instagram post

Upload beautiful content

There are many theories floating around about Instagram’s algorithm. Just like Google’s algorithm, it gets updated a lot and it’s a waste of time to get stuck up in this unless it’s is your full-time job.

You just have to keep 3 things in mind when posting on Instagram.

  • Quality over quantity
  • Consistency over frequency (3-5 times per week Ideally)
  • Engage on other account and your own posts

Instagram posts

When people view your Instagram account, they can see a grid containing 12 posts. It’s desirable to fill this entire grid up as fast as you can.

Only after that, you can expect to see some results.

If you have the privilege of planning posts in advance, consider laying all of them out in some design software to see if it’s correctly conveying your brand personality. Are they telling a story or are they all over the place?

You don’t have to obsess over this of course. As long as they’re quality posts and your images are sharp.

Some ideas for posts are:

  • educational Instagram carousels
  • behind-the-scenes images, to show the humans behind your brand
  • videos
  • and contextual product images

Don’t neglect your captions

I know that I was very extreme about how amazing visual content is, but that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore adding text to it.

Here it’s important to make your captions as scannable as you possibly can. It’s social media and people scroll fast.. very fast.

Captions can be a maximum of 2,200 characters long but I recommend keeping it short.

Instagram stories

Instagram stories are like trailers for your posts. This is a place to lead people to your posts and to promote them.

There is a neat mental trick involved in Instagram stories.

They are time-sensitive and this is an extremely helpful tool when you want to give your customers the feeling they’re ‘missing out’ by not buying your product.

You can also use them as little ‘content snacks’ such as updates, promotions or just playful content. You can show a bit more of the human side here. It’ll give your followers an intimate connection with your brand.

Measure and improve

Having SMART goals in place, you have metrics to pay attention to once you start gaining traction on your Instagram account.

  • Has your follower count increased?
  • How many comments are you receiving?
  • Which hashtags are creating the most engagement?
  • Where does your traffic come from?

A few starting tools that give you these insights are Keyhole, Socialbakers and Squarelovin.

If you’re looking for more comprehensive tools to help you with this, consider SocialSprout or Hootsuite and see if they have a pricing package that your business can afford.

It doesn’t really matter whether you’re using free or paid Instagram analytics tools.

They will only benefit you when you have clear goals in place and knowing how to use these numbers to pivot your strategy when necessary.

Conclusion

Instagram marketing can seem daunting when you see how complex it can get.

Determine how complex it needs to get for your business.

If you’re just starting out, it’s fine to just set a goal of creating an on-brand account and posting 3 times a week for 3 months straight.

As a business owner you likely already have a lot on your plate, and it might be smart to hire someone that can do this for you.

It looks expensive at first, but the return on investment goes way beyond what you spend on it.

We help take the guesswork out of your marketing and will gladly assist you with this so you can focus on running a business. Get in touch with us if that sounds like something you need.

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