Social media–Instagram, in particular–is one of the fastest-evolving tools in digital marketing. In 2016, Instagram sharply steered its algorithm in favor of engagement, meaning posts that receive likes, comments and shares are shown more prominently (which creates a snowball effect of more likes, comments and shares). Previously, posts were shown in chronological order. The shift challenged brands to make their content more relatable, rather than simply consumable. If you want to take that challenge, here’s how to come out ahead.
1. Take Hashtags Seriously
Hashtags are to social media what keywords are to search engines; they help users find the content they’re looking for. While hashtags are used sparingly on most other social platforms, Instagram relies heavily on them. A little bit of hashtag research goes a long way, and don’t forget to develop your own brand hashtag so all of your posts are instantly accessible with one click.
2. Use the Stories Feature
Instagram Stories allow you to share content that will disappear in 24 hours; they’re similar to Snapchat stories, and a lot of fun to create. Here are some examples:
According to Later’s State of Instagram Marketing 2018, businesses that currently use and those that don’t currently use Stories alike plan to create more of them in 2018. That’s because they lend themselves–unironically–to storytelling, which is what consumers in this day and age are wanting from the brands they love.
3. Invest in Quality Photography
Is your imagery representing your brand appropriately? Instagram is a photo-first platform, and users notice poor image quality (whether in specs, composition or both). Because you’re building an entire strategy around photos, it’s well worth the cost to use professional photography. Let these samples whet your appetite for brand photography:
4. Encourage Engagement
Leading a post with a question is a great way to bring people into a conversation. You don’t need to make every post response-driven, but a good portion of them should be. The equally important follow-up to that is responding to the responses, and, in return, sharing brand-relevant content that users share with you. Put simply, if someone engages with you, make sure you show them some love.
5. Partner with an Agency
At this point, you’re probably realizing that running and growing an Instagram account is a lot of work. Brands that are serious about investing in social media marketing typically hire a marketing and advertising agency, because they get all of the creative, strategic and administrative personnel needed to execute the tips we’ve discussed, all under one roof.