Content Marketing with Instagram
I love Instagram. It’s by far my favourite social app and I probably spend more time on there than I care to admit.
While it has its limitations, I find it covers everything for me; share with friends, keep up to date with my favourite influencers and brands, while finding new ones to follow. I’ve found quite a few businesses that I’ve gone on to purchase from or visit thanks to Instagram.
Knowing some of the basics before launching your profile, particularly a business one, will help you have a polished appearance.
- The bio is limited to 150 characters and it’s the only place for a URL (this can be changed as and when you need to direct your audience to a specific webpage, blog, etc.)
- It’s a visual platform allowing the sharing of images and videos, hence the limitations mentioned earlier, but you can include up to 2,200 characters within the caption. You just need to make the beginning of your caption eye catching enough for people to expand it, as Instagram automatically hides after the first couple of lines or so. Depending on the image or video you’re posting, you may only need a short caption to communicate your message to the audience. Shorter captions can also attract more attention, but that doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t use longer ones, they really are needed at times; educating people on a product or service you have for example.
- Hashtags don’t have to be used but they generally are as they help other users find your content via Instagram’s search feature and any popular hashtags they happen to be following. Common practise is to put any hashtags at the end of the caption, or even within the comments section, to avoid people viewing the post as spammy or disinteresting and scrolling on by. We’ll take a closer look at hashtags a little later.
- You can set the profile to be 'private' so any followers must be approved by you before they can see any of your posts – not the best setting for a business profile!
Let’s focus more on what type of content you can share.
- Photos: of course, the square photo is what Instagram is originally known for. You don’t have to have your image squared ready to post, Instagram will automatically do this for you. Although, if the whole of the image being shown on the grid is essential then you need to think of this before posting, and perhaps make use of an app such as Squaready to help.
- Videos: a minimum of 3 seconds to a max of 60. Ideally from 30 seconds to a minute is the aim; it ensures enough time to get your message across without losing the interest of the viewer (you wouldn’t think a minute would be too long, but it can be!).
- Stories: Short videos or photos that are available for 24 hours. This feature allows you to share more content about events or promotions that will only last a short amount of time. A great tool to help create a sense of urgency.
- Lives: Instagram’s version of livestreaming. Allows you to interact with your audience in real-time; a handy tool to utilise as engaging with brands in this manner becomes the norm more and more. Once ended, the live is delivered to your Story where it’ll stay for 24 hours.
- Highlights: Although Stories automatically drop off, you can move your favourites over to the Highlights section – introduced in December 2017 it’s still a fairly new function. Highlights allows you to store your content within categories, such as beauty, home décor, design inspiration, etc. meaning your followers can enjoy the content again and use it as part of their purchase decision making process.
- IGTV – the brand spanking new feature! Instagram’s version of YouTube you could say, with videos having a max time of 60 minutes. It’s still in its infancy with users (both content creators and viewers) getting used to it so it’s far too early to say what impact could generated.
Ok, so hashtag. We all know that hashtags are an integral part of social media as a whole, not just Instagram, but what exactly are they and where did they come from?
A hashtag is “A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, to identify messages on a specific topic”. (Oxford dictionary)
They first debuted as a marketing tool on Twitter in 2007. Hashtags offered the ability for Twitter to categorise topics and, additionally, for brands to track any campaigns they were promoting on the platform. The use of them became more and more popular, with Instagram becoming a main user.
So now we’ve covered a brief history on hashtags, let’s look at the latest rules for their use on Instagram.
In 2018, relevancy became even more critical when Instagram unleashed the ability for users to follow hashtags. With this change comes the opportunity for your posts to show up on a potential followers feed, instead of the user searching for a hashtag and scrolling through endless posts and, hopefully, landing on yours.
Of course, Instagram’s algorithm has always preferred the use of relevant hashtags to accompany your content but this feature makes hashtags a bigger deal because, for any posts that show up under a hashtag being followed, users now have the capability to mark your hashtagged content as something they’re not interested in ().
Nothing too much to worry about if the odd user does this but if you get too many of your posts hidden then Instagram could potentially ‘red card’ you with the ultimate result being a negative effect on all your content.
Firstly, you need to do your homework. Thanks to social media firmly integrating itself in to our daily lives, you may already have an idea about what hashtags are good to use; #mondaymotivation or #throwbackthursday for example, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn more
- Research the hashtags that are already resonating with your audience to tap in to the reach potential.
- Drive user-generated content by included a dedicated hashtag on the material of the campaign you’re running, encouraging people to share on social media with said hashtag.
Don’t be Spammy!
Don’t be sucked in to copy and pasting the same hashtags for every post you upload. Doing so can lead to Instagram’s algorithm seeing this as spam behaviour and your posts visibility being affected.
Instagram’s new rules say to use different hashtags (we know!). Most people would agree this just isn’t possible; keeping in mind businesses are trying to impress their brands identity via the platform – how can you do that when you’re changing the hashtags each time?
Essentially, you need to balance the use of the same hashtags to avoid being penalised.
Boosting Your Content
You’re not constrained to Instagram’s functions when creating and sharing content, there are loads of apps available to make the most of your images and videos.
Take a look at photo editing apps, such as Snapseed and Piclay, and these are just the beginning! Allow your creativity to flow.
Don’t Make It A Guessing Game
Having a strategy for your content on Instagram is just as vital as having one for any other platform or marketing method.
Create content that compels your audience to engage with you; injecting emotion in to your posts can further increase the chance of engagement as you become ‘real’ to people by doing so. Instagram is an optimum tool in humanising a brand.
Determine what visual concept you want to share – images, video, stories, lives, or a mixture of it all? Instagram’s analytics tool will help you with this decision.
All content posted creates the overall look of your profile. Having an attractive grid is important, a mishmash of things can turn people off.
Consistency is key with Instagram. Long gone are the days when posts used to appear in chronological order (despite people’s protests and pleas to the Instagram powers that be), so instead you need to focus regular posts when filling in your content calendar. Important to note; don’t bombard your followers with a tonne of posts, that a definite no-no, but equally don’t be posting once in a blue moon cos that’ll do nothing for your reach.
Learning how to read, interpret and learn from data when content marketing is a must. So it’s handy that Instagram automatically provide insight when you hit 100 followers.
Some of the metrics you can expect to see:
- Number of profile visits
- Number of accounts reached
- Number of website clicks
- Where your audience is located
- Days of the week your followers are most active
This kind of insight can help you curate your content more suited to your audience and gain you a bigger reach and more ROI.
So that was a lot of info and a lengthier read than I planned (I could have gone on and on but I fear it would have made you lose the will), so thanks for reading!
No doubt about it, Instagram inspires the creation of aesthetically pleasing content, while allowing brands to relax their ‘business’ or ‘corporate’ styling to show their personality more, resulting in content that speaks and connects with people.
Now go get creative!
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Published on: 20th July 2018 by Rachel