Instagram is one of the best places to market yourself and your brand - if done with a strategy.
Many business owners and social media managers come to me and say they gave Instagram a chance and it just didn’t work for them.
It WILL work if you define your goals and create a strategy to reach them.
No matter what your goals are, the first things you’ve got to figure out are:
1. Who is your audience? Like, who is your audience, really? You’ve got to really
stalk know them in order to understand how to appeal to them.
2. Create content that your audience is going to rave over. Learn their pain points, their wants and needs, and serve up solutions (and distractions) to them on a silver platter! This is not ground-breaking advice. So let’s dig into HOW you are going to understand your audience and create timely and relevant content for them.
Know Your Audience
Learning about your audience is the most important, and often-times the most time-consuming, step in creating a content strategy that works. Don’t skip this step or you’ll continue to feel like social media platforms just aren’t right for you and your business.
If you don’t know what your audience wants, how will you ever attract an audience that loyally follows your content and ultimately buys from you?
Research Your Competitors
The easiest way to learn about your audience on Instagram specifically is to map out your competitors that are in a similar spot as you in their business as well as competitors that are far beyond where you’re at (i.e. where you want to go).
Depending on the type of business you have, the competitors you map out may or may not be local to you. Once you’ve mapped out who you’re up against, the fun part begins!
Study your Competitors
First, take note of the kind of content your competitor is posting. Figure out whether they’re using user-generated images, personal photos, stock images, graphics, or videos.
Next, ask yourself which content is performing the best.
Did they get 1,000 likes on their latest video and only 335 on their latest graphic image? If so, does this mean their audience loves video more than graphics?
Or does it simply mean they loved the caption or the content inside of this specific video? To understand this: find a few other videos they posted and compare and contrast them all. Once you’ve established your competitors’ strategies and what’s working for them, consider how you can implement these strategies (without copying) into your own strategy. If they are writing long captions and it’s working, perhaps you should too. If they are going heavy on the Instagram stories, this might be a strategy you can begin to leverage. Make a list of the content variations you’d like to try.
Hashtags are Your Friend
Using relevant hashtags to tap into the audience of your dreams is a powerful way to extend your reach and propel your growth.
The #1 (see what I did there?) way to research the hashtags that will benefit you the most are the hashtags your competitors are using. Pick a few that feel relevant and research them! Type the hashtag right in the Instagram search feature.
Use the hashtags that have a following of less than a million. This is so that your post doesn’t get lost in the sea of other users’ who have a larger following than you.
Stick with the smaller hashtags that you are more likely to stand out in.
You also want to use the hashtags that feel most relevant to your brand.
By researching the hashtag, you’ll get a feel for what kind of posts are popular under this hashtag to make sure you’re using it to get attention from the right people. Finally, when searching for hashtags Instagram will give you a list of other relevant hashtags that you can continue to research and potentially use.
Before you know it you’ll have 30 hashtags you can save in a Notes app on your phone or laptop and insert in the first comment of your Instagram post. It also helps to have a variation of hashtags saved so that you can pull from the ones most relevant to the day’s post.
Make sure you engage with popular hashtags to expand your reach and exposure.
Tag ya Kids, Tag ya Wife, Tag ya Husband
Tag everybody, and geotag your location.
Posts under geotagged locations tend to last for weeks to months.
Anytime someone is searching for information and photos at a specific spot, you want them to find your post and be a new follower. It also helps to tag not just the people in your photos, but also larger accounts related to your post. For example, if your post is about your trip to Indonesia, tag large accounts related to travel, travel in Indonesia, Indonesia hot spots, and more. Your content will show up under their tagged posts and being associated with a larger account in other places increases your chances for likes and engagement. Engage with the accounts you are tagging for even more chances of being seen by your ideal audience.
Please the Eye
We’ve really honed in on how to understand your audience and tap into a network where they are likely to hang out and find you. So how do you keep them? First you want to have a really slammin’ bio to reel them in and let them know what you are all about. Next you want to make sure that your photos, captions, and overall “vibe” of your feed is cohesive and resonates with your audience. Think of your Instagram account like a lifestyle that you want your customers to be a part of. You want to pull them into your lifestyle and entice them to be a part of it.
You’re essentially creating a story around an idea that you want your customers to buy into. What is that story? What does it look and feel like? Notice how we are avoiding talk of sales. That’s exactly what doesn’t work on Instagram. Overt selling rarely works on social media. It’s longer lasting and more beneficial to create a story around your audience that builds loyalty and and a life-long relationship with them. Use your feed to tell a story, with each post being a new page. The photos need to align with each other, both in color and feel. The posts need to be aligned with the lifestyle and the story that you are representing. By using stock photos, original photos, and user-generated photos of a particular aesthetic, your feed will look as amazing as the story you are telling.
Instagram is Relational
Overall, the point here is to build a relationship. You have to do some research and some planning, but can you honestly think of a better free to reach your “people” and build a buying relationship with them? It doesn’t exist. So what’s holding you back from using Instagram?