By Bita Porubsky 

No matter how long you’ve been doing it, the world of social media marketing can get overwhelming. Social media platforms are always updating, and there is no shortage of new platforms to explore. This two-part blog will help you understand how to effectively use Instagram as a social media marketing tool. We’ll focus on how to make managing Instagram more efficient and less stressful than it has been in the past.

Here’s What We’ll Cover in Part 1

  • Instagram’s active user statistics and age demographics
  • The importance of engagement on Instagram
  • How to choose your profile photo and write your Instagram bio
  • Fine-tuning your profile and perfecting your grid
  • Creating impactful posts
  • Creating and using hashtag libraries effectively
  • Free tools to take back to the office and start using today

Is Instagram a Good Social Media Marketing Platform for Brands?

Knowing which social media platforms make the most sense for your marketing strategy can be a challenge. The best way to approach answering that question is to focus on which platforms your audience is currently using. Here are some stats to help you decide if Instagram is a good fit for your brand:

Instagram boasts a lot of active users. Omnicore Agency conducted a study in January of 2018 to drill down and figure out just how many users were actively using this platform on a monthly and daily basis. Here’s what they found.

Instagram users cover a broad age range. It’s a social media platform poised to reach several different age demographics. According to numbers from Statista, the share of adults in the United States who were using Instagram as of January 2018 was broken down by age like this:

Keep these age demographics in mind as you consider the audience that you want to target. If possible, you might also find a way to ask your patrons/clients if they use Instagram to make sure it’s worth your time.

Business profiles get traffic. According to the same Omnicore study noted above, 200 million Instagrammers actively visit the profile of a business each day.

Clout on Instagram means something. Instagram influencers are charging up to $100,000 for a sponsored post, which means that big brands see the value in shelling out big bucks to get influencers to promote their goods and services.

Engagement is the Secret Sauce of Instagram Marketing

Instagram is a community that values genuine connections, and the relationships built here are fueled and measured by engagement. Here are some things you can do to tend engagement in your posts and interactions with others:

  • Leave an engaging comment
  • Include call-to-actions in your posts
  • Respond to every comment as is appropriate
  • After publishing content, spend 30 minutes engaging with the content your community has created

Another important element of engagement is knowing where to look for people and content that align with your brand. Look for relevant content beyond your own profile and curated timeline. You never know what kind of inspiration or connections could come from that! Here are a few places to start:

Now let’s dive into the different components that make up a strong Instagram presence.

Your Profile Photo and Instagram Bio

Your Instagram profile is your new homepage, so make sure it’s built to convert visitors into followers. The first two things people see when they get your profile is your photo and your bio.

Choose a profile photo that represents you in a professional manner. Make sure it’s easily recognizable and consistent with your brand. Logos make great profile images for a brand, but don’t hesitate to get creative and use your talents to make something new.

As for your bio, make sure you keep your target audience in mind when determining your voice. Here are a few guidelines that will make the bio writing process easier:

Once you have your profile photo selected and your Instagram bio written, you’re ready to start fine-tuning your profile and perfecting your Instagram grid.

Fine-tuning Your Profile and Perfecting Your Instagram Grid

A profile with a consistent look-and-feel helps visitors and followers know what kind of content to expect from you, so think of your profile as a curated gallery that is used to represent your personality and voice. Let’s look to local Instagrammer Carolyn Bevins (@c.b._designs) for some inspiration. All the content that she creates is inline with a specific aesthetic, so chances are if you like one of her images, you’ll love them all! While I don’t know what tools Carolyn uses specifically, I will offer up 3 tools that I’ve explored that can help you achieve consistency!

Another important part of having a profile that wows visitors is perfecting your grid. This means that instead of just taking a photo and posting it right away, you start to form a strategy based on where that photo falls into the overall grid. I like to use a tool called Later to drag, drop, and rearrange my visual content. Once you have things laid out the way you want them, you can schedule out the posts! Later is a wonderful tool, and it’s one that I rely on for a lot of my social media work. Be sure to check out what they have to offer.

Creating Impactful Instagram Posts

Creating content can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not familiar with Instagram. Let’s take a look at the content that Phoenix-based Instagrammer Quinn Tempest (@quinn.tempest) is putting out there and see what we can learn!

Use High-quality Visuals. Good visual content is what gets noticed on Instagram, so taking the extra steps to ensure your posts stand out is really important. Instagram is focused around sharing visually appealing content, so you should always have the goal of sharing the highest-quality images or videos that you can produce. This doesn’t mean you have to be a professional photographer or videographer, but it does mean that you should put effort into your framing, lighting, and overall composition.

Create Compelling Captions. After you have your image or video, create a compelling caption for it. Use some posts to ask questions of your audience, and use other posts to educate or share information with them. Offering a variety of content will keep things interesting for your audience, just be sure to stay true to your brand voice.

Use Paragraph Spacing for Longer Pieces of Content. For those of you who like long-form content, paragraph spacing needs to be part of your tool kit. Big blocks of text are hard to read, so your audience will appreciate longer pieces of content being broken down into more digestible parts. Instagram does not offer paragraph spacing, so here are two ways to achieve it outside of the app:

If you’ve never tried either of the two methods mentioned above, give them both a test run and see what works better for you. The best way to get comfortable with these tools is just by trying them out.

Reply to Comments. Make it a general rule to reply (at least once) to every comment made on one of your posts. This shows your audience that you value their presence and will solidify your connection.

Use Emojis for an Extra Pop of Color. Properly-used emojis add extra color and can make your posts more engaging. Emojis were built to convey an idea or emotion, so be sure that you know what exactly the emoji represents before you use it!

Always Create for a Mobile-First Experience. Whether you use your mobile device, laptop, or desktop to create your content, make sure that you create it for someone viewing that content on a mobile device.

Using Hashtags Effectively and Building Hashtag Libraries

Hashtags are not new to the social media scene, but they aren’t always used in the most effective manner. It’s important to remember that hashtags serve as a way to identify content that is related to specific subjects or topics, so while obscure hashtags can be funny to read, they don’t serve the intended purpose. Here are some suggestions on how to use hashtags effectively:

  • To target a broad range of people, use (and search for) the hashtags that profile similarly to those your audience uses.
  • To target a local audience, use hashtags that are popular within a geo-targeted community.
  • Use your brand hashtag if you have one and invite other brands with similar goals to use it too.
  • Look for hashtags that aren’t super saturated. If you use the most popular hashtag in the world, your content will quickly be buried by others. Look for less popular, but still relevant, hashtags to increase your chances of being seen.
  • Use your best judgement and be aware of what other people are posting to that same hashtag. Don’t assume you know what a hashtag means. Do your research and make sure your content is showing up in appropriate places.

Trying to remember all these hashtags you want to use can be frustrating and time consuming when writing content. Building hashtag libraries will keep things organized and consistent, making your social media marketing more efficient. Consider using an editorial tool like Later® to build and save those libraries. If using an editorial tool isn’t something you can or want to do, use your Notes app or an Excel file to start keeping track of hashtags you use often. As you start to see patterns in engagement, edit these libraries as needed.

Here’s What We’ll Cover in Part 2

Learning how to navigate a new social media platform can be challenging when you have other responsibilities to take care of as well. I hope part 1 of this blog was helpful, and that you’ll tune in next month when we explore:

  • The 3 types of content you should be creating.
  • How brands use stories and story highlights to drive engagement.
  • How to find and read your Instagram analytics.
  • How the Instagram algorithm works.
  • How to use the Search and Follow functions of Instagram to grow your following and improve your content.
  • An overview of IGTV.

Thanks for reading, y’all! If you have any questions or ideas to share, please contact us!

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