By Bita Porubsky 

Welcome back to our two-part series on effectively using Instagram as a social media marketing tool. In part one we covered some Instagram basics, such as user demographic info, the importance of engagement, and how to create great content that fits into a polished grid. If you missed it, be sure to go back and check it out! Now we will dig deeper and talk about other great Instagram features.

Here’s What We’ll Cover in Part 2

  • How to approach using Instagram stories and story highlights
  • How the Instagram algorithm currently works, and how that impacts your content strategy
  • How to get the most out of your search and follow features
  • The 3 types of content you should be producing
  • A brief word about IGTV
  • How to measure success using Instagram insights
  • And of course, more free tools sprinkled throughout that you can take back to work and use immediately!

How Brands Should Leverage Instagram Stories

Sharing temporary photo and video content customized with filters and stickers used to be waters only Snapchat had charted, so when Instagram released their Stories function, it was a big deal for Instagrammers. With 300 million daily active stories users, brands need to focus on how to use them effectively.

Food Stylist, Author, and Recipe Designer Erin McDowell (@emcdowell) does an excellent job using Instagram stories to complement the content on her profile, promote her recipes and cookbook, and share behind-the-scenes footage.

If you’re looking for in-depth resource dedicated to Instagram Stories, check out The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories for Business. It’s published by Later® and it’s packed full of great info!

How to Use (and Create) Instagram Story Highlights

A subset of your Instagram stories are your story highlights. Story highlights are a fun way to archive your stories in an organized way based on whatever criteria works best for you! Each highlight that you create allows for its own unique name and cover image, so you get creative and start building them!

Phoenix-based Illustrator Dylan Mierzwinksi (@bydylanm) takes a great approach to her story highlights, using them as a way to organize content, answer questions her followers ask, and share her favorite tools.

Need help creating cover images for your story highlights? Check out the step-by-step tutorial in How to Create Instagram Stories Highlight Covers (+ FREE ICONS!)

How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?

Just like other social media networks, Instagram has its own unique algorithm for displaying content. The Instagram algorithm prioritizes content you see based on these three factors:

Another important thing to know about the algorithm is that it doesn’t give preference to personal accounts versus business accounts. Engagement is the metric that is driving discoverability, so if you’re producing good content, it will get seen more often.

Get the Most Out of Your Search and Follow Features

An under-utilized but powerful tool available inside the Instagram app is the search feature, which is symbolized by a magnifying glass in the navigation at the bottom of your screen. Once you’ve engaged the magnifying glass, you’ll see different content categories you can explore, all of which are tailored to content you’ve engaged with. If you don’t want to choose a specific category, just scroll down the page to find a bunch of content that Instagram thinks you’ll enjoy. 

I’d also recommend that you start following hashtags and people that are important to you and your brand. You should definitely go after big-time hashtags and influencers, but you should also be looking at smaller-scale hashtags and influencers within your smaller communities. Once you’ve started following them and interacting with them, start following the people they are following and start picking new hashtags that are a good fit for your libraries. This will help you extend your reach in all the right places.

Once you start using your search and follow features, you’ll be able to start mining and diving.  The term “mining and diving” is a catchy way to say start following the people your community is following, and start picking new hashtags that are a good fit for your libraries. This will help you extend your reach in all the right places.

The 3 Types of Instagram Content You Need to Create

The key to consistently generating good content is diversification. As you plan your content calendar, make sure you’re including these three forms of content:

  • Original content is any visual content that you or a member of your team has produced for the brand. Depending on what kind of content your audience engages with more, these original pieces should include photos, videos, illustrations, and designs.
  • User-generated content is content created by other Instagrammers that you have reposted onto your profile. The best user-generated content highlights a unique experience with your product or services. Be sure to always credit the original content creator!
  • Search & repost content that you find on Instagram that aligns with your brand identity and personality. This is a great way to build community with like-minded people which usually, in turn, grows your audience. And, once again, make sure you cite your source.


A Nod to IGTV

Instagram’s newest baby is IGTV, a long-form video sharing feature that launched in the summer of 2018. Full disclosure, I have yet to explore what IGTV offers, so instead of discussing it here, I’ll re-direct you to The Ultimate Guide to Instagram’s New Video Platform. For now, here’s what I do know about IGTV:

·    IGTV is built for long-form, vertical format video sharing right inside of the Instagram application.

·    Anyone on Instagram can create their own IGTV channel.

·    Think of IGTV as a platform that is more like YouTube, less like Netflix.

How to Track Analytics and Measure Success on Instagram

No marketing campaign or channel is complete without analytics, and luckily all business accounts on Instagram have access Insights, Instagram’s built-in metrics reporting. Insights has these three main sections: activity, content, and audience.

There are a few other metrics that are helpful to track as well, such as the number of followers your profile has, follower growth rate, and post engagement rates. I track these metrics with Later. When it comes to post engagement rates, here’s how things rank:

  • LOW ENGAGEMENT: Less than 1% engagement
  • AVERAGE/GOOD ENGAGEMENT: Between 1% and 3.5% engagement
  • HIGH ENGAGEMENT: Between 3.5% and 6%
  • VERY HIGH ENGAGEMENT: Engagement of 6% or above

Last but Not Least, Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

The final piece of advice that I’ll leave you with is to always look for articles, trends, and insights from industry leaders. Social media platforms are updating their features regularly, releasing new tools and new ways to market your business. If you have any questions or ideas to share, please contact us!

Share this post with your friends

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin