Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has grown into one of the biggest social networks ever. With over one billion active monthly users, it surpasses Twitter, LinkedIn and its rival Snapchat, in popularity.
Engaging your audience is the most important metric when it comes to running a successful Instagram account. Within the likes, comments, views, shares and direct messages, lies valuable insight that will help you know if you’re reaching the right audience and if your content is relevant to them.
The platform can help you grow awareness, target the right audience and convert visual content into sales. According to a 2015 Instagram user survey, 60% of people say they discover new products on the app. Used correctly, Instagram can be one of your company’s most powerful marketing tools, but as more companies use the platform to grow their presence, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out amongst the competition.
Continue reading to discover how to make sure your content is seen by the right users, at the right time to improve engagement and increase brand awareness on Instagram.
ANATOMY OF THE PERFECT INSTAGRAM POST
Instagram is a visual platform–first and foremost, you need to ensure that you are posting visually appealing and high-quality photos with an on-brand subject that will grab your audience’s attention and stop them from scrolling. Investing in professional lighting will ensure that your work is captured in a way that you want it presented to the world.
Did you know image orientation drastically influences the response to your posts? As the user scrolls, their eyes are moving up and down–consequently, vertical images are looked at longer (increasing your chances for engagement). Size your portrait images to 1080 x 1350px for optimal quality.
Once you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention with the photo, you’ll want to encourage engagement through the caption. Writing a clever caption can be the most challenging part of a post, so try asking a direct question to encourage more comments. Asking a question cultivates strong relationships, making the audience feel like they’re in this with you.
As a rule of thumb, you need a call-to-action if you want any action. You can use captions to direct followers to links that lead to other content on your website, which will also help boost SEO.
Check out our list of call-to-actions that will help boost your marketing strategy.
If you’re not using hashtags, you’re only reaching your current audience. Now that users can follow hashtags, it’s important to research relevant hashtags that will draw in potential followers. We suggest researching your competitors and industry publications to see what’s working for them. Are they receiving engagement on their content? Which hashtags are they using for product posts?
Creating unique, branded hashtags for your business is another way to boost your visibility on Instagram. These hashtags boost engagement through user generated content that leads directly back to your brand. Some of our favorite examples are #ORIGINALis by Adidas and #WhatsInYourBag by RYU Apparel. Leave your favorite in the comments below!
CONQUERING THE ALGORITHM
For the best chance of getting your posts viewed by your audience, you need to find a way to beat Instagram’s mysterious algorithm. The algorithm uses “ranking signals” to determine how to arrange each user’s unique feed. The top three ranking signals are:
RELATIONSHIP: The algorithm prioritizes content from accounts that users interact with the most. Users that comment, direct message, or tag you in their posts will be recognized as having a “close” relationship with your business. This enables users to see 90% of your posts, further emphasizing the necessity of engagement.
INTEREST: Instagram uses an image recognition software to predict which images are interesting to the user based on previous behavior. If the user has engaged with images of your product in the past, it is more likely that a new post of a similar product will appear toward the top of their feed.
TIMELINESS: Users will see newer posts first, so you need to pay attention to when your audience is online. Luckily, Instagram has a built in “Insights” tool that you can use to identify your company’s sweet spot for posting.
SCHEDULE YOUR POSTS
Once you’ve determined your best times to post, schedule it! Consistency is the key to a successful account, with 1-6 posts per week equalling up to 26% growth on average. Keep in mind the anatomy of the perfect post outlined above. If you rush a post, you’ll more than likely sacrifice the quality, so choose a scheduling platform to relieve the pressure.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
Now that you’ve set-up your account for optimal engagement, how do you manage it? Like or comment back! Only comments that are longer than four words count as an engagement, so make sure to focus on these for your replies. Encourage your followers to become qualified leads with a call-to-action, for example, “We’d love to provide more information about our services, DM us to schedule a time to talk!”
An Instagram takeover is a great way to increase brand awareness and engage with users in your industry. We strive to partner our clients with media outlets as it is mutually beneficial for both parties, providing value to your own audience while also reaching another.
Talk to your audience! When you go live, your profile will appear at the front of the Stories feed. Who’s consistently tuning in? Which topics get the most views? Video content has increased in overall engagement in the last year, so try doing a Q&A on Instagram Live. It’s a genuine way to engage with and distribute information to your audience.
Managing your social media presence is a lot of work, but UPRAISE can help! Stay tuned for part two of our Instagram series where we’ll teach you how to measure the return on your Instagram investment.