Instagram plays an enormous role in social media marketing and advertising. Thirty-five percent of online adults are Instagram users, according to Hootsuite. Optimizing Instagram performance should be a priority for companies, especially fashion and lifestyle brands, looking to expand customer acquisition channels.
In this post, I’ll offer 12 ways to improve Instagram performance — to attract followers, engage them, and ultimately generate traffic and sales to your ecommerce site.
12 Instagram Tips
1. Post consistently. Consistency is the key. As a part of its algorithm, Instagram rewards users with consistent posts.
How often should you post? At least once a day, six days a week, if you are short on resources and want Instagram as a part of your marketing mix. Posting twice a day is best, however, in my experience. The more you post, the more engagement you would get.
2. Create quality content. Creating content can be incredibly time-consuming. It requires research, writing, and scheduling. You’ll need appealing graphics and, likely, videos. Your content should be visually stimulating and informative or entertaining to engage users, send traffic to your site, and generate sales.
Meaningful content on Instagram has four purposes, typically: inform, educate, entertain, and interact. Roughly 70 percent of your content should be informative to appeal to potential and existing customers.
Plan your content using calendars and scheduling tools. Some companies prepare for the upcoming month, others only for a week. It does not matter. What matters is careful planning to align content with strategy and tactics.
In my experience, engaging content can include:
- Statistics that apply to your audience. Stats are always useful.
- Tips and how-tos.
- Quotes. If you cannot find suitable quotes, write them yourself or hire a writer.
- GIFs and educational videos.
Repurpose existing content — blog posts, guides, whitepapers, videos — into Instagram posts.
Monitor engagement closely. Determine which posts have the most interactions and create more of them. (Planx is a helpful tool to measure engagement.)
3. Post when followers are online (or can get there if they see notifications). Research industry statistics for the best posting times in your industry. Also, track engagement with your own analytics for the times that work best for your company.
For example, for my consulting practice the best times to post (thus far in 2019 ) for engagement are Wednesday through Saturday, between 9-10 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.
4. Invest in manual engagement. Unless your posts go viral or you allocate budget for influencer marketing and advertising, don’t expect massive growth. Steadily engage existing and potential followers, daily.
I use an outsourced, overseas team that manually interacts with people who followed, liked, or commented on Instagram posts from my clients and me. When someone follows me, we comment on as many as 10 of their images. We also send a message to new followers offering free info. We also comment on everyone who likes our images. After they follow, we message them.
5. Find new followers with reverse hashtag strategy. Research a dozen or more relevant hashtags — I prefer longer tail. Find 10 to 20 leading posts from those hashtags and make a worthwhile comment, not “it’s a great product.” The process will generate attention and, eventually, business relationships.
6. Treat captions like mini blog posts. Captions are valuable Instagram real estate. Plan for captions as you would for content. The first several words are attention getters, so think carefully what you write there.
Some people like graphics. Others prefer reading. Typically, however, compelling visual content supported by comprehensive text will be more memorable and informative. Ask questions in your captions to make followers feel that your account is about them, not you.
7. Make a comprehensive list of hashtags. It’s time-consuming, but, also, a worthwhile one-time time investment. Each category of your posts (and products) should have a unique hashtag list.
8. Ensure all posts are branded. Users should see your name the way you want. Have a consistent color palette, fonts, and text (including URL) on each post.
9. Optimize your profile. Your profile creates a first impression. It is the primary reason for someone to stay (and scroll down) or leave. Make sure to use a business account, not personal.
- Add your most relevant hashtags to your profile. Use medium-tail hashtags versus general.
- Continually A/B test your company bio for the best engagement. Include details to instill trust.
- Add symbols or emojis to visualize what your company does, as well as for fun.
10. Collaborate with influencers. Influencer marketing is a separate topic. Engage with influencers on multiple channels, such as Instagram, YouTube, and blogs. If you run influencer campaigns already, include Instagram promotions as part of the contract. Most influencers, especially micro-influencers, won’t charge extra.
11. Utilize Instagram Stories. It will make your profile consistently visible. According to Instagram, users under age of 25 access Stories an average of 32 minutes every day — 24 minutes for users above 25. TechCrunch reported that Stories just passed 500 million daily users.
Create a strategy for Instagram Stories as you would for other content. Stories can showcase your best info if you highlight it. Plan your highlights, as they are always on the top of your profile.
12. Use live streaming. Instagram Live triggers notifications to followers. Going Live is often difficult for business personnel. Many have a fear of cameras. Do it anyway.
Time and Effort
Driving followers and engagement on Instagram takes time, effort, and, often, money. You won’t see results right away. However, as a long-term strategy, it will pay off.