Joe Cadle and Katelyn Rutland contributed to this article.
At the helm of every great social media strategy is a defined set of goals and KPIs. Even if you aren’t quite sure what your goals look like for 2019, there are a few quick, easy things you can do to improve your brand’s Instagram presence.
1. Update your profile to a business profile.
It’s a painless process, and it’s free. A business profile unlocks key performance insights so you can ensure you’re meeting your goals. (Think: follower growth, website clicks, and post reach and engagement.)
Most importantly, business profiles offer important audience insights like age range, top locations, gender composition (percent male followers vs. percent female followers), and use stats like popular days and times for post reach.
You can use this information to create content catered specifically to your audience’s interests. Talk to them they way they talk, about the things they care about, at times when they’re most likely to engage. For example, we can assume a 20- to 30-year-old female living in California varies greatly from a 30- to 40-year-old male living in Georgia. The more you can emulate your audience’s language, interests, and behaviors, the more likely your content will resonate, and the more likely they’ll engage.
2. Research your audience.
This is vital. Get to know your audience, and I mean know them. Go a step further than the audience analytics outlined in No. 1. Understand what they love, what they dislike, what inspires them, what motivates them, which hashtags they use, and how they use the platform.
If you really know your audience, you’ll be able to create content that resonates. Content that resonates is more likely to spark engagement, and content that sparks engagement will continue to earn you new eyeballs. That’s another topic for another day, but if you’re interested in learning more, check out this article.
For now, here’s what you should do: Start with your existing followers, and identify users that stand out because they actively engage with your content. Visit their personal profiles, and look for the following:
- What other brands do they follow?
- Which hashtags do they use?
- What type of content do they most often post?
Next, search relevant hashtags. Start with hashtags you routinely use in your own posts, and analyze content posted from outside sources. Then, research hashtags used by your followers, competitors, and other relevant industry brands and personalities. Within those hashtags, consider the following:
- What type of content performs best (photo/video/link share, products vs. lifestyle)?
- Which brands and influencers also use this hashtag?
- When is this hashtag most “active”? Is it evergreen, seasonal, or restricted to particular days?
3. Research your competitors.
In life, they say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The same is true for social media. Friend or foe, you should always keep an eye on the competition. If you’re a brand, you probably already know who you’re up against in terms of sales and market share. Social media is no different. Monitor your competitors' social media channels, learn from their mistakes, and take special note of their successes. Most importantly, find a “mentor” within your space - someone you can look to for inspiration as the gold standard.
So how do you monitor the competition? Look for these key indicators of social performance:
- How many followers do they have?
- Which content type performs best (photo/video/link share, products vs. lifestyle)?
- What does the average post engagement look like (total likes, reactions, comments, shares, video views)?
- How often do they post and at what times (daily, once or twice a week, multiple times a day)?
- Which hashtags do they use, if any?
4. Curate good content.
Once you know your audience, plan your content around their interests. Start with user-generated content. Search for content users have tagged you in, content posted in your location (if you’re a physical store/venue), and content that uses branded hashtags. Evaluate the content before you seek permission to repost. Ask yourself the following:
- Does it fit into our overall strategy?
- Does it align with our brand standards?
- Has this content already proven its efficiency with quality performance?
That last point is key: Only share the best content. Remember, the social media algorithms aim to deliver content that's highly engaging. If the content has already performed well with another audience, chances are it may perform well for you, too.
Lastly, always ask for permission before sharing any user-generated content.
This is by far the easiest way to see immediate results. After all, content that sparks engagement will continue to perform well, and one way you can spark engagement is by continuing the conversation.
Interact with your audience. If someone asks a question - either on your post or someone else’s - answer it. If they comment on your post, acknowledge that they’re there and show them you appreciate them. A simple emoji or comment can go a long way in establishing brand trust, and returns are far greater than the time spent doing so.
Winning on Instagram isn’t tricky. It takes a little bit of time, and requires a willingness to give and take. If you approach social media only wanting something in return from your followers, you’re heading towards failure. If you’re willing to do a few small things to build an engaging community, success is on the horizon.
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