Updated: Feb 1, 2019
With the new year just around the corner, it’s time to start putting marketing plans in place to set your business up for success in 2019. One social media network that business can’t ignore is Instagram.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media networks in the world. As of the latest data, 500 million people log into Instagram every single day. With its popularity continuing to increase, this number is likely even higher. Not only does Instagram claim a huge user base, but when compared to Facebook, images on Instagram get 23% more engagement.
By now, you’re probably convinced that your business needs to be on Instagram. If you’re already on Instagram, maybe you’re looking to increase your fanbase or improve your customer acquisition through this channel.
One of the most important aspects of getting positive results through Instagram is posting consistently. To do this, you need an Instagram content strategy that’s easy for you to fulfill.
Here are a few steps you can take to begin building your Instagram content plan for 2019.
Find Your Top Performing Posts
As the wise Maya Angelou said, “If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going.” If you’ve been on Instagram for a few weeks, months, or years, you have a history of posts that you can review to find out what’s working and what doesn’t.
This is especially easy if you’ve set up your Instagram account as a business profile. If you haven’t yet, now is a good time to do so! With a business profile, Instagram offers analytics that reveal crucial information about your audience and your posts’ performance. Once you’re logged in, navigate to the insights tab, then click on the content heading to learn more about your posts.
You can view metrics with a number of different filters, including by media type (photo, video, carousel posts and shopping posts) and by time period (from the past week to the past two years). The most valuable filter is by engagement metric. You can sort your images by how many impressions they’ve received, which can tell you if the hashtags you’re using are getting your posts more views or if you’re posting at the right time of day. You can see the top performing posts by likes or comments, which are the most standard engagement metrics. You can also see which posts drove the most calls to action, whether that be a phone call, a website click, or sending an email.
Once you’ve determined which of your posts have performed the best according to the metric you’ve selected, now it’s time to find out why. Maybe it’s because they all used high quality images when the rest of your posts have been lower res. Or maybe you’ve used certain hashtags that make your product shine. Or maybe your competitions perform the best.
Look at at least the top nine performing posts and note the things that they have in common, including aesthetic, color, resolution, type of media, length and type of accompanying text, and hashtag used. As part of your Instagram content plan, you’ll use your findings as a basis for creating posts that will continue to perform well in the coming year.
Research Your Competition
Once you’ve conducted a thorough analysis of your best posts, you’ll want to do the same for your competitors. Though you don’t have access to the same data as you will your own account, you can still study their profiles manually and get information that way. Which of their posts get the most likes and comments? What do they seem to post a lot of? What is their overall aesthetic? Are there any hashtags they use regularly? Are they using any particular themed approach?
Like you did for your own profile, look through several of their latest posts and jot down notes about each. When spread across a number of different competitors, you’re likely to find trends that you can take advantage of. What’s more, you’re now set to design content that’s even better than what the competition is posting.
In case your competitors have neglected Instagram profiles or aren’t on Instagram at all, you can research companies in similar verticals that may have a winning Instagram content strategy that you can learn from.
Create An Instagram Content Calendar
Now that you’ve identified which of your posts perform the best and discovered what you can learn from others in your industry, it’s time to create an Instagram content calendar. This is a wise social media strategy to put into place for all networks you plan to be active on.
First, you’ll need to decide how often you want to post. In some industries, the best practice is to post every day. Others may decide to post less frequently if they’re still contemplating what resources will be dedicated to this channel.
Once you’ve decided on the frequency, choose the days and times that you’ll publish your posts. You can find out when your audience is online the most in the insights tab of your Instagram business account. Take advantage of peak times to get the most traction for each post.
Some businesses print out a physical calendar and use sticky notes or scribble content ideas for each day and time they’ll post. You might also choose to use a digital calendar like the one Google offers. The easiest choice may be to use the calendar feature that comes with most Instagram scheduling tools, which we’ll cover in the next step.
Use A Publishing Tool
Many companies and apps have launched in response to business’ Instagram needs. Depending on your Instagram content plan, you may go with a free or paid version of one of these tools.
Not only will an Instagram scheduling program publish your posts automatically, but they will also help you visualize when you’ll be posting so you make sure you never miss a publishing day. A lot of them also offer the helpful feature of previewing what your Instagram feed will look like with all of your upcoming posts. This helps you make sure that all of your images have a similar aesthetic and look good together, which is extremely important on such a visual platform.
Make It Easy With Themes
Coming up with an Instagram content strategy is challenging. Why not make it easy by using themes? These could be based on different hashtags, different products or services you offer, or by calendar holidays.
For example, let’s say you’re a beauty salon and you offer haircuts, colors, massages, and manicure/pedicure services. You could categorize each service into a theme. So you could make January the month that you showcase your best coloring results. You could take before/after pictures, pictures of the products that you use to color hair, or even record mini videos that show the coloring process.
If sticking with the same theme for an entire month seems too repetitive, why not post about hair coloring every Wednesday? Or every two weeks?
There are a million spins you could put on the theme concept. Why not feature a client’s business the first of every month? Or host a free giveaway every other Thursday? Or post new products or best sellers every Saturday afternoon?
Choosing a few themes to work with makes it much easier to create compelling content consistently.
Stick To An Aesthetic
One thing that Instagram users appreciate is consistency. It’s important in both posting frequency and your feed’s overall look, or aesthetic. Not only do users expect it, but maintaining a consistent aesthetic also conveys professionalism and a strong brand identity.
There are two ways that users can view the images and videos on your Instagram profile: as one large image at a time or as a pack of nine thumbnails. Your last nine images should always have a cohesive feel and look great together. If they don’t, your feed (and in turn your business) will come across as messy, disorganized, and unprofessional.
When choosing an aesthetic, go back to your competitors or look at some of the top performing Instagram profiles out there. Are they using moodier colors and looks? Are their feeds light and bright? What kind of emotion does their profile evoke?
Consider incorporating brand colors in each post to increase brand awareness. Choose a tone and mood that best represents your business. Ask yourself if it’s a look that your target audience would appreciate.
Design Creative Ahead Of Time
Magazines often work months out in anticipation of a new issue. Similarly, when creating an Instagram content strategy, you’ll need to plan the images, videos, and graphics you’ll use for all of your upcoming posts and make sure you have them ready ahead of time.
If you regularly work with influencers or models, take the pictures that you’ll need well ahead of when you plan to publish them. Are you planning to run an Instagram promotion for Valentine’s Day? Schedule your photo shoot in November or December. Are you launching a new line of swimwear in the summer? Take product pictures in the spring. The farther ahead you plan, the less stressful posting consistently on Instagram will be.
You can also look through your existing image and video database and select media that hasn’t yet been used. Use these as a starting point for kicking off your Instagram content strategy. It’s also a good way to identify media that you lack that you’ll need in the future.
Don’t Forget The Captions
A creative Instagram caption can mean the difference between your post getting a handful of likes and your post going viral, getting tons of comments, tags, and even more eyes on your content.
Similar to your chosen media format, identify text that performed well in the past. Sometimes Instagram users add questions at the end of their message to encourage engagement. Or they’ll ask their audience to tag a friend so they get even more views and followers.
Whatever text you choose to use, make sure it’s consistent with your brand. In this post by the Honest company, it’s evident that they understand their target market, which is moms with young children.
In this example by clothing supplier StitchFix, the brand proves it’s one of its target audience by its choice of emoji and by using language like “bestie”.
Adding hashtags to your Instagram posts is an easy way to get free views of your content. Many Instagram users subscribe to hashtags they like to get top posts from new accounts right in their feed. They also use them to search and find similar content that they might like. If your content performs really well, you have the chance of appearing on the explore page, which could send hundreds of views to your content.
Hashtags shouldn’t be an afterthought, but rather a solid part of your Instagram content plan. Research several different hashtags that are relevant to your business. See what kind of content appears for each hashtag. Make sure that the content you create is better than what you see in the search results for maximum results.
Researching hashtags is also a good way to get Instagram content ideas if you’re feeling stuck.
Review & Refine
After you’ve come up with your content strategy and have been posting for a few weeks or months, you’ll want to dig into your insights again. Mark your calendar to go through this process once a month or quarter.
Continue to track which posts perform best and which drive the most action. Ask yourself how you can continue to replicate good results from top performers and eliminate posts that just don’t work with your audience.
A major part of any good strategy is measuring results so you can continue to get the best performance out of your Instagram strategy.
Start your 2019 off right with an Instagram strategy customized for your target audience and campaign goals. Contact us today for a free consultation.