2017 has been a big year for Instagram! The platform has solidified its place among the big players of the marketing space and proved that it is much more than a place to post pretty pictures of lattes. Now that 2018 is here, let's ensure that we make this year even more fruitful by committing to Instagram as a marketing channel and staying ahead of the game. Here are 5 steps absolutely necessary for making your Insta presence a success.
Instagram rolls out new features -- and improvements to the old ones -- at light speeds. However, since Instagram is the hottest platform on the block, the media extensively covers new features as soon as they come out. Spend some time educating yourself and looking for creative ways to take advantage of the new features. Instagram encourages the use of new features by giving them a preferential treatment for at least a short period of time. The algorithm would push videos into more feeds, when the video features were just rolled out. The same thing happened with Stories and the organic reach of those seem to be much more favorable than that of traditional posts. So, read commentary and watch how influencers and competitors use new features. Of course, think of unique ways to integrate these features into your own content. However, this is not to say that you have to jump on a bandwagon of every single trend you see out there. If an update or a feature doesn't quite fit into your content strategy, this might be fine as well -- which brings me to my next point.
Hopefully, you have built an engaged and loyal following, however big or small it might be. It follows that you should learn as much as you can about them. Once you know them well, evaluate the posts that get the most engagement and uncover your audience's content preferences. Strive to strike a chord with your specific following. Instagram might be rolling out new features every day, but those are useless if your audience doesn't enjoy it or engage with it. Whatever the Instagram algorithm throws your way, high engagement rates from the audience that absolutely loves your content will always win.
Instagram has become notorious for stunning images, perfectly-orchestrated flatlays, and airbrushed models. Clearly, business owners and bloggers alike want to hit that mark with every post of their own. Needless to say, it is very challenging and time-consuming endeavor. So, stock images came to the rescue. These days you can see tons of stock images travelling from one handle to the next. There is nothing wrong with posting an occasional tasteful stock photo, but try to make it your own as much as possible with creative crops, filters, and -- of course -- captions. However, it is best to strive to create as much of your own unique content as possible. Consumers and platform users became very good at discerning a stock image from an original photo -- and guess which one produces more engagement. Bringing me back to the previous point: whatever Instagram throws at us next year in terms of algorithm updates and features, there will always be need for creativity in traditional posts, Stories, and Live videos.
The most successful Instagram handles look like well-curated catalogs instead of a mere collection of disorganized and unrelated images. Strong branding is at the core of strong Instagram presence. So, it comes as no surprise that you need to take time to carefully plan and organize your content. A variety of PLANOLY tools make this necessary job super easy. You have the ability to visualize your profile before all those posts go live, switch their order, type up engaging and in-depth captions, and even plan the content for Stories (the ones that a lot of people disregard and post completely random things too). What's cool about Instagram is that you can take your "catalog" nine pictures at a time. This activity shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes to complete each week. However, it will drastically improve your branding and storytelling, which in turn, dramatically improves engagement and follower counts.
As with any other marketing channel, "what gets measured, gets improved." Analytics provide you with a great insight into your audience, their behaviors, and content preferences. Even if you haven't claimed your profile as a Business account, you can get a ton of insight from third-party tools. This is a very important, yet often-overlooked step with this platform. Remember, that Instagram is much more than pretty pictures, it's a marketing machine. Put in just a little bit of effort, follow through on all five tactics outlined above, and make this year your best one yet!
Lesya Liu helps creative entrepreneurs create a meaningful and profitable Instagram presence that feels right and attracts the right kind of clients. Her passion lies in art and marketing (and combining the two). Visit her website here.