Does your Instagram account get your brand noticed? Does it generate revenue? If your account isn’t doing either of those things as often as you’d like – don’t give up on it yet. When you start investing some real time and build your brand’s instagram strategy, you will see results.
We know this from experience. From making dozens of mini waffles in the office in order to engage our followers with a giveaway, to our strong subscription to meme culture – we live for Instagram. We’ve done a lot of research over the years on the best ways to structure our feed and build a devoted following.
These are the tried & true tips that have led us to success, and that we still use to this day, because growth never stops.
Set Your Account Up For Success
Let’s start from the top – because your bio is important. This spot needs to clearly tell people who you are, what you do and what they stand to gain by following you (aka why they should care). If people are confused or left guessing, they can’t be sure if you’re a good fit for their needs, and their incentive to follow and interact with you is immediately decreased.
At the end of the day your bio and account are about the relationship you are building with your followers.
Make sure you also include a link to your website, and your professional email or other form of contact info. Even if it’s just letting people know to send you a message if they’re interested in working together or voicing a concern. This at least lets them know that you check your messages, and that they can expect a response there.
Brevity is the soul of a great bio. AKA, keep it as short and sweet as possible! Include the basics, and maybe a personal fact if there’s room. We suggest nothing more than a sentence or two, or 3-4 lines of short broken up text.
TIP: If you have been looking at the bio too long and don’t even know what the words mean anymore, ask acquaintances! Friends and family will be too nice, but a coworker or the barista at your coffee shop have nothing to lose by telling you the truth
Your highlighted stories are the perfect window into what kind of content your followers can expect from you. So the goal here is still to make an amazing first impression.
The funnel of Instagram engagement kind of works like the interview process. Your bio is the resume to peak their interest, highlighted stories is a quick phone interview to get a feel of what to expect, following your page is an in-person interview to take the next step, liking your posts lets you know that you’re seriously on their radar, and once they’re engaged enough to start following your regular daily stories – you’re hired!
The covers for your highlighted stories should look cohesive and have interesting titles that make new followers want to click them. TIP: Instagram recently updated that you can edit the cover photo right from your camera roll! No more posting a cover to your story as the first photo.
Here are some examples of highlighted story topics that are helpful to new followers:
- About Me / About the Team
- FAQ / Q&A
- How To or unboxing for products
- First look at new products
- Sales or promotions you’re currently running
- Reviews and/or reposts from clients and customers
- Press features
- Your hashtag
- Something fun and personal! Let people know who you are by adding your favorite playlist or list of funny memes.
Get Strategic About Your Feed
Keep It Consistent
No matter your brand style – make your feed a cohesive fit. Use the same filter and choose photos that all have a similar feel. The goal here is for your feed to flow well and be immediately eye catching, without appearing busy.
Easier said than done, we know. But the proof is in the (expertly-styled) pudding (displayed on a white marble countertop). Here are some examples of brands that are using colors and aesthetics perfectly to create a story through visuals:
This is the most important advice of all – plan your feed in advance! (TBH we feel like 10 million exclamation marks are appropriate here, but will refrain.)
When you’re planning ahead, you’re able to keep the bigger picture in mind. Always be aware of your top nine. What are the nine photos you want a prospective follower to see? What are the nine types of photos that always get the best engagement?
The easiest and most effective way to do plan this out this is with the help of an app. This way, you can literally see the whole picture and can consider your current top nine photos and how you want them to flow into the rows to come. We suggest playing around and preview of new options in before deciding which are the best fit for your feed as a whole, especially if you’re new to pre-planning this way. A few of our fave free Instagram planning and editing apps are:
Repost, Reuse, Recycle Content
Don’t be afraid to re-use content! If it did really well before, repost it. As we mentioned earlier, just keep your top nine in mind and make sure you don’t have duplicate content appearing twice within the same view.
And this doesn’t just apply to your own content. If it worked really well for someone with a similar account, regram it (just make sure to give credit where it’s due)!
Provide More Than Photos
Talk Like A Friend
Keep your audience’s needs in mind down to every last bit of copy you put on your page. From captions to your answers on Q&A posts, make sure and keep it conversational and friendly. We like to say that if your brand starts to feel like a real friend – one that your followers would be sad to see go or miss when they are on vacation – you are going to succeed!
Frequent, engaging use of Instagram Stories can do wonders for your brand. We covered highlighted stories above, as they are part of your bio and are evergreen on your page (until you decide to switch them out, that is). But now, we’re talking about the 24-hour pieces of fun and fleeting content that give your followers a more frequent reminder of why they love your brand.
If you’re not super familiar with the process yet – here’s a helpful step by step guide to posting Instagram Stories of all types.
Stories are also a great way for people to get to know you personally! Are you an expert baker in your free time, or a parent / pet parent? Post about your personal life every once in a while – especially if it’s cute ;). Give your followers an opportunity to take a peek behind the curtain and hopefully realize you have quite a bit in common with them.
You should also be using your stories as an opportunity to gather valuable information from your followers in a way that’s fun for them! We’ve found that using stories to post frequent posting polls and Q&As have been some of our most engaging content!
No Comment Unanswered
If people care enough about what’s going on on your feed to comment or reach out and message you, don’t leave them hanging! These are your current or potential VIPs, and they should be given the care of such.
We all want to feel seen. Being able to prove that you are seeing and listening to someone will establish trust and keep them coming back to your page. If you get to the point where you can’t personally answer people’s comments and messages at least go through and ‘like’ each comment. It only takes a minute but earns you a lot of recognition points with your audience.
And remember above all else to love thy hater. Honest, even harsh, feedback is valuable, too. If someone disagrees with a view of yours or doesn’t like a product, do not take it personally or get defensive! Reassure people that their concerns are heard and valid, and that you will use their feedback to improve. Thank them for taking the time to help you grow, and tell them you hope they’ll stay along for the ride as you make improvements.
In fact, it’s been found that that not answering a complaint decreases customer advocacy by as much as 50%.
Find Your Tribe
By this we mean, do some literal social networking! Instagram is an amazing place to find people in your community and establish a connection with them.
Spend some time on the explore page, or on a hashtag that’s popular in your industry to find and support the pages of your peers. Take this example: If you’re a photographer, you can find tons of other photography pages with very minimal searching. Find the ones that really stand out to you, follow them, and comment with a digital “hello,” in the form of something simple like, “I love this shot! What type of lens did you use?”
This can be a great way to connect with a peer and make a lasting industry connection. Many will likely engage right back with you, and you may even become friends.
Moral of the story: you reap what you sow on the ‘Gram.
Good Things Take Time
Whether you’re starting from scratch or already have a decent sized following – further social media success will not find you overnight. These aren’t tactics you implement once, they make up an ongoing social strategy.
Remember to plan ahead, keep your page clean, consistent and appealing, and keep engaging with your community. Keep your eye on your analytics as you go, and double down on the posts and trends that work best. Devote time to these practices and your Instagram will grow!