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The power of Instagram engagement

17th February 2021

When Instagram first launched in 2010 it was hard to imagine it as a business tool of any description, let alone a business tool that could equally support B2B and B2C brands.

But a quick look at today’s instagram stats firmly proves its commercial capabilities:

  • Instagram has 1 billion active monthly users, of which 500 million access Instagram stories on a daily basis
  • There are at least 25 million active business profiles on Instagram
  • 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business
  • 83% of users say Instagram has helped them discover new businesses, services and brands
  • 80% of Instagram users have made a purchase based on something they discovered on the platform

Here are our top tips for building an Instagram profile designed to gain followers and generate leads.

Set your Instagram business objectives

You can’t measure success without knowing what success looks like. The more targeted you are when deciding who your audience is, how you want them to engage with your content and what you want them to think/feel/do after seeing your posts, the better and more measurable your results will be.

The real bonus to businesses using social media channels, is the audience selection criteria available. You can specifically select the demographic and geographic qualities of who your paid ads are seen by, and Instagram Insights (the native analytics that are available on all Instagram business accounts) provide data on views and reactions to your organic posts. These insights help you continuously refine your content to meet your objectives.

Creating engagement on instagram

There are three clear considerations for setting Instagram objectives:

  1. Know who your target audience is, what they have common, and what type of content they are likely to engage with - or use paid ads to get directly in front of them

  2. Provide clear and measurable calls to action. This could be ‘swipe up to find out more’, ‘click the link in our bio’, or simpler interactions such as ‘like this post’, ‘share this post’, ‘tag a friend’

  3. Decide how best to use Instagram Insights (or other social media tools with analytics capabilities) to continue learning about audience engagement. Analytics/insight reviews need to be a critical step in your social media content planning

First impressions count

Think of your Instagram page as a social media shop window. Everything posted on your grid (Read more about the various ways to post content on Instagram here) becomes part of your brand aesthetic. That said, Instagram is designed for ‘in the moment’ content and users are much more likely to pay attention to current posts, rather than previous ones.

Instagram users will visit your page if they see a shared post, or an ad which has piqued their interest. These potential followers want to find out who you are and what regular content you share, to decide if you are deserving of the valuable real estate that is their Instagram timeline.

Securing new followers and keeping hold of your existing ones can be dependent on:

The right bio and profile picture: Instagram profile pictures are always cropped into a circle shape, so choose wisely. And Instagram bios are only 150 characters in length. There is no need to try and use key words or optimize your bio for SEO/SEM as they are not searchable, but they do need to align with the values, interests and preferred tone of voice of your target audience. If you decide to include a link in your bio, make sure the page it clicks through to continues to personally engage your audience.

Ongoing, amazing, relevant content: it’s much easier to lose an audience than gain one. Especially on channels that build engagement on current content, rather than loyalty. Instagram content obviously needs to be very visual, but should also be a mix of relatable, aspirational and endearing. It’s your chance to show the human side of your brand. The best way to keep your content Instagram friendly is with the ‘people test’ (i.e ask other people if they would relate to, enjoy, or engage with your posts). If it doesn’t pass the people test, it’s on the wrong platform.

Embrace all Instagram formats: one of the most notable ways social media channels have evolved over the last five years, is the addition of multiple ways to post content - and Instagram has been at the forefront. Instagram posts are transitional, but making use of the stories, reels and live features, extends your opportunity to capture audience attention. The way in which your audience prefers to consume content will undoubtedly differ, and a multiformat approach boosts chances of engagement. Always take time to think about which messaging will work best in which formats, and check back on your analytics to stay on track.

Utilizing all of Instagram's content options also increases the frequency at which you can post, without becoming an annoyance. It lets you experiment with posting at different times, on different days to see which accrues the best results.

consistency and brand recognition is essential for instagram success

Consistency and momentum are essential

Instagram is a great place to attract and engage an audience, and the ‘swipe up’ option for business accounts gives you the chance to convert them right there and then - but, a ‘one and done’ approach is unlikely to drive success.

Followers, advert audiences and prospects all need time to build trust and alignment with your brand, this comes from familiarity and exposure.

Creating an Instagram strategy will help you decide what content is needed to hit your objectives, how often you can commit to posting great content and what key messages/information you should be sharing with your audience.

The required level of planning and collaboration needed for Instagram is much easier with the use of a tool, such as ContentCal, to secure consistency, momentum and collaboration (remember the people test). Using a third party publishing tool also allows you to post from your desktop (via the tool) instead of directly from the Instagram mobile app, which is the only alternative.

Part of your planning should look at which hashtags to use (you can store saved hashtags within ContentCal to use again as Snippets) giving you the best chance of piggybacking on trending posts, attracting a wider audience or creating content that can start trending in its own right.

With Instagram, and most other social media channels, the best way to learn is to do. Once you are confident that your page aligns with your audience, you are planning content at least a week in advance and are regularly learning from Instragtam analytics, just keep refining and experimenting!

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