Many bloggers and small business owners are looking to leverage Instagram in 2017, and if you want to create awareness for your blog or business, you should be considering Instagram too. Trying to establish a brand presence on Instagram without an Instagram strategy is like throwing darts with your eyes closed–the “post it and they will come” mentality of yesteryear just doesn’t apply anymore. Instagram recently crossed the 600 million user per month threshold, and thousands of brands are vying for the attention of the ever-decreasing attention spans of the Millenials and Gen-Zers that are on this social media platform. Because of this, having an Instagram strategy in place is not just helpful, it’s a necessity in order to cut through the noise.
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As you’re putting together your Instagram strategy for 2017, the following are topics that are important for you to consider. I’ve also created an Instagram strategy outline that you can print out or fill in for yourself, and it can be used either weekly, monthly, or quarterly for your account(s).
How to Nail Your Instagram Strategy in 2017
First things first–you need to identify your goals. Once you know what the purpose of your Instagram account is for, then creating content around it will become much easier. You can create overall goals for the year, and then break them down into quarters or twelfths (one goal for each month), that can then be further broken down into weeks. Make sure to be clear on what your goals are. Converting followers into clients will require a different strategy than driving traffic to your website to increase your page views. It’s ok to have your goals change over time, the important thing here is to know exactly what you want your end result to be because that will affect the type of content that you post.
Do you know who you’re trying to target? When you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one, so before you start posting you need to be incredibly clear on exactly who you’re trying to target with your Instagram strategy. I would go through an exercise of envisioning your ideal client, who they are, what they do, where they live, what their hobbies are, what shows they watch, what their principles are, etc. It’s also good to do some research on your existing clients or followers, and get to know them better as well. Once you have a clear idea of who you’re talking to, then crafting your message will become much easier as well.
Make sure your profile is optimized with keywords so that it’s more searchable, and speaks directly to your target audience once you get them to come over to check out your account. Make sure that the information on your profile is clear, and don’t include anything that will confuse people or send them on a wild goose chase. Also, make sure that you have at least 9 Instagram posts already in your feed, so that people can take a look at what you’ve posted and decide whether or not they want to follow you. I would recommend trying to post pictures or graphics that are on brand and include your brand colors (you can choose one color to make the dominant one) so there’s continuity in your posts and an overall cohesive feed.
Do a brain dump of all the types of posts you can include based on what your goal is for your Instagram account. What sort of insights can you offer, and what sort of information can you share? What sort of expertise do you have that can further help your community? Make sure to provide some sort of value with every post, and if you can put together an editorial calendar of events or holidays it will further help you out.
Your account needs personality just like your blog or business does, so think about what kind of personality your brand would have if it were a person. What sort of words would this person use? Write several of them down that you can include in your posts so people get a good feel for your brand. Do you want to be humorous, inspiring, serious, cheeky, etc. Make sure this “voice” resonates with your target audience, otherwise there will be some disconnect.
Who are your competitors? Make a list of 10 of your competitors (they can be other large blogs or businesses, as well as other local blogs or businesses) and study their accounts. Don’t follow them if you don’t want to, but make sure to know who they are so you can see what sort of content resonates with their audience, and what sort of information they share that you like that you can emulate too.
What accounts can complement your blog or business? What accounts do you admire whose content you can emulate? Write down the top 10 accounts, and make sure to interact and engage with those accounts often. It’s called social media for a reason, and the more the followers of those accounts see you commenting and interacting with those accounts, the more likely they’ll be curious about your account and will want to check it out too. If it’s a complimentary account, chances are the audience of those accounts may be interested in your content as well.
How often you’ll be posting to your Instagram account, and when. While there’s no magic number of posts per week consistency is key. I recommend a minimum of three times per week, and you can test out post frequency until you are at an amount that isn’t overwhelming yet allows you to have a known presence. Write down how often you will be posting per week, and stick to that schedule. Look at your analytics to determine the best time of the day to post as well.
Make a list of any and all accounts/bloggers/businesses you want to notice you, including individuals, publications, and even accounts that you love that aren’t necessarily competitors or complimentary businesses. Do they have hashtags that you can incorporate into your posts? Have they built up a large community of engaged followers that you can interact with? What sort of content are they posting that resonates with you? Are there any underlying themes across the accounts that you wrote down (there doesn’t have to be but if there is you may be on to something)?
Brainstorm some ways on how you’ll help your targets notice you
Brainstorm additional creative strategies that don’t fit elsewhere. These could be a way to break up some of the content in your feed and breathe new life into your account. This can also be a way to create more engagement within your account, and can include anything from contests, giveaways, takeovers, advertising, events that you can host or events that you can go to (like conferences), challenges, the list goes on and on.
Make a list and start looking into/becoming familiar with tools that will help you succeed, including free tools to help you schedule/organize your posts, or give you ideas on what to post. If you download the workbook, I’ve included some ideas of tools that can be useful and can further streamline your Instagram strategy. The truth is that Instagram’s analytics alone won’t help you out, and many people have been concerned with switching over to a business account in the first place because of rumors of lower engagement rates (something that I haven’t experience myself).
How will you let your community know about your Instagram account? There are several ways to cross-promote this account, and it includes both an active effort on your part using other mediums, along with the help of other friends or colleagues. If you just focus on trying to grow your Instagram organically on that one single platform alone, you’re missing out on so many other opportunities to let other people know your account exists, and you’re doing a disservice to those who may want to follow you and don’t know you have an account on that platform. Brainstorm all sorts of ways that you can tell people to follow you on Instagram to get daily/weekly (whatever) updates and more helpful information.
How will you track your progress, both numerically and anecdotally? Will you be using native analytics? 3rd party analytics? Will it be weekly, monthly, or quarterly? I’d also make sure to include anecdotal wins: much of social media ROI is difficult to track – similar to word-of-mouth marketing – I usually include anecdotes in my end-of-month reports. That could be getting mentioned on a blog, making a connection with one of our target influencers, reaching a new group of clients, hearing from satisfied customers, etc. The point of measuring everything ties back to the first topic at the very top of this blog post which is what your goals are. If you want to gain 2 new clients a month, you’ll be able to track this quite easily, but if you want to double your Instagram following in 6 months, you’ll have to be measuring your success at least monthly to see if you’re on pace to achieving that goal. If you’re not, that’s when incorporating new tactics may come in to help you get to that level.
There’s your overall Instagram Strategy in a nutshell–there are so many more things to cover, but I’d be writing a book if I were to go into all of it! The great thing about the workbook download that I’m including in this blog post is that it can be printed out or edited and can be used weekly, monthly, or even quarterly to make sure you stay on top of things. Instagram marketing doesn’t have to be so overwhelming or confusing, and you’ll find that it’s much more enjoyable when you have a solid Instagram strategy in place. Stay tuned, I have more great content coming out in the next few weeks related to Instagram specifically covering topics I hear the most complaints about, including the new algorithm and lower engagement rates, hashtag questions, and more.