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Kick start your Instagram strategy with these 5 key steps

Instagram is one of the only social media platforms that’s continuing to see growth across it’s userbase. From its simple interface to the ecommerce integration, Instagram is proving itself as a lucrative market place for lots of businesses. The speed of recent product developments in the last 6 months alone, suggests Facebook, who took over the brand in 2012, are keen to make the most of their $1 billion investment and maximise its potential return.

Here are our first 5 steps to help you start making the most of these dynamic squares!

1)      Make your profile work for you

Firstly, if you’ve not yet created an account, make sure you set it up as a business one as you will have access to added features including a useful insight tool. Ensure you also have it set to public so people can easily find you!

Your profile is a short space to summarise your business and offer. Keep it interesting, keep it brief and include your key hashtags.

To help you make the most of the one linkable URL you can add to your profile (hyperlinks don’t work in posts) use a third-party app such as Linktree that will enable you to signpost customers to various weblinks without always having to change your profile web address.

Once you start posting to stories or IGTV (more of that later) you can create highlights to key interest points that are displayed just below your profile and above your feed. You can choose a highlight image from the story or video or to keep it brand consistent design a standard style front cover. This article talks you through how to do that.

2)      Think about your brand and style direction

Spend any length of time on Instagram and you’ll see there is a definite level of effort that is put into the aesthetic of the feeds from any of the leading accounts. There is a clear brand identity, a ‘theme’. Check out Marks and Spencer, Made.com, Scamp & Dude, Bossing It Blog for some inspiration.  

From picking out an accent colour or palette that pops in your photos, to the styling and positioning of your images (check out this interesting article on the different grid formats) and which filter you’ll use consistently, all need consideration to present your brand and business offering in the best possible light.  

You can create your own branded templates for things like quotes or testimonials on creative tools and apps like Canva and batch up assets ahead of launch which will save time in long run and help you see what the overall brand image is looking like.

3)      Consider the content

Once you have an idea on what kind of style and aesthetic you’ll be aiming for, thinking about what kind of content you’ll be posting is equally important.

Longer form content does tend to work better than short form, so look at developing a story or detail on each post that your followers will find interesting. To break up paragraphs on Instagram you need to insert something such as a full stop or an emoji to separate the space otherwise you’ll end up with one big long paragraph.

Multi-image posts are useful to showcase a range of products so don’t limit your posts to one image only. You can also mix images with video, but video posts must be more than 3seconds long. Spend some time thinking about the creative asset that will accompany your post. Will you be using product images, selfie images, natural shots, inspirational quotes, calls to action or testimonials?

Hashtags are also big business on Instagram. You can now follow hashtags as well as people and brands so making sure you are using the right ones is key to growing your follower base. Check out the competition and keep a note of your most used hashtags on your phone and computer so you can easily cut and paste each time.  To keep it looking tidy and for the hashtags not to deflect from the key information in the post, add several paragraph breaks with full stops (up to about 10) before pasting in the hashtags or you could add a comment to the post once made public including all the hashtags.

4)      Use the extras

Instagram offers a variety of additional promotional tools:

-          Insta stories enable you to share 15 second snippets of video or photos that you can add additional images, words, emojis or filters to using the inbuilt design feature. These are highlighted at the top of a user’s feed and great for showcasing behind the scenes or first looks.

-          IGTV is the new inbuilt video sharing feature which enables users to create their own channel with videos up to 60 minutes and in a vertical format. You can also link the videos to your stories.

-          Nametags have recently been introduced to make it easier to share your account details with others, especially useful if promoting them on other social platforms. You can personalise the look of it using inbuilt templates and you find it by clicking on the three lines or dots in the top right of your profile. Followers can scan in the image and immediately connect with your account.

Like Facebook and Twitter there are also options to pay to boost your posts to relevant audiences. The advertising tool is easy to navigate and allow you to focus on key target markets and interest areas with a clear call to action.

5)      Engaging with your community  

Like any social media platform, your Instagram account will only be successful if you put the effort in and treat it as social space and engage with others. It’s not a one-way street.

Commentating and liking on other people’s posts, acknowledging comments from others, reposting (using third party app Repost), tagging other accounts, sharing behind the scenes content via your stories or running competitions are all ways to show you are an active member of the community.

Instagram has also been an instigator of the ‘influencer’ explosion. This involves identifying users who have a relevant connection with your service or product and have an active and engaged community of their own. You can then approach them to collaborate, which can be free or paid, to promote your brand. This can be a great way to get your product in front of potential customers. However, there is lots of discussion over the true value of influencer marketing, accountability and ROI.   

So there’s your 5 first steps to starting your Instagram campaign. Lots to take in!

The platform isn’t without its irritants. As much as Twitter grates not being able to edit posts, Instagram’s limited insight function, the inability to scroll someone’s feed or repost easily and lack of an inbuilt scheduling tool are all aspects which if improved, could make life a lot easier.

However, it is still a fabulous platform for inspiration, personalised content, community engagement and most importantly, sales that can be great addition to your marketing strategy.

For top 5 tips on creating your social media strategy check out our blog.

 Instagram can be one of your key marketing tools

Instagram can be one of your key marketing tools