Before we talk about the specific strategy and the type of content that is created for Instagram, we need to set a solid foundation about how we are going to use the social media platform.
I am not a marketer and if you’re looking for support on how to use your platform in a more capitalist marketing approach, this is not the article for you. This is about how social media is a space for initiating and supporting relationships that foster into community.
Know Your Business Values
Every Expert Has an Opinion
It's About Relationships
It's Not Easy
Aesthetic is Everything and Nothing
Know Y our Business
Identify Core Values & Purpose for your Business
Start being honest with yourself about your businesses values, purpose, and mission statement. You might have already done this when drafting a business plan. Bring it out and let’s make sure that the social strategy you develop aligns with that messaging.
Yes, you can change in the future but pivoting can be hard for followers. Try to establish what you are, and who you serve, and your end goals.
Know Your Ideal Client
Who does your business serve? And start to really get to know that person and understand how they use social media and what they might expect.
You might discover that your ideal client is not on Instagram. If so, maybe you need to pivot again.
What are you hoping to achieve by being on Instagram? Why have you decided that Instagram is the place for your business or brand? Know these answers and know how you plan to serve your followers.
— A good practice to have is to post your content, and then spent 5-10 minutes commenting on other posts of the hashtags you used, the location you used, and/or your feed. You can do it before as well. This is also a great way to get a feel for content that is trending and making an impact. It’s also a great way to check in with your community and see if there are gaps that need to be filled such as video content, information sharing, and other helpful support —
It’s Not Easy
Sure, you could run a highly targeted ad and throw money at Instagram and hope to get some new followers, but how do you know they will stick? Creating and managing a social media platform does not come easily for everyone because it does require a time commitment, a personal commitment, and a resource commitment. You need to make it part of your plan and show up.
Consistency is key. You’ll hear this so much you’ll want to throw something.
Consistency means showing up regularly for your followers and delivering the same quality content they have come to love and appreciate it. It means that you stay on brand. It means that you answer questions and DM’s. It means that you try to post at least once a week in a regular way.
Be there for them. You don’t have to be there 24/7, and please set a healthy boundary, but you do need to be there sometimes if it’s a platform you want to leverage and build on. Be wary of tools that can make it easy. Instagram will block and limit your account if you use applications or programs that spam likes and/or comments.
Instagram is a platform that thrives off a particular aesthetic – one that is clean, crisp, and inherently white. While this might be evident of trending posts, it doesn’t have to be the future of Instagram. We can build an aesthetic for your brand that is true to you, breaks outside the norms, and reflects the information your need to share without selling yourself out (if you don’t want to).
Clear, in-focus pictures
Keep it Tidy
Use Text & Graphics
There are many amazing social media strategists sharing information about how to best show up and serve. They offer tips and advice to market yourself and rock your business.
A lot of social strategy is contradictory.
What we know from contradiction is not that one person is wrong and the other is right, but that both are equally valid in their experience of social media. There are so many variations from regional descripencies, to niche-specific interactions, and more that allow for a multitude of experiences to be had.
Do not obsess over the right strategy. Take it all in and find what works for you – remembering the reason you are on Instagram, and the needs of your customers or followers. You are here to serve them and that means showing up for them might look different than it does for a big business in Los Angeles because this is Northern BC and how we show up online is different. That is okay.
Social is Relationships
To thrive on social media is to connect with people and build important relationships that can support your business. This means that you have to network like you’re a party but the party is in your hands, on your phone.
There’s nothing worse than being in a business niche where there is no reciprocal community. We see this in some spaces where businesses just post but never comment, like, or share other content.
We are all in this together and if we want to build communities that shop local, that feel empowered to be incredible leaders, or become allies of great causes, then we need to be an active part of that conversation and not just a ad spam on a social platform.
Comment & Share
The algorithm favours popular posts and the best way to make a post popular is through engaging with it. It’s also the best way to start to foster important relationships and get peoples attention.
Through your own content, and on other people’s content, ask questions and be a conversation starter. People love to find out who is interested in them, and then they might be interested in you.
Be Present. Be Authentic.
The above advise is spammy if it’s done without authenticity and goodness in your heart. Don’t just drop questions and comments. Go out and find the ideal client, start the conversation and be genuinely interested in them.
Stats on how long this take are not easy to be found – but don’t rely on stats. Look at your competitors. Do they have 10K? Is it a realistic metric? Or an arbritery stretch goal? Some narrow niches may never have 10K followers. And that’s okay.
It doesn’t define you.
Take the likes and comments of your post and divide by your followers, multiply by 100.
If you’re rocking 6-7% engagement, consider that a great day.
Engagement is a better metric to bench mark Instagram success but it has limitations.
Users who watch stories daily
Get personal, or at least get into stories and start sharing things.
You can show up as yourself and show a process in your business. You can teach something. Or you can just share something you loved from someone else accounts.
Some users only watch stories. Take advantage.