I thought about titling this post “when bad Instagram feeds happen to good businesses” but I didn’t think that’d make for such a positive post.
See, I spend a bunch of time scrolling through Instagram (admittedly, way more time than I probably should) and I often come across what seem like great brands with cool products. But their Instagram feeds don’t convey that awesomeness.
And that makes me sad.
Instagram can be a really great way for small businesses to connect with their people. But if your feed is a mish-mash of photos and styles, then visitors to your page won’t even get a chance to figure out what you do.
While a lot of posts talk about the importance of good images on Instagram (which is super important BTW), today I want to take a step back and talk about the thing that’s going to make a whole lot of difference to your results on Instagram.
Yeah, I get for some people that can conjure up images of dull, corporate workshops where the only perk was a catered lunch and the chance to get out of work for a day.
But strategy can actually be a lot of fun. I get a bit giddy when I sit down with a new client in a strategy session. It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You get all the little pieces together and come up with something beautiful.
When you’re putting together your own Instagram strategy, here are the things that you need to consider.
What Your Customers Want to Know
Ask yourself, do your customers really care about that cute dog you saw on your walk today? I mean, I love a fluffy puppy as much as the next gal. But if people want to see cute doc pics, they can just follow @dogsofinstagram. Unless you make things for dogs, that stuff has no place on your Instagram page.
“But what should I post then?” I hear you cry.
First, start with what your followers care about (or will care about when they follow you). If you sell a product, then they want to see that product being used and loved by other people. They want to know how to style it. Care for it. How it’s made. And how they can buy it.
Rather than trying to just figure this stuff out, your followers are probably already telling you. Like the questions you get asked in emails or the feedback you get from customers. Even going back and looking at your past Instagram posts, you should see a pattern when it comes to what people have liked and commented on.
Your Instagram Themes
I don’t like to just decide what my followers want to hear from me. I like to divide them into themes.
If you follow me on Instagram (@fetecreative), you’ll see some of my themes are:
- Discussion Points
- Business Shoutouts
When I schedule out my Instagram posts, I make sure I have a nice mix of all these different themes across the week so stuff doesn’t feel same-sy.
As an ecommerce brand, your themes might be:
- Product Feature
- Customer Regrams
- Styling Inspiration
- Behind The Scenes
Of course, some of these themes will depend on what your brand sells. But I think having themes is one of the best ways to keep your Instagram strategy on track. When you’re tempted to post a picture of something random you’ve spotted, just ask yourself if it fits within a theme. If not, post it to your personal account or Snapchat.
When You’ll Post
Your Instagram strategy should include when you’ll be posting to Instagram. You can use something like Iconosquare to figure out when your followers are generally online. Of course, as your following grows, the best time to post may change, so it’s important to be flexible when it comes to this and experiment with posting at different times if you notice engagement slipping.
Your Images and Photography
In particular, you should think about how you’ll create the image you need (and whether you’re the best person to do it).
Image quality is really important on Instagram, especially if you’re representing your brand. And the reality is not all of us have the skills to take great photos.
As part of your strategy consider whether you have the skills (and time) to snap your own photos. A pro photographer could be a great option and ensure you always have a bank of ‘Insta-ready’ images in your arsenal.
If you decide to take your own photos, decide when and where you’ll do it and the type of vibe you’ll create. Pull together some images for inspiration and to create a bit of a style guide so you’re not starting from scratch each time.
Instagram is all about the hashtags. It’s how we find, connect and follow the things and brands we love.
Hashtags are a central part of your Instagram strategy. You’ll want to write down as many hashtags as you can that relate to your brand. Try to come up with a few original ones as well that incorporate your brand name.
You can do some easy research using Instagram to find relevant hashtags. Stalk a few of your ideal customers and see what hashtags they use in their posts. Then click that link and at the top you’ll see a list of Related hashtags.
The Time You Have For Insta Marketing
Any strategy should also include a realistic schedule of how much time you can dedicate to marketing. It’s no good saying you’ll be on Instagram for two hours a day when you’re already choc-a-block with designing, making, packing and chatting with customers.
Of course, you can’t expect to spend zero time on it and expect rockstar results. But if you try to do too much, you’ll just stress yourself out and give up.
Write down the days/times you’ll dedicate to Instagram and mark it in your planner or calendar. You can always start small, see what results you get and adjust your time upwards as your sales increase.
What your goal is
Finally, you want to make sure when you create your strategy that you actually have a goal or desired outcome in mind.
And straight up, that goal should not be massive amounts of followers. See huge followings don’t always indicate engagement or sales. Just look at those spammy “motivation” accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers and only 500 likes on any one photo. Like, why bother?
Your goal should align with your business goals (because you’re not just on Instagram for the pictures of donuts, amirite?).
Perhaps your goal is to grow your email list by 20 people a week. Or increase sales by 50%. Or something else.
Whatever it is, make it specific and measurable so you can track your results.
Create a doc and write down all the different elements to your strategy. You’ll want to refer back to it often – especially at the start. Whenever you’re not sure if you should post something, or what you should be sharing this week, just refer back to that doc. It’ll help keep you focused and getting the results you deserve.
Have you got questions around crafting a successful Instagram strategy (or around telling your brand story in general). Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.