Once seen as merely the place where millennials post pictures of their avocado toast, Instagram has matured into a cornerstone platform that every content marketer needs to take seriously.
As with other social media platforms, Instagram is full of unique opportunities for marketers, as well as pitfalls they should seek to avoid.
Here are seven things to know about Instagram marketing.
1. Make Sure Your Account Is Set up Properly.
If you’re new to marketing on Instagram, one of the first things you’ll want to do is ensure that your profile is set up properly. When you create your Instagram profile, you are given a personal account by default. For your organization’s Instagram account, you will need to go into your account settings to change it to a professional account.
This is free to do, and it will allow you to identify yourself by industry category, gain valuable insights and analytics about your audience, and create paid content that will increase sales or audience size through Instagram advertising.
2. Post a Variety of Content Types.
At its heart, Instagram is a visual platform. So marketers who want to be successful on the platform need to keep their feed visually interesting. This means mixing it up with text graphics, photographs, videos, and carousel slide images.
You may also consider how you might vary the different places you post your visual content, whether in the feed, in Stories, as a Reel, or an IGTV video. Varying your content will keep it from getting buried beneath the noise.
Some marketers worry about the visual aesthetic of their profile, seeking to curate a cohesive look between posts. However, this is less important than presenting something visually interesting in the feed. So if it’s one or the other, a less than visually stunning profile is a small price to pay for increased engagement on your individual posts.
3. Prioritize What the Algorithm Is Currently Prioritizing.
Good social media marketers are always doing what they can to game the algorithm, and Instagram is no different. While the nuances of the algorithm are something of a mystery to anyone without an advanced degree in mathematics, a good rule of thumb is to pay attention to the new features the platform rolls out. And that’s because Instagram will always prioritize those features in the algorithm, in order to ensure their success and adoption by users.
Since this boost is temporary, it’s a time limited opportunity to organically increase the size of your audience. Whether it was Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live, or Reels, those who have been early adopters of new platform-native content mediums have been successful at reaching a larger set of users.
4. Put Thought and Effort Into Your Captions and Hashtags.
Just because Instagram is a visual platform, that doesn’t mean that you can mail in your captions. Pairing a compelling image with a thoughtful caption is a formula for a potentially viral post.
The same goes for hashtags, which are a helpful tool for getting your content to a broader audience. But this is where marketers ought to be careful. While Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post, you should use far less than that.
Research hashtags that are the most relevant to your audience, and do your best not to come off as “spammy.” People tend to become suspicious of accounts that use hashtags that are popular rather than hashtags that are relevant to the posted content, and the algorithm takes notice.
5. Provide Captions for All Your Video Content.
Video is a vital part of a successful Instagram content strategy, and captions are vital to successful video.
Most people scroll through Instagram without the sound on. Whether they’re sitting in a waiting room, on the bus, at the DMV, or in a boring meeting, most people aren’t in a place where they can blast social media audio through their phones’ speakers (unless they lack social graces).
Therefore, if you are producing video content, it must be captioned. Otherwise, the effort you put into it will likely be wasted as people scroll past it rather than learning to read lips.
6. Sell Products Directly on the Platform.
One feature that Instagram has developed for businesses in recent years is Instagram Shopping. With this feature, users can visually discover products in their feed and follow links to purchase them. Businesses can leverage countdown features to showcase upcoming releases and highlight multiple products from their catalogue in a single image.
While this feature isn’t a benefit to all types of products or services, if your organization sells something that would fit into these content pieces, you would be wise to capitalize on the opportunity for increased exposure.
7. Only Feature Calls-to-Action in Story Content or Paid Posts.
One limitation of Instagram for marketers is that the platform doesn’t allow hyperlinks in post captions. This is part of an effort to keep users on the platform, rather than directing them elsewhere.
However, Instagram does allow users to place one link on their profile. This link can serve as a landing page with a link tree to other important content and webpages you want to feature. Nevertheless, while many marketers will post a call-to-action in a feed post, encouraging their followers to go to the link in their bio, the multiple clicks necessary for a user to get there leads to conversion rates that are woefully low.
On the other hand, you can post links to your Stories which only require one click. In a recent change, Instagram opened this feature up to all users, whereas it had previously only been available to users with 10 thousand or more followers. Furthermore, if you are paying for an advertising post on Instagram, you are provided with a call-to-action, and this is another great place for your important links that will appear in the feed.
While there is more that could be said about each of these items, we hope that these seven things to know about Instagram marketing will help you as you seek to reach your audience with the important messages you have to share.