Instagram is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular social networks in the world; and even more so, it’s one of the best, most effective platforms for marketing.
Not only does it have over 1 billion active users per month (out of which 500 million are active every day!), but its users often search for products and interact with brands directly on the platform, much more so than they would on other popular social networks.
In fact, Instagram claims that 90% of their users follow at least one business account on Instagram.
Not to mention, Instagram is one of the few social networks where shopping – and promoting/selling your products – is not only quite common but encouraged.
So as more people use Instagram to find new products and services, this is the perfect opportunity for brands to establish a strong Instagram presence and boost their social selling in the process.
In this blog, discover 5 top Instagram marketing tips to boost your strategy; you’ll find out:
- When and how to post on Instagram
- What to post for maximum engagement
- How to leverage videos on Instagram
- How to keep improving and optimizing your strategy
When and how to post on Instagram
Being active is essential to generating followers and engagement, but when is the best time to post on Instagram?
Studies say that scheduling 1 or 2 daily posts are enough for Instagram. It seems that the best engagement times on this platform are on weekdays, more exactly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
According to Recode, the average online time spent per day by an Instagram user is 53 minutes.
According to Later, the best posting hours are between 9 AM and 11 AM.
That being said, depending on where your audience is located – and who forms your audience – the best times to post will differ considerably. While following studies are great, the truth is, you need to create a personalized posting schedule based on the consumers you are targeting.
Here are some useful tips to help you do this:
- Use a tool like Hopper to calculate the best times to post based on your Instagram profile.
- Check the information offered by Instagram Insights on your business account and analyze the times of day your users are active and the time zones you should have in mind.
- Try some experimental posts and see how they are performing in Instagram analytics, depending on the times they were posted.
Take for example National Geographic. They are posting an average of five to seven posts daily. The rate of engagement is a successful 0.24 percent, judging also by their 131 million followers.
Each post on Instagram has a limit of 2,200 characters. To get the best engagement opportunities, these are the ideal lengths you should keep in mind:
- Captions – from 138 to 150 characters
- Ads captions – 125 characters
- Hashtags – include between 5 to 10 hashtags
- Hashtag characters – use a maximum number of 24 characters
What to post for maximum engagement
To get good engagement results on Instagram, you have to deliver strong and unique content based on the needs of your audience.
One of the newer features on this social media platform is the ability to save posts. If you provide interesting information, then consumers will likely engage and hit the save button.
Here is an example of a tip-style post that’s worth keeping. It offers five strong mood-changing self-reminders to raise your spirit even if you are having a bad day. This type of numbered-list post can be easily shared and saved for later reading.
If you want content that’s worth saving, you need to think of your audience first. What would they like to read or see, Infographics, checklists or videos? What type of content have they enjoyed the most in the past?
Do some research before you start the creation process so you won’t waste time providing unreadable or unwanted knowledge.
Based on these answers, you can start creating useful content to make them engage with your brand.
Have some fun
Social media isn’t all about business and sales. Social media platforms were created to offer people a place to post, comment, and communicate. Businesses can leverage them to find new customers and create brand awareness, but if you’re constantly selling, you’re likely to put off your audience as a lot of people use social media to relax and have a laugh – so your posting strategy should reflect that.
In order to achieve better engagement results on Instagram and build better relationships with your followers, you should try to appeal to their fun side as well. Even if you are a company, it doesn’t mean that all your posts have to be business-related.
You can try to spice things up a little bit and provide something that puts a smile on your audience’s face. Show them you have a funny side, too – and that you’re not all about business and sales.
Here’s a great example from Ahrefs’ Instagram account:
Or take a look at Buffer’s Instagram feed; humor – and dogs! – is a big part of their strategy and these types of posts tend to generate hundreds of likes:
However, be careful what you post because it should also fit with your brand’s style in some way.
How to leverage videos on Instagram
Video has become the most popular form of online content, across channels – and Instagram is no different.
Far from just a passing fad, this is a case of natural progression from text and image that has taken over feeds across the globe. And it’s not just on a personal level – 87% of all businesses have now latched on to the fact that social video is an excellent marketing tool, with 83% finding that this strategy gives them a good ROI.
The first step in developing your video marketing strategy for Instagram is to think about the different types of video you might want to use. Establish clearly exactly what it is that you want to get across to your audience, and choose the right style to fit with that goal. A few examples are:
Explainer video: An explainer video does exactly what it says on the tin, offering an introduction to your brand and what you do. Alternatively, it can also be a video explaining how to do something, something that is useful for your audience; here’s a great example from SproutSocial:
Product video: Your opportunity to get creative, a cleverly put-together video can make your product stand out to any onlookers. You could follow the Instagram trend of producing inspirational content, beautifully illustrated here by Reebok. If you prefer, you could take your cue from the likes of Oreo. This is a great demonstration of a product video that is quirky, fun and kind to your budget – all the while leaving a lasting impression on your viewers. And while the sound undoubtedly adds its own dimension to the content, it very deliberately ensures that nothing is lost for those watching with the volume off on their device.
Behind the scenes: This is your chance not only to showcase your setup but to add that much-needed human touch to your brand. Take your audience on a whistle-stop virtual tour of your office/factory/shop and introduce them to your workforce where relevant, giving them a snapshot of what a day in the life of your business looks like. It’s light-hearted, fun and a great way to help your followers warm to you.
Interview: Fairly self-explanatory, the interview video is a simple and effective way to tell people what your company does. Whether an interview is with clients, colleagues, experts or all of the above, just hearing it spoken plainly from a real human being can be one of the most effective ways to make the message stick.
How to keep improving and optimizing your strategy
Getting results from Instagram – or almost any marketing platform for that matter – won’t happen overnight. Not only that, but there’s always room for improvement. The more you use Instagram, the more you can understand your audience, their likes and dislikes, the times they’re online, what types of content they like and so on.
The best way you can achieve this is through a lot of testing and experimenting – and by carefully studying your results.
Here are some of the things you should test:
Different content formats: Experiment with different types of posts, such as short and long videos, Stories, infographics, quotes, and any other visual content
Different topics: Apart from trying out different types of content formats, you should also experiment with various topics in your Instagram visuals to see how they impact your results. For example, take a look at Sprout Social’s Instagram feed – it features different content formats (videos, images, etc.), as well as all kinds of topics (from behind the scenes image to videos with useful tips):
Hashtags: Try using different hashtags (as well as different numbers of hashtags) to see how it affects your reach and engagement.
Posting times: As discussed earlier, the best way to understand when your audience is most active is to experiment with different posting times to see when you get the most engagement/reach
Apart from the insights from your Instagram account, you can use a tool like Falcon to publish and analyze your Instagram data while you are performing your tests.
As I mentioned earlier, Instagram is one of the best platforms to use for marketing your brand. Follow these tips and best practices and you’ll be one step closer to reaching your Instagram objectives – just remember to always keep analyzing and optimizing your strategy, by learning from your audience and your results.
Guest author: Lilach Bullock is highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient of a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business. Check out her site Lilach Bullock or connect with her on LinkedIn.