First impressions are a big deal. Especially when you consider that in-person, first impressions are a rarity nowadays. Even before the pandemic, real life interactions were becoming less frequent. Today, in-person connections have given way to likes, followers, comments, shares, and other forms of digital engagement.
As a result of this societal change, Instagram has become the platform of choice for so many of us. So it makes sense for each of us to put our best foot forward and approach it with a carefully planned strategy. Otherwise, our content will surely be lost in the mix of memes, news, and other popular entertainment. This is why I do my best to ensure my clients receive strategies that cover off on the four key components of Instagram; audience, content, cadence, and engagement. By defining a unique approach within these four areas, any brand can certainly attain success on Instagram and leave a lasting impression.
Before creating content for Instagram, you must know who you are creating it for. There are so many ways to identify your target audience. A simple Google search will lead you to thousands of articles and perspectives on “the best way” to define your audience. Hey, even this article might pop up! You’ll read about different tools, workshops, and processes that can lead you to a determination. Don’t get me wrong, you may have success with any one of the numerous tools, workshops, and processes online. However, I would advise you to consider a simpler approach.
Step 1: Determine what content you’d like to see on your own timeline.
Step 2: Repeat Step 1 whenever you get bored or your taste changes.
Sounds pretty simple, right? If you want to create compelling content, it must be compelling to you first. But you’d be surprised how many brands don’t take this initial step. If you’re not creating content for yourself, you begin creating content for an apparent audience. This will lead you to produce ineffective content, burning yourself out, and wasting your time.
Instead of creating for others, create for yourself first. Once you have a product you are proud of, your fans will likely love it too. In addition, by putting out content you love first, you are free to adjust it to better serve your audience later down the road.
Once you determine what content you like, it’s time to create your own. This section is probably the most difficult for me to write about because creating content is a personal experience. Afterall, your content is a reflection of you and your business. This truth is at the core of our team’s belief system here at Just. Yes our strategies and expertise can be helpful, but without paralleling it to your story, they are rendered ineffective.
That being said, there are a few things you should keep in mind on your journey to creating good content for Instagram.
First it’s important to recognize Instagram is really three platforms in one. There are distinct differences and opportunities each offer and therefore it’s imperative that you understand that prior to creating.
The feed is the primary place where content is published. It is your first chance to engage your audience and build a connection with them. Feed content must be attention grabbing. Brief yet tell a powerful story and still be relevant for more than 24 hours (evergreen). In other words, it must be valuable to your audience in both the short term and long term.
Stories and Reels on the other hand, are designed to grab your audience’s attention in the moment. Aside from your highlights, your story’s lifespan is very brief. In order to make the most of its time, your stories must have direct call to actions, encourage further engagement, and be considerate of your audience’s time. You’re not trying to tell your whole story. Rather you are using story content to earn the privilege to tell your story. Remember, stories are 10 -15 seconds for a reason and although you can be creative in that time, you have to earn it — 15 seconds at a time.
The final component of Instagram is IGTV. This is Instagram’s attempt to compete with long form video giant YouTube. Although, in my opinion, trying to compete with YouTube is a fool’s game, IGTV still has a lot to offer your brand. The most obvious benefit is the long form nature of IGTV. This format allows you to tell a more in depth story, or at least as detailed as you can be in 3 to 7 minutes (please don’t post a 30 min long video). Given today’s socioeconomic climate, digital video is the best way to spend meaningful time with your fans. According to a recent Hubspot poll, 96% of consumers say that they have watched more content online than ever before. With more people watching, learning, and purchasing because of digital content, there has never been a better time to invest in digital video strategies for your business.
With an understanding of each facet of Instagram, you are well on your way to creating good content. As I mentioned at the top of this section, creating content is a personal journey — a creative reflection of you. That being said, my last tip for creating good content is asking for help. Now this may sound contrary to my initial piece of advice, but it actually goes hand in hand. Determining what content would best reflect your business is entirely up to you, but that does not mean you have to go at it alone. There are several steps, processes, and responsibilities to consider when making good content. The key is identifying which areas require your sole attention and which areas are best left to a specialist. Depending on your unique strategies, you may benefit working with a partner, or a freelancer, or a business that specializes in social marketing.
I created Just. to help people tell their stories in a compelling way online. To assist people in their journey to create good content. There are many organizations and individuals like Just. who can help you create a content strategy that will work for you and your business. However, when choosing a partner, freelancer, or company remember; it’s your story. Stray away from those offering to take production off your hands. These are YOUR posts, stories, and videos, and although strategies, and professional services can help — they cannot replace the value of your story.
According to industry reports, 70% of Instagram posts do not appear on a user’s feed. While oversaturation on the world’s most popular social platform is to be expected, a consistent schedule allows you to maximize the visibility of your post.
This step is really simple! If you have a business account on Instagram, (which you absolutely should have) then that means you have access to your page analytics. Click “Insights” on your profile page, scroll to “Your Audience” and click see more. At the bottom of this page, you can see when your audience is most active on a day-by-day basis. Post during those high traffic times.
A step often forgotten by brands and creators is continuing to engage with your community even after you’ve posted your content. This crucial element is ironically left out of most SOCIAL platform strategies — mainly because it’s a lot of work. Thoughtfully responding to each comment, creating stories that spur conversation is tedious and arduous work. However, I would argue it’s the time you should value most on Instagram.
Think about the opportunity you have to engage with your audience through social media. Never before has a business had this kind of opportunity to genuinely connect with their clientele. Receiving real-time feedback, connecting on an individual level, laughing and joking with your fans — it’s quite a tremendous privilege when you think about it.
If you take anything away from this, it should be that Instagram, particularly for businesses and entertainers, should make you feel incredibly privileged. Privileged to be able to connect with your audience and create fun, meaningful content. It’s a privilege to get to market your own product on a consistent basis and have control of your very own platform. As storytellers, we have the privilege to form meaningful relationships with people. Instagram undoubtedly has its faults. However, when you take these principles and apply them to your brand and your story, Instagram can be both fun, and profitable.