Over a few years, we’ve grown one of our client’s Instagram following from under two thousand, to over forty seven thousand loyal followers.
While we know that building a large following shouldn’t be your sole purpose for existing on Instagram (you can see how important we think followers really are here), what we want to show you today is how you can make the most of the platform, build a community and integrate it as a meaningful part of your content marketing strategy.
We won’t be sharing every last secret (you’ll have to work with us to reveal those 😉 ), but we will run you through what your Instagram strategy should include, how to put one together and some top tips and tricks for success on the gram.
Before you get started on your strategy, you need to ask one very important question:
Is my target market hanging out on Instagram?
You can find the answer to this question by delving into the psyche of your ideal customer avatar, looking at traffic sources in your Google Analytics and analysing your engagement on the platform.
If you’re confident you’ve got an audience on Instagram, it’s time to get started.
We recommend creating an annual document that outlines at minimum:
- Your high level and SMART goals for the platform
- Moodboards, desired aesthetic, content types and ideas
- An editorial calendar plan
- A community management plan
- Your measurement and reporting plan
Let’s run through each.
#1 Your High Level Goals
In this part of your strategy, you want to ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve by existing on the platform. For many brands, Instagram is a top of funnel content type – meaning its purpose is to grasp the attention of your audience, make them aware of your brand and provide them with high value, genuinely useful/interesting content. Here are some examples of high level goals that could be relevant to your brand:
- Build social proof.
- Build brand awareness.
- Introduce people to your brand and eventually move them down your content funnel.
- Provide a space where your audience can connect with your brand and other like-minded people.
- Showcase your brand aesthetic.
Once you’re clear on your high level goals, you can create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) objectives. For our clients, we use a periodic system where new smart goals and reporting is conducted every eight weeks.
Here are some examples of SMART goals for a short term timeframe.
- Post consistently to the feed 6 days a week.
- Post at least 4 story slides per day.
- Reply to all comments on posts by the end of each day.
- Increase follower rate by 10%.
- Increase average like rate by 10% and average comment rate by 5%.
#2 Mood boards, Desired Aesthetic, Content Types & Ideas
It’s time to brainstorm and get creative (the fun part).
This stage of your strategy is all about determining the look, feel and style of your instagram page.
- Creating mood boards of the types of content and imagery you’d like to post (being sure to think about the purpose they serve).
- Deciding on a common filter to keep the feed seamless and integrated.
- Brainstorming ideas for the types of content you want to post. For example, LKO does a ‘Wellness Wednesday’ where we post a series of stories every Wednesday that are wellness related (recipes, yoga routines, workouts, mental health articles etc).
- Creating a plan for how you’ll source the content – whether it’s reposts, your own photography and videography, designs etc.
#3 Your Editorial Calendar Plan
Now that you’ve come to terms with why you’re posting and what you’re posting, it’s time to figure out how frequently you will post, and how you will implement your editorial calendar.
Some brands batch content a month in advance, we choose to do a week in advance. This way we can stay on top of current events and ensure our content is sensitive to what’s going on in the world.
As mentioned above, we work in periods of eight weeks, so each week we’ll create a content sheet that includes the content for the upcoming week (eg. Period 1, Week 1). The content sheet includes the posting dates, imagery/videos, the copy, the hashtags, the relevant tags, links and locations. Our content is then proofread and edited, before being scheduled into Creator Studio (the native scheduling system within FB and IG).
This is also where you can think about how your paid advertising strategy will integrate with your content, and whether or not you’d like to allocate budget to boosting posts.
#4 Your Community Management Plan
In order to build a genuine community on Instagram, you need to engage in a genuine way.
That means saying no to bots and automated responses and yes to real people with real comments and messages.
We set a goal to reply to the top twenty comments on every post for our clients, with engaging meaningful answers.
How many comments you choose to reply to will depend on the size of your account. If you’re a small account, aim to answer every comment.
This may be a time consuming and repetitive task, but it is SO worth the time. These conversations are key to building a strong, trusting relationship with your customers.
Our community management plans also include tasks to comment meaningful comments on other accounts, engage with various hashtags and ensure the inbox messages are always answered thoughtfully and warmly.
#5 Your Measurement & Reporting Plan
And finally, measuring success.
Your document should include a clear plan for how you will measure the success of your Instagram strategy.
We use a spreadsheet that measures post likes, engagement, follower rate, traffic, sales and other key metrics to determine the success of our strategies. The native analytics systems within Instagram, third party tools and Google Analytics help us collect this data. A periodic report is created every eight weeks to deliver (the amazing ;)) results to our clients.
After analysing the success, failures, trends and patterns of the period, we’re informed how we can pivot our strategy to reach our objectives for the next eight weeks.