Companies strive to have strong brand relevance for their target audience so that they can connect and do business. Be it in a business to business environment or a business to consumer environment. The key to any good brand is having a great story that tells your target audience your points of difference.
Reaching your specific target audience in today’s technological era can be complicated. Where will they be? How do I reach them? When and how often do I reach them? The overall concept of reaching your target hasn’t really changed. It’s just that there are many mediums to choose from and you tell your story in many different formats; written, audio and visually.
One of the more engaging social media platforms today is Instagram. Instagram is a highly visual medium. With more than 95 million photos and videos shared on an average day. That’s why more than 70% of U.S. businesses are posting on Instagram regularly.
Instagram has been growing steadily for the past 2 years boasting over 800 million active users today. Instagram is projected to add 100 million new users every 6 months. And most experts agree that Instagram will overtake Facebook users in 2020.
Instagram Users are Engaged
One of the key reasons for the growth is that Instagram has highly engaged users that yield approximately 4.2 Billion likes a day. That’s a lot of engagement!
Also, most of Instagram’s followers are in the younger demographic with many Gen Xers and Millennials abandoning Facebook for Instagram. This is an audience that brands need to secure early on in their buying decision lives.
Why are the Instagram followers so engaged? Because of the visual nature of the content posted. Users pride themselves on posting breath-taking photographs or engaging videos that will capture Instagram followers attention.
Of course there are different features and audiences for every social media platform and what works for one company may not work for another. But data does suggest that Instagram may be the better choice for engaging younger potential customers.
What to Post on Instagram
No matter what you are creating to post, you need to make sure that your brand identity is easily recognizable visually through colors, logos and images. Instagram is not for your advertisements, although companies do post more blatant advertising material. But the successful ones do it in a visually compelling way.
Instagram is designed for content that will entice and engage followers to become intrigued quickly (within the first couple of seconds). As a business posting, the goal is to lead them to click through for a website or full advertisement.
As a matter of fact, research from Yutpo states that when an Instagram user clicks through to a website, they spend an average of 192 seconds on the site. That’s higher than any other marketing channel. And that’s longer than 45% of Facebook click-throughs.
So, when posting on Instagram you want more than just a great image or engaging video you also want to include a caption that tells your story. The caption should be compelling and aligned with your brand messaging for your target audience. Again, you are trying to quickly grab their attention and that catchy caption can help.
Use Captions to further Engage
In addition to providing a descriptive of the photograph or video, the caption can include emojis and hashtags. You want to use the caption to further engage your followers by asking for something. Remember the primary purpose of social media is to get people talking, sharing or buying. And luckily Instagram allows for long captions up to about 325 words.
So you can ask questions, make an announcement, be passionate or you can be funny or you may even want to pull at the heartstrings. Think about the messaging you are trying to convey about the image as well as your brand. And it may be best to brainstorm your captions first so that you don’t post and then realize you had a much better idea you could have included.
You want your caption to help in the telling of the full story behind the photo or video. If you keep that in mind your post is sure to be a success.
One good business example is for ToyShades. They post photos consistently that show their customers wearing their sunglasses. Yes, it is blatantly selling sunglasses, but they do it in a very visually unobtrusive way. Some are funny (who can’t smile at a dog wearing sunglasses) and some are artistic but all are visually appealing.
When is the best time to post on Instagram?
Of course, there is no magical time of day for every business or individual to post on Instagram. However, Spout Social has analyzed data and concluded that for many the best day to post is Thursday. But again, there is no magic, because they also say for business to consumer postings, Wednesday is the best day to post.
It is recommended that you keep a log of when you post as well as the engagement you are getting to determine what times would be best for you to post. You could post for several weeks and analyze your data to determine at what day/time you are getting the most likes and shares.
That said, there are some solid time frames and reasoning behind when many think are the best times to post on Instagram.
Early Morning Key Time to Post
The number one time to post is in the early morning. It seems that 5-6am get the most engagement. Why? Because many individuals get up in the morning and instantly reach for their phones to check what they’ve missed while asleep.
Another key time of day seems to be that noon – 4 pm timeframe. Seems again, people taking their lunch breaks or having that afternoon work lull inspires them to check Instagram posts to see what is happening.
That said, the worst days seem to be Sunday and Monday for engagement.
As with any marketing program, posting consistently is a key on Instagram. As a business, it is best to post Tuesday through Friday. Of course, the posts are recommended for the early morning and then again mid-day.
Posting to Instagram
As a business looking to engage customers and potential customers, we once again want to engage but not annoy. We want to educate and create a relationship. But how often should we be posting to create that connection?
Of course, just like all social media platforms, they have an algorithm to determine what pops up when and where. And just like all social media platforms that algorithm changes.
Again, there is no magic formula. Some people are posting six times a day while others may post up to 30 times a day. With the introduction of the Instagram algorithm, most posts have a life of about 72 minutes. That certainly doesn’t seem that long and some have commented that their reach is decreasing. And even though your post may not be tops past the 72-minute mark in most cases you may still show up in your followers feed. And users are still increasing and so should your followers.
How Often to Post
Does that mean you should post more often? Depends on what you have to say. You aren’t posting the same images over and over again. It needs to be new engaging content each time.
Some say posting every 30 minutes each day is key, others still believe that their visually engaging content will connect with their followers if they post just once a day.
Again, you may want to post consistently and track your connections. You could test it by posting a various number of times a day (from one to thirty) for a few weeks and then compare the engagement. It truly is an individual process. Of course, there are automation tools to help you post more consistently, but you still have to develop the content. And quality content takes time.
Gaining Instagram Followers
Any social media interaction is about gaining engagement with your target audience. But it’s also about growth. You don’t want just the same people looking at your content everyday (well, that is a good goal, especially if they are also buying). However, you do want to expand your reach on a regular basis. And just like other social media platforms, Instagram is regularly updating their ranking algorithms. So if you are following the path you started with 2 years ago, you may want to rethink it.
There is no real magic formula that will help you instantly increase your followers to the thousands. If your account is new but you have a good following on other social media platforms or you have regular communications with your customers and prospects then invite them to follow you on Instagram. If you have had an account for a while but never invited your customers and prospects then do that now as well.
Follow Key Instagram Accounts
However, before you start inviting people to follow you, make sure you actually have some content posted. I would have at least 10-12 posts up before inviting people to follow you. Include hashtags that are popular and relevant for your post and target audience and use them consistently.
And of course, don’t forget to have a button on your website so you can capture those visitors as well.
Next, search for accounts that are in your niche and have substantial followers and then follow them. And then make sure to follow at least 50 of their followers, but make sure they are mostly within your target audience. And then interact with them. Like their posts, leave comments and possibly message them after a while and indicate you have a new account and invite them to follow you.
As you can see, gaining followers is not automatic and requires you put in some work.
So as you develop your Instagram presence, remember you are in for the long haul. Develop quality content, follow others and be engaged and your followers will grow.
Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More