Instagram is a popular marketing tool for businesses, especially due to its high engagement rates. But it can also be a confusing social media platform. I’m sure you know some accounts who get a lot of engagement regardless of what they post. And other accounts seem to go nowhere. The reality is, if you want to grow on Instagram it’s not enough to post only pretty pictures, you need to be strategic with your content. An effective content strategy will help you reach your ideal audience, boost engagement and grow your presence.
How to Build a Seamless Instagram Content Strategy
Ready to integrate your Instagram as an essential part of your business? In this article, you’ll learn how to build a seamless content strategy for your Instagram.
Let’s dive in!
Step 1. Do an Audit of Your Instagram Profile
Start with an audit.
This step is important because you want to have a clear picture of where are you right now with your Instagram presence. A good and thorough audit should cover these aspects:
Your Instagram profile is your mini-website so you need to make sure that all information is complete. Check if you’ve listed contact information, services and your website link. Then take a quick look at your bio. Does your bio help you attract your ideal audience? Do you give people a reason why they should follow you?
Let’s take a look at @boxycharm‘s bio. The brand speaks directly to their target audience (eg. beauty fans) and has a clear call-to-action highlighting their main offer (Get 5 products at $25/mo). They also listed a website, a mode of contact and a branded hashtag where new visitors can learn more.
Your Instagram feed should look like a magazine full of informative posts that tell a story. You should not have a feed full of promotions because that’s going to stop people from following you. Does your content match with the promise you made in your bio? Does your feed look on brand? Are you using a variety of content types that either educate, entertain, or inspire your audience?
If you scroll through @boxycharm’s feed, you’ll find that their posts are relevant to their audience. You can see beauty products, tutorials and pictures of real people using their subscription service. With each post, this brand reinstates the promise in their bio.
Think of why are you on Instagram in the first place? And how does your Instagram goal support your overall business goal? This step will help you select the content you need to post on Instagram to achieve this goal. For example, @guardian, the UK newspaper has 2 goals for Instagram. They use Instagram to:
Share snippets of their top articles on their feed to increase foot traffic to their website. Visitors can read these articles from the custom URL listed in bio.
Share behind the scenes and interviews on their Stories to build a close relationship with their followers. They save these stories as Highlights to make them evergreen.
Don’t know where to start? According to Sprout Social research, these are the most common goals marketers have for social media:
- Increase brand awareness
- Sales/lead generation
- Increase community engagement
- Grow followers/audience
- Increase web traffic
Image inspired by Sprout Social (2020)
Take note of your competitors’ Instagram content strategy. What gets them the best engagement? If something works from them, the chances are it may work for you too since you are targeting the same audience.
This audit should help you get a clear picture of your existing Instagram strategy. If something is working in your content strategy, then you need to take note of that and replicate it in the future. For example, if you notice that your videos get a lot more engagement than image posts, you need to include that in your content plan. And vice-versa, if you get poor traffic to your website from Instagram, you may want to rewrite your bio to encourage people to take action.
Step 2. Build a Content Strategy for your Instagram
Now that you have a clear picture of what’s currently working for you (and what isn’t), it’s time to start planning your Instagram content strategy. For this, you will need:
- A Content Theme
- Content Pillars
- A Posting Plan
Let’s plan content that your audience will love.
1. Create a Content Theme
Instagram is a visual platform, so your feed needs to follow a theme that reflects your brand image. When choosing the content style for your business, you’ll need to decide on the following:
- A branded theme for your feed. Think of colours, filters and fonts you are going to use to make your content always look on brand.
- The format of your posts. Instagram allows you to choose from single images, carousel posts, branded videos, IGTV videos, stories or lives.
Here are some examples:
@planoly uses a combination of image posts and branded quote tiles. The feed is also consistent with the colours of its logo, which helps to boost their brand awareness.
@nikewomen shares a lot of user-generated-content centred around showing people’s faces and bodies. Since their brand is well known, they don’t need to have a colour theme.
If you want more examples of how brands use content marketing, check out this article: 4 Stellar Content Marketing Examples that Bring Results
Now let’s touch on content creation tools.
- First, you’ll need a graphic tool like Canva or SparkPost to create branded content for the various Instagram post sizes.
- Second, you’ll want to use a photo filter app like Lightroom or VSCO to adjust the lighting and maintain consistency across your feed posts.
- Third, if you’re planning to post videos you’ll find InShot app handy.
2. Create Content Based on The 4 Pillars of Content Marketing
Now we’re at the most important stage of your Instagram content strategy: creating the actual content. You might be wondering “How do I decide what to post?”. Luckily for you, we have the answer. A common framework that content marketers use to decide what to post is the content marketing matrix illustrated below.
Image inspired by SmartInsights
When creating content, think of what issues are your buyers facing. Your Instagram content should either entertain, educate, inspire or convince, depending on the stage in your buyer journey.
- Awareness. In this stage, you want to create awareness and build know-like-trust with your audience. Your audience will love entertaining quizzes, educational articles or free guides.
- Consideration. During this stage, you want to nurture your audience and stay top of their mind. You can post branded videos, behind the scenes, or FAQs that answer your customer’s objections.
- Decision. This is when you promote your offer or launch a new product. Your customers are ready to make a purchase and they’ll be happy to read your past clients’ reviews, learn about your product features and get a promo code.
3. Use a Calendar to Visualise your Content Plan
Once you decided on your content theme, the next step is to create a posting calendar. This calendar will help you visualise your content and help you schedule your future posts during peak times.
When creating a posting calendar, you need to consider:
- Decide how frequently are you going to post? 1 post per day? 3 times a week? If you aren’t sure, use your competitors as a benchmark.
- Schedule your posts in advance at times your followers are most active online. You can check your followers’ insights to find out the best times to post on Instagram.
- Decide on which automated scheduling tool you are going to use. There are plenty of scheduling tools for Instagram on the market that will make your planning process so much easier. Among the most popular are: Later, Buffer and Planoly. You’ll need to try them and find out which one suits your style better.
Here’s what a digital calendar looks like in Planoly:
Step 3. Amplify your Content to Reach a Wider Audience
Now that you have created and scheduled your monthly content, let’s go to the next step. This is where we need to talk about growth strategies. Because, why waste your time posting great content that nobody will get to see?
You need to understand how the Instagram algorithm works.
When you post, Instagram shows your content organically to about 1-2% of your audience. And how they interact with your content (leaving likes, comments, sharing, etc.) determines whether your post gets featured on the explore page where is able to reach a much broader audience. You’ll soon realise that it’s pretty difficult to get your posts visible on Instagram. But it’s not impossible!
These are some ways you can use to amplify your Instagram content:
- Cross-promote your Instagram content to other social platforms to reach more people in your target market.
- Partner with Influencers to reach a broader audience.
- Create branded hashtags and get people to use them in their posts for a chance to get featured on your page.
- Run contests and giveaways to encourage more people to follow your account.
- Invest in paid Instagram ads to broadcast your content to more people.
Step 4. Monitor your Performance using Analytics
Monitoring your performance is critical to any successful social media strategy. Your insights will tell you which posts your audience finds most engaging and allows you to optimize your strategy as you move forward.
Some KPIs to monitor on Instagram:
- Followers growth
- Followers location
- Engagement rate
- Clickthrough rate
- Feed post insights
- Stories insights
Tracking your Instagram performance over time
ShareMyInsights is a powerful Instagram analytics tool that allows you to track your Instagram statistics, calculate your engagement and even track your performance against competitors. You can even access your followers’ demographic location info down to their city, find out which hashtags bring you the most likes/comments and more. All you need to do is sign up for a free account and let the app do its magic.
And that’s how you build a seamless content marketing strategy for your Instagram!
Ready to put these tips into action?
Check out our advice on how to level up your Instagram marketing!
- 7 Powerful Instagram Marketing Tips
- The 27 Definitive Instagram Statistics You Should Know – and Why
- A 10-Step Plan to Launch (or Revise) Your Instagram Marketing Strategy
- The Ultimate Guide to Writing Instagram Branded Content
- How to Use Fan-Made Instagram User Generated Content as Social Proof for Your Company