instagram marketing tips: finding success on a fickle platform
Social Marketing Problems
Social media, in a word, is fickle. Just as you figure it out, a new algorithm or update or feature is introduced and you have to throw out everything you thought you knew. To me, that’s part of the fun— it’s a constant challenge. But it can be exhausting. Sometimes the new information not only differs from what we knew, but it also contradicts it, leaving us to adapt our entire strategy.
Be Aware of Instagram Algorithm Updates
It’s been almost six months since the newest Instagram algorithm interrupted our strategies, and it’s been an adjustment to retrain our brains and redefine success. So, full disclosure that these tips ring true, right now, but are subject to change, whenever Instagram feels like it.
Instagram Marketing Tips
1. comments are more important than likes.
To some degree, this has always been true, but now more than ever, comments are the key to boosting organic engagement. The algorithm is designed to weed out bots— or fake accounts created to add likes to your posts. Since likes can easily be bought, Instagram has given less and less weight to posts based solely on how many accounts simply like their post. The key is to get long-tailed comments. Bots can also comment with just emojis or one word, so it’s the new algorithm gives more weight to complex comments.
What does that weight really mean? Well, in short, it makes you more visible. Posts with higher quality and relevant engagement are seen first in timelines to people who already follow you, as well as pushing your posts to explore pages of people you want to follow you. If you want to win the game, you have to play by the rules.
So how do you get these long-tailed comments? It’s all about the call-to-action. Ask relevant questions in your captions that encourage followers to respond with three words or more. On a data-driven level, this will boost engagement, but it will also begin to grow a community conversation which, regardless of algorithm changes, will always be the best way to grow organically.
2. hashtags matter again.
There was a time period when hashtags weren’t worth the aesthetic eye-sore. But for organic social, hashtag research is key. There’s a sweet spot between hashtags no one uses and hashtags that have a million photos attached to them. The trick is to build your hashtags around the community you’re trying to attract. Location and interest-specific hashtags will perform much better and build a much more engaging audience than generic national hashtags.
3. posting “too much” is not a huge worry.
For much of Instagram’s life, there has been an unspoken rule that you really only post on Instagram once a day— max. But with the change of Instagram’s timeline order, from chronological to engagement-based, people seem to be much more accepting of multiple posts a day. It’s all about quality over quantity. If you can produce three beautiful, on-brand and engaging posts a day, more power to you. The risk of losing followers due to “clogging up their feeds” is unlikely.
On the flip side, posting too little is a real concern. Since timelines are constructed in order of engagement or relevance, posting once a month will put you in danger of becoming undiscoverable. A good rule of thumb is posting five times a week. But, again, quality over quantity.
4. think big picture.
Consistency is important in any endeavor to grow your brand, but its importance on Instagram has skyrocketed in the last couple of months. The growth of “aesthetic grids” or “branded profiles” has shifted the focus on content creation from individual posts to the overall experience. Instagram is no longer a one-off presentation, it’s a growing, living portfolio of who you are as a company. Each post should be similarly designed, edited and presented to bring home your overall aesthetic.
Additionally, planning out how your posts will look on your profile is key to driving engagement to your overall presence, instead of individual posts. Creative layouts, like integrating quotes every third post, or focusing on particular colors can send users to your profile to “see more.” In turn, this exposes your brand more, encourages further brand discovery and, of course, boosts engagement.
The biggest key to mastering social media is to stay on your toes. As quick as you learn strategies, they could change. So keep learning, keep reading, keep researching, keep making decisions informed by data and experience. Social media is not going away, so buckle up for a lifetime of learning. The only thing constant in social media marketing is change.