by Oliver Brainerd
If you’re here, it means somebody told you to beef up on Instagram. Or, if we did our job right, then our ninja SEO skills brought this to the top of your search. So let me bottom line this for you.
With a wicked content strategy, Instagram can support just about any marketing goal. Like any other strategy, your Instagram content strategy must be goal-oriented. That’s the bottom line.
Instagram Content Strategy
Step one in designing a killer Instagram content strategy is identifying your goal. For instance…
- Special occasion (product launch? New location? MERGER? Did you discover buried treasure?)
- Raise brand awareness
That’s a couple of specific things you can do with Instagram. Instagram’s pretty versatile. A lot of the techniques are transferable. There’s value in learning more about a few examples.
Once you identify your goal, you can develop a more effective strategy for your content.
- An Instagram account (a business account is best—gives you more analytic tools)
- A calendar to fill in
- A visual brand
- A killer soundtrack (classic metal is pretty good for content strategy sessions)
- Really cool boots (optional)
It’s a Special Occasion in Your Business—Sweet!
What’s good in your near future? Are you launching a product? Are you moving into a new location? Executing some big business deal? Or do you just REALLY like National Donut Day, and you’re offering a promotion? It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, so long as it’s on-brand for your business, and it matters to your customers.
The great thing about developing a content strategy for a special occasion is that your calendar needs are objective. Your marketing strategy needs to conform to a calendar. If you’re marketing for a special occasion, then your calendar starts right now, and it ends on the date when the special occasion happens. Restrictions create opportunities.
Build your content calendar with the rhythms of life in mind.
- Tease an announcement of your special occasion early in your calendar
- Announce it officially around halfway through your content strategy calendar. Could be a little sooner or a little later depending on the length of time you have to work in.
- Create content announcing progress updates and put them at regular intervals during the run-up to the special occasion. If you have six months, announce your progress on Instagram maybe every two weeks.
- Maintain awareness of your special occasion at least once weekly with other posts.
- Always follow your visual brand! Frames are great for this.
- Use Instagram reels. The Instagram algorithm favors reels right now, so they are your ticket to getting seen. Don’t let the idea of video intimidate you. Short clips, graphic videos, etc. are an important part of your Instagram content strategy. Even filming your normal everyday work environment can be a great starting point for reels.
If you already have an Instagram posting schedule, adjust it around your special occasion content strategy. You can revert back to your regularly scheduled programming later.
Example: the buildup to movie premieres.
Things to remember:
- Post announcements on your busy days.
- Clarity is more important than cleverness.
- Changing your visual brand is startling. Don’t do it.
Brand Awareness through Sustained Efforts
I once heard the saying, “patience plus opportunity equals success.” I have a theory that was made popular by someone who wanted to prevent his or her competitors from having success. This hypothetical successful person only got it two-thirds right.
Patience plus opportunity plus sweat equals success. That’s the real formula. Sustained effort, if that effort is put toward useful strategy, yields results.
Designing a long-term, sustained Instagram content calendar is an exercise in cycles. When you populate your calendar, it doesn’t have an end date. Instead, you structure it according to the rhythms that matter to your brand. You live in the world, where visible things happen. Your area of business has natural rhythms following the year. It’s not such a bad place to start there.
- Identify stretches of time and dates of importance to your brand. Start building a library of images and videos around those events.
- Develop a list of hashtags in three basic buckets: first, hashtags common in your industry. Second, you need hashtags less common in your industry but common in the culture of your audience. Third, you need to develop a handful of hashtags unique to your brand.
- People do read the writing on Instagram posts, although maybe less often and with less care than your blog. To save time and effort in developing your Instagram content strategy, a fair shortcut is repurposing written content from elsewhere in your marketing. Don’t use EXACTLY the same wording from, for instance, a blog. Replication reduces the strength of your SEO. But you can use excerpts, edited-down versions, previews, quotes, etc. Saves time, and then you know you’re keeping your marketing consistent.
Example: the way Coca-Cola still does marketing even though everyone’s heard of them.
Things to remember:
- Consistency is powerful—both consistency in your posting schedule and consistency with your brand.
- Instagram has an inclusive, personal tone, and that’s an advantage to you.
Your Visual Brand and Instagram
Developing a library of visuals consistent with your brand might be more intuitive in some industries than others. Photographers have it easier, but good on them. An IT consultant who does house calls might have it a bit harder, but they have no reason to avoid Instagram. They just may have a little more work ahead of them.
There’s an important guiding principle to remember. The people who you’ll do business with the best will respond to the same stuff you respond to yourself.
A good practice to get into is stalking your brand crushes. Figure out which businesses you like. If they’re in the same industry that you’re in, that’s great. Even if they’re not in your industry, you can learn from them anyway. Spend some time figuring out what you like about how they communicate. Odds are good that you’re in business to create a similar culture to those companies.
Your visual brand reflects your values.
If you’re in an industry with a big visual component, lean into it.
If you’re in an industry without a big visual component, don’t sweat it. Start developing a library of images and videos that reflect your values.
Things to remember:
- People respond to visuals, and visuals can communicate values. Instagram is a great platform for any industry.
#TheWholePoint of an Instagram Content Strategy
There are two ways of using Instagram, really. The easiest way is just messing around with it for long enough to have success.
The other way is using Instagram as a tool to achieve strategic ends. In many cases, that’s customers and sales.
Now, there is a single and simple goal of ALL Instagram content strategy creations: click-through. That’s a not-very-poetic way of stating it, but from a business standpoint that’s what you want. Your Instagram content strategy needs to attract attention in a way that makes people excited when you say, “Link in bio.” Attention ON Instagram is all well and good, but the attention that draws your audience from Instagram deeper into your marketing is actionable. Business growth becomes possible with actions. You can do something with that.
- LinkTree: an app designed in response to Instagram’s one link way of doing things. The fairly robust free version of LinkTree gives you tools to make one link pointing too many. Note that Instagram counts this as a redirect and gives the end user an extra step to get to your links so use it sparingly when one call to action link just won’t do.
- Later: a social media scheduling tool that works particularly well for Instagram. With the free version, you can schedule at least a month out, and you can preview your posts and your grid. (Hootsuite is another option.)
- Canva: a graphics creation platform you can make both regular posts and reels on. It’s a great way to make sure you are keeping visuals on brand and consistent.
Need help with your Instagram content strategy? Download a free 30-day content calendar here.
ARC Creative Co. is a digital marketing agency that provides Instagram content strategies that include reels, not just traditional posts. Reach out to talk about our social media packages with a representative here.
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