Nine Tips to Optimize your Instagram Account - Reach your Target Market in 2018

Introduction

Alright before we get to deep into Instagram optimizations lets just clear up a few potential commonly asked questions.

Is Instagram right for me?

Choosing the right platform for your content depends on what you are looking for. You need to take a moment and think about what you hope to achieve with the content you have. Benefits of posting to Facebook or Instagram are highly subjective. Depending on your business, content style and message results can vary. If you are looking to share information, a new blog post and offer the specifics of your plans, programs and company movements then Facebook is the best option for your content.  The majority of case studies and data suggest that Instagram is the platform of choice when it comes to promoting your business and engaging with your audience and new audiences. Instagram is the platform to get your community hooked and invested. But more importantly Instagram is the place to grow your reach. It is important to note that reach will not instantly reward you with a lead or sale, reach will give you leverage though and leverage will allow you to grow as a business. The trick is figuring out how to make this amazing tool work for you.


Why should I take your advice seriously? You don’t have a massive Instagram account and your business is in its infancy.

That is a fair question to ask and if I was you I would be asking the same question. Massie Bros is a brand new business but this is not my first experience with Social media marketing. I have tried my hand at influencing previously managing to build an Instagram account to 16K followers in just 5 months & a Facebook page to over 10K in the same time period without any marketing experience or financial backing. Why did I stop then?
The whole exercise was learning for me, trials and tests to assess what worked and what didn’t. I began to raise some eyebrows which gave me the opportunity to try my hand at influencing. I was paid for a few sponsored posts and soon realised that influencing was not at all related to my goals and ambitions as a creator so I shut the page down and re focused my attention on Massie Bros with my brother, taking all the new lessons I had learnt with me.
I accomplished a significant amount with no budget, no time and with only my personal understanding of social media, storytelling and photography.

During this experiment I did discover a very important finding, I really enjoyed learning how to reach others through social media so I have continued to learn and grow. Social Media and especially Instagram can be quite hard to grasp so this blog will cover the basic optimisations you can make to your Instagram account in order to grow, reach and engage.

ATT- Photographers/ film makers/ Artists: IG is also an amazing outlet for your creativity and an awesome way to measure your progress as an artist. At the time I thought this photo was amazing. I now only see what I should have done instead hahaha progress is good.

ATT- Photographers/ film makers/ Artists: IG is also an amazing outlet for your creativity and an awesome way to measure your progress as an artist. At the time I thought this photo was amazing. I now only see what I should have done instead hahaha progress is good.

1-Content is King!

  • Before I get into some optimisations for your Instagram (IG) feed, let me just quickly cover the most important aspect of building a successful IG feed. IG is arguably one of the best tools a business can utilise when it comes to marketing. With higher engagement rates than any other social media platform. IG also well out performs Facebook (FB) when it comes to raw organic reach. {Dreamgrow.com}
    Here is an example of just how much more effective promotion and engagement can be on IG.

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IG is a powerful platform for your business but in order to have success your first step is to have AMAZING CONTENT. Content that captures, inspires and encourages engagement. Content is and always will be King and without great content your optimizations will not show the results you want to see. Ideally you want to be hiring a photographer/ videographer (that’s us) to put your ideas into eye catching, sharable content. As a start up the budget is not always up for the cost though so these next tips will help you get the best out of your resources. If you want some tips on taking better photos check out our blog- Everything you need to Know about Photography [Beginner to Advanced  Tips].


2-Pick a theme

  • Make your feed aesthetically pleasing and stick to one style always.
    I am sure your business has an amazing vision that offers a variety of amazing services and products. It is essential to showcase all of these products and services through your social media. It is also important to keep all your posts looking the same for aesthetic purposes. How do you do that when you have so many different messages to put across?
    Here are two examples of Instagram feeds. Which one looks more appealing to you?

Aesthetically Pleasing. 

Aesthetically Pleasing. 

No Distinct Style = Aesthetically unpleasing

No Distinct Style = Aesthetically unpleasing

It all comes down to ensuring your images and thumbnails are colour graded and edited in the same style. Pick a set of complimenting colours and a catchy style then stick with it for every single image and thumbnail. Sam Kolder (The image on the left) does an incredible job of maintaining a consistent and aesthetically pleasing feed.
The message can still change (within reason, make sure that all your messages are still in line with your overall message or vision as a business) but the visual content needs to stay consistent. This consistence will do two things for your feed:
1- Attract the right people. Instead of getting random followers who do nothing for your business and don’t have much interest in your message. By creating a consistent style and message that fits your company vision you will attract the right people and grow in the right directions.

2- Give your existing followers an expectation that is met. Let’s use an example; you attended your first Spanish class yesterday and loved it. You arrive at today’s lesson excited and ready to have your first Spanish conversation. When you arrive the teacher lets you know that they have decided to teach French today. But you paid and subscribed for Spanish lessons. How does this make you feel? An IG feed is similar, followers go to your feed expecting a specific style, message and/or lesson. If that message keeps changing they will feel confused and leave.

“One of the biggest factors when it comes to being successful at anything is consistency. Think about it. Micheal Jordan did not step onto the basketball court for the first time to become a World Famous Basketball player. Jordan practiced for hours every day for years on end to become the best. Consistency was the keys to his success.” {Author: Nathan Olsen}

Offer your Followers something they can benefit from and share with others
-A lesson/recipe/program
-A sense of community
-A free service or product

If you post content that differs from your style/theme it can be quite unsatisfying for your regular followers.

If you post content that differs from your style/theme it can be quite unsatisfying for your regular followers.

3-Make use of Instagram’s dimensions.

  • Instagram now gives you the option to upload images and video in three different dimensions; 16:9 wide screen, 1:1 square and 4:5 Portrait. Below are 3 screengrabs from Instagram. Pretend you are scrolling through IG at your standard scroll pace. Which image grabs the most time during your scroll?

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 9.49.17 pm.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 9.49.58 pm.png
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  • The 4:5 is the clear winner as it takes up so much more ‘real estate’ on a user’s feed. Considering how fast the average social media user scrolls through content. You want to make sure your image is grabbing as much space as possible and getting attention within that crucial first glance. This also applies to video posts, all videos should be formatted in the 4:5 ratio.


Sharpen up that Caption.

  • Long Captions that explain everything you need to know are great on Facebook. It is a platform that allows more text to show and in general people are happy to read through more text if the visual content is appealing. Its a social platform that people associate with family updates, friends travel updates and inspiring content so people are happy to dive into a post that captures their eye and stirs their emotions.
    Unfortunately this is not the case on Instagram, the app is not really set up for long winding articles and text. IG is first and foremost a VISUAL platform originally designed with photography in mind. So instead; try keeping the caption short and punchy, include a question that stirs response and debate then finish up with a call to action (e.g: “Comment YES if you want to know more” or “GET STARTED- Click the link in our bio”). There are some exceptions such as competitions or giveaways, if that is the case ensure that message is made clear in your visual content so followers know to read the full caption.
    “A great Instagram caption will add context, show off your brand’s personality, entertain the audience, and prompt your followers to take action. Captions can be up to 2,200 characters in length, include emoji, and up to 30 hashtags.
    Of course that doesn’t mean your captions should be hashtag-ridden essays with lots of distracting emoji. As with any piece of good web copy, your Instagram caption should be attention-grabbing and easy to read. It should also speak to the content and your audience.” {hootsuite.com}


Double your video views with punchy thumbnails.

  • Have a look at the two screen grabs below.. Which video would you click play on first?
    Social Media is all about psychology. People scroll so much and so fast that standard images or posts just don’t grab their attention. Your thumbnail needs to be out of the box and punchy, something that makes a potential viewer wonder what? How? Or Why? Curiosity will take over and the potential viewer will now become a viewer.
    I recommend taking separate photos and using simple video editor apps to use that photo as your thumbnail. I know I would be wondering what is going to happen with that gapping mouth. The black image I would probably scroll straight past.

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Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 10.07.53 pm.png


Increase your engagement with IG Live Stories

  • If you want to expose your content to more of your followers, increase your engagement and increase your chances of being exposed to new followers try implementing IG Live stories into your Social Media Calendar. You may have already noticed, IG prioritises Live Stories over regular stories on a user’s feed and will also notify a percentage of your followers. This allows followers to view a live story before it ends.
    Test out doing two 5-10 minute live videos per week during your most engaged days and times. Make the videos captivating, easy to engage with and cover an important topic in your niche. Do these live stories well and you can guarantee your post engagement will increase and so too will your chance of featuring in your selected hashtags. This will help increase your ranking on Instagram overall. Plus IG loves when you use all their functions.

 

Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags

  • Although IG is now flooded with users and most popular hashtags are overwhelmed with content, there is still a way to utilize hashtags to grow your audience and attract new followers/potential members.
    -How many Hashtags should you use?
    This is a hard one to decipher with so many different articles offering different suggestions. It seems that the most legitimate results come from users/businesses who use between 5-10 hashtags per post (Mix up the number so IG doesn’t think you are a bot). The reason is this simple; If you Hashtag the maximum or close to (30 Hashtags), IG begins to flag your content as ‘Spammy’ and will not reward you with any Hashtag features. If you aim for 5-10 QUALITY hashtags that are relevant to your content. IG will begin to reward you and your content with features. The more features you get, the more likes you get. This results in more comments & more shares all of which can contribute to your post going viral.
    -What Hashtags should you use?
    First up let’s tell you what not to use, the big ones! It makes sense to use the hashtags with loads and loads of engagement right? 1 million followers plus.. Wrong. These hashtags are great for massive accounts that are guaranteed to get loads of engagement which will result in a feature on one of these 1 million plus Hashtags. For smaller accounts it is a waste of time. The moment your post appears in the hashtag it will be buried by 100’s and sometimes 1000’s of new posts.
    Instead try selecting hashtags with smaller engagement groups that still see a decent amount of user interaction. Aim for a mix of hashtags below 200,000 follows. Ensure each hashtag is carefully selected to reflect what the content is all about. Relevance is key.

 

Post Timing

  • Step One and the first question you need to ask yourself as a business aiming to have a successful and engaged social media presence; Do you have an effective Social Media Calendar?
    Your Social Media Calendar will keep you on track with great content relevant to your promotions, target audience and the time of year. It will also give you consistency in your posting times. Consistency is so important and here is why. Think of your favourite TV show/Youtube Channel/Podcast. What time/day does it show/play?
    You know right? Because you love it and don’t want to miss it therefore you have stored that time and day permanently in your memory banks.
    The same applies with your Social Media Plan. You need to persistently offer consistency. Same style at the same time on the same days every week. Over time your engagement will grow as your followers begin to tune in at the same time, on the same days to see your message and feel part of your community.
    IG is structured as an online community. A community that is an umbrella for 10’s of thousands of smaller niche communities. Niche communities like fitness, health, meditation, healthy eating & Self-Empowerment. IG rewards accounts that are active in their communities with more engagement and a higher chance of being featured on hashtags and explore pages. To reap these rewards simply engage with your communities honestly and sincerely.
    -Explore your hashtags just before and just after you post. Like and Comment on the posts you love, but make your comments sincere and try to start a conversation with that person.

-Reply to comments on your posts straight away.
-Engage with industry leaders and large accounts within your communities regularly. A like and comment from a large account has a lot of sway on the platform.

-Engage with Influencers in your community. Let them know about your brand, gauge their interest and then look to collaborate with them in a mutually beneficial way. This way you can expose your brand to their community and reach more potential members.


Viral Content

  • Before you start looking into and creating Viral Content you must first have a basic understanding of how the IG algorithm works. When it comes to a post going viral the first 10 mins followed by the remaining first hour are the most essential. The amount of engagement a post receives during this first hour determines; how much of your audience sees your post on their feed, how many users see your post on the explore page and how many features you receive on your selected hashtags. To sum it up, the more people that like, comment and share your post within the first hour the higher the chance is of your post going viral on the platform.

Standard Image.

Standard Image.

Viral Image. Same Location.

Viral Image. Same Location.

So what is Viral Content? Viral content is an image/video/post that spreads fast across a specific or multiple platforms, receiving significantly higher levels of engagement than a standard piece of content. Creating Viral content through social media is hard but not impossible, as a business owner or creator you need to be thinking outside the box. What is going to catch a user’s eye and stop that endless scroll?
Create images that stir up an emotion or provoke a thought. Here are some examples;
-Posting an image of something so different and weird that users can’t help but wonder “what is that?”
-Stirring up a user’s fear for the character in the image: A portrait with a boxer that appears to be moments away from punching the unsuspecting character, An image showing a character that appears to be launching off a cliff edge or an image of a lion in hiding moments away from pouncing on an unsuspecting baby gazelle.
-Provocative posts that encourage debate: Remember that image of the blue dress that went viral? Or wait was it Gold? Or maybe it was white? Your provocative content does not need to be offensive (Kanye West is great at this), it just needs to provoke discussion.
-Love. Love is a universal language. Love can affect so many emotions; some cry, some laugh, some smile some feel longing.
-Motion: Videos or images that move can get almost double the engagement of standard still images. More viewing time allows users the time to think up comments. Comments are so much more useful than likes as they give you a chance to verbally engage with your audience without seeming spammy. But don’t be fooled your video still needs to stand out from the rest.

There is a paid method that will help your content go viral. A proven method that works as long as your content is amazing. It is called Power Liking and costs tend to start around the $500 mark. It works by tricking the IG algorithm during that crucial first 10 mins giving your post a strong possibility of going viral over that first hour. Power Likes are a big investment but they are proven to work if used correctly and with the right content.

Check out our latest  Bro Weekly  for some life hacks.

Check out our latest Bro Weekly for some life hacks.

Conclusion

Social Media is a beast. But it is a beast that can be tamed and used to work for your business if you are willing to put the initial work in. Start with the basics; Get your content looking incredible (Content is king). Get your editing style finalized and STICK WITH IT.  Put together your Social Media Guidelines in order to ensure all your content shares the same general vision and all messages are specifically designed around your campaigns. Get that Social Media Calendar set up, update it month to month, align it with your promotions and.. FOLLOW IT religiously.
I hope these 9 Useful Tips will help you optimize your Instagram account.

CHECK OUT our blog on Photography to get your Instagram looking pimp!
Keep the Dream Alive!
J & P