With 3.5 billion people using social media worldwide, this online platform is at the front of the pack. From celebrity looks to personal posts, trending hashtags to casual messaging, Instagram has people hooked – checking notifications, posting, commenting, chatting and scrolling through feeds for close to an hour every day. With all this available in one place, how can you make sure that some of that time is spent looking at you?
Your Content is Candy
Every kid has a favourite type of candy. Maybe you liked sour straps, maybe it was bubble-gum, sherbet, liquorice, gummy bears, lollipops – you might have even been the one who liked the chalky bananas at the bottom of the packet.
Whatever it was, you liked it for a reason. Now think of your content as the candy, your audience as the kid. What do you offer them that keeps them wanting more?
Focus on Flavour
No matter how it looks or how you eat it, every sweet has a specific flavour. Your content needs to be the same. This is its distinctive style. Start by picking out a colour scheme, a font, even a watermark you can leave on each post.
Use the same equipment when creating your content; sticking to the same software, camera, or editing tools will maintain your flavour. Keep this consistent, and your audience will recognise your posts the second they see one pop up in their feed. This gives them the first taste, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they like it.
Work on Your Recipe
This is how you formulate your content. You need to offer your audience value in return for their engagement. Just as a kid would be disappointed to spend their pocket money on a bag of crappy candy, your followers won’t want to waste any more of their time on subpar content.
Perfecting your content’s recipe means researching trends, monitoring who and what your audience interacts with online, tracking their engagement through analytics apps, and most importantly, delivering what is relevant at the time, on time.
Progress Your Production
With your flavour decided and your recipe developed, you’re on track to keep up production. But don’t settle for the same substance every time. Candy companies will often introduce limited-edition ranges to boost their clients’ interest.
Your way toward boosting audience interest is keeping your content relevant and useful, meeting their demands by shaking things up.
The online world changes faster than the real world, so stay on top of news articles, political opinions, analyse industry patterns and watch trends in media engagement. This will not only help you continue producing good content, but it will also progress your production, improving it each time you post.
Open for Business
Just like the candy store, you want to be open for business when your clients (or target audience) is most likely to engage. Most lolly shops open around 9 am and close between 6 pm and 8 pm, allowing parents time to shop for sweets throughout the day while preparing for the end-of-school rush.
This is a strategy: both kids and their parents are stable customers, and keeping doors open to both groups during peak shopping times is vital to the store’s success. In the world of social media, your followers are your customers.
Posting when they are most active online is a sure-fire way to up engagement and bring them back to your page again and again.
Here are some tips to boost engagement according to time:
Catch the Early Bird
You might not think posting between 5 am and 7 am would get your content far, but according to a 2013 Facebook-sponsored IDC Research study and the 2016 Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, 61% of people check their phone in the first five minutes after waking up. This climbs to a strong 88% of people within half an hour of waking.
Even working a 9-5 job, many people wake up early to get ready, commute, and check their phone along the way.
Market to the Munchers
Posting between 11 am, and 3 pm will catch people on their lunch or coffee break. This group may be less mentally engaged as they’re still in the middle of their workday, so choose an extra pop of colour, bold font or a standout headline to capture their attention.
Bring it to brunch
Weekend posts are best suited to Saturdays, especially at 11 am, when people are likely to hang out over brunch, scrolling through social media before their buddies arrive.
According to Coschedule.com, these are the best times to post on Instagram according to your industry:
- Business to Consumer: 8 am, 1 pm and 9 pm EST
- Business to Business: 12pm-1pm, 5pm-6pm and 8pm-9pm EST
- Software: 11 am, 1 pm and 5 pm EST
- Healthcare: 10 am and 2 pm EST
- Media: 9am, 12pm and 3pm EST
- Education: 5pm-6pm EST
If you’re more interested in general Instagram engagement, Later.com analytics found these are the best times to post in 2020:
- Overall Best Time: 9 am-11 am EST
- Monday: 6am, 10am and 10pm EST
- Tuesday: 2 am, 4 am and 9 am EST
- Wednesday: 7 am, 8 am and 11 pm EST
- Thursday: 9 am, 12 pm and 7 pm EST
- Friday: 5 am, 1 pm and 3 pm EST
- Saturday: 11 am, 7 pm and 8 pm EST
- Sunday: 7 am, 8 am and 4 pm EST
Recent is Relevant
With the Instagram algorithm at work, posts are sorted from ‘recent’ to ‘popular’. A post’s popularity is calculated by the amount of engagement it receives.
Posting content when your audience is active will not only give it more immediate engagement. It will guarantee further engagement as the algorithm will rank it higher in popularity. This means your target audience will keep seeing and interacting with your content, hours after posting it.
Take Advantage of Tools
Believe it or not, Instagram wants to help businesses grow. Since 2016, Instagram has offered ‘Insights’, an inbuilt analytics tool created to give business accounts the engagement feedback they need.
To access Insights, set your Instagram profile to public, then go to Settings and scroll down, tapping ‘Switch to Business Account’. From here, you’ll need to connect to your Facebook account and verify your details. Once your account is converted, you can access all aspects of Insights. Here are the three different tabs:
Under the Activity tab, you can monitor engagement under Interactions, including the number of weekly profile visits, website clicks, how many times users have clicked on your profile email and how many calls you’ve received.
There’s also Discoverability, which tracks your page’s weekly performance using two factors: Reach and Impressions. Reach shows the number of individual accounts which have seen your posts while Impressions tells you the number of times they’ve been seen.
The Content tab manages Feed, Stories and Promotions. You can sort feed information according to time, content type and metric. Under feed, you’ll be able to track your account’s engagement from as far back as two years. This is the best section to show you what kind of content is most successful with your target audience.
The Stories section will show you data relevant to your Instagram Stories, e.g. how many users viewed your Stories, reviewed them, skipped them or switched to the next account’s Story.
The Promotions feature shows you more about the people watching your promotional posts, as well as tallying up your Profile Visits, Impressions, Reach and Engagement they receive.
The Audience tab tells you more about your target audience’s demographics – their gender, location and age range, as well as their most active times on average.
Experiment to Expand
Producing consistent content, knowing your audience and understanding analytics are all key factors in running a healthy online business account. But a samey product does not mean a steady product. Recycling your content ideas will quickly devalue your account, leaving your followers uninspired and likely to unfollow. If you’re staying stagnant, don’t be afraid to switch things up.
Use what you know, then add
Take all the work you’ve already done, getting to know your audience, what they like, how they like it and when they see it and mix this knowledge with outside sources. Check out current news, movements in the market, industry advances, then bring it all together.
Fill Your Hashtags
Make sure to fill out your Hashtags, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 Hashtags. You do not want to miss out on new eyeballs missing out on your posts. Learn more about Hashtags and growing a following.
Learn from the best
It’s ok to admit that there’s someone else out there doing better than you, but this doesn’t mean admitting defeat. Watch your competitors, their strategies, methods and ideas. Use them as inspiration to better your work and stay in the race.
Create as you go
Stories and Instagram Live are great ways to keep creating content and engaging your audience as you go about managing your business. Maybe you’re in the middle of designing a new product or travelling to an important meeting. Document these stages to open your process to your public.
Take some risks
Just like the limited-edition lollies, you’re allowed to go off-brand for a moment and take a risk to peak your followers’ interest. Alternate your off-brand content with your usual style to see which of your experiments flop and which of them draw people in.
Find another creator, company or small business that works with your vision and organise a collaboration. This mutual exposure can be beneficial for both of you and will form a bond that might even lead you to a future partnership. See what lending a hand can do for your social handle.
Get Cooking on Instagram
With this new recipe for Insta-success, it’s time to get creating and testing. The main thing is this, have FUN! enjoy the ride and the journey, you will meet many new friends and people on the way. Reach out to people you admire and strike up conversations with them. You just never know what could become of the connection.
Hope you gained some insights into succeeding on Instagram. Consider following @dainwalker on Instagram, or subscribing for more articles like this one.
Lead Developer, Victory Front