Managing Instagram

Based on some of my recent posts, I’ve been asked by a few to go a little deeper into Instagram. Which is great as Instagram is my favourite social network 🙂 Why? It is one of the last networks that haven’t been entirely dominated by ads, yes there are a few, but they are much more graceful in the placement than so many other networks. Even better is the recent change to Instagram to remove the ‘likes’. As a move to change the network back to being about sharing great photos and not about getting the ‘like’. More importantly, the move is designed to reduce the concerns that social media platforms can contribute to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy in young people. This is a global test by Instagram and one I hope proves to be a positive and encouraging change.

Influencers, don’t panic! As we can still see all the same metrics as before, so you don’t need to stress, your genuine engagement levels can be measured. 😉

All that aside, I’m a fan because of the ability to build a brand effectively, communicate with images, connect to people and still use hashtags. I find in comparison to Facebook, the organic reach and percentage of people viewing content on Instagram far outstrip it.

That said, it does vary per region and per country, NZers are still loving Facebook, but the art is on Instagram.

So how do we manage Instagram?

As with all networks, content is always king, and continuous content is where brands run out of steam. I am often fascinated by how brands that have a fantastic culture, products and services fall flat with content. So often we view our day to day as dull. However, this is the best source of genuine and regular content. Our working environment is more often than not filled with amazing people who have interesting lives and interesting jobs. Yes, even Accountants get up to interesting things! When developing your Instagram content. Start by looking at your peers and your work environment as a great source of inspiration. As an example; the below pic is my phone crudely taped to the window in the office as it shoots a timelapse of the sunset. This might seem odd, but it’s a snippet of content that captures the favourite work spot for most of the team, this post will show a little of the character and culture of the company. There is no need to overcook the production, as it is intended for social media channels. It’s the simple things that can work so well, and social media is meant to be spontaneous… at least planned spontaneity 😉

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Your office and co-workers aside. The next part is to plan out what you want to shoot. For example, when producing content for the Small Car Garage (an e-commerce site that sells scale model cars and accessories); the focus is on shooting clean and simple images of the cars. In addition to this, content is shot in a ‘real-world mock-up’, designed to engage their audience. Who love the variety and consistency of content.

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For this content, we are able to plan and schedule the general content well in advance as the shots are timeless and not tied to a specific timeframe. We then allow time slots in between for the spontaneous content, as we don’t want to limit the creative freedoms over the routine of scheduled posts.

So work to a plan, but allow for spontaneity.

The next challenge is planning, writing and posting content. Unlike Facebook, Instagram’s native app and desktop don’t allow for scheduling or planning of content.

But don’t stress! There are a few 3rd party apps that help with scheduling and planning. After a lot of trial and error in using a variety of apps my preference is Apphi, (not so keen on the name, but the tool is awesome). Allowing me to schedule content for multiple brands, with a desktop and smartphone App, I can schedule and plan on the fly.

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It also has some pretty cool little features like posting the first comment (which is where I like to put has tags, keeping the post focused on content and looking tidy). Apphi also allows you to tag products and pretty much the same as the native Instagram app including filters (though my preference is to use tools outside of Instagrams filters, see this post here for more). For more on Apphi check it out here, sign up and get 10% off if you use this link.

But wait, there’s more!

With Apphi you can also schedule Facebook content at the same time or unique content for each network. The tool has a desktop and mobile app to help plan how your content will look and so you can schedule anywhere any time 😉

Here are some other honorary mentions:

Scheduler, the former name is Schedugram – great tool but focused on Instagram.

Later, a beautiful tool for scheduling content and 100% integrated with Instagram.

Note, be careful with scheduling content as you want to maintain relevance to your audience and not to have a set and forget attitude to it. Remember, social media is social… duh. 😉

When planning, some other key things to consider are:

  • What colours do you want people to associate with your brand? Having a consistent colour is similar to the choice of filters, keeping thing familiar and regular help users associate and remember your brand and images.
  • What types of content do you want to post? Pictures and videos with people, close-ups of faces, your products, scenery? You don’t have to limit yourself to one type or style of photography, but it does help to have an idea of the types of content you want to post.
  • What filters will you use? As mentioned, a way to develop a recognisable theme on Instagram is by using a specific filter on all of your content. This is one of the easiest ways to develop a ‘signature’ Instagram style.

What about the Hashtags?

Hashtags are an excellent tool for reaching people who are searching for content themes; I love them and encourage clients to use them! The only issue I have is that they are ugly. However, there are a variety of ways to tidy up your comment that includes hashtags. The easiest is to post your tags in the first comment. The other is to cut and paste your comments from a text-only editor or Note Pad on your iPhone as this will allow you to keep like breaks, depending on the tool, will allow you to add in … on each line to act as line breaks. This will then add your hashtags under the character cut off.

Filters?

Yes! However, let’s not overdo it, sunsets don’t need more saturation… As mentioned earlier and in this post, I tend to use tools outside of the Instagram filters. I like filters and/or editing to a style that matches the brand. Generally, this is to keep consistency on Instagram (or other networks). This enables the use of photos from a variety of sources, then editing them consistanly helps to create a familiar feel to the content. You do have to be careful here as you may not want your content looking like everyone else content (Influencers I’m talking about you and your flat lays with white highlights…). I encourage clients to explore the voice of their brand and the imagery that relates best to this.

An easy example of this is the content we produced for Panhead. As you can see, we have shot several events for them. Working as best as possible to keep the editing of the shots consistent in look and to honour their rather unique and awesome brand.

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Ads on Instagram?

Absolutely, if you have read any of my other posts, you’ll know I’m a fan of ads. Simply put you can have the best product, but if you don’t tell anyone how will the world be changed? Ads on social networks help ensure your content can reach the right people at the right time. And that’s the important part! If you do want to use ads on any social network; don’t waste your time and money or the eyeballs of your targets by sharing random things. Advertising on social networks should be so good that the user doesn’t know they have clicked on an ad or engaged with the content. Not because you are deceiving them, but that you know your audience and have created content ads that resonate… So yes, advertise, but don’t be a dick.

Optimise your account for search

Just like web SEO you need to do the same for your Instagram account. Yes people can search via hashtags and your Instagram handle, but just like a search engine, Instagram “reads” profiles and learns what, when, and where to reveal profiles in results.

According to Instagram, it’s search results are based on a variety of inputs, including the people you follow, your profile connections, the photos and videos you like on Instagram and more.

The Instagram algorithm is working to deliver the most relevant results based on your behaviours, connections and interests. Make sure you apply this thinking to how you build your Instagram profile.

Here are a couple of account examples, you can see mine and the TAG The Agency accounts have been optimised including #tags, where Panhead is done with the copy in the profile.

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Also include your location in your bio as this will further help build your profile for local communities, same goes for all your posts. When you add a location tag to your posts, you have a much better chance at appearing in the search results of that location.

As mentioned earlier in this post, Instagrams algorithm is monitoring and matching recommendations based on who and what you like etc with this information, Instagram can predict what kind of profiles you might enjoy and shows these profiles in the “Suggested” and “Because You Follow” results in Search, which also applies when other users are searching and exploring Instagram.

Influencers

This form of advertising and marketing can work really well and I do recommend working with influencers, however, I’d recommend you chat with Dean from We Are Tenzing as these guys know their stuff when it comes to Influencers.

If you are looking for a slightly low key approach to influencers, you can use the search tips and approach them directly, but I recommend you have an intention and desired measurable outcome in mind, with all digital activity, track your ROI and invest based on success, if influencer marketing works, awesome, if it doesn’t, run ads 😉

For more on Influencers, take a look at this post from Oberlo.

I’m sure there is more I can go into, in particular strategy, style and planning. I hope you have found this post useful and please do let me know if there is anything else you’d like me to share, drop me an email or fire me a DM.

Thanks for reading, if you’d like to know more on the tools, I use, check out this post.

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Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...

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