Devising An Effective Strategy For Instagram
Whenever I chat to fellow business owners about social media, I hear the same thing over and over again - it's so freaking hard to gain (and keep!) followers on Instagram these days. And it’s true! Gaining followers on the ‘Gram can feel like swimming while tethered - you give it all you’ve got but you still can’t seem to move forward!
While the constant algorithm changes certainly play a big role in this, the simple fact is there are so many people, brands and businesses on Instagram now, which makes it increasing difficult to break through the barrage of noise and reach the right people.
Peppermint Studio is (relatively) brand spankin' new to Instagram. And while we admittedly don't have a massive following (yet!), we have managed to double our followers and dramatically increase our engagement rate with the help of a few tried and true Instagram strategies.
Below are my top six recommendations.
Strategy 1: Carefully Curate Your Grid
Your Instagram profile is a bit like your website’s landing page. It should be eye-catching and engaging, and it should make people want to get to know you and your business better. Think of your Insta profile as your elevator pitch made visual - it has to win people over quickly, so first impressions count.
There are lots of different ways you can curate your grid, and it can be worthwhile to experiment with different layouts until you find the one that resonates the best with you and your audience. I like to use a recurring grid pattern - where the content of each square is predetermined to complement the squares surrounding it.
I use a formulaic approach to create my grid, and I always ensure that I regularly incorporate Peppermint Studio’s colour palette to keep my Insta feed looking consistent and on-brand. Below I’ve included an example of Peppermint Studio's Instagram feed, followed by the repeating grid formula I use.
Strategy 2: Use Beautiful Imagery
Great photography and beautiful imagery ties in closely with the first strategy, but it's well worth its own shout-out. You might make awesome products or have incredible services on offer, but if your Instagram feed is littered with amateur photography and daggy or outdated designs, you’re not only sabotaging your Insta feed, but your entire brand as well.
If you’re selling physical products, you really must invest in professional photoshoots if you want to convert followers to customers. If you run a service-based business or are simply looking for additional imagery to support your own Instagram feed, there are amazing stock photo resources out there that can help support and elevate your branding. You can read my top recommendations for image resources in this blog post.
Strategy 3: Write Captivating, Meaty Captions
Just posting an emoticon or lazily typing out a cliché motivational quote doesn’t quite cut it anymore on Instagram. You need to tell a story with your caption - one your followers can relate to. I advise you to treat your Instagram captions as mini blog posts.
They should to have a ‘hook’ to draw people in (like an intriguing question or an honest and interesting statement), followed by two or three useful body points, and rounded off with a question or a call-to-action - something that entices people to engage with you by commenting on your post, or perhaps by visiting you website.
Here’s an example of a caption I recently posted:
Strategy 4: Up Your Hashtag Game
When it comes to hashtags, there are a lot of conflicting opinions out there. At the moment Instagram allows you to use a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, and I recommend you go right ahead and use all 30 because that will help to maximise your chances of being seen.
I post my hashtags as a separate comment underneath my caption, and to make the process easier I have a note saved on my phone that has five full stops (I press return after each one so they’re on separate lines) followed by my 30 hashtags, like this:
#hashtag #hashtag #hashtag
Posting my hashtags this way means the hashtags themselves are hidden (the five dots means the hashtags won’t appear in the comment preview) and it also means my caption won't look spammy and overloaded with hashtags. Quick, clean and clever!
As for selecting which hashtags to use? I’m not going to lie, it’s tricky. You need to make sure each hashtag is relevant to your content and your brand, but at the same time you also need to ensure that it’s the kind of hashtag your ideal clients or customers would be looking at or aligning themselves with.
For example, my ideal customer is a female entrepreneur running (or in the process of starting) her own business, so hashtags like #savvybusinessowner and #fempreneur work well for me. If you’re struggling to pick hashtags, Zoe Linda has a great resource for selecting hashtags called the Ultimate Instagram Hashtag Database which I’ve found extremely useful.
Furthermore, the hashtag needs to be popular enough that there are plenty of people using it, but not so popular that your content will be drowned out by all the other posts using the same hashtag. I recommend you stick to hashtags that have featured in between 50,000 - 250,000 posts.
Strategy 5: Engage, Engage, Engage
It’s called ‘social’ media for a reason, so don’t think you can simply post great pics and clever captions and call it a day. You have to engage with your followers (and people you’d like to follow you) regularly, and you have to make those interactions meaningful.
The Instagram algorithm prefers posts with lots of engagement, so make sure when someone comments on your post that you respond with a thoughtful and relevant comment ASAP. I also recommend scrolling through relevant hashtags your ideal customers are using and then adding a few comments on posts that resonate with you. This way you’re more likely to be seen, and people are more likely to engage with you.
But don’t just post a thumbs up emoji as your comment - remember it’s about meaningful engagement, so post something that adds to the conversation and get’s people talking. I personally spend 15 - 30 minutes a day actively engaging with accounts that use hashtags relevant to me and my ideal clients, and I find this strategy has greatly increased my following and engagement rate.
Strategy 6: Be Consistent - And Persistent
Last but not least, make sure you keep at it. If you employ all of these strategies on a daily basis, you will start to see results. Don’t be deterred if it doesn’t happen for you straight away - Insta growth won’t happen overnight, but if you’re consistent AND persistent, you can rest assured your numbers will start to climb in the coming weeks.