With its mobile-friendly and visually rich format, Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms.
Since 2012, the number of online adults using Instagram has increased by almost 400%, according to a Pew Research report. Around 71% of 18-24 year olds used this platform in 2018.
Instagram’s user base is growing relatively faster compared to other social networks in the United States, as it is particularly popular among 18-24 year olds.
The growing popularity of Instagram has not escaped digital marketers.
However, with almost every brand using Instagram, the competition is fierce.
According to Mention’s Instagram Report 2018, 98% of fashion brands and 100% of automotive brands are already on Instagram.
The only way to break through so much clutter is to create a successful content plan for Instagram.
In this article you will learn how you can do it.
1. Plan your content feed in advance
Instagram is a busy place.
Brands display on average 27.9 times per month.
In other words, you need to post almost every day if you want to track your brand’s reach and engagement.
This, in turn, means planning your Instagram feed at least 2-3 weeks in advance.
This planning, while a bit time-consuming and demanding, will help you create a consistent flow of content that continues to engage your target audience.
Your content feed is where users will first interact with your brand. So, maintaining a consistent editing style and aesthetic can help you build a brand image.
You can use tools like Later to schedule your content or schedule your Instagram posts to post later through Facebook’s Creator Studio.
You can create content based on monthly or weekly themes.
Whatever your theme, make sure you have all the images, videos, and other content related to it ready.
That said, you will need some leeway to post content about unexpected developments in your niche or in general.
2. Use relevant hashtags
Your content must be discovered by or reach your target audience in time to maximize its impact.
The best way to make your content visible is to use the most relevant and accurate hashtags.
Hashtags can also make your content go viral on Instagram and help you analyze your campaigns.
You can use the following three types of hashtags to optimize your content.
- Trending hashtags: These are currently the most popular hashtags on Instagram. For example, fitness hashtags like #fitinspiration, #fitstagram, and #gymspiration are trending in 2019.
- General hashtags: The most commonly used and popular hashtags throughout the year. For example – #love, #instagood, #fashion and #happy.
- Niche specific hashtags: These are specific to your industry. They also include your brand hashtags. For example, while #adidas is a branded hashtag, #streetwear, #sports, #football are industry specific hashtags.
You can add up to 30 hashtags in each post. But, using all 30 hashtags may seem spammy.
On average, 5-6 hashtags should be enough.
However, recent research shows that positions with nine hashtags get the best commitment.
Be sure to research hashtags before using them. You can use tools like Hashtagify, All Hashtag or Seekmetrics to identify suitable hashtags.
Always maintain a list of relevant and popular hashtags.
3. Publish at the right time
Another critical factor that will ensure your high-quality content reaches the right audience is timing.
You should publish the content when your target audience is actually online.
Here are the best and worst times for brands to post on Instagram, according to SproutSocial Data:
- Best times to post: Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
- Best day: Wednesday.
- Most consistent commitment: Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Worst day to post: Sunday.
- Lowest commitment: Night and early morning from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.
However, these timings may differ slightly depending on your niche, target audience (age group), and location.
Instagram analytics will give you a better idea of when your target audience is most active on the platform.
- Tap the bar chart icon at the top right of your business account profile page to access Instagram Insights.
- Go to the Public tab.
- You’ll be able to see audience activity in the Followers section.
You can use this information to plan your content accordingly.
Alternatively, you can use Instagram analytics tools like Later, Hootsuite Analytics, or SproutSocial to find your best times to post.
4. Measure results
The final piece of your Instagram content plan is measurement.
You should measure the performance of each of your content campaigns and posts to improve your content creation, timing, and hashtag optimization.
You should track the following key metrics:
Comments provide insight into how well your post was received, as they require time and thought.
More comments often indicate that your content has found a connection with the audience. This way, you can take inspiration from the posts with the most comments.
You can find the engagement rate for a post by dividing the total number of likes and comments by the total number of followers.
For example, the following post from beard mark has 2,179 likes and 12 comments with a follow mark of 159,000.
Thus, the engagement rate for this position will be:
- (2,179 + 12) / 159,000 X 100 = 1.37
1.37 is an average engagement rate.
You can find your reach for each post with Instagram previews. This metric tells you the total number of people who have seen your post.
Unlike an impression, even if the same person sees a post multiple times, it still counts as a reach. Thus, it provides you with a more accurate measure of the success of your publication.
Purchases (from purchase links)
Finally, if you are using a buyable link to promote your content, you need to know how many purchases it has led to.
Your business account will need to be approved to use direct shopping links through Instagram. You will need to use tools like Later to track website traffic from Instagram.
Creating a successful content plan for a fast-paced, visually rich social media platform like Instagram is easier said than done.
Following these four tips should help you create a content plan that can help increase your brand reach and conversions on Instagram.
Be sure to modify your content plan to keep up with changing social media trends.
Featured Image: Created by author, October 2019
All screenshots taken by author, October 2019