Instagram boasts a whopping 1 billion active users globally each month. True, it doesn’t quite stack up to Facebook or Facebook’s Messenger platform, but Instagram can still be a key social network to incorporate into your marketing strategy. In order for Instagram to be valuable to your company or organization, you’ll need to set milestones, craft content, and use Instagram’s analytics features to strategize according to your organization’s overarching goals.
Full disclosure, I’m pretty sick of hearing about SMART goals, but hey, things (usually….well, hopefully) become a cliche for a reason: they work.
Smart goals are:
Attainable (or Achievable)
Relevant (or Results-Focused)
For example, SMART goals for your Instagram strategy could be:
If you want to boost your audience’s engagement on your Instagram account, you need to set a goal for exactly how you’ll do that. “Boost engagement” is too vague. Instead, consider:
Increasing the number of comments on each Instagram post
Growing your follower count
Posting more frequently and consistently
How are you going to show off your growth and success without knowing where you started, where you’d like to go, and where you end up when you revisit your goals? That’s why you need to set measurable goals! Take a look at your specific goals and add some numbers to those:
Generating at least 15 comments per post
Increasing your number of followers by 10%
Posting at least three times each week
If your goal is to get more followers than @Beyonce, @TaylorSwift, or @KimKardashian, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, think back to your specific, measurable goals, and think of realistic tactics that align with your overall business goals. If you want to increase user engagement on Instagram by generating more comments, you can set the achievable goal of posting more comments, responding to more comments, and asking more direct questions in your posts.
This is where you make sure that your Instagram goals align with your company or organization’s overall business goals, values, and mission. Simply growing your follower count or getting more comments are isolated goals that don’t speak to the bigger picture. However, growing your follower count or increasing your comments in order to broaden your reach and strengthen your brand are results-focused, relevant goals to your overarching business plan.
Give yourself a deadline for reaching or re-evaluating your goals rather than setting goals and leaving an indefinite amount of time to pursue them. For social media, it can be useful to break goals up into campaigns or quarters. For example, you could aim to increase the total number of comments per post by 15 comments over the course of a particular campaign or aim to grow your follower count by 10% over Q1.
Unlike LinkedIn or Facebook, Instagram doesn’t give you a ton of real estate for the “so, tell me about yourself” stage of a user’s courtship. Take a look at what you get to flaunt your brand:
+ 150 character bio
= Your Instagram profile
Your Instagram bio gives you 150 characters to impress your audience. That’s shorter than an OG tweet, and in case you’ve forgotten, mastering the clever, informative sub-150 character phrase is an art form in and of itself. Think of a smart, succinct way to communicate your brand’s mission and story. Consider including a branded hashtag, emojis, and an intriguing call-to-action that’ll make users want to follow the link in your profile or engage with your feed. When writing your bio, think about what your target audience will need and want to see in order to press that follow button.
One popular misconception regarding Instagram content is that your Instagram posts and Instagram stories can be last-minute, low-effort posts that will still boost your engagement rate because these types of content are typically brief, visual, and “real.” Sorry, but you’ll need to plan, curate, create, and schedule content as thoughtfully as you would for any other platform. Remember those SMART goals you set, and plan your content accordingly.
You want users to scroll through your Instagram feed and trust that they’re getting a unique, honest perspective of your business, products, and services. The key here is to recognize the difference between authentic, (seemingly) on-the-fly content and sloppy, slapdash content. Remember, if you can tell the difference, so can Instagram users, meaning potential customers are more likely to keep scrolling than they are to contribute to a high engagement rate.
Hashtags help drive engagement by giving users something to which they can contribute their own content while tagging you in their #ThrowbackThursday, #SundayScaries, or #DogsOfInstagram posts. You can expand your reach and encourage user-generated content by creating a unique brand hashtag to use on your posts. Branded hashtags work well for seasonal campaigns, partnerships with other users or brands, and your longterm social media content strategy.
Reach, engagement, and share of voice are all key performance indicators related to social media performance. Figuring out which ones make the most sense for your unique goals takes research, planning, and even a little bit of trial and error. While there are countless metrics to measure on social media, the most important factors for most companies include:
Whether people hear about/see your brand
How often people engage with your company
The rate at which engagement transforms into conversions
The overall impact on your customer base
Impact calls engagement “hands down, the #1 area that you should be concerned with on social media” and the “catalyst for improvement in all of the other social media KPIs.” To better understand how people are engaging with your brand on Instagram, look at the following:
Likes: In theory, more “likes” means you’re getting more attention, which leads to higher engagement, but likes indicate surface level engagement. At this point, you’re probably far from turning that engagement into a conversion.
Shares and mentions: A step up from likes, as sharing content indicates that users are interested enough to spread the word to people whose opinions they care about, whether it’s recommending your brand or trusting knowledge you shared, reposts and use of branded hashtags are strong indicators that you’re moving in the right direction.
Comments: How many? How did you respond? How many comments did the conversation/thread have? Ongoing conversations show your customers that you’re interested and willing to connect on a human level.
Did you know Instagram offers a free analytics tool chock full of features to help you better understand your audience? Go to your profile and click on the three bars on the top right and then click “Insights.” Here, you’ll be able to view metrics related to your activity, content, and audience. You’ll be able to view your reach, profile visits, website clicks, top performing posts, top stories, and even a breakdown of your audience’s demographic information.
Knowing how to use the best tools to track the right metrics is vital to understanding, strategizing, and adjusting your social media campaigns in order to achieve your (SMART) goals.
The tricky part about Instagram marketing is what works best for Apple or Kim Kardashian might not work best for your business, but these are a few general guidelines that can kickstart your ventures into Instagram marketing. That said, part of running a successful social media campaign is knowing when to hold out and knowing when to shift gears. If you notice that your recent campaign hasn’t boosted your engagement rates at all, consider revamping and relaunching your content strategy. Once you start seeing an uptick in engagement, you can adjust your strategy accordingly and better connect with your audience.
Before you can have a thriving Instagram presence, you’ve got to have a strong brand identity on which to build your social strategy. We love sharing some free advice here and there, but we can’t give away all of our industry secrets willy-nilly over the internet.
Just remember, #HashtagsAreYourFriends.
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