An important part of any PR strategy includes a powerful social media strategy. Social media has the ability to create a community consisting of people who love your brand, which is why it’s important to have a strong presence on your channels.
Instagram is one of the most powerful tools a brand can use to build its community; the high engagement rates and lower bounce rates (entering the page and immediately leaving, rather than viewing other parts of the page) prove to be a powerful asset when the platform is used correctly.
The Baker PR team recently sat in on an information session with Instagram expert and blogger Jenn Herman, and she gave us some valuable tips when it comes to using the photo sharing app to your advantage.
Jenn talked to us about three topics when it comes to bettering a brand’s Instagram usage: the Instagram algorithm, content strategies and hashtag strategies. Below are some key takeaways.
The Instagram Algorithm
The algorithms Instagram uses are meant to help users who are searching for content and makes it easier for these users to discover new content. The algorithms are put to use in many ways, but three key areas that use algorithms include hashtag searches, stories and your feed.
The algorithm for the hashtag search is based on each individual user’s activity and preferences. This means that how each specific user acts on Instagram will determine the results when they search for a specific hashtag. Timing and saturation also have an effect on how the algorithm poises your posts to interact with followers and non-followers alike.
The story algorithm is another algorithm that is used based on each user’s personal interactions. The placement of a story on your banner feed is based on your interaction with a specific account. Largely, this algorithm is based on personal interactions with each account you follow. This means if you consistently like, comment and share a specific account’s posts and stories, they will be more likely to be at the front of your banner feed.
Furthermore, accounts that go live on their story will be prioritized to the front of the banner feeds, and new stories will always push ahead of stories that you have already watched. This is all to take into consideration when operating a brand’s Instagram account- make sure your brand is liking, commenting and sharing the right posts for more exposure.
The feed algorithm is based predominantly on individual interactions within your Instagram feed; your interest level with the related content and your relationship with the accounts you interact with will have an effect on what content is at the beginning of your feed each time you open Instagram. Over the past couple of months there has been more focus on ‘recent’ activity from the accounts you follow as well, but essentially your relationship with the accounts you follow effects how you will see their posts. So, if you like and comment on a specific account more often than the rest, you will probably see their recent posts towards the beginning of your feed when you open Instagram. Additionally, when your account is more active, Instagram will give your post more exposure in return for your activity on the app.
The key takeaways about the algorithms: take advantage of them! Post less BUT better content, connect emotionally to your followers and stay true to your brand’s voice and style.
One of the main goals for your brand’s content strategy should be to post more of what your audience wants. Whether this is a post to your feed, your story or utilizing Instagram TV- your audience wants to hear from you!
Some tips to help your content perform better:
- Use location tags in your stories- the hint is to use the smallest possible physical location so your story gets more exposure from those searching that location.
- Calls to action- make sure you include one in your captions to let your audience in on what you want them to do and make sure you use these buttons on your profile (link in bio, direct email button.)
- Boosting story engagement comes from using the accessories Instagram provides you: polls, questions or a music sticker will make engagement soar!
User generated content can be an incredible asset for your brand and others! First, make sure all of your content is sharable, entertaining or educational. Furthermore, if your audience is tagging you in stories and posts, make sure you acknowledge these mentions and use this content on your own page. Genuine quality user-generated content can tell your brand’s story from a fresh perspective.
Using hashtags the wrong way or overusing popular hashtags can make your brand’s Instagram get lost in the shuffle. Combining relevant hashtags can help your brand achieve success and gain more followers. To do this, use four or five popular hashtags in your post- popular means hashtags that have been used in up to one million posts. Then, use five to six moderately popular hashtags (used hundreds of thousands of times,) followed by two to five niche specific hashtags to your brand ending with one to three branded hashtags. This strategy will make sure your brand is staying up at the top of the search results while not being overshadowed. In the end, top posts are how your audience finds you!
While Instagram is not the only social media channel your brand should be using, it is a very powerful one that builds a community around your brand and your brand’s story. Instagram has the ability to connect people around the world using one common thing, an image. So the only question is, what are you going to post next?