How To Crush Your Instagram Content Strategy (2018)

When it comes to utilising social media marketing in your business, Instagram is the platform of choice these days. The visual combination of video, imagery and live interaction make it a platform that’s highly compatible in terms of being able to grow your business and generate revenue around relationship based, inbound marketing.

So how do you take advantage of this when it comes to business? This guide.

This guide is going to walk you through the steps to creating a content marketing strategy for Instagram that will turn you into the Jackie Chan of Instagram.

 
Chloe Forbes-Kindlen How To Crush Your Instagram Content Strategy .png
 

Instagram is a visual platform where you can share photo and video social posts. Captions do play a vital role too but they serve as an accompaniment to your video or graphic post rather than acting as a standalone text post.


Content Types

When putting together your Instagram content strategy, it’s important to consider the 4 types of content you can share on Instagram. These 4 content types must integrate together to create an experience for your ideal target audience. Your Instagram account should give them a reason to follow and a reason to stay engaged.

The 4 types of content you can share on Instagram are as follows:

  • Instagram Page Posts

  • Instagram Stories

  • Instagram Live

  • IGTV


 

Instagram Page Posts

Instagram Page Posts are all the posts you see when you visit a profile. They are shown in a square format when visiting a profile and are either images or videos of up to 60 seconds with a written caption underneath. You can also create an album of up to 10 videos or images that can be viewed by swiping right on the post itself.

You can simply post a raw video or photo to Instagram or if you’d like to focus on creative a consistent aesthetic (recommended), here are some helpful tools for Instagram page post creation/editing:

 
Chloe Forbes-Kindlen | @GavOattes Instagram.jpg
 

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are only 10 seconds long. You take them in real time or upload them from the last 24 hours of your camera roll. If you are using a tool like Plann, you can also pre-create your story and schedule a reminder to be sent to your phone when it’s time to post.

Think of Instagram Stories as an on-the-go vlogging platform.

Use 1080px by 1920px for your Instagram Story design.

If you have over 10,000 follows, you will access the ability to include ‘swipe up’ links in your story. This is great for linking people to a call to action that leads them outwith Instagram. For example, a blog post, playlist, product offering or lead magnet.

Instagram Story Ideas:

  • Behind the scenes

  • Vote on the next post/igtv episode

  • Do a takeover

  • Q&A through questions feature

  • Market Research through Polls feature

  • Sharing tips/how tos

  • Exclusive Offers and discounts

  • Go Live and start a conversation


Apps for Instagram Story Creation/Editing:

 
 Instagram Story Example by @GaryVee

Instagram Story Example by @GaryVee

 

Instagram Live



Built into Instagram stories is a livestreaming feature that enables you to go live from your Instagram profile. You access this via the story feature on your profile and then selecting live on the sliding navigation at the bottom of your screen.


This is different from Instagram TV (IGTV). When you go live, your audience can tune in and engage with you live within the Instagram App. Once your Instagram Live is over, users will have 24 hours to watch the replay before it disappears.



You can download your Instagram Livestreams before the 24 hours is up if you wish to repurpose your content on another platform. You can even upload them to IGTV to increase the lifetime viewership of each livestream.


82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts so this is definitely something you want to take advantage of.


Another benefit of using Instagram Live is that you can invite a user to join you on the screen and you can have a two-way conversation. The opportunities with this option are endless.

Imagine how your customers would feel if they could come on and directly ask the owner of the company questions?

Or if you decided to brainstorm new ideas for products WITH your customers by listening to what they want?

Or if you decided to do an interview with someone and have a Q&A at the end?

Ideally, you would plan these out in advance so that you could use Instagram Stories, page posts and your other social platforms to promote the interview ahead of time. Having a workflow outlined ahead of time will help you with this.



 

Example Instagram Interview Workflow:

  • Create a list of potential guests

  • Reach out to guest with request (Be sure to let them know what’s in it for them)

  • Discuss the topic you’d like to talk about including call to actions

  • Schedule a date/time to host the interview on Instagram

  • Create, schedule and promote social posts to promote your interview

  • Promote the interview to your email list

  • Go heavy, promoting your interview on stories in the lead up

  • Host interview

  • Follow up by directing people to watch in 24 hours

  • Download your interview and repurpose it everywhere.

    • This might include IGTV, editing snippets for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    • Upload to IGTV and embed in a blog post and cut segments to upload to YouTube.

    • Take quotable moment and turn them into graphics and tweets.

    • Create a short summary article and post on LinkedIn.

    • Make sure you utilise this content to the max.



 
 Access Instagram Live by opening the camera and scrolling on the navigation bar at the bottom to select ‘Live’.

Access Instagram Live by opening the camera and scrolling on the navigation bar at the bottom to select ‘Live’.

 

Now you know the types of content you can share on Instagram with some examples of how they can be used, let’s dive in deeper to the all the different elements that make up your Instagram content strategy.

chLOE FORBES-KINDLEN _ INSTAGRAM CONTENT STRATEGY.png

Instagram Content Topics


Instagram a visual site so the aesthetics definitely matter. Your goal is to tell a story and create an experience that your your audience want to be a part of. Generally speaking, to achieve this, you’re going to struggle to operate a post by post strategy where you’re sharing random content on a whim.

Creating categories for your content will make things a lot easier in terms of knowing what to post, when to post and utilising scheduling tools to plan your content out in advance.

There are a number of examples shared above for each content type but just to refresh, here’s a list of potential categories you can incorporate into your Instagram content strategy:

Potential Categories:

  • Behind the scenes

  • News/Updates

  • Q&A

  • Education

  • Quote

  • Inspiration

  • Before and After

  • Testimonial/ Community

  • Product/Services

  • Blog post promo

  • Humor/Meme

  • User Generated Content




Content Style

Once you have your content categories, you now need to create a brand consistent style so that all your posts look like they fit together. Not only does this give your customer’s a cohesive look that creates trust and is thumb-stopping in the news feed, it creates a template for you that is easy to implement. Consider the following.

  • Fonts

  • Color Theme with Hex Codes

  • Image Style

  • Filter Applications (and tools to help)

If you’re well versed in design, you can use Photoshop to create this. If you’re not a designer and need an easy solution, opt for Canva and Picmonkey. I recommend Plann if you’re new to filters and VSCO if you want a little more control.

For Instagram style inspiration, search #moodboard, #brandboard and #brandinspiration in Instagram. You can also search the same in Pinterest.

sandrachile-686931-unsplash.jpg

Resource: How To Create A Brand Board


 

Captions

The power of a well-thought out caption should not be underestimated my friend. Captions are the stories that create the connection between you, the post and your audience.

Talk with your audience rather than at them. Share stories that can relate to where they are now and show them your journey so they can see how you take them where they want to be. Below you will find an example from the caption king, @andyfrisella.

You can plan your captions out in advance to fit with your overall content strategy. Just be sure that you don’t plan too far in advance that you disconnect with what’s happening in the present moment. The conversation is happening in the NOW.

Side Note: If you struggle to get the line breaks right in your Instagram caption, you can use this tool.

 

They called you a loser. . They called you fat. . They said you’d never make it. . They said you were too stupid. . They said youre too much of a dreamer. . They said you should grow up and get a real job. . They said a lot of things...that hurt. . So what now? . Are you gonna cry and whine about how nobody believes in you? . Or are you going to train yourself to use the negative energy you get to be a trigger that launches you into productive action that brings you closer to your goal? . You have to decide which person you are. . But I can tell you with 100% CERTAINTY one of these groups is what champions do and one whats losers do. . You want everyone to believe in you even though you haven’t done anything thats earned that belief? . You think the world doesn’t notice youre fat & unhealthy? . You think the world doesn’t see you drinking every weekend with your old friends from back in the day...instead of being dedicated to your goals? . The reasons people say the shit they do is because it’s likely true. . ....and you can complain about it all you want...still doesn’t make it any less true. . If it hurts you...its cause YOU KNOW ITS TRUE AS WELL! . All you can do is take it all in...and use it as a trigger to get yourself into the behaviors that serve you. . Ive heard it all. . People called me a fat ass. . People said I was a loser. . People said Ill never make it. . ....and it was all true. . Sure I could of whined and got some fake sympathy from people close to me...but I didn’t. . I worked every single minute of every single day to take those words and shoce it down these motherfuckers throats... . And guess what... . It feels fucking good! . It takes a hell of a lot more courage, character and fortitude to admit to yourself your shortcomings and do something about it....than it does to be like everyone else and whine and live in denial like some sort of victim. . Next time someone calls you fat: GO WORKOUT. . Next time someone says you’ll never make it: MAKE 10 EXTRA SALES CALLS . Learn to make what the world gives you work for you. . Thats what champions do. . Episode 262 is posted & live. . ♠️TAG A MOTHERFUCKER WHO LOVES PROVING PEOPLE WRONG.♠️

A post shared by Andy Frisella (@andyfrisella) on

 
 

Hashtags and Locations

Make sure to incorporate hashtags, locations and the tagging feature into your posts to encourage people to find you when searching on the topic you are an expert in. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without while posts with a location get 79% more engagement.

You can include 30 hashtags per post.

Try to think of hashtags your customer would search.

For example, if you are a carpenter, you wouldn’t search ‘carpentry’, you’re more likely to benefit from searching something like ‘interior design’, ‘moving house’ or ‘new home’ in a particular location. Why? Because women are looking for inspiration on how to decorate their new home and the chances are, they’ll need new carpets.

This is really important when using IG Stories too.

When you use a hashtag or location, it’s entered into the story of that hashtag/location helping to increase your reach among new viewers. Stories where people can see and hear you also make it far easier to gain their interest and trust.

The best way to find the hashtags that are going to work is to do research.

1 | You need to make a list of keywords

2 | Go into the Instagram app and use the search bar to search each keyword.

3 | Also be sure to take a note of auto-suggestions too.

If you prefer to do this on desktop, Combin offers a good solution. As a paid user, you can save searches and engage based on hashtags so it could prove a worthy investment.

You may be inclined to go for the most popular hashtags but it’s important to also consider, the less popular ones. This might be an opportunity for you to jump in and dominate that hashtag. There’s less competition so you’re more likely to be noticed.

When you search these hashtags, look at the conversation that is happening around these posts.

  • Are these your peers and competitors?

  • Or are they your prospects and customers?

This is a huge distinction to make and will determine the success of your Instagram Content Strategy.

Chloe Forbes-Kindlen | Instagram Content Strategy.gif
 


Content Layout

Instagram is a visual platform and people are engaged through seeing posts that are attractive on the eye so the quality of your content absolutely does matter as we’ve already mentioned..

As far as following a specific grid layout and using set colours and styles etc., it comes down to your brand. You always want to be consistent. Consistency builds trust and it helps you stand out in the news feed. When a user is scrolling through, you want their thumb to stop because they know it’s a post from you.

With that being said, there’s no one size fits all strategy that works for everyone. Your goal is to create a feed that is an experience your IDEAL CUSTOMER want to be part of. This comes down to knowing your customer and why they are following you.

Think about the other accounts your customers are following on social media. Consider what they care about and are most interested in. Think about how they speak, their style, their mood and what their lifestyles are. Your job is to appeal to them.

Think of it like a storefront. You want to invite your users in. To do that you need to create a vibe that triggers an emotional connection with them. THAT is why the aesthetics matter. You need to  use your content to create that connection.

Popular options include:

  • Grid Layout

  • Vertical Lines

  • Horizontal Lines

  • Across the Board (I recommend purchasing a template on Creative Market for this, it’s a little tricky)

  • White Borders

  • Blocked 9x9

 
 Grid Layout  by @RenaeChristine

Grid Layout

by @RenaeChristine

 Across The Board  by @AnnaLenaIllustrations

Across The Board

by @AnnaLenaIllustrations

 
 Vertical lines crossed with horizontal lines  by @Prince_Ea

Vertical lines crossed with horizontal lines

by @Prince_Ea

 White Borders  by @PassionProjectFiles

White Borders

by @PassionProjectFiles

 
 Vertical lines  by me :)

Vertical lines

by me :)

 9 x 9 Block and Color Scheme  by @Lobernz

9 x 9 Block and Color Scheme

by @Lobernz


These are just a few examples to help you think about the style and feel you’d like to create. here are a number of other options. You may even opt to just stick with your brand colours.

Remember the number on rule in all things business, consistency is key. Find what works for you. Done is way better than delaying because your layout isn’t perfect.

You can use various apps including Plann, Preview or Later to map out your content categories into a style that you want to maintain.

Once again, this makes it easier on you when it comes to planning and scheduling out your content.


Content Frequency

Plan your content out. You have your categories, your topic and layout. Now it’s about ensuring you maintain top of mind awareness with your audience. Keep in mind that you have 3-4 separate content segments to account for:

  • IG Profile Posts

  • IG Stories

  • IG Live/ IGTV


IG Posts

When it comes to your regular Instagram Posts, the frequency of your content really comes down to how you can stay consistent without compromising on the quality. Posting for the sake of posting never works and could quickly disengage your audience.

With that in mind, it’s recommended that you try to post 2-3 per day if possible.

This helps to build momentum and maintain top of mind awareness - you can’t underestimate the power of just being there consistently.  



IG Stories

Instagram stories are really about bringing your audience into the day-to-day life of what you do as the business owner. For that reason, it’s something you want to do everyday. It happens in the moment.

You can show what you’re up to, answer questions, show your products/service in action, ask questions of your audience and build deep relationships with them.


You can use apps to schedule a reminder to your phone to upload. However, there really is no better way to build trust and show the value you bring by highlighting all the work that goes into providing them with an exceptional experience in that moment.


IGTV/ IG Live

Instagram Live is different from IGTV. One is live and one isn’t. However, as a time-strapped business owner, I always recommend hosting an Instagram Live then have it post on IGTV. This way you can get the best of both worlds without the additional work.

You can upload up to 10 minutes on mobile and up to 60 minutes on desktop. Your frequency depends on how you wish to use IGTV.

  • You could do a weekly show of 60 minutes.

  • You could do a daily show of 5 minutes.

  • You do a show 3 times a week lasting 10 minutes.


Remember to consider your audience and what you are trying to achieve with Instagram.

Accounting for this in your calendar will make it easier to schedule in promotional stories and posts to increase viewership on the platform.


Best Time To Post

You can look at statistics for days/times to post on Instagram.

Later created a fantastic article on this if you’d like to start by following the trends. However, it’s really important to post when your ideal target market is online. You have to play to your market which will vary from everyone else.

For example:

  • If you target work-at-home parents, they are likely going to be online after they take the children to school.

  • If you target 9-5ers, you’re best posting in that last hour where people are ready to get off work and are procrastinating. You’ll also want to focus on evenings and weekends.

  • If you target sports fans, think about when the games are on and people are looking for memes, motivation and team updates before/after and maybe even during.

The only way to figure out the best time to post is to test constantly. Considering your target audience and their behaviour on social media, pick up to 3 time slots (or a number based on your chosen frequency) and stick with them for at least 2 weeks before looking at the numbers and adjusting.

Just keep in mind that when you change the time, that can be the only variable otherwise, you won’t know whether it’s the time slot or the other changes to content you’ve made.

 

Call to Actions

People don’t take action unless you ask them too. When people are scrolling through their phones, they aren’t in shopping mode. That means a) you have to create thumb-stopping content and b) once you have their attention, you need to directly ask them to take action.

Ask for the sale, use call to actions, utlize the link in your bio and avoid adding fluff to seem less ‘salesy.’ If you’re solving a problem or adding to someone’s life, they want to know about it. Be clear, concise and to the point.

Quick Tip:

Linktree is just one of many tools that allow you to include multiple links in your bio accessible via a shortened url. You can see MN Spine and Sport Clinic taking full advantage of this in the screenshot below.

 
Chloe Forbes-Kindlen Instagram Content Strategy @mnspineandsport linktree example.jpg
 

Pulling Your Instagram Strategy Together

Now you have all the individual pieces of your Instagram Content Strategy, it’s time to put them together by looking at the logistics.

If you’ve gone through each step, you now have a good idea of what you’re going to post, when you’re going to post and how often you are going to post.

Now it just comes down to sticking to that content calendar and executing on that on a consistent basis. If you need to use an app to schedule some posts, you can do that. Buffer, Hootsuite and Later are all viable options. Just keep in mind, if you do schedule, you need to ensure you’re there and available to engage and respond to comments.

After all, that interaction is the whole end goal of creating your Instagram content strategy in the first place.


I truly hope you’ve found this post valuable, if you have any questions or would like to chat about your experience using Instagram for business, comment below.

Xo, Chloë