Instagram is one of the most in-demand skills for freelancers in 2018. You can read more about it in my post on Top 7 Digital Marketing Skills for Freelancers in 2018. And this is the reason why I decided to cover Instagram marketing skills the first in my ‘How to Become a Top-rated Digital Marketing Freelancer‘ series.
I will list down the top 15 tips that will help you ace the Instagram game and deliver results to your client’s projects like a pro! Please note that I am listing down the Instagram strategies that will help you drive growth and engagement for the Instagram accounts you’ll be handling and that’s why will skip the basics like setting up an account or the common terminologies. There are innumerable resources that can help you with the basics. It’s the growth and engagement strategies that are difficult to find in one place!
Instagram Marketing Skills That Bring Results in 2018
I’m assuming that you already have an Instagram account for business. If you don’t, then head over to YouTube and check out any one of the videos that will guide you through the process of setting up one. I’m listing out one reference for you, this should help you get started with your Instagram business account set up. Once that is done, let’s get down to the Instagram Marketing Strategies that will help you get good quality freelance projects:
1. Define Your Niche
Before we start doing anything on Instagram, it’s essential to define the niche you will be operating it. Because our niche on Instagram will decide:
- Our content strategy there.
- Our competitors who we have to keep a track of in order to see the activity taking place on their page. Be thorough with your study of your competitors on Instagram. There’s always a lot that we can learn and understand by following our competition. Social Insider is an awesome tool to keep track of your competitors’ social media strategy. Things that you consider ‘cool’ may not necessarily resonate with your target audience. Your competitors who are doing good on Instagram should give you a reality check into things that may or may not be working with your audience.
- The hashtags that you will be targeting in order to fuel your growth on Instagram.
I can’t stress enough on the importance of defining your niche and target audience. You can provide value to your audience only if you understand your space well and don’t have content that is all over the place!
2. Post High-Quality Content
You have a solid Instagram content strategy in place but it will bring you results only if your content quality is better than your competition and resonates with your target audience. Whether you are posting images or videos, keep in mind that its quality will decide your brand’s image in your audience’s minds. Invest in your content!
Look around your competition, target hashtags and see the kind of content that is doing well there and ask yourself – can I compete with that?
3. Content Should Add Value to Your Audience
High-quality content will bring results only if it adds genuine value to your target audience. Instagram, like other social media accounts, is getting saturated and it’s not easy to get noticed. It requires a lot of time, effort, and planning. Be ready for that!
Posting good-looking images or slick videos is not enough, in fact, it adds to nothing if your audience can’t connect or engage with. Focus on a few essentials:
- Quality over quantity – Always keep asking and answering this question – why am I on this platform? Your long-term vision for Instagram should form the base for all your activities on this platform.
- Think about your audience while creating the content for them…What’s in it for them? Is my content providing genuine value to them?
- Review your and your competitors best performing posts and see what is working well with your audience.
- Ask! Sometimes it’s a good idea to dig a little deeper and ask your audience what kind of content they would like to see from you.
- Experiment once in a while… It’s god to push the envelope once in a while and do things out of your comfort zone. You never know, you may hit the jackpot!
4. Post consistently to Instagram
Success on any of the social media platforms doesn’t come easily and one of the key reasons for pages performing poorly is their lack of consistency. Look at any of the Top Instagram profiles and you will see that they post at an average of 1 or 2 times a day.
Posting every day will keep you connected with your target audience and also help you work the Instagram algorithm in your favor. Also, keep in mind, finding success on Instagram should be a part of your long-term strategy and not a one-off thing. Plan for your time and resources accordingly. Check out this cool image from CoScedule to reinforce this strategy and keep posting daily!
5. Time Your Posts to Maximize Engagement
This is one data that you’ll have to find out on your own! Though there’s a lot of research on this topic and you will find a lot of people suggesting 11 am – 1 pm or evening 7 pm – 9 pm as the best times to post on Instagram, you can’t really take this as a rule of thumb. This could be a good place to start from though, for beginners.
But as you gain more followers and engagement levels, dig into your Page Insights and look for key metrics like when the majority of your followers are online and the times when the engagement levels on your page is the highest.
Posting around these times can help you drive maximum (and timely) engagement to your posts, a key metric for the Instagram algorithm in 2018. The faster you get the likes and comments on your post, the better you will perform on the Instagram algorithm.
Remember: Timing your Instagram post correctly is as crucial as the content you put in the post!
6. Quality over Quantity
While it’s good for one’s ego to have a huge following, the numbers mean little if they’re just that – NUMBERS! Your main concern should be the connections and engagement levels with your audience. They should be interested in what you have to say and share with them.
Having a higher engagement rate on your posts does increase your chances of showing up in the top posts feed of the hashtags you are gunning for. As far as Instagram is concerned, it obviously wants to push forward the content that is more popular and engagement numbers is a good indication of popularity!
It is a good idea to do a spring cleaning of your followers once every week. I use Follower Assistant, an app to keep a check on accounts who don’t follow me back and or have unfollowed me. You can also check out a few more tools and see what works the best for you. They will also help you weed out the fake/ghost followers out of your account.
7. The Power of Instagram Hashtags
Hashtags play a really important role in driving growth on Instagram. You can’t expect to go too far on Instagram if your hashtag game is not being correctly played. And that’s primarily because of these three reasons:
1. Hashtags on Instagram help you reach out to a wider audience
Instagram now allows users to follow hashtags just like the way you follow other accounts. Adding relevant hashtags to your posts help you reach out to users in your target audience who may not have heard about you yet. As of now, Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags per post. Go ahead and use all of them.
Keep note of one thing. Don’t add all your hashtags in your caption itself. What I do is that I add the Top 3 or 4 hashtags (the most popular in my niche with the maximum number of posts) in my caption and the rest of them in my first comment. Check out my Instagram account here:
2. Following and engaging with the relevant hashtags in your niche can get you targeted followers.
If you want to keep your visibility high within your niche, it’s a good idea to spend time following and engaging with the top performing hashtags in your niche. Follow, like and comment on the top performing posts within each hashtag you are targeting. Do this on a consistent basis, you will see a good jump in your follower numbers.
3. Interacting with hashtags within your niche can help you make it to the top posts slot
If you want to make it to the to posts slot on Instagram for specific hashtags, it’s not enough to just add these hashtags to your post. What you also need to do is to interact with these hashtags in the Instagram feed. So once you’ve made a post on your account, go over to the feed for each of the hashtags you have used. You can choose any 5 good # that you’ve used in your post and start liking and commenting on these hashtags.
Of course, you don’t want to spam the hell out of these hashtags, so don’t go overboard. Just 3-4 likes and comments on each # should be enough. Make sure of one thing – do his immediately after you have made the post on your account. This will help you make it to the top posts within your targeted hashtags. And this should be your aim all the time with every post you do- make it to the list of top posts within each hashtag!
Pro Tip: You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. What’s stopping you from using them?
8. Put These Top 7 Instagram Tools of 2018 to Use
Acing your Instagram Strategy requires a lot of work and there are a few really good tools that can help you ace the Instagram game. I am limiting the list of Instagram tools to 7 because it’s only the best of the lot that I want you to focus on, the ones that will be really worth your time, effort and money:
- Iconosquare – Track key insights like engagement and audience growth for your Instagram account. Will help you analyze and optimize your performance on Instagram. Most importantly, schedule your posts!
- Hootsuite – Hootsuite is one of the most powerful scheduling tools for all of your social media channels, including Instagram. Definitely, one of the Top 3 for scheduling, managing engagement and tracking performance – all from a single dashboard.
- Social Rank – Get valuable insights about your followers. Most valuable, most engaged, most followed or the best follower…This tool will find it all for you!
- VSCO – The best out there to edit your photos…it has some pretty amazing filters! You can check out Snapseed too.
- Canva – One stop shop for designing all your social media posts. It’s so easy to use and gives amazing results. I don’t think I can survive to be on social media without Canva!
- Preview – Hashtag tools, editing tools, analytics, and editing….all in one place!
- Prime – If you want to find out the best time to post from your IG account, this tool is a must-have!
9. Instagram Captions Are Important
Captions on Instagram are as important as your images! Writing a good caption can get the ball rolling in terms of getting higher engagement levels on your posts. It is one of the effective ways to get people to comment on your post. Comments drive engagement and as you are aware, higher your engagement levels, better are the chances of Instagram algorithm pushing your post up on people’s feeds. Why would you want to miss out on a wonderful opportunity like this?
Your caption will be the voice of your brand on Instagram and the stories that you tell through these captions will help you develop a deep bond with your followers. Check out Pat Flynn’s Instagram account and the captions he puts out with each post. It’s clear that he puts as much effort into his captions as he does with his images…
10. 400 Million Users Use IG Stories Every Day
Instagram Stories have overtaken Snapchat stories by a huge margin. As we all know, stories were first brought in by Snapchat – a select collection of your Snaps that would play in the order you took them and would disappear after 24 hours.
Well, going by its popularity, the idea was picked by many, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
IG Stories are hugely popular and your Instagram Strategy should definitely include a good dose of this feature. Check out this video below to get an idea of how to integrate IG stories into your Instagram Marketing Strategy:
Pro Tip: Do remember to add Hashtags and Geotags to your stories.
11. Tag To Win Giveaways on Instagram
Tag to win is a great way to reach out to new fans organically, grow your social following and spread awareness about your brand and products. To run this giveaway, you will have to ask your followers to tag a friend in the comment section of a particular post for a chance to win the giveaway. People love freebies (provided it’s something nice or useful). And the rules are simple too:
- Follow one’s page
- Tag a friend under the photo and ask the friend to follow that page.
- As an added incentive, one can tag multiple people, each one under a different comment. Obviously, the one who tags more number of friends stands a higher chance of winning the giveaway.
Here, check out this ‘Tag and Win’ contest by Triple the Foodies on Instagram
You can also check out the Hashtag #TagToWin on Instagram to get a good idea about the kind of giveaways being run and also analyze the ones that are getting a lot of engagements for the brand.
12. Make Instagram Influencer Marketing Work for You
Done in the right way, Influence marketing on Instagram is a great strategy to drive growth and engagement on your page.
- Make sure to reach out to influencers who have healthy engagement levels rather than just looking at follower numbers. Numbers hold a significance only if they are engaging with the page. There is no point working with an influencer with thousands of followers but only a handful of likes and comments on their posts.
- Look at the influencers popular in your niche. Who does your audience like to interact with the most? They may have a smaller follower base than the ‘typical’ influencers on Instagram, but if the audience loves them, associating with them should work for you.
Not sure how to go about it? This should help!
13. Use IGTV to Your Advantage
IGTV (you can get both in the native Instagram app and the new IGTV app) was launched in June 2018 to compete with the likes of Youtube and Snapchat, allowing one to post much longer videos than the 60 second limit on the standard Instagram posts.
Combine this with the appeal of storytelling, digital videos, authentic content – you have a real winner here. 80% of the content in the next few years is going to be consumed in the form of videos and IGTV gives you the perfect platform to share this content with your target audience.
Pro Tip: It’s hot and new in the market. Whether it’s your latest interview/ product demo/tutorials/webinars…do it here!
14. Engage With Your Followers
Nurture your relationship with your followers. They deserve your time and attention and you can do this by:
- Engaging with their content. Like and leave comments on their posts
- Reply to all the comments you receive on your posts
- Capitalize on Stories and Live videos on Instagram. People love these stories and live videos and will help you connect with your audience at a deeper level and can work wonders towards creating an engaged and loyal follower base.
- ASK!! What is the big deal in asking people to like, comment or answer the question you’ve posted on your page? Do it and you will be amazed by the results!
- Do more of what your audience likes!
15. Be Patient
Last, but not the least, be patient. Success on Instagram, like everything else in life does not come easily and you will have to work towards it. This work will also need to be consistent in order to build the momentum and maintain it. Keep an initial time frame of 6 months to a year. If you are following all of the steps well, the Instagram game is yours to win!
Put these 15 strategies to work for you and let me know if they are getting results for your clients. Would love to hear about your Instagram journey, so do leave your comments below. Also, if you would like my help in working on your Instagram sategy, you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help!