Olive Group proudly partners with all kinds of businesses, all across the United States. And one of the issues we run into most often is the steep learning curve for Social Media. So we’ve written this guide to help anyone tackle cleaning up one of our favorite platforms, Instagram.
We love working with businesses to offer better marketing that helps them get their messages out to their target audiences. And generally speaking, we spend most of our time developing strategies around proper branding, messaging, targeting, and content creation. But today we are taking a break from marketing strategy to chat about Instagram, and a few best practices there. But first, lets knock out a couple basics.
Photos + Copy = Posts
Instagram 101 for Businesses. Your posts on this platform are the expressions of your brand truth, your sales goals, and your current objectives, all rolled into one. People can choose for you or against you from one post, or even worse, they can ignore you. I can’t think of anything worse than having posts ignored. So here are the two most basic pieces of a solid post on Instagram
First, it doesn’t have to be a photo. Graphics, formatted design that incorporates both photo and copy, motion graphics, and video are all fair game. I’m going to keep calling it photography though, because it’s easier than using marketing terms that have too many muddled meanings. Suffice it to say that the adage a picture is worth a thousand words plays well on Instagram.
Simply put, copy is what you write about the photography you’ve posted. It may be direct (This is from our vacation to Seattle) or it could be indirectly correlated (Showing a product that is consumed, but writing about quality or service), but no matter how you choose to address the photography, on Instagram, the copy is addressing the photography.
Your photo, plus your copy, equals your post. There are other clever ways to help your post get a broader audience, but we are sticking to the basics here. So if you want to expand your audience in a post, learn about the science behind hashtags, trending, location tagging, and tagging accounts. They offer solid boosts to good posts.
If posting is the introductory course, then cleanliness is that class everyone should take, but it doesn’t work towards your major. Keeping your account profile clean and clear say as much about you as your posts do. Our Director of Strategic Marketing constantly says that Everything Speaks. The profile information and the photo you use to represent yourself speaks to your brand. The links you share in your profile speak to what you associate your brand with. The posts you make speak to how you view your brand, or how you hope it is viewed by your target audiences. And the organization of your profile and the general content you put out speaks to the clarity of your brand messaging, and the order of your organization. Everything speaks.
Instagram users view the profiles of posts that they like. It’s a natural click-through that is measurable through Insights on each business page post. [Quick note: If you have a personal page, you cannot see Insights.] The photos in that profile appear in a grid, organized by date/time of posting. And people can do a number of things with those grids, to try to be clever or eye-catching.
I don’t generally suggest grid-designing because I think it hurts good content by trying to honor design over truth. But there are some very simple methods for keeping your Instagram feed consistent, and if it helps with organization, give it a try..
Be mindful of repetition. Posting the same items or similar posts may be exactly on brand for you, and a perfect execution. But that repetition needs to be intentional. Better marketing is intentional, so avoid involuntary repetition.
One quick way to remedy repetition is to delete what you no longer need. If an event has passed or you think you have too much of one thing, delete the posts. But deleting is as permanent as anything on social media can really be.
If you don’t want it to disappear forever, but just be removed from viewing, then Archive, as opposed to Delete. You can retrieve archived posts later, if you need them.
If you have 100 posts, and they are a wide-ranging, accurate representation of everything about you, congratulations. That’s a great profile feed for Instagram. However, if your last nine posts are poorly lit shots from your smartphone, or a handful of memes that someone else made, no one is scrolling down to see what you’re all about. They’ve made their mind up already. Even if half of your most recent posts are off-brand or poorly composed, 50% of anything is a lot.
And the message you’re conveying to people that have never seen you, is found in what they see/read/hear. And on Instagram, it’s overwhelmingly sight. So the story you are writing is within the posts you’re making right now, and the photos/graphics you’re using today.
I like the use of Instagram to promote events. But if you are going to promote an event you’re at or something that you sponsor, or even an event that you’re putting on yourself, have some clear requirements for social media promotion. If the promotion isn’t formatted to all of your social media accounts, don’t post it!
Here are some things to ask for:
Ask vendors, sponsors, and event hosts to send high quality graphics that will fit unique social media platforms: Always Facebook and Instagram. Twitter has less restrictions, and other platforms do less for promotion, but if you have them, use them.
Ask if they have their own hashtags, slogans, copyrights, etc. If they do, use them in addition to your own. Using their tags draws in additional target audiences to your profile.
If they have none of those things, ask for permission to rework their designs to better showcase them. Most groups will say yes.
And if you’ve been approached by a group boasting a large event, but poor representation and marketing, recognize that as a potential red flag to their planning and execution.
Making Posts Work
Whenever you post anything, have a goal in mind for that post. As a business, putting forward brand truths, sales incentives, product launches, event reminders, and whatever is on your mind should always have a plan. When you have a clear plan for your target audiences, you will always be working to drive their decision-making. We call that a call to action, and if you want someone on your Instagram page to respond to your post, here are some simple rules:
Instagram is driven by optics. If it doesn’t look good, clean, or clear, it gets lost or ignored. The only exception is truly candid shots (interviews, events, or something unique to your operations), but even then, it must look as good as possible. For instance, a pic from an event is more impactful than a graphic detailing it. And pictures help you avoid obvious repetition.
Yes, it’s all about photos. But if the photo captures them, the content that is written leads them. So once you show them something great, say something to them about what they see. In general, talk about your brand, your business, and what you love about what you do.
Send Them Somewhere
This is the nature of a call to action. You’re calling the watcher/reader to do something about what they’ve seen. Sign up, click here, go to our website, click over to this other profile, etc…. Don’t give them dates if the graphic already has dates on it. Give them a number to call, a website to read, or a sign-up opportunity.
Start with Them, Stay with Them
Every hashtag, every word of copy, every post, every photo… who is your target audience? Targeting is a science, but it’s also a component of your own expertise. You know who you want to sell to. You know who is buying what you make or do. Speak to them, always.
The pathway to better marketing of your brand is found in intentionality and authenticity. Be as professionally real as you can be on social media. And if you successfully execute great, honest posts about who you are and what you do, Instagram will be a terrific tool for your business.