How To Grow Your Brand On Instagram With Hands-Free Scheduling
Instagram represents a fertile ground for brands to farm in search of captive audiences. Time and again, the network reports the highest engagement rates of any network, yet, because of it's visual nature, businesses still struggle to determine how to use Instagram.
While there are a lot of tips and tricks, the real key to success is to consistently post interesting and relevant images.
Just post great pictures regularly and you'll go a long way toward establishing your Instagram profile as a viable platform.
Of course, it's never as easy as it sounds, right?
We're going to spend some time addressing both of those problems: how to be share great pictures and how to be active regularly. And I'll explain what I mean by 'hands-free' in a moment.
Grow Your Brand On Instagram With Great Pictures
Unfortunately, it's not enough to share pictures of your products or nice quote graphics - your shares to Instagram have to make people stop in their scrolling and double-tap that image because it impacted them at some level.
Which means those pictures have to be great.
At a technical level, that means the images should be high-quality and formatted in Instagram's ideal size of 1084 x 1084. You can't post grainy, out of focus, or incorrectly shaped (landscape or portrait) images.
Where the challenge lies is in creating an image that's aesthetically pleasing. And for many businesses that don't seem to immediately lend themselves to beautiful images, that's a real hurdle.
Think about how you can create and share images that demonstrate:
- Your personality
- Your happy customers
- Your products / services in use
To put it another way, look for ways that you can use the three E's through images:
For instance, information-based businesses can share tips and helpful information in graphics like this:
It's an eye-catching image that provides a quick tip that's related to my business and audience, and helpful! (And I'll be the first to admit I'm not a graphic designer - that was created in Canva.)
Use Quote Graphics - images that incorporate a compelling quote - are also a very successful tact for businesses. Just make sure that you're sourcing great quotes that are relevant to your business and audience.
What's also fun is finding a few topics or shared experiences that aren't necessarily related to your business, but ones that can relate to you and your audience. A great example for businesses is coffee! Most of us need our cup of joe in the morning before we feel ready to face the day, so that's something we can bond on.
If you have products then by all means share pictures of them, but do so in fun & creative ways.
Finally, use the marketing technique of (if appropriate) happy people. And if you incorporate text onto your image, try to keep the text within the sightlines of those people.
Grow Your Brand On Instagram With Consistent Activity
What's true on virtually every other social network is just as valid on Instagram: you have to be present, and present consistently, in order to be successful.
Now, what 'consistent' means can vary from business to business - some brands and audiences should post daily, others multiple times per day.
That's something you will need to experiment with.
But let's assume for the moment that it looks like twice a day is a good schedule for your brand and audience. The implication there is that there are a couple of times a day when you've determined your audience is most active and receptive to your messages.
That means you need to post at those times whether it's convenient for you or not.
Until recently, it was impossible to schedule posts to Instagram so you simply had to post them natively. Thanks to Instagram opening their API, social media management tools like AgoraPulse, Hootsuite, Tailwind and Buffer have added support for Instagram.
However, the method that all of those apps use is one where you can create an Instagram post on your desktop, schedule it, and then the mobile app version of the tool will prompt you and facilitate posting that update.
Which means you still have to be accessible to make the post.
That's why I was so tickled to check out Onlypult. With Onlypult, you can actually schedule Instagram posts without sending them to your mobile app.
The post I embedded above was 100% created on desktop, scheduled and posted on time by Onlypult without my involvement - hands-free.
What's more, Onlypult supports set schedules for shares so that you can queue up a week or more of Instagram posts in advance. You can even upload them in bulk.
To get started, create your account and connected your Instagram profile (up to 3 with the base plan).
Click on Schedule and then Add post (or Add multiple posts),
Upload your image.
Select the size and crop for your image (though, as I said, I recommend creating images specifically for Instagram ahead of time).
You can even choose a filter!
And then schedule your post.
You can put your caption along with key hashtags and geolocation.
And one interesting feature that I also noticed was the ability to delete the post after so much time has elapsed - a great technique for businesses that want to make their Instagram profiles a real destination and not present a feed that's cluttered with routine offers.
Once scheduled, you'll see it queued up:
So, to support the requirement of consistent activity, you can use the Planner to create a regular posting schedule (i.e. 7am and 11pm daily) and then click on the Add Posts button there to fill your queue.
What's more, once posted, you can use Onlypult's Analytics to measure the performance of your posts and Instagram profile.
You can start by viewing your audience growth over a selected period of time. This is important because you can see peaks and valleys in your audience growth and can attempt to tie those to specific images that you've shared (and hashtags that you've used).
Next, the Engagement metrics let you know which posts have done well, and how your posts overall are trending in terms of likes and comments.
Finally, the Optimization tab will give you greater insight into when your audience is online and engaging with your posts. Use that data to further refine when you share your posts!
Over To You
If you haven't yet given Instagram the 'ol College try, or haven't yet seen the kind of success that you would want, give these recommendations and tool a try. Be consistent in your posting and activity for at least 30 days and then look back on the time you invested, the audience that you grew, and the engagement you received.
Let me know in the comments how you're doing, and what other questions you have!
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."Follow @Mike_Allton