This is a guest post by Gigi Khaos from Strikingly.
All you want to do is grow your audience on Instagram and lead them to your store, or blog, for them to make a purchase, or sign up to your email list.
You’ve read the PLETHORA of posts about what it takes to win on Instagram and you’ve implemented most of them, but something’s…off…
The playing field has changed.
Some of the tools mentioned in these Instagram strategy blog posts aren’t available anymore.
Don’t worry, we’ve been there.
So we readjusted our strategy and figured out how we would approach building our audience on Instagram, and nudging them to our blog.
This is what we’re going to talk about:
Instagram tools that will save your sanity (Sweeeeet…)
Our own bout with Instagram (we lost. HA! But we went from 400 followers to 1500+ followers in 2 weeks)
And how, after our initial bout with Instagram, less seems to be more to win (keep reading, you’ll see)
Grum – The tool used to schedule your Instagram posts in advance
Oh sweet, sweet Grum – how you are adored.
Grum is the first (well as far as we know) scheduling tool for Instagram posts that does not require a push notification.
Yeah, you heard us right…
Like Hootesuite or Buffer, you can schedule your Instagram posts days, if not weeks, in advance.
So, yes. You can set it and forget it.
We’ll give you a little moment to reflect on this.
The tool is intuitive and EASY to use.
The staff there are QUICK to get back to you and fix the “bug” or explain your user error (say my name, say my name!) without any judgment (we appreciate you).
This is how it works:
And you know how you want to have the hashtags in the first comment (because after 2-3 comments your first comment, with your hashtags, will disappear)?
They’ve thought of that too.
Click on the speech bubble in the bottom right (next to the smiley face) and the first comment section will open up.
And because we know you have a list of hashtags, relevant to your business/brand, already saved in a Google Spreadsheet or Doc (right?…RIGHT?!…), copy and paste it into the first comments section and tweak them from there.
When we started using it, the scheduling was done in military time (14:15 = 2:15 PM), but they now changed it so that 2:15 PM = 2:15 PM.
SIDE NOTE: Look at the hashtags we used above (and yes, they change from post to post). Some of them are kind of odd choices, hunh?
More on that in a minute.
Iconosquare – the one stop shop for Instagram analytics and managing comments
You’ve probably already heard of Iconosquare as the analytical tool for Instagram and the one stop shop to commenting to others comments, from your desktop.
There’s nothing new about this.
HOWEVER, it was detrimental in us figuring out WHEN our audience was the most engaged with our posts.
Our hypothesis was that they would be present – early morning, during lunch, and right after work.
NOPE, on all 3 fronts!
Our social media manager took the news well…
What the results showed us was that our audience was most active in the evening hours, 10PM – 2AM.
So we did another experiment.
What we did BEFORE:
Post 7-8 times per day, throughout the whole day.
We did hashtag research and had our ‘foundational hashtags’. We also had our ‘replacement hashtags’, so we could switch out hashtags that were relevant to each post.
(and trust us when we say, this is a snippet of the full list)
What we did AFTER:
Post 3 times per day, late at night.
We used the words in the quotes we posted, as our “hashtag replacement” words.
Let us say Number 2 again:
"We used the words in the quotes we posted, as our ‘hashtag replacement’ words"
Then fill in the rest till you get to 30 hashtags.
And the difference is this…
Going from an average of 64 likes per post:
To being over the 100+ threshold per post:
We know these are vanity metrics, but STILL!
Overall, the less work we did – the better the results.
Two quick tips.
Tip #1) If you’re going to go on the Motivational Quotes route – Keep it short.
A longer quote:
A NOT so long quote:
Though the image on the top has received a decent number of engagement, don’t make your audience do too much work, unless that’s their thing.
We could blame these numbers on the time difference, but we’ve seen these lows and highs before, and have whittled it down to the result of how much “effort” it takes to enjoy a post you will give 3 seconds of attention to.
So again, keep it short.
Tip #2) If you need an app to create an Instagram post, we can’t recommend WordSwag enough.
You can search for images they offer using general keywords like “abstract”, “people”, and “art”.
It gives you a select amount of fonts to choose from. Trust us, you don’t want an infinite amount of text to choose from. You get overwhelmed and then realize you spent 45 minutes trying to find the “perfect” font style for this ONE Instagram post.
Once you’re done Re-Swagging your post till the design is finished, if you have a Mac, AirDrop it from your phone to your Mac. It should save in the ‘Downloads’ folder. Afterwards, upload it onto your Grum scheduler.
Your Squad – A strategy to increase your reach, likes, and comments on Instagram
Look at the comment count for both images, above.
It’s really pathetic isn’t it? We know.
That’s why it’s important, if you’re going to grow your Instagram, that you build a Squad.
Oh yeah. We’re serious…
Your squad will consist of individuals, who have a similar theme as your Instagram profile. You will help to push and promote each others posts.
We were a part of a group, on an app called Telegram, that boosted our posts from the likes of 1-2 comments to 10-25 comments/post.
Pros of your Squad:
They boost the engagement of your posts (both in likes and commenting)
Higher potential for a S4S
Easy to do collaborations for a contest
Welcoming a profile takeover from one of your Squad members
Higher chance of you getting picked up by Instagram – to be featured on their ‘Discover’ Page, getting regrammed amongst other accounts, and being placed in front of a new audience.
The NUMBER ONE Con of your Squad:
You have to stay on TOP of EVERYONE’S posts. 70 people posting as little as 3 posts per DAY. That’s 210 of likes and THOUGHTFUL commenting you have to do.
And, 70? That’s a small group. There are groups that have 100+ members.
So how can you do this? There’s one of two ways that we’ve tried:
Well you can start a group, of up to 15, on Instagram.
You can find groups on Facebook who will link you up with similar accounts as yours, so you can share amongst each other.
You can familiarize yourself with an app called WhatsApp. With this app you can create groups up to 256 people.
It’s a lot of copying and pasting, and commenting, and switching back and forth from WhatsApp and Instagram (or your IG page to their IG page).
Though don’t worry – with each group they will have guidelines on how to participate in the group to reap all of the benefits.
It always feels complicated the first time, but after you get it down once, it’s easy.
Time consuming, but easy.
User Generated Content – an example of stealing like an artist
Remember how we told you that we posted 7 times per day.
We hope you didn’t think that we generated all that content ourselves.
If so, this would be us at the end of EVERY. DAY.
So we used a technique called “User Generated Content”
Honestly, it saved our sanity.
So instead of creating 7 new pieces of content on a daily basis, we looked at other Instagram profiles that had images that are related to Strikingly’s audience: Entrepreneurs.
We reposted images in typography (related to entrepreneurship and artistic creation), urban photography (life in the city), and cool quotes (motivation and inspiration for your day).
If you’re a SaaS company trying to use Instagram to build up a following – STOP. Just Stop.
You’re not going to get a large ROI on this.
There are other, more lucrative, platforms that you can manipulate to your advantage.
Though, if you already have one up, there’s no reason to abandon it – as you can still use it as a distribution channel for your content, but it shouldn’t be the main driver.
Remember how we went from 7 to 3 posts per day?
Start with 7 and figure out the key times that 3 REALLY WORKS for you and your audience, and set it up.
NOW, if you’re a company that is OUTSIDE of the SaaS diaspora – something that is more visually appealing – think Just Saiyan or Limzy – you have a WHOLE NEW set of tools and ideas to add to your tool belt and you now have a REAL shot at Instagram Domination.
Ergo, if I had a visual brand, would I post 7+ times per day, to start? Hell yes.
Would I post User Generated Content? You better believe it.
Would I find my Squad and put in the time? 100%
Instagram isn’t for every business, and you have fairly been forewarned.
Though, using these tools and techniques – if you’re outside of the SaaS industry – you have a real chance at not only helping to grow your audience, but grow your bottom line.
This is supposed to be the part where we offer you a free offer to opt-in to our email list.
And OF COURSE we’re going to do that!
We have the original article, HERE, with some extra details – but we also have this downloadable pdf that will save you A LOT of time in finding hi-res free images for your website or social media promotions – HERE.
Also, our shameless plug – we are going to have some video and written content to help you build, and design, your online business in late February/March!
(But it might already be up. It really depends on when you read this article…)
So if you like our humor, you like our style…
…and believe that we have every intention to do nothing but provide you with actionable content/strategies/case studies/interviews you can implement IMMEDIATELY after finishing one of our videos or posts, (breath!), then come join our fam HERE.
And welcome to the fold.
Gigi is a Content and Social Media Manager at Strikingly that provides a platform for you to build a beautiful website in minutes (with no coding involved. Sweet). When she is not hunting for, and hoarding, gifs for future email and article use, you'll find her in the dance studio - trying not to trip over her feet (seriously, she's clumsy), elbow deep in her second bag of Doritos in an hour (how does she stay skinny?), or lost in a marathon of Bob Ross and Naruto Shippuden re-runs (our inner nerd respects this).
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