Everyone (and their cat) is on Instagram. Ever since being acquired by Facebook (who might have to sell IG soon) in 2012, the photo- and video-based social media platform has gained ground as a staple in our everyday lives.
A Place to Discover Brands & Products
In 2020, when social connections were few and far between, Instagram offered a space for people to engage with their social network and feel less alone. But, the platform did more than connect users with one another — it connected them with brands, too. In fact, 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business, and 83% of users say Instagram has helped them discover new products and services.
Above and beyond building connections, in the past year, Instagram has become an important place for people to get to know what their friends — and their favorite brands — stand for. Consumers have developed new, higher expectations for the brands they choose to do business with. From the murder of George Floyd and the corresponding growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, to the general policies and handling of risky pandemic situations by businesses, the average consumer now expects brands to take a stance on controversial issues.
With over one billion active monthly users and 500 million daily Instagram Stories, plus the recent addition of Reels (which, like posts, are now shoppable), now is the time to get your Instagram game on point.
1. Work Hours Are Social Hours
When you post has nearly as big an impact as what you post. If you want your Instagram posts to work for you, you need to share them during the workday.
You may be surprised (or, thoroughly unsurprised) to find that engagement on Instagram happens most during the standard 9-to-5 workday. Studies show the biggest slump happens between the 5s — you’ll pull the least engagement from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Similarly, the best days to post align with the standard Monday-to-Friday work week. Apparently a good scroll through socials is a great way to get over the mid-week hump — highest engagement often happens on Wednesdays. And, most of us stave off the Sunday scaries by staying away from our phone screens. So, if you’re looking for impressions, Sunday isn’t the day to post. In fact, it’s one of the worst days to post for almost every industry.
2. Predictable is Preferable
We know it feels counterintuitive. No one wants to be seen as predictable. We all love an unexpected adventure. But a little predictability is actually healthy for your strategy. And (we predict) it’s going to be something audiences crave in 2021.
Because 2020 was anything but predictable, audiences actually showed a desire to consume predictable content in their TV, movie and music preferences. There is comfort to be found in familiarity and knowing what to expect.
How can you achieve this as a brand? Set an expectation, then stick to it. This goes back to your content calendar. Create a cadence that makes your audience expect, and look for, you in their feeds. A great way to do this is to have at least one post a week that your followers always know is coming — a “Wednesday Workout” post, for example.
3. Content Marketing Rules Apply
For most e-commerce brands, an Instagram strategy featuring nothing but the product isn’t going to gain steam. Just like content for a newsletter or blog, your social media presence needs to offer something of value to your audience — something more than just your product. If a potential customer just wants to see what you’re selling, they’ll go straight to your website. They go to your brand’s social media to see who you are.
Consider what type of content your audience is scrolling their social feeds to see. What do they look for? For example, if your product and brand identity are focused around health and fitness, those “Wednesday Workout” posts from tip two would be a perfect fit. If you offer a great workout each week, you can earn yourself a more permanent spot on your followers’ list. They’ll be less likely to unfollow if they know they have something extra to look forward to from your account.
Timing isn’t everything, but it’s an awful lot. Your posts do their best work when the rest of the world is trying to avoid theirs — Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In 2020, we’ve all heard “unprecedented” enough for a lifetime. So, in 2021, set a precedent or two, and stick to them. Your audience will thank you for the sense of familiarity.
Your Instagram feed isn’t a product detail page. People come to your posts to see who you are as a brand and figure out why they should trust you. Build that trust with valuable content and they’ll be more apt to hear you out when it’s time to talk product.