2018 is still new — but it’s already been a tough year for small businesses on social media. With the recent changes in its algorithm, Facebook is prioritizing posts by family and friends over businesses and publishers, making it even more challenging for brands. It’s becoming so challenging, in fact, that it may not make sense to spend much time on the platform if you have limited resources.
Twitter can give you traction for B2B clients, but is limited in terms of content. You may have a good following there and drive traction through clicks or content, but engagement tends to be lower.
While a little more time-consuming to manage, Instagram has emerged as possibly the most relevant platform for businesses today. That’s where your customers are spending time, for both B2B and B2C. With more than 70 percent of all U.S. businesses on the platform, the longer it takes you to start using it for your business, the harder it will be to make a dent. So let’s get on it!
For those already on Instagram, the 2018 landscape is not easy either. The platform has instituted a new algorithm that brings down engagement. Many are pulling their hair out trying to figure out the best strategy.
But the good news: whether you’re old or new to Instagram, there are things we can all do. These tips will boost your strategy immediately and ensure you’re getting the most bang for your Insta-buck.
Consumers follow more accounts than they can keep up with. They will not notice, follow, engage, or care about your brand unless you’re providing real value. That means you need more than pretty pictures.
Make your account into a service on its own. Offer tips, resources, or entertainment that is relevant to your business. Offer them as a freebie now and you’ll see yourself jump ahead later.
Invest in content
Your Instagram profile’s first job is to represent your brand well. More and more consumers are looking at brands on Instagram before they even look at their websites. You may have many strategies to grow your account, but at the end of the day, nothing will help if your content isn’t good.
Focus on content first. Work with a photographer whenever possible, learn to use the latest apps, curate relevant images, create videos and Boomerangs for Stories, learn to tell a story, and craft better captions to generate real engagement.
Stop all automation right away
With exception of official Instagram partner apps such as Hootsuite and Planoly that are allowed to auto-post to your account, any automation at all is against Instagram’s rules. That includes third party apps or tools which post, follow, unfollow, like or comment on your behalf. If you use any of these, or any new services that promise to grow your account “organically,” stop right away. You will at the very least be hidden by the algorithm, but you can also be hacked, “shadow banned,” or even have your account deleted by Instagram and be forced to start from scratch — it’s just not worth the risk. It’s okay to grow slow, and not every account needs to have thousands of followers to be successful.
Stories are your best friends
With the new algorithm hitting the feed hard, shift your focus to Stories (the feature that lets users post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours). Stories can no longer just be an afterthought or a fun addition, but should be considered as a serious part of your strategy. Think about creating a mix of content that both looks great and adds value for followers.
Consider promoting a few posts
Be wary of paid social, because depending on your budget, it may be better to put your money towards influencer marketing or an experienced consultant. But again considering the new Instagram algorithm, some paid posts can help with general awareness in the current landscape. If you’re a beginner with social media ads, you can just promote the posts that perform the best — Instagram will actually tell you which ones. Most likely any new audiences will enjoy them as much as your current followers.
Manu Muraro manages social media for Hypepotamus and is the founder of Your Social Team, which helps small businesses add value and entertainment through social media. Before that, she worked in marketing and creative at some of the greatest southeastern brands, such as King of Pops and Cartoon Network.