With 2 billion active Instagram users worldwide and counting, it’s no wonder brands are getting serious about having an Instagram strategy.
In fact, over the next year, Instagram users are expected to increase by 11% in the US alone.
In other words, no brand can afford to ignore the power of Instagram marketing.
If you’re ready to grow your Instagram account in 2022, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to develop a successful Instagram marketing strategy in five easy steps.
Step 1: Know everything you can about your target customer
The first step to developing a successful Instagram marketing strategy is knowing everything you can about your ideal customer.
Your ideal customer will be the foundation of everything you do on Instagram.
Before your content strategist can start planning content, they’ll always consider your ideal customer. Before you launch a new campaign, you’ll always consider your ideal customer.
Before you post any kind of content on Instagram, your target customer will be at the forefront of your mind.
When you don’t have an ideal customer profile, you risk attracting the wrong customers — inevitably wasting your time and theirs.
To lay the foundation for your Instagram strategy, start by creating an ideal customer profile.
So, think about it. Who’s your dream customer?
What hobbies and interests do they have? What needs and pain points do they have?
To help you identify your dream client, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s my ideal client’s name?
- What does my ideal client do for work?
- How does my ideal customer like to spend their time?
- What needs, interests, and pain points does my ideal customer have?
- Does my client have kids? How many? How old are they?
- Is my client married, single, separated, or another status?
- Where does my client live? (Be specific, for instance, “he lives in the rural countryside in New Jersey”)
- Specifically, how old is my ideal client? (No date ranges, for instance, “she’s 34 years old”)
- What’s my ideal client’s favorite social media platform, and why? How often are they on it? How long are they on it for?
Step 2: Commit to tailoring content to your ideal customer
We’re not trying to beat a dead horse, but it’s absolutely crucial that your entire marketing team is committed to tailoring your Instagram content to your ideal customer.
So, have a come to Jesus meeting with your team and stress the importance of only creating content with your ideal client in mind.
That means your copywriters, content writers, and social media managers must deeply understand who your ideal customer is and how to tailor Instagram content for them.
Once you’re on the same page, dig deeper, check social media analytics. Conduct consumer behavior research keeping your ideal customer in mind. Take a look at their buying habits, engagement habits, and Instagram-specific habits.
For instance, is your ideal customer obsessed with perusing Instagram Stories? Are they all about giveaways and contests? What writing style is your ideal customer drawn to?
Go even further by investigating any strong pain points, needs, or problems your ideal customer has. We’re referring to a more in-depth analysis than the pain points you discovered in step one.
For instance, if you have a skincare brand, find out your ideal customer’s skincare needs and any walls they’ve run into.
Maybe they’ve tried three different acne wash brands and are still having trouble with breakouts. Or maybe your dream client tried a particular brand’s moisturizer and loved it, but the price point was too high.
By honing in on these specifics, you can better craft your content and language to serve your ideal customer.
Take a look at this Instagram grid by Mos, a financial technology company, as an example.
Mos uses its Instagram to educate its ideal customers — college students — on important student loan information, government student loan updates, and college options.
It also centers posts around answering its customers’ most burning questions, like, “where does FAFSA come from?”
But Mos hasn’t chosen to hone in on these types of posts for no reason. Its posting strategy has been carefully nurtured to cater to its ideal customer. And since this ideal customer struggles to understand the student loan and college options they have, Mos is there to ease the burden off them.
One final tip before we wrap up this step …
Consider creating a quality analysis (QA) checklist your marketing team can go through before publishing Instagram content.
Here’s an example to demonstrate what we mean:
- Is the content I’m about to publish crafted with my ideal customer in mind?
- Is the post relatable, personalized, and engaging?
- Will this post bring value to, educate, empower, or entertain my ideal customer?
- Can this post move my business forward?
- Can this post grow my Instagram base?
Step 3: Choose your core customer-centric engagement methods
At this point, you’ve:
- Laid the foundation for your Instagram strategy by creating an ideal customer profile
- Dug deeper into your ideal customer’s pain points
- Committed to tailoring your content to your ideal customer
Now that you know who your dream client is, it’s important to choose which core customer-centric engagement methods you’re going to use.
If that sounds like a mouthful, don’t worry. Having core customer-centric engagement methods just means choosing a few ways to engage with your followers on Instagram.
As always, when choosing your engagement methods, you’ll need to consider your dream customer. Most importantly, you’ll need to give that dream customer persona a reason to talk back to you.
For instance, if you serve high-profile clients, they may not have time to participate in contests and giveaways. But maybe they love brand collaborations or eat up educational posts faster than they drink their coffee in the morning.
It’s also crucial to discover how your ideal customer engages with other brands they love. For instance, are there certain brands they consume content from every day? How often do they engage with them in general? What posts are they drawn to the most and why?
Still feeling stuck on which engagement methods your brand should employ on Instagram?
Check out the following engagement strategies for inspiration.
Post value consistently
To grow a base of loyal Instagram followers, you have to commit to playing the long-term game.
Your Instagram posts shouldn’t center around sales, sales, sales. Instead, your posts should focus more on delivering value — and, when appropriate, encouraging sales, too.
To find the right balance, consider following the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 suggests that 80% of your posts should include value-driven content — they educate, inform, or empower your ideal customers.
This “5 Habits of Successful Students” post by StuDocu educates its ideal customer on developing healthy student habits.
The rule also suggests that only 20% of your posts should explicitly promote your business, like this explicit makeup campaign by Kylie Cosmetics.
In other words, give, give, give. And then present your ideal customer with offers they can’t refuse.
Consider hosting giveaways, contests, and challenges
Encourage your posts to go viral by hosting giveaways, contests, and challenges that your ideal customers would love. Ask followers to repost the giveaway in their Stories or on their grid for extra entries. You can also give bonus entries for tagging friends and commenting on your post.
One thing to keep in mind about giveaways, contests, and challenges is that they tend to be more effective when you host them often — or when you use them to boost a particular campaign.
Encourage users to ask and answer questions
Encourage users to engage with your posts more by inviting them to ask and answer questions.
You can start your posts with a question, end with a question, or post surveys and polls.
We also recommend doing this in Stories, too. With 500 million people viewing Instagram Stories daily, they present a great opportunity to engage with more users.
Use storytelling to humanize your brand
Speaking of Stories …
Connect with your followers in a profound way by humanizing your language through storytelling. Whether it’s sharing how your brand came to be or sharing inspiring customer success stories, brands that utilize storytelling techniques feel magnetic.
Bonus engagement strategies
Business strategist Jasmine Star — a genius who’s increased her Instagram following to 477,000 followers — also recommends the following engagement strategies.
Jasmine also recommends basing every Instagram caption on something called the HIC formula.
The HIC formula is simple to follow and only includes three steps:
- Hook: Hook the follower with a shocking stat, fact, — or present a common problem your followers have.
- Insights: Share a unique value-add, like educational content or a solution to the problem you shared.
- CTA: Express a call-to-action. What kind of inspired action would you like users to take?
Here’s an example of a caption template following the HIC formula:
One last tip is the importance of engaging in the comments after posting.
Be sure to respond to every comment, question, and feedback you come across regarding your post. You can also use a social listening tool to double-check any comments you may have missed.
Step 4: Choose methods for implementing user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is brand-specific content created by consumers and then published on channels like social media and review sites.
So, if you’ve ever commented about a brand on social media, left a review on Yelp, or shared a brand-specific post on your blog, you’ve created UGC.
This is effective because it helps build trust with prospects who may be on the fence about giving your brand a try.
The average consumer reads ten online reviews before making a buying decision. In other words, your ideal customer trusts what your current and past customers have to say about you.
To implement user-generated content, use a social listening tool to find and collect any existing UGC about your brand.
Then, meet with your marketing team to brainstorm natural ways to implement UGC into your Instagram strategy.
Here are some quick examples for inspiration:
- Collect customer testimonials and embed them into every sales campaign you post
- Collect video testimonials and create ad campaigns around them
- Reshare any UGC posts by raving influencers and affiliate marketers
- Screenshot positive customer comments and give them a shout-out in Instagram Stories
You can also tie in your engagement strategies with your UGC strategy.
For instance, EarlyBird, a platform caregivers use to purchase monetary gifts for children, uses its #BabyWealth Challenge campaign to leverage the power of UGC.
Check out this repost from a user who participated in the challenge on EarlyBird’s Instagram to see what we mean:
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Step 5: Finalize your strategy
Use the tips we outlined in steps one through four to finalize your Instagram strategy.
To simplify this, craft your strategy based on the 80/20 rule.
First, take a close look at your brand’s current sales strategy. Next, dedicate 20% of your Instagram content to bringing that sales strategy to life.
Then, take a close look at the engagement and UGC methods you chose. Dedicate 80% of your content to bringing those methods to fruition.
Finally, choose the best marketing software to operate your strategy and train your team on how to implement it.
It’s also important to discuss your Instagram strategy with your team in detail so they understand how to roll it out.
When you document your final Instagram marketing strategy, be sure to outline:
- Who’s in charge of content strategy and posting
- Who’s in charge of setting and tracking Instagram marketing metrics
- Who your ideal customer is
- The engagement methods you’d like to use
- The UGC methods you’d like to use
- The marketing software you’ve chosen and how to use it
- Your posting strategy — what type of content, when, how, and posting frequency
- Your daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly Instagram marketing workflows
If you have the budget for it, consider hiring an Instagram marketing specialist to go over your plan and provide feedback/suggestions on improving it.
Ready to implement your Instagram strategy?
With 2 billion active Instagram users worldwide and counting, it’s time to get serious about having an Instagram strategy.
If you’re ready to grow your Instagram account in 2022, follow the five steps we’ve outlined in this article.
As a quick recap, here’s what we covered today:
- Step 1: Know everything you can about your target customer
- Step 2: Commit to tailoring your content to your ideal customer
- Step 3: Choose your core customer-centric engagement methods
- Step 4: Choose methods for implementing user-generated content
- Step 5: Finalize your strategy