Whether you’re targeting current customers or consumers in consideration mode, the goal of social media as a whole is to instill confidence and create a subconscious preference for your brand. It’s the perfect outlet to offer resources, ideas, tips, and overall — the knowledge people need to understand your brand and what you stand for.
Well-executed social content builds brand preference in these ways:
- Building trust and recognition
- Developing new connections
- Improving brand awareness
- Creating loyalty
Together, all of these things ultimately give consumers the confidence they need to make educated purchasing decisions, which leads to an increase in conversions. For one of our direct-to-consumer clients, a leading Christian homeschool brand, we’ve helped them grow their Instagram into a channel that legitimately contributes to their overall business goals.
Setting data-driven goals drives content success
Once prospective customers reach a brand's blog, they're far more likely to convert into actual customers. So, going into 2019, one of our team's main goals for this leading online homeschool brand was to increase traffic to the blog through social media. At that time, only 3 percent of blog traffic was coming from organic social channels. Social traffic felt like a missed opportunity for sales. We started by optimizing our Facebook content to increase traffic. And as you learned in part 1 of this blog, reaching 10,000 followers would create another user point of entry to the blog by giving us the ability to link out from Instagram Stories. On March 27, 2019, we set a goal to reach 10k within the next three months. Within one month, we’d surpassed it. How?
Repurposing success stories and UGC
User-generated content is a great way to bring people into the top of the sales funnel. We noticed that repurposing success stories created by our customers on Instagram was creating conversations, increasing engagement, growing followers, and driving sales. Parents were looking for affirmation — they wanted to feel that their children would succeed if they were to choose this homeschool program. Naturally, they trusted other moms like them more than they did the brand itself.
We started prioritizing user-generated content on Instagram specifically. In order to reach a wider audience, we put a paid budget behind what had proved to be our most engaging post at that time. That single promoted post helped us reach 10,000 followers in one-third of the time we’d expected it to take. By the end of 2020, we surpassed 25,000 followers and increased our social-referred blog traffic from 3% to 15%.
Top tip: Find the posts that are working organically and put your budget behind those.
Now, if you’re not quite to the point of being able to link out in Instagram Stories, that’s ok. There’s more to content than just one social media channel. Building a content strategy that centers around business goals takes a cohesive, integrated approach. And that doesn't happen overnight.
Here are the basic steps of strategically weaving Instagram into your content strategy:
1. Establish the brand’s content goals
Start by reviewing your overall business goals. Consider how Instagram could deliver on those business goals, incorporating insights from your audit. Then you can formalize the goals and objectives for your Instagram account and content to help reach those business goals, while keeping in mind the main purpose of all owned media channels: to add value to your audience.
2. Analyze and audit content performance
Ask yourself all of these questions:
- What categories of content are you generally posting?
- Which of those categories gets the best engagement?
- Which individual posts get the best engagement?
- Does your profile reflect your brand standards and mission?
- What are your competitors doing well? What are they missing?
3. Determine your content pillars
Based on your content goals and insights from your Instagram audit, decide what core categories of content you want to address on Instagram. For example, for Tiffin who we reference in part 1, two of our content pillars are brand education and product promotion. Content pillars should support your overall content goals and act as guideposts that ensure your posts stay on target. Content pillars also serve as the primary framework for building out your Instagram social calendar. When planning your Instagram posts for the coming month or quarter, you want to make sure that you're addressing each of your content pillars.
4. Establish a posting frequency
The golden rule when it comes to posting frequency is this: Post as often as you can while consistently delivering quality content. Quality over quantity should be the motto. Find what schedule you can reasonably sustain as a company and start there, building towards more frequent posting if needed.
5. Execute strategically: content types, posting times, copy, linking, hashtags
There are many creative ways to communicate the messages you want to convey. Content can be reshaped into a video, an infographic, a blog, a gif, and more. The copy can be short or long. The time of day you post or the hashtags you choose to include may give you varying results in terms of post reach and engagement. Thinking through all these details and for each post and optimizing these details as you learn more about what’s working best is what leads to posts that are effective in driving engagement and reaching more users.
6. Analysis: engagement, social listening, sentiment analysis, etc.
Impactful content strategy starts and ends with analysis, and often, analysis is called for somewhere in between. Measure how your Instagram posts perform based on KPIs such as engagement, reach, Story views, and link clicks. Use this data to inform future content planning.
Go beyond KPIs. Again, good social listening can help you uncover pain points your fans have with your brand, what they think about your new product, which of your services they may need more education on, etc. Analyze what users (your followers and beyond) are saying about you and respond accordingly.
Maintaining Followers Is Work Well Spent
Once you’re lucky enough to gain a follower — or in the case of the homeschool brand we’ve referenced, over 30k followers — the support and reassurance you can provide through social media and content allows people to develop and maintain a real connection to your brand. Content provides a path for brands to build loyalty with their followers on an ongoing basis.
Instagram can work sneaky-hard to help your brand stay connected with its audience and reach its goals, but an Instagram strategy needs to line up with the overarching content strategy, and the content strategy has to ladder up to the overall brand goals. Stay focused on the goals, and you’re on the right track.