The importance of bespoke content and being ‘of the platform’ - How to nail your approach to Instagram

Phoebe Dixon - Senior Social Media Manager,

Over the past couple of years, Instagram has grown massively. The user base surpassed one billion active users in 2020 and new features have been rolling out on the platform regularly.

While the home feed is still at the heart of activity, is your business capitalising on the changes in functionality and more importantly, the change in audience habits?

Throughout lockdown, social media use drastically increased, with 47% of internet users aged 16-64 spending longer on social media and 23% spending significantly longer (data from Global Web Index). TikTok set records as lockdowns  were instated around the world, achieving the most downloads for any app ever in one quarter as of Q1 2020.

While there may be a significantly larger audience base, there is also a lot more competition, for brands and individuals alike. Competing for your audience’s attention is an ever-increasing challenge, so nailing your approach to Instagram is paramount. 

Here are some of our best practice tips to get the most out of the platform.

‘Of the platform’ is more important than ever

In an ideal world, you’d be creating bespoke content for every channel you’re present on, but when time and resource is tight, repeat content across channels is often the norm for a lot of brands.

Instagram however, is one channel that can benefit much more from bespoke content. Due to the format of how content is displayed, how audiences interact with the channel and the multiple features available. Being ‘of the platform’ - i.e., creating bespoke content, acting how an individual user would and understanding the nuances of Instagram - will bring much more value than recycling content from Facebook or Twitter.

Instagram is still very much a visual platform, so onus should be put on the creative you’re sharing, whether it’s a photo or piece of video for the feed, less polished content for Stories or thought-out transitions on Reels. As with any platform, a value-led approach should be in place to ensure there is purpose behind all content. That doesn’t always need to be a sales push - it could be informative content about the brand or products, exclusive behind-the-scenes content just for social, or something more light hearted or reactive, relevant to the brand or wider industry.  

What’s more, ensure you’re guiding your audience through your intended journey for them with clear calls to action. What may begin as a casual scroll through Instagram for a user, could bring their user journey with you as a brand with a little extra nudge from your copy or creative. It could be as simple as ‘tap the like button if you agree’, adding directives in infographic style posts to like, comment or share the post, or directing them to another area such as ‘you’ll find more info on the link in our bio’. 

While the traditional feed may still be at the heart of Instagram, there are now so many more features you can utilise for your business. Reels, Guides, IGTV, Stories, Shops - the list is ever growing. Are you using each of these opportunities to engage with your audience and fulfil different points of their social media experience? Incorporating varying content formats into your strategy, not as a one-off but as a consistent mix, is a great way to ensure your audience remains engaged. Instagram is heavily pushing Reels at the moment, so the opportunity to reach new audiences in your niche (and beyond) is exponential.

A consistent mix of content types would always be our recommendation, but ultimately you need to keep it sustainable for your brand. Introduce content types that you can keep sharing and identify a consistent posting volume that you can keep up with.   

Behave as a user

Everyone is always looking for ways to grow engagement on Instagram. The big secret? If you want engagement, you need to give engagement. Getting your brand page out there as a user is a great way to get your page in front of new people, bring some personability to your account and show engaged users that you value their input.

Authenticity is key here, not throwaway generic comments, but valuable input on content relevant to your brand. Comment on posts your brand is tagged in as well as those they’re not but are relevant to your niche, share other pages in your Stories, follow accounts in and out of your immediate competitors and tag people when you feature them on your own feed.

This doesn’t need to be a time-suck of a task every day. It can be an organic 10-minute scroll as the brand, or if you have the luxury of time and resource in your team, it’s valuable to devote extra time to this to help continue to grow your brand presence.

At minimum you should be engaging with as much activity as possible that lives on your own content, like post comments and Story shares of your posts. However, taking your activity beyond your own page is what gives new people the opportunity to click through to your profile and discover your brand.

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, recently gave an insight into how the Instagram algorithm works and it’s not as complicated or against you as you might think. Consider how your target audience are using the app and play into that. If you’re struggling to understand your audience’s habits, ask them! Utilise features in Stories such as quizzes, questions and polls to get insight direct from people who follow you – another point of engagement to help your brand personability.

Learn from your performance

An often under-utilised but highly valuable resource for your Instagram strategy is your own content. Regularly reviewing your best and poorest performing content and looking at the reasons why posts performed as they did, will create further content opportunities and areas of focus that your audience really want.

While insights on Instagram are relatively top level, they still provide value to learn from. Reels and Live have also had insights just rolled out (or in the process of if you don’t already see them in your account) which should help in curating future content. Review recent and historic results to help in creating a consistent content cycle for your page.

Identify key themes of strong performing content and continue to replicate them and if something hasn’t performed well, it’s not always a complete write off. Ensure you regularly have deeper reviews of why things are or are not working and learn from them in future content. Looking beyond the data points and reviewing wording, creative format, and wider news events that could impact performance will help build a better picture of performance trends. A post may not resonate well with your whole audience, but did it perform particularly well for an audience segment?

Your past content is also a great source of inspiration. Look at older content from the past year and beyond and rework strong performers - or even just reshare individual posts if enough time has passed. This is particularly useful from a creative standpoint, saving you time on creating fresh assets for every piece of content.

As the user base continues to grow across social media there will always be competition in reaching your audience. Taking an approach that works for your brand but is also heavily in tune with the different channels you’re present on, will help bring value to your online presence.

If you need a little extra help with your approach to Instagram, or any of your social media presence, get in touch to see how we can work together.

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