The 5 things you must do to step up your game on Instagram in 2021.
Over a billion people use Instagram each month and as we enter 2021, it is the priority social media network for most businesses. We are all watching TikTok, Snapchat and other rising stars that might be the next big thing, but for most businesses, those are not there yet. Instagram, however, has a large and engaged audience, so let’s focus on giving you some specific ideas on how you can enjoy more success there now.
1. Perfect Your Profile
With Instagram in 2021, your profile is critical to both explain who you are and to drive traffic to your website. When someone visits your profile on Instagram do they quickly understand who you are, what you do and why they should follow you there? That should be your goal, so pause for a second and go look at your profile. Try to see it through the eyes of a potential future customer. If they know nothing about you will they get it?
The name field should include your business name, exactly as you would normally write it (spaces, etc.). This is how it will show in Instagram’s search results, so this is critical.
Pro Tip: Your “name” and “username” are the only two fields on Instagram that are searchable, so consider enhancing your name. Are you an expert at something? Maybe add that after your name. For instance, if Wile E. Coyote was a client of ours we might make his Instagram name “Wile E. Coyote 💡Super Genius”. You have 30 characters, so once you have your name, try to add to it to create clarity and give you an edge in Instagram’s search.
The bio gives you 150 characters to tell people who you are and why they should follow you. Get creative and be clear. Work to encourage people to follow you or visit your website.
Pro Tip: Use emojis and list styling to expand your options. You can see our profile for an example.
Make sure to include a link in your profile and be thoughtful about that. This is one of your only ways to get people from Instagram to your site. There are a number of tools that you can use to bring people to a page with multiple links, we typically recommend that to businesses that are active on Instagram. Find a way to best connect people reading your Instagram posts with more information. Make it easy and get better results!
Pro Tip: Remember a majority of users on Instagram are on mobile devices, so be sure to send people to a mobile-optimized web page.
Be sure to take these basic steps to perfect your Instagram profile. As you take other actions like we list below you will have more people visiting your profile and increased opportunities.
When someone visits your profile on Instagram do they quickly understand who you are, what you do and why they should follow you there? That should be your goal, so pause for a second and go look at your profile.
2. The Instagram Full-Stack Strategy
Instagram is much more than the Feed. Today there is IGTV, Reels, Stories as well as the still important Instagram Feed. Each of these delivers users a different experience and each offers you a different way to get your message out. In 2021 prioritize using the full Instagram ecosystem. Here are a few notes on how you can leverage these:
- Feed– This is the OG of IG, so I suspect that you are already using it regularly. We expect the Feed to continue to be effective and an ideal foundational part of an Instagram content strategy for the foreseeable future. We are using more videos and more multi-image posts based on the results that we are seeing.
- Stories– This is the fastest-growing part of the Instagram platform and I hope that this is already part of your content priorities. This is so critical that we cover it in section 3 below, so I will leave it there for now.
- IGTV– This format has also been around for a while and has delivered some real value to those that use it correctly. The real IGTV pros are creating content for this vertical video (9:16) format. The other IGTV key is being thoughtful about the first 15 seconds that shows as a preview in the Feed. For those that capture attention and create a reason to watch more are excelling with IGTV. If that is not you, it is not too late to adjust your content approach and enjoy the benefits.
- Reels– The newest entry to the Instagram stack of platforms, Reels is still evolving. These 15-second clips are dominated by user-generated content with a little more raw look. If you are not already using Reels it is time to give it a try. Much like TikTok, Reels leans heavily on music and collaboration. You can use audio available on Reels to collaborate with others, but since you are in the music industry you perhaps might want to use music as your foundational element. What could you share to give people something to collaborate with? One other key difference with Reels versus the other platforms, these will be shown to people that are not your followers. In fact, these are more to get you in front of people that do not know you yet. Do it right and this could be the best follower acquisition tool for Instagram. 😳
- Live Video– Have you been doing live video? Why not? When I ask people this the answer usually is fear. Either fear that they will not be good at it or fear that no one will see it. Get over it and get started with Live video! Instagram features live video in the first few slots of the Stories bar, which means that your active users will always know that you are streaming. Create some long-form live video content and start to engage with your audience and increase your reach.
Pro Tips: We are seeing clear indications that the Instagram algorithm is rewarding accounts that use all of their tools. It does not take you doing a lot of everything, but could you add in one Reel video a month, one IGTV and one Live Video to your current posting plan? These additions will give you new exposure from the additional posts in these new places, plus it likely will get Instagram showing your current Feed and Stories posting to more people. Give it a go!
3. 500 Million People Want to See Your Stories
On Instagram in 2021, the Stories feature within the app is really hitting its stride. Instagram recently shared that over 500 million people watch Stories every day. The user-experience that allows for someone to just start this alternative feed and get photo and video posts from their friends and favorite brands is sticky. If you are like most businesses you need to get more active in Stories as a key marketing commitment for 2021.
Pro Tips: Here are a few key ideas for you to maximize Instagram Stories
- A Tall Story – Create content that is optimized for the vertical (9:16) aspect ratio of Stories
- Tell a Story – Think in 15 second chapters, create a narrative that will engage your viewers
- Go Native – Use the stickers, text, and other tools Instagram offers in Stories so that you fit the native look.
- Tag It – You can add a hashtag to each section of your Stories, please do. This helps new people find your content.
- Ask and you shall receive– We are having great success using the various polls and comment stickers available from Instagram in the Stories section. Let your customers chime in, the added engagement will both increase how many people IG shows your post to and will prioritize the placement of your future posts with those followers that do engage with your polls.
4. Leverage Instagram Ads
Of course, we all love that we can post to Instagram and its various sections for free, but have you tried Instagram ads yet? Depending on what you offer for sale and your marketing goals, IG ads could be a powerful and efficient option for you. We have found a vital place for these ads in the overall digital marketing strategies for most clients’ brands.
You only want to run ads if you can match the native look and feel of Instagram. If you can create ads with pretty pictures or — better yet — compelling video content then this might be a good place for you. The targeting capabilities are fed by the insights that they gain from the entire Facebook empire, so you can easily pinpoint the right people using their interests, age, location, and other key factors. We are enjoying getting great-looking content in front of the right people at reasonable prices and Instagram in 2021 is looking to be even better.
Hot Tips – Here are some of the things that we are seeing work well for Instagram Ads.
- To Boost or not to Boost – You have the option of creating an ad to deliver as an ad only or boosting one of your posts. I suggest that you use a boost only when you have a post that is a priority for you and has the potential to have strong engagement. A boost should only run for a few days, so typically it is more timely. If you have a general business message that you want to deliver or if sales conversions are the goal, create it as an ad.
- Be Format-Specific – You can run ads on Instagram in the feed or in Stories, so make sure your creative matches that. You can create an ad in a traditional square (1:1) and run it in the feed and Stories, but in most cases that does not optimize your results in Stories. Test running ads specifically for the feed with your image or video formatted for that and another ad for Stories in the vertical (9:16) aspect ratio.
- Video FTW- If you can develop some of your ads as video ads you should lean that way. We are seeing very high engagement and conversion with video ads in the Feed and Stories. Video is especially effective if you are trying to build awareness and interest. It is also a great way to tell your product story.
5. Leverage Creator Studio
For most businesses, the management of Instagram was a little challenging due to IG’s mobile-centric DNA. Maybe you had several members of your team logging in on their phones to post and manage comments. Some brands turned to various social media management SaaS to manage their account, but in many cases that was hit or miss. Gradually, Instagram has been integrated with Facebook Business allowing you to do more and more from this more business-friendly and team-oriented option.
Facebook has added more Instagram-specific capabilities to Creator Studio, which includes the ability to post to the Instagram Feed and IGTV, you can even schedule those posts. When used along with Facebook Business, you now have desktop access to almost all of your posting, comment management and analytics for both Instagram and Facebook. We want to encourage you to take a fresh look at how you and your team are managing all of this and make sure that you are leveraging the newest tools that can save you money and give you an edge.
Are you ready to win with the ‘Gram? This is working now and is a great way for you to reach and market to musicians and to many other target customer groups. Go for it!
Ready to make Instagram a priority?