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There are over a billion users and 25 million businesses on the network that post 347,222 stories a minute. Yes, just Instagram stories. This number is significantly higher when you include in-feed posts, live videos, reels and IGTV videos.
You’re competing with all of these posts to beat the elusive Instagram algorithm and generate more engagement and sales.
Therefore, to help you gain an edge, I am sharing my top tips to create Instagram content that stands out in the feed.
Let's get started.
Every time you publish a post, your aim should be to get the initial flurry of likes and comments from your followers.
After that, your post will rank on the explore page and get even more likes. But ranking on the explore page is contingent on the number of likes you initially get and how quickly you get them.
To get these likes, it is crucial to know what type of social media posts your audience wants to see instead of relying on guesswork. Here are a few ways to do this.
On Instagram stories, you can ask questions and run polls. Take advantage of this to find out what posts your followers want to see. You can also ask questions in the captions of in-feed posts. For an idea, check out this story from @kellycalvillo.
Kelly is a photographer, so she’s directly asking her followers which of her photosets they would like to see in the next post.
Use a good analytics tool to see which of your past posts generated the most likes and comments. Pay attention to whether they are photos or videos and how they write captions.
You should also study your competitors’ accounts to see which of their posts performed best. Again, pay attention to both the visuals they create and the captions they write.
If you want to go a step further, you should study their ads too. More research goes into getting ads right as they can reach a large number of people instantly. To figure out what ads they make, you can simply go to your competitors’ websites and then head to Instagram as you’ll get retargeted with ads.
You can also use an ad spy tool to see what ads they use. Some of these tools even list their ad spend. If they’re spending more, it means the ads are working.
You can use the insights not just to create better ads, but also organic posts.
You can take this a step further and stalk your account’s followers and your competitors’ accounts to see what they post and who they follow.
If you look at the same followers’ accounts on Facebook, you will get even more data on their interests, such as who they like, the apps and games they use, the reviews they’ve left and more.
This will provide a clearer picture of the content your followers want to see.
After finishing the research, you should come up with a plan — specifically, a process for content creation. A plan keeps you organized and makes it easy to track results and apply improvements.
Here's a social media marketing plan template you can customize.
You can also set up a plan with an Instagram management tool like Tailwind. It’s got features like a calendar, a drag-and-drop grid, feed preview and scheduling that make it easy to plan, visualize and execute an Instagram content strategy.
Here are a few essential things your plan should include.
Decide on how often you’ll post. Will you be posting multiple times a day, once a day, or a few times a week? This will help you prepare the content in advance and fill all spots.
For best results, post every day or several times a day. As Instagram recommends, you post four to seven reels, three in-feed posts, eight to ten stories, and three IGTV videos every week.
Yes, that’s a lot!
When you publish posts also matters. If your account is new, you can use an Instagram study like this one to publish at the best times.
After you publish 20 to 30 posts, you can use a good analytics tool to figure out your best time to post. Tailwind can help you with this.
Instagram wants you to publish different types of posts. You need to decide which post types to use more frequently, how often to post them and how they will complement each other.
In the beginning, you can use the above recommendation from Instagram to determine which posts to publish.
But after you publish more posts and gather data on what works best, use it as a guide. For example, you might find that posting fewer stories and more in-feed posts works better for you.
You should treat your account just like a website. If it appears neat and consistent, people will stick around and follow you.
Setting up your account with a recognizable profile picture, a well-written bio, and matching highlights will help with this. But another way to do this is by creating a visually cohesive feed.
You can do this by using the same design style in every piece. You should use the same fonts, color palette, icons, and branding.
You can see an example of this on Visme's Instagram account.
At a single glance, you can see how nearly all posts have a similar illustrative visual style and a popping color scheme — completely aligned with Visme's branding.
Another one is Starbucks. They’re very consistent with using the green color or another color that complements it and their logo.
An added benefit is that your followers will recognize your brand immediately after seeing your posts in the feed. It can get you more engagement. Replicating this branding style on another social network can also help attract followers on that network.
The easiest way to maintain a cohesive feed is by using templates. This can also quicken the process of creating engaging and visually cohesive Instagram posts.
Create an engaging Instagram post online quickly and easily by getting started with one of Visme’s professionally designed templates. Download as an image, GIF or video file, share the ad on social media and more. Find an Instagram template that your audience will love.
You can use a tool like Visme to create custom templates with your brand colors, fonts, and other elements, or take templates from its library, modify them and save them for later use.
When you need to create a post, you can simply load a template and replace the text and photo or video footage.
Visme also has a Brand Kit that lets you save fonts, colors, logos, and templates for quick future use.
As aforementioned, Instagram has become very competitive. When most people create images, they source them from free stock photo sites. If you want to stand out from them, you should take original photos and videos.
These should include educational and entertaining photos and videos for nurturing your audience and product photos and videos that help sell.
The best option is to hire a photographer, but if you have a tight budget, you can invest in a good camera and maybe take a course too.
Sometimes you might not have time to take photos and videos to create Instagram graphics. If you’re in a hurry, you should buy stock photos. You can find many premium ones for a dollar or less. You can also find someone on graphic editors like Visme.
You can sometimes use free photos, but keep them to a minimum. Only use them if you don’t find anything relevant on premium sites.
After you take the photos and videos or source them, you should make edits to the contrast, brightness and sharpness till the photos look great. If you’re using Lightroom, you can use pre-sets to make the edits quickly.
If you’re creating videos, you might also want to create a thumbnail as people can turn off autoplay on mobile devices while using data. These people will see a thumbnail instead of a video playing like in this video from Alpro.
View this post on Instagram
This thumbnail can make a difference in the number of views you generate.
After the visuals are edited, you can add them to your templates, adjust the rest of the content and branding and even add some overlay text.
Are you ready to post your new content? Then, follow the step-by-step process below.
After you upload the post, write a good caption. Most people think that Instagram captions are redundant as it’s all about the visuals, but they matter too. After people view the visual, they will look at the caption. It will play a colossal role in the result you get.
If your goal is to generate sales with Instagram, you can persuasively describe the product and ask people to click the link in the bio or the product in the photo if you are using product tags.
And if you want engagement, you can write something witty and ask people to like or comment.
For some ideas, check out IKEA’s account.
View this post on Instagram
They write well-planned persuasive captions like the above one and end with a call-to-action.
Make sure you include hashtags in your caption as they can generate more engagement. For best results, add 15 to 20 hashtags. As posts with more than 11 hashtags generate the most engagement. Find the most popular hashtags using hashtag generators.
If you publish content that someone else has created, make sure you credit them by tagging their handle in the caption. This will also get your post to appear in the tagged section of the user’s account, thereby increasing exposure.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a best time to post on Instagram. Figure out what it is and schedule your posts to go out then. Most of your followers should be active and ready to interact with your content during this period.
If a post generates more engagement than the average, you should promote it to reach more people. You will also be able to add a link to this ad, so you can link to a landing page to generate traffic or to your profile homepage to generate followers.
You can even integrate these Instagram posts into your email marketing campaigns and strategies, which can further promote your best posts to your email list.
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Create engaging social media posts and videos with Visme!
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61% of people prefer user-generated content (UGC) on Instagram as they look more natural and realistic.
People that aren’t associated with your brand make these photos. Users trust them more.
So, encourage customers to share photos of your products. In exchange for these photos, you can gift some of them or feature their photos on your account with a tag to theirs.
For some ideas, check out Warby Parker. They get customers to publish photos with the hashtag #wearingwarby (or by tagging them.)
View this post on Instagram
They then feature some of these photos on their account with a tag crediting the creator.
You can also add these photos to your landing pages, like Vanity Planet did, and boost social proof.
Another tactic for generating UGC is organizing an Instagram challenge. This is where you create a goal that your followers need to reach. It could be that they need to finish a task or do something with your product and then take a photo and publish it on their account with a branded hashtag. The challenge should end in a short period, like a week or two.
You will also need to gift the top winner or the top 5 winners a prize to encourage them to publish. This will help you gather a ton of photos to post over a long period.
And, of course, the people posting photos of your product along with a branded hashtag will also generate some extra brand impressions.
You can also work with influencers and do an Instagram takeover. This is where an influencer takes over your account for a day or so, and create content and post on your behalf.
It can lead to a lot of fresh, unique content and followers as the influencer’s followers will follow you. An example is this one where @jaime_king took over the @harpersbazaarus account.
This partnership worked because Jaime King helped Harper’s magazine access an audience they wanted to reach. If you want to get the most out of this, you should work with highly relevant influencers.
So, use good influencer marketing software to conduct research and find influencers. They should have a relevant following and high engagement levels.
After you apply the above technique, you will begin accumulating a lot of data. You should analyze and use it to create better content. The way you use the data should depend on your goal.
For example, if you aim to build a brand, you should create content similar to those getting more impressions. While if your aim is to generate sales, you should create content that’s driving traffic that converts.
Instagram or any other social network is about content. If you create content your audience craves, you will generate more engagement, followers, traffic and sales.
Start by finding out what type of content your audience wants to see. Then, create a plan and a theme and begin creating your content. After that, you can post and pay attention to the data to see what is working and what isn’t.
If you want to accelerate your content production for Instagram with minimal effort, use a design tool like Visme.
There are hundreds of ready-to-go templates for Instagram stories, posts, videos and ads in Visme's template library that you can customize for your own brand or blog.
Here's a quick video overview on how Visme can help you create engaging social posts:
The best part is that you can do it all by yourself — no need to hire a designer or have any professional design skills. Visme has an easy drag-and-drop editor that anyone can use.
Sign up for a free Visme account today and level up your Instagram content strategy!