Standing out on Instagram in 2020
The results are in.
Of all the social media platforms to be on, Instagram is the winner this year with more brands planning on adding it to their marketing toolkit. Several polls across social news outlets have found that those who haven’t fully bought into Instagram yet, are planning on jumping onto the platform and using it on a more serious level in 2020.
So what does that mean for those of us that have already been utilizing Instagram in our marketing efforts?
For starters, the platform is expected to become a little more saturated with additional businesses planning to implement it into their strategy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it does indicate the high rate of success for those who have already been using it! What it does mean for you though, is that you’ll have to keep your finger on the pulse if you want to keep up and stand out.
In anticipation of what’s to come, I’ve done the legwork for you and compiled a shortlist of what’s going to help you stand out in the year ahead according to experts. Are you with me? Let’s dive into all the strategies you can use to get noticed in the year ahead.
Your content matters more than ever
Gone are the days when you could use captions that consist of “happy Monday” underneath a beautiful image and expect to gain traction on the platform. Instagram marketing now commands more strategy than it ever has before and planning out your captions following a simple structure proves to offer the highest return on your marketing efforts.
Before I get into explaining what actually makes a good post, let’s talk briefly about the algorithm and how it works. Your content is prioritized in the algorithm through engagement and interest from your audience. The more engagement your content gets, the more your posts are likely to be seen in both your audiences news feed and also in the discovery feature. This includes comments you receive, saves, likes and even the amount of time readers spend lingering on a post.
If you’re stumped on the structure of a good caption, try and keep these points in mind before you hit publish:
Remember to use creative, scroll stopping headlines. The preview line appears for even passive scrollers and your caption intro should be given a great deal of thought. You want to use this opportunity to spark interest and entice scrollers to read more! Keep the most important words at the top of your post and tell the reader exactly what they’re going to be receiving by stopping on your content.
Your content should tell a story about your brand and connect on a deeper level with your followers while ensuring it complements your image, so keep the body to the point and provide helpful but relevant information.
I see a lot of people skip this last step. Remember to place interactive calls to action at the bottom of your posts! This is important because directing your audience where to go takes the decision making out of the equation and makes it easier for your followers to take action.
The curated, uncurated feed is trending
Keeping images realistic is the name of the game this year, as overedited has been replaced with unrefined and more authentic feeds. In the last quarter of 2019, I’ve definitely seen an increase in more real and raw photography on my newsfeed, and it’s only expected to increase in the coming months.
I’m sure you’ve noticed as well as I have, that over the past few years the focus has been more on images that look like they are from a magazine instead of photos from real people. I don’t know about you, but as inspiring as it is to see magazine quality photos, it really isn’t very relatable. Although the curation and filters made images interesting and fun to look at, over time things across the platform started to blend together and many of the highly-curated accounts started to look the same. With so many brands trying to emulate the success others had seen in the past using this over-curated look, standing out was becoming an impossible task.
The focus really is bringing it back to (in my opinion) what Instagram was originally meant to be - showcasing the individuality of a brand, person, or business. So put a light filter on your images or brighten them just a little to improve the quality, but try to keep it you, real and don’t be afraid to get a little raw.
Perfectly imperfect will help you stand out in an overly saturated market this year.
Press record and get on video
I must admit, I’m guilty of not doing this enough, but its one of my goals this year. Video really offers a unique way to display your personality and deliver more in-depth content in a compelling way. If you aren’t using features like stories and IGTV on the regular, its time to start (myself included)!
Stories have gotten more sophisticated recently with new features to get your audience engaged like quizzes, question and poll stickers. And Instagram has really been ramping up the features with IGTV by adding in options to create a video series, the ability to show previews on your news feed and they’ve even added the IGTV into the discovery feature with its own dedicated tab. IGTV is also permanent on the platform, just like posts. Then there’s live video, which really grabs audiences attention, although at first can be incredibly intimidating.
If you haven’t yet been using video, here’s a breakdown to help you decide where to start:
Starting with stories as an entry point is definitely less pressure. They run 15 seconds a slide, last for 24 hours, and tend to be more casual. This is where you really have a chance to show interesting footage like behind the scenes, your day-to-day and even some tidbits of your personal life. This really is a great way to relate with your audience and build up that trust factor.
IGTV can run up to 60 minutes and need a little more polish and preparation but tend to have the greatest impact when it comes to gaining that trust factor because of the length of the videos and how the type of information differs between stories. Most people use this feature to deliver things like tutorials that really drive up the value factor for your audience.
Going live can boost your brands’ presence if you’re comfortable with it. You can use this feature to stream events, meetings or host a Q&A. After you’re done, you can save the video to stories and even place it on your highlight reel to keep around even longer.
Just like posting on your feed, a strategy should be defined prior to video creation to tie everything together. Be aware of your content going out across your channels to ensure your message is consistent.
Quality over Quantity will provide the highest return
In other words, less is more when talking about your Instagram feed.
Contrary to popular belief, posting less often can actually work in your favour. If you genuinely want to connect with your audience, it’s better to share one piece of highly useful content once a week rather than posting something generic every day. Quality content that is relevant to your audience has a higher chance of getting your followers to engage, and in turn, helps boosts your posts up in the main feed.
If you decide to use this strategy but you still want to connect with your audience every day in a meaningful way, take notes above on utilizing the stories feature!
Shoppable Posts are ramping up
This is something to pay attention to if you’re a business that carries products. In the past, you could only make your Instagram account shoppable if your website was hosted on a few specific platforms. Since Facebook took over the platform, however, they’ve removed this roadblock and made it really simple to integrate shoppable posts.
If you have access to your websites code, all you have to do is have your developer add a Facebook pixel to your site and integrate it with your Facebook business page to create a catalogue.
If you don’t have access to the code, you can still create a catalogue through Business Manager, it just takes a little more effort as you have to add the items individually. Once you have finished this part though, you can connect your Instagram account to the catalogue and link your posts back to it.
Having shoppable posts removes those steps if someone wants to purchase from you. They can be led straight to the source just by clicking on an image. This is good news for eCommerce!
Bring on the authenticity
Last but not least and probably one of the most important things to remember when trying to stand out this year. As all of the above points indicate, you’ve probably guessed by now that bringing your authentic self to the platform is a necessity. Let your brand shine as you, implement your voice into your copy, your images and your stories.
In closing, no one can really anticipate what will bring you the most success on a social platform because things are always changing, but I hope this list has given you a headstart in planning out your early 2020 strategy. What each of these steps points towards is staying in your own lane and focusing on your brand goals.