The current social media landscape exists in an attention-deficit economy. Since the advent of social media networking, the one-time novice user has matured into a seasoned consumer, fine-tuning their preferences according to only the most pertinent themes relevant to their universe. Nowadays, brands (and artists) looking to capture attention must also fine-tune their messaging with their own unique creative spin, topped with promotional tactics that support the social ecosystem.
How do you, as an artist and small-business owner, keep up? Simply put, the more perspective and visual cohesion you create through your social channels, the more value you’ll provide for your community, and the more you’ll succeed in marketing your brand.
Here are three steps to setting up a successful Instagram strategy…
As a creator, the content you produce should consistently express your unique personality, values, and aesthetic to communicate the philosophy of your brand to your audience. In a quick glance-over of your Instagram account, it should be easy for your potential followers to identify what you’re about and why they should follow you.
1. Calligraphy 2. Woodworking 3. Food 4. Cartoon (Local Topics)
A) To craft your brand identity, outline your business goals and give yourself a creative identity. Start by evaluating your peers to analyze the ways in which they produce content for their Instagram channels. What kind of patterns do you notice in their visuals? Do they post often? If so, what do they talk about and how do they convey this messaging? (Examples: cool, heartfelt, humor, etc.) Do they only use user-generated content sourced from their community? Outlining these characteristics will help you identify your competitors’ brand identity and allow you to carve your own niche in the Instagram landscape.
B) Start building your brand identity by choosing three adjectives that will remain true to all of your messaging. For example, say you choose “Bohemian,” “Colorful,” and “Cheerful.” Each time you want to publish an image, ask yourself if this visual applies to the aforementioned adjectives or whether it will stray away from your brand identity. Aim to maintain a unique perspective and visual cohesion. Don’t settle for content that won’t add to your user experience.
C) To organize content, identify four to six content themes (or buckets), which can guide an editorial calendar. As an artist, yours could be as simple as “Studio” (because everyone loves a look into an artist’s studio), “Process Work” (discussing current projects and processes), “Artist Painting” (selfies are known to drive higher engagement and will more personally connect you with your audience), and “Inspiration” (sharing images that currently inspire your work, which fit somewhere in your brand identity). You’ll note many artists and bloggers include familial topics in their posts, but the most successful examples find beautiful ways to blend family and professional life.
Minted artist @NaomiErnest
D) Lastly, solidify your presence by crafting a relevant bio tagline and link. Your bio sets your viewer up for what they can expect to see on your Instagram feed. The most efficient use of the bio is to play up to the professional or personal roles you want to be known for. Advanced users will include professional status, hashtags they are associated with, and additional social media platforms they want you to follow.
The link has one job: to direct user traffic to your website for conversions. You can link to your Minted Artist Store, rotate your link, or link to your portfolio, but you must use the link. Otherwise, you’re wasting valuable resources. Most retail brands will have a shoppable feed to help push product galleries. As a Minted artist, you may or may not be able to purchase these expensive software packages, so why not consider affiliate links to help grow your sales? Advanced users can track results of your links by adding a UTM code (a special code embedded within your link to track source, medium, campaign and more) and translating to a bit.ly, and monitoring results through Google Analytics.
2. Craft Your Content
Now that you’ve outlined your business goals and set up your brand identity, it’s time to get started on crafting your content. With your content themes in mind, begin to take photos of your subject matter that will help you attain your business goals. Start slow, snap, and re-snap to find the right imagery that’s true to your brand. In the beginning, frequency is less important than consistency. Develop quality over quantity until you can experiment enough to determine what content works best for you and your community.
New York restaurant @jackswifefreda
Still not sure how to post your best content on Instagram? Based on industry research, visual marketing software Curalate tells us to consider these seven qualities when producing content:
- Lightness: Don’t be afraid to chase the light. Lighter images receives 24% more engagement over dark images.
- Background: A greater amount of background or white space is 29% more preferred.
- Dominant Color: Blues tones receive 24% more likes than red images. Interestingly, red is more popular on Facebook.
- Number of Colors: Consider picking a color focus (E.g., think back to your three adjectives). A single dominant color receives 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.
- Saturation: While you should have a color focus, intensely or unnaturally bright colors are unappealing to the eye. Images with a lower saturation receive 18% more likes than more overtly vibrant looks.
- Texture: Higher levels of texture receive 79% more likes.
- Selfies: Selfies helps to connect you to your viewer on a more personal level. Just remember, a selfie does not have to be an extreme close-up; how about an endearing portrait view or landscape feature of you in your charming studio?
- UGC: Reposting happy customer photos is encouraged: Your followers will feel like you are engaged and will become more actively involved in your community as a result. As a rule of thumb, make sure to ask for permission first.
Alongside your business goals, you’ll also want to determine key performance indicators (KPIs) for your content – something we’ll talk about next time. While what performs best for one social platform may not perform well for others, you can still make your Instagram posts work harder for you by publishing this content across other connected accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. This quick share tactic helps you maintain a presence on more networks and allows you to reap more rewards for your efforts.
3. Promote Your Content
Engage your audience with conversation and commentary. Make them feel like they are apart of your creative process. Find your brand hashtag(s) and create a dialogue. Don’t be afraid to associate yourself with external hashtags that align with your brand to join discussions happening around you.
Include your @username, hashtag, and website in all high-traffic spaces. Think customer emails, external web page profiles, product pages, packaged goods inserts, and shipping containers. Every Minted artist is asked to create a “thank you” message to consumers who purchase their goods. Consider using spaces like this to plug your social feeds to further connect them to your community.
If relevant, tag other artist personalities or brands in your photos. This signifies to them that you are open to having your content shared to their networks, opens up your account to the users who look through “Photos of <BRAND>,” and extends the reach of your content.
Contests are also an easy way to give back to your community, help drive engagement, and boost awareness of your brand. They are especially effective when integrating into your full marketing strategy (e.g., promoted on your website, email, and social channels) and done in partnership with external influencers or vendors who can support the incentive and increase the campaign reach. If you’re not into contests, a surprise and delight campaign is also a great way to give back to your community. A surprise and delight is when a brand gifts loyal followers or relevant influencers with product they might enjoy based on conversations they have created in the past. If you’ve gifted relevant product, chances are they will publish a piece of content which shows off the item and mentions your brand to their (hopefully) vast audience of engaged users..
Although this is my least favorite Instagram lead gen tactic, the Follow-Unfollow has also been known to help increase follower count. I highly recommend reading this Hubspot article to learn a few good lessons from using Instagram bots before ever heading down that road.
With your brand goals and creative cohesion in mind, you can begin to strategize your own Instagram content plan! Before you do, here is a small list of free tools you might find helpful in your planning and production.
Recommended Instagram Tools
- VSCO: Download the app and invest in one or two of your favorite filter packs. Note: Currently also experimenting with “A Color Story” app.
- Latergram.me: Upload your copy, content, and schedule for a later date. You’ll still need to manually push this content live, but it’s really nice to have all the nitty gritty details down beforehand.
- Iconosquare: Free Instagram analytics tool to help you track follower growth, engagement, brand advocates, and more.
- Tag for Likes: A free tool to help you determine popular hashtags you may want to attach to your content. Hashtagify.me can also be helpful in determining what hashtags to use and so forth.
- Native Instagram Apps: Hyperlapse, Boomerang, and (less so) Layout.
Donna Antonijevic is a Social Media Manager at Minted, focusing on developing the consumer-side of creative content strategy and brand planning. She’s been lucky enough to work with the talented and innovative teams at OneMethod, Bensimon Byrne, and Anomaly, where she worked as a Community Manager and Social Media Strategist for three years developing and promoting campaigns for alcohol, confectionary, and CPGs products. Follow Donna’s personal musings on Instagram @mombike.
Published February 24, 2016 • Become part of the Minted Artist Community. Submit to a Challenge here.
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