Instagram has changed during the pandemic…has your marketing?

Buzzbar Instagram marketing

By Leon Chow – Marketing Strategist, Buzzbar

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The answer to this question is unlikely to be ‘yes’ for most people.

We’re in grossly uncharted waters, so spending buckets of money on ads when you have changed consumer psychology taking over isn’t the smartest move right now. The differences are clear, paid influencer posts are down, usage is up, but what else is changing?

People have more time on their hands, and those thumbs are scrolling, but it turns out people can only buy so many sets of sheets when they can’t travel to Venice. Who knew?! The critical bit of advice is, don’t panic. The saying; ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ should not be activated. Thanks to the variety of clients Buzzbar has, we’re able to see a fuller picture than others with what’s happening on everyone’s favourite pinky-orangey gradient visual app.

Timing remains key.

Timing is everything right now on Instagram, strategically and literally. The usage patterns of users have shifted thanks to working from home and different routines. Firstly, the weekend is no longer a terrible time to post. Both Saturday and Sunday (previously the worst day to post) now have record usage thanks to things like Instagram Video and people using this time to catch up. The number of weekly peak times has jumped, but the rule of thumb currently is that the average (important to note every industry is different) best days to post are Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 11 am. In general, there is a focus throughout the working day on Instagram thanks…much shorter…commute times.

There’s still no magic way of bringing you in 3,000 leads overnight without setting off alarms at Instagram HQ across the pond, but there are things you can be doing to give yourself a better chance of being seen.

It’s time. Let’s lose the fakes.

Buying followers was a big trend, and people still do it today, but it is time to stop this practice and get rid of those followers as they’re likely bots that are now harming your engagement rate. While the Instagram algorithm is shrouded in mystery, the basics are clear; authenticity, recency and engagement the user has shown. The key one here is authenticity. Bots aren’t authentic. Bots can be useful, but on Instagram, they serve a purpose at the beginning (making you look followed). Still, the algorithm sees through this eventually, so save yourself some headaches and get rid of them before Instagram does.

Tell people what you want to do.

Helping people to help you is a smart play that we don’t see enough of. Run a physical space? Why isn’t the hashtag on the counter or the way out? Feedback can be scary but would you rather not have it? Putting a plaque on a wall, a note on receipts, on newsletters or an image on your website that helps people tag you in photos can add zeros to follower counts and engagement metrics. You’ll also find out how to be a better business or find out which staff members need training (and hopefully high fives!). Think about TV shows and why they have the host say the hashtag and flash it up on the screen. People need prompting, so help them help you. You might also want to gamify this and show people your follower count in the real work using a neat gadget like Smiirl.

Instagram - Smiirl

Think beyond your followers.

Hashtags are a wonderful crossroad between helping humans find you and Instagram organise you. Hashtags have been synonymous with social feeds for quite some time, but if you’re still posting about your “#datenight under a beautiful #Sunset” in a pseudo-Twitter fashion, we have bad news for you. People don’t find that authentic so use hashtags wisely and fewer may feel counterintuitive, but the science says this is the right move. While you can use up to 30, research suggests 5-11 is the sweet spot you want to hit. Test out what works best for your following. General rules of thumb, keep to larger topics for faster success but niche terms if you want a dedicated following (as you look more like an expert).

Hashtagging is a smart way to help the algorithm find you but don’t forget the people with thumbs and grey matter are who you are trying to influence. Organic growth is a delicate balancing act of appearing natural while scrambling to forcibly grow, appealing to every unnatural metric, measurement and number available to the system. Remember that.

Really engage, more often and not at the same time

Instagram knows spam when it sees it so using tools to autopost may work for a while but ultimately you’re trying to game the system again, and that’s a bad choice. We’ve all seen the posts that have the recognisable comments that these systems suggest; “Fire Content, yo “, “I love this post”, “Amazing shot!”. These small comments will swell numbers but engagement they are not. Instead, think about going the extra mile to create a comment that is longer than three words. Those are the comments people read, and those are the comments that show you are engaging and not just dipping in and out again. A key sign that Instagram likes to pick up on and promote as that’s a quality signal for the algorithm.

Instagram isn’t just flat images and carousels of flat images. The ability to tell stories and create community is growing with new functionality around live streaming and Stories. A trend that is unlikely to change post lockdown because Instagram makes more money from video ads and because of our changed viewing habits! Thinking about your social video strategy now whether YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch or other platforms is a smart way to future-proof your business now.

Instagram doesn’t need to be a mystery. Grab some time with myself or another Marketing Specialist at Buzzbar if you’d like to discuss your Instagram strategy or something else. You have a free 30-minute consultation thanks to We Are The City and you can book yourself in here:

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