Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile

When marketers use social media to reach today’s consumers, there is only one golden rule: content is the absolute king. But do you think the biggest and most successful Instagram brands pump out content off the cuff, with no strategy for what they’re going to post? Of course not—that would be akin to a basketball team going into a game with no playbook, no plan for how to win. 

A diverse, sustainable, and efficient strategy for creating and posting content is just as important as any other facet of your marketing. A report by the Content Marketing Institute shows that companies with a concrete strategy are more effective in almost all aspects of content marketing compared to those with only a verbal strategy or no strategy. 

So, in today’s article, we will demonstrate how to put together a killer Instagram content strategy to set you on the path to success. 

Crafting your Instagram Content Strategy

Study your audience

A scattershot plan isn’t going to work—nobody puts together a game plan by first trying anything and everything and then figuring it out afterward. On the contrary, good strategies come together by first learning about your audience

The more you know about the customers you’re trying to attract, the more effective your content—you’ll be better able to serve them content that engages them. You do this by knowing their pain points and challenges. If you think of content as a product, then your audience is your consumer. If you want your audience to “consume” your content, you have to make sure that the product solves their problems and makes their lives easier and better. Without this knowledge, you’re taking shots in the dark, hoping that some will land—a waste of effort! 

Once you can hone in on specific topics or types of content that will resonate with your customers, then you should focus on those things. 

Have a library of content ideas

The most challenging part of Instagram content marketing is creating the content day in and day out. You likely already have some ready content that is easy to put together—things that you can crib from your marketing material. But posting that all the time can mean that your Instagram profile looks like one big ad for your products.

That’s no way to create an engaging experience with your intended audience. They need something that connects with them to keep them coming back to your feed. 

Know your own strengths

Every brand has its own unique strengths and attributes—successfully executing your content strategy means utilizing those strengths. Perhaps your brand has a great aesthetic that plays well with photo carousel posts, or maybe you’re a thought leader and have a wealth of knowledge that you can share with your followers in instructional videos. Your brand could have a rich heritage and history that people can identify with if you focus on telling your story. These approaches serve to create a connection with your audience and engage them in what you can offer. 

In the early days of Instagram, all we had were single-photo posts. The platform has become much more complicated now, with a plethora of content options. Videos, photo carousels, Instagram Stories, Reels, etc. Trying to excel at everything means you could be spreading yourself thin (and wasting time and effort). 

You don’t have to utilize every type of Instagram content all the time—tailor your strategy to your situation. An effective communication plan can also help serve as a guide for your posting strategy. 

Give yourself concrete goals

Without knowing what you’re aiming for, your strategy will be aimless, disconnected from the rest of your business and marketing funnel. You need to know what kind of effect you’re trying to create on a monthly or even weekly basis. 

Perhaps you’re trying to increase website hits, or you’re trying to align with new products or service launches. Knowing what’s coming down the line for your brand means that your content can be planned out in advance, saving you time and effort. The type of content you’re going to post will need to change to serve those goals. 

The only caveat is that your content should be consistent—like we said in the previous point, you need to play to your strengths; straying outside this paradigm could be seen as jarring. 

Have a schedule

Having a schedule—both for posting content and for creating it—means that you have a concrete goal: post at these times or create something at a certain time. 

However, your schedule isn’t set in stone. You’ll hear of posting schedules being spoken of as though there’s some magical time where every post gets maximum engagement—but that’s not the case. And there’s not one blanket schedule that applies to all companies, all the time. 

Your posting schedule should be tied in to your knowledge of your audience. What time are they on the platform and ready to engage? How often do they go on Instagram, and what do they do while there? Some brands post several times a day, while others post once or twice a week, but receive similar engagement and reach. The trick is finding the schedule that works for your brand specifically. We can simply figure out the best time to post on Instagram by looking at these analytics.

If your brand is just starting out with its content strategy, it can be beneficial to post a little more often than usual so that you can build up a well of great content that engages your audience. Once you’ve gotten that ball rolling and built up a loyal following, you can transition to your preferred schedule.  

Leverage User-Generated Content

Your audience is an incredible resource—if you can get them talking and posting about your brand, then you have a massive library of content for your own feed. Reposting user-generated content saves you time and effort and increases the trust your audience has in your brand. 

Almost 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Once your audience sees that other like-minded consumers are speaking positively about your brand, they’re much more likely to give you their business. 

And this isn’t limited to consumer reviews—you can hold photo contests or giveaways, creating even more engagement. 

The real caveat here is that you don’t have much control over what your audience creates, but this can be a great supplement to your existing content library. 

A starting point for your Instagram content strategy

Today’s tips aren’t the end-all-be-all for creating an Instagram content strategy, but they’re an excellent place to start. The next big step is evaluating the success of your strategy and being flexible enough to adapt. That’s the real sustainability that we’re looking for: maintaining audience engagement over months and years, despite any changes in the market. 

If you master today’s tips, you’ll have a solid foundation for your sustainable and efficient Instagram content strategy.