If there’s one thing we can’t get more of, its time – this is especially true when it comes to the amount of time you spend on social media.

Did you know on average, Instagram users spend 53 minutes per day on the Instagram app with Snapchat at just 49.5 minutes.

The real question then becomes, how can you make the most of your time when using Instagram to grow your business?

We look at the 13 ways you can become a pro on Instagram.

The best way to get started is to monitor how much time you spend on the app to ensure you are being productive and not just scrolling through your feed.

Instagram has just launched their latest update to help you manage time by allowing you to track exactly how much time you spend on the app.

To access this feature:

1. Go to your profile and tap the gear icon on iOS (Android in the top right)
2. Tap Your Activity. You’ll then see the average time you have spent on Instagram in the past 7 days.

Your Activity
USE A Social Media Management Platform!

A social media management platform allows your business the opportunity to manage all its content, conversations, and customer service in one single place.

This definitely helps with saving time compared to switching apps, websites, or even checking your Instagram app manually.

In January 2018, Instagram updated their API to allow direct third-party posting. This means you can now post photos and videos directly to your Instagram business profile without using the mobile app.

Here are some of the top social media management platforms your business can start using today:

Hootsuite

Hootsuite allows your business to post directly to Instagram via both your mobile phone and PC.

Features:
– Schedule campaigns across multiple Instagram profiles.
– Assign customer service messages to team members.
– Engage with followers in real-time.
– Track hashtag conversations to engage your potential customers.
– Measure performance through reporting and data.

Hootsuite
Buffer for Instagram

Buffer has the ability to schedule posts (photos and video) directly to your Instagram page and also offers a mobile app in addition to desktop access.

Features:
– Measure the performance of your Instagram posts (Analytics).
– Collaborate with fellow team members to flag and answer comments.
– Share single images and videos with or without a caption directly to your business page.
– Ability to schedule reminders should you want to post manually at a specific time.

Buffer
Sendible
Sendible allows your business to not only post to Instagram but also manage the key conversations across all your social media channels in one streamlined inbox.

Features:
– Post directly to Instagram via an app or PC.
– Manage all Instagram conversations in a single inbox.
– Generate instant reports on your Instagram activity.
– Collaborate with other team members to help manage multiple Instagram profiles.
– Carry out social listening on Instagram and monitor the right keywords related to your brand.

SendibleSprout social
Sprout social offers your business all the tools it needs to manage its Instagram activity in one single location.

Features:
– Manage multiple Instagram accounts.
– Track hashtag usage through reporting dashboards.
– Monitor keywords with Instagram social listening.
– Create team workflows to collaborate with other team members.
– Schedule and keep track of all Instagram posts with a built-in social media calendar.

Sprout SocialWhen Should I Post to Increase Engagement?

It’s important to remember when it comes to posting to your Instagram profile there is no golden time to post.

One of the key reasons is because business pages have followers from different regions across the globe.

So when should I post?

To get the most engagement from your posts organically you can carry out the following steps:

1) Post at a time that’s convenient for your followers: If your followers are all based in an EST time zone then it’s best to post at the busier times of the day. You will need to test this out to determine which times get the most traction.

2) Go outside 9-5: Most users tend to check their social channels outside work hours. This presents a great opportunity to grab their attention. Again you can test posting before 9am and after 6pm.

3) Weekdays or weekends? : This depends on your brand and when your target market is most active. Do not neglect times when your audience is less active as this can also present the opportunity to engage users who may not have seen your previous posts. The simple rule is to increase posting frequency on your busiest days.

Ensure you always test out a range of times and content types and adapt to any spikes in an activity you see.

Spikes In ActivityMeasure Engagement Times

When are my followers most active? What type of content do they prefer?

It’s important to know the answer to these questions when planning your Instagram content as this helps to ensure you give your followers the content that matters to them the most.

By measuring your Instagram engagement you will be able to identify the following:
– The most active times of day to post.
– The content type that achieves the most engagement.
– The hashtags that have the most impact.

The easiest way to identify the best performing post is to calculate the engagement rate.

To calculate this simply add your likes and comments on the post and divide this by the number of followers

Measure Activity

How many times should I post a day?

There has been a lot of research into post frequency and how often you should post to your Instagram business profile.

According to Buffer, key brands share on average 1.5 posts a day and this is the optimum number.

You should test what works with your community. This will vary depending on the type of business you have on Instagram and how your audience likes to consume your content.

If you normally share 2 posts a day feel free to test both a higher and lower frequency and if this improves your overall engagement, adapt, if not then continue the same strategy as you have always been sharing.

How many times should I post a day?

Does Higher Frequency Equal Higher Engagement? The simple truth is if your followers continue to engage with your content and you have shared the correct context in your posts then there is no reason why you can’t share multiple posts a day.

It comes down to consistency. Your followers would rather engage with a brand that shares content on a regular basis than one which shares good content but less frequently.

It simply comes down to adding value to your followers.

How to Use Your PC for Instagram

We’ve covered which tools your business can use to post to Instagram but how can you use your PC/Laptop to get the most out of the platform.

Manage your content, social listening and reporting all in one place

Since Instagram opened its API, your business can now use a PC/Laptop to directly engage with its followers and community on Instagram.

To do this, you need to ensure you have a social media platform set up to manage all your content, social listening, and reporting in a single dashboard.

Agora Pulse is an example of a tool that allows you to schedule all your posts, deliver reports, and even analyze your competition all within a single platform.

Does Higher Frequency Equal Higher Engagement?
Keep track of all customer questions

If you do not have a social media platform set up you can still manage your customer questions on Instagram directly from your PC by using your Facebook page’s built-in social Inbox.

This allows you to respond to your Facebook and Instagram messages in a single location without using your phone. You can view all incoming messages by simply selecting the Instagram icon within your Facebook business page inbox.

Track QuestionsUnleash The Power of CaptionsBeauty of BrandingInstagram captions are one of the most underrated features that could help increase your engagement and provide context for your post. This, in turn, could help your followers to decide whether this is a post worth liking, sharing, or commenting on.

Here are some top tips on writing the perfect Instagram caption:
– Provide context on what the post is about.
– Share your personal journey.
– Don’t be afraid to write detailed posts.
– Include emojis and spacing to help break up your content.
– Include a call to action by asking your audience to click the link in your bio.

Here’s an example from influencer Andy Frisella who shared this personal photo with context on the post and received over 1,600 comments and over 41,000 likes!The Beauty is in the Branding One way to build recognition on Instagram is to allow your audience to become familiar with your content. One of the many ways to achieve this is to create a consistent brand image.

This means creating beautifully crafted images and videos that follow a consistent branding style and color scheme.

This will help your followers associate those colors with your brand making you more recognizable in the long-term through association.  The same way we now recognize the “yellow M” and red branding in MacDonald’s.

Here’s how Luxy Lemon achieve this on their Instagram profile, branding their posts with a consistent brand theme and high-quality product photography.

The Beauty of Branding

It is the Season for EngagementOne of the core benefits of marketing on Instagram is the ability to piggyback off popular trends and events.

This is a great way to get your content seen by a large audience, frequently and at very little cost.

Using the correct hashtags during peak events will help to increase exposure of your posts when timed correctly.

The golden rule is not to force associations with a hashtag. Find occasions that naturally align with your product or service then adapt.

To leverage seasonal content your business must produce content that is directly related to the season or event. Here’s how Dunkin Donuts have used this technique to tie in the 4th of July celebrations with their brand.

The Beauty is in the Branding Quality Or Quantity?

You want to focus on both the quality of your content and a consistent posting strategy.

Now, this does not mean you have to post a set amount of times per day or shoot all your images with a professional DSLR camera.

What it does mean, however, is that you must ensure you are posting consistently at least once a day and that all your images are good quality e.g. the lighting is right, the image accurately reflects your brand and helps to tell a story

Listen To Your Followers

Follower numbers mean nothing for your business unless the engagement is there.

How can you create a higher level of engagement with your community?

One simple word “listen!”

Listening to your customers and meeting their needs will help you develop a deeper relationship with them. This, in turn, leads to more questions, comments, likes, and shares.

Your followers are really looking for the following:
– A responsive brand which answers their questions.
– Content that adds value to them.
– Authenticity. A brand which isn’t afraid to admit when it’s wrong and is willing to engage with customers in real-time e.g. Instagram Live.

Measure Your Performance

With so much data available on Instagram how do you know which metrics to track?

While there are a lot of metrics available to track on Instagram there are really 3 core metrics your business needs to pay attention to:

1) Impressions (number of people who saw your post).
2) Reach (the number of people you reached with your posts).
3) Engagements (the total number of likes, comments, shared, or saved actions).

This will help your business build insights into what content is performing well and what content should be removed from your calendar.

Bonus: Increase your Exposure Instantly

Using the correct hashtags with your content can help increase exposure instantly and target followers.

Here are three key ways you can use hashtags to boost your exposure:

1) Follow hashtags related to your niche and engage with the top performing posts.

2) Share multiple hashtags alongside your Instagram captions at the time of posting to increase awareness amongst your target audience- Instagram allow a maximum of 30 hashtags.

3) Use location hashtags to capture the attention of those in your local area (perfect for events or product launches).

Here’s how Influencer Anna from @weavingmystory used targeted hashtags to increase the exposure of her content.

Increase your Exposure Instantly

Summary

Planning and scheduling your content in advance, and developing a solid hashtag strategy, will help your business save time, increase targeted followers, boost exposure, and generate more conversations.

Remember it’s not about being perfect in every post but being consistent with your content, branding, and responsiveness.

 

By Ravi Shukle

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