Calling all social media managers: With the new year here, it’s time to get your thinking caps on to build an Instagram marketing strategy that will help you to your brand, grow a committed following and ultimately deliver results through social media. How, you ask? The Sked team have put their heads together to collate these six essential tips for social media managers, allowing you to get the most out of your Instagram strategy in 2018. When it comes to resolutions, the application of these handy tips for social media managers might be bottom of the pile (right under being more diligent with your tax return, and committing to walking to the office at least twice a week…), but by combining them with the use of Sked as an Instagram scheduling platform, you’ll be set for a year of marketing success. Do Your Research While homework might be a thing of the past, our first tip for social media managers who want to deliver successful Instagram marketing campaigns is to put in the hard yards and do your research. Instagram as a platform changes continually, and by researching the latest algorithms, you will be ensuring that you are making informed decisions about how to spend your time managing your feed. Keeping on top of how Instagram prioritises content on users’ feeds is vital to developing an effective Instagram strategy. If you’re keen to delve even further into the Instagram marketing tips to be gleaned from the platform’s algorithms, check out the longer read, Everything You Need To Know About The Instagram Algorithm. But understanding the algorithms at work is only part of our key tips for social media managers. Researching current hashtag trends is also essential if you want your brand’s Instagram content to stay relevant and within the public eye. Make sure you research sector-specific hashtags (ie. those that appeal to the industry or product/service sector you are in), location-specific hashtags (ie. those that relate to where you posted from, and the geographical market you are trying to break into), macro-hashtags (ie. broader trending hashtags such as #instapic, #instafood, #architecture, #scenery), and emerging hashtags that are currently seeing a surge in popularity. In addition to hashtag trends, one of our key tips for social media managers using Instagram in 2018 is to research aesthetic trends and platform trends. Make sure that your brand looks fresh and authentic when compared to other content on the platform, and ensure that you are keeping up to speed with user trends when it comes to researching how they are using the platform. Are emoji hashtags taking over from written comments? Are Instagram gallery posts generating deeper engagement than sequential image posts? Whatever the user trend happens to be, one of our top Instagram marketing tips is to keep informed, and adapt your own content feed where relevant. Know Your Brand It may seem strange that one of our hottest Instagram marketing tips for 2018 is that all social media managers should know their brand, inside out. However, with digital media seeing the highest turn-over of staff across media and marketing industries, and brand affinity being increasingly harder to build within millennial audiences, really getting under the skin of the brand that you are working with is vital in such a competitive marketing climate. Social media managers who are developing Instagram content strategies need to understand exactly what their brand stands for. This means having a firm grasp of the brand DNA, the mission objective, and the objective of their marketing content, to ensure that each and every Instagram post scheduled using Sked is working as hard as it possibly can to deliver a consistent message. A large part of applying this knowledge via Instagram is having a distinctive visual style that is driven by your brand’s DNA, and having a copywriting tone that relates to both your brand and to your social media audience. Be Prepared! Okay, so you’re knowledge of the world’s best Instagram marketing tips might be top-notch, but none of your smarts matter if you can’t tee up the actual content in a timely manner, and release it on your feed at just the right time! Planning ahead is key to a strong Instagram feed. Preparing content to run on a weekly basis, so that your fans are delivered a steady stream of beautiful, engaging posts is essential for any social media managers using Instagram. In addition to this, preparing content for holidays and special occasions—Thanksgiving, April Fool’s Day, leap years, your brand’s birthday—is also a fantastic way to capitalise on events throughout the year. Teeing up posts well in advance of when they are due to run is incredibly easy with Sked, giving you the superpower of never missing another special day again. One of the most useful tips for social media managers who are keen to keep on top of their game at all times is to have a backlog of generic posts ready and waiting in your Sked drafts, so that on a ‘slow news day’ your brand is still pumping out beautiful content. But preparation isn’t just about single posts. With the rising popularity of the grid as a tool for creativity, planning the posts that go either side of the one you have just published is one of our vital Instagram marketing tips for social media managers who want their brand to stand above the rest of the social media pack. For more tips on how to plan for an Instagram grid that cuts through the visual noise, check out the article Using Your Instagram Grid to Create a Better Feed Support The Community Remember, Instagram started as a visual community, not a marketing tool. To tap into users who are dedicated to the platform for discovering new products and services, and for strengthening relationships with ones they already love, one of our top Instagram marketing tips is to play a valuable part in the Instagram community, and the sub-communities that live within it. Like real-world cliques, breaking into digital communities can be difficult. One of the easiest ways for Instagram marketers to include themselves in communities is by tapping into niche hashtags, or hashtags that have an active but close following. Again, this is where research comes in: Always check out what a hashtag’s community are posting and saying in conjunction with the tag—you don’t want to be including yourself in a conversation that, upon further inspection, you’d rather not be a part of! Keen for Instagram starter strategies that will ensure that you’re engaging with the local bricks-and-mortar community? This one’s for you! Location-based tagging simply has to be one of our top tips for social media managers looking to grow their fanbase in 2018. This sort of tagging allows you to display your post to anyone looking for photos uploaded form that specific venue or location. Location-based tagging is incredibly simple to use, and ensures that your post will be seen by the geographical community in the location that you assign your post to. Regramming followers is a fantastic way of building support within your brand’s community, and giving back to fans who are actively supporting your brand. The Sked Social Regram Chrome plugin is an incredibly easy way to regram content from your desktop, complete with the original poster’s handle and comment. This ensures that you’re crediting your community properly, building positive affinity with your brand *and* providing you with content that you don’t have to produce yourself. When it comes to building a community on Instagram, there’s nothing quite like having your own hashtag-dedicated followers. As any Instagram social media manager knows, seeding your brand’s specific hashtag and ensuring that it is adopted by fans is no mean feat, but the diligence put into this Instagram marketing tip really does deliver in engagement and uptake. For more information on how to create your own brand hashtag, check out 6 Tips For Nailing Your Brand’s Instagram Presence. Track Your Progress We all know that metrics and data tracking aren’t necessarily the most fun part of the job… Who wants to look at spreadsheets all day when you could be out location scouting for your next photoshoot?! They are, however, essential to ensuring that all of the hard work you are putting into actioning these Instagram marketing tips is paying off. One of the best metrics for assessing how effective your Instagram content is when it comes to converting online custom is by ensuring you have a trackable link in your feed’s bio. Because you can’t hyperlink urls in Instagram post captions, ensuring that you have a url in your bio—and that it is a trackable bitly link or something similar—is a key method of assessing how many click-throughs your feed is delivering. For more information on setting up a trackable link, check out these 7 Instagram Tips That Social Media Managers Swear By. In addition to tracking link clicks, you should also monitor the reach, likes and comments of your posts on a weekly or monthly basis, to ensure that you are discovering what is working best for your audience, and optimising the content that you are publishing. It’s a good idea to keep a record of this data in a centralised Google Sheets account, or have centralised access to tracking software, so that it can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Remember: Testing new ideas and changing the timing, frequency, subject matter and caption content of your posts is key to keeping on top of your game. Tracking post data and measuring increases in likes, comments, follows and link clicks is an incredibly simple tip for social media managers who are looking to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced social media marketing world. Embrace 2018’s New Features! While we’ve all head it before, change really is inevitable. If there’s one of our Instagram starter strategies for 2018 that we can guarantee will be on our list for 2019, 2020, and beyond, it’s that as a marketer you need to embrace change as it happens. Instagram will no doubt continue to release new features and broaden its offerings in 2018, and the best way to ensure that your brand stays within the public eye on the platform is to embrace these changes. By trying new things on your brand feed as soon as you can, you are positioning your company as a thought-leader, and also staying ahead of the curve when it comes to platform updates. As well as embracing product innovations from Instagram—and from Sked!—moving with user habit changes is important. Nobody wants to be the brand that’s still posting outdated internet acronyms in captions, or that’s still laughing about a meme that died a year ago. As a social media manager, it’s your responsibility to be aware of changes across Instagram and to react quickly, thinking about the strategic implementations of Instagram’s latest upgrades for your brand’s online presence. Keep Up To Speed With Instagram’s Changes Love receiving tips for social media managers alongside news about platform upgrades on the regular? Sign up to the Sked newsletter (at the bottom of this page) to be kept up to date with the latest Instagram news, features, tips and more. If you’re looking to carve out hours in your social media workflow, sign up for Sked’s 7-day trial. Our all-in-one Instagram scheduler allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Stories, videos and more. Tag locations, users and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save 5+ hours every week.