Statistically speaking, you are unlikely to read every word of this article. Instead, you’ll probably take a few seconds to scroll through the content before glancing at Instagram, email, or at text messages. Today, the average internet user has an attention span of 8 seconds.
So, how can Instagram marketers create quality content that your target audience will engage with? The secret lies in understanding your audience, measuring their behavior, and finding novel ways to serve their preferences by creating unique and varied content.
Not only are our attention spans short, they are usually even shorter when we are browsing through social media. As Nir Eyal writes in his book Hooked: How to build habit-forming products, we engaging with social media platforms on a second-to-second basis. Here is how you can create content that followers will find compelling, even with their short attention spans.
1. Understand your audience.
Without truly knowing your audience, there is little hope that you will be able to create compelling and high-quality Instagram content. To begin, start by interviewing members of your target audience. Understand how they use Instagram, what accounts they frequently follow, and what they are hoping to get out of using the social media platform.
Next, you’ll want to interview members of your target audience with regard to your product or service. What criteria are important for them when selecting a similar offering? How do you prefer to shop for this product or service? What are the most compelling value propositions for this target audience? Armed with this information, it will be much easier for you and your team to create compelling content.
2. Measure performance.
The fastest way to creating compelling content is by measuring what content does and does not resonate with the target audience. By using an Instagram analytics tool like Owlmetrics, you’ll be able to track key metrics like follower engagement, follower growth, hashtag performance, among other things.
Owlmetrics tells you when it is best to post content in order to reach the largest audience possible. This data-point alone, can ensure that content performs better, without even changing the type of content you post.
3. Mix mediums and content types.
Remember, the attention span of the average Instagram user is shorter than a goldfish (8 seconds vs 12 seconds). In order to attract attention from the target audience, it is important that you mix mediums.
Take Netflix as an example of an Instagram account that mixes mediums very well. In the first instance, a social media manager posted a surreal image promoting an upcoming Lady Gaga documentary.
Just days later, a social media manager posted a short funny video, featuring Dave Chappell and Chris Rock.
By varying content mediums, Netflix is able to appeal to a wide variety of prospective customers, and is able to keep followers consistently engaged thanks to novel content forms.
4. Create a compelling Instagram caption.
Instagram captions aren’t a place to stuff hashtags in the hopes that it will increase reach. Instead, captions should be used to tell a compelling and complimentary story that serves your brands end-goal. Creating a compelling caption will take trial and error. Monitoring Instagram analytics can also help you to improve your captions if you are able to identify patterns related to different caption formats and post engagement or reach.
While it isn’t necessary to write lengthy captions, you should be sure to write something that is worth reading and that helps to advance your content narrative.
5. Embrace user generated content.
User generated content (UGC) occurs when a customer organically creates content that is in reference to your brand, product or service. User generated content serves as a powerful customer endorsement that can encourage prospects to consider your brand more seriously. Additionally, user generated content provides Instagram marketers with creative new content to re-share via your account.
Using some sort of Instagram monitoring tool can help you scouring the platform for brand mentions. Investigate these mentions to learn if they are associated with UGC that you can share on your own account. In most cases, followers appreciate high-quality examples of UGC, because they feel it is authentic.
6. Include a related call to action.
For marketers, Instagram content should serve a double purpose. First, content should expand brand reach while engaging existing followers. Second, content should serve as an impetuous for followers to further engage with your brand via other mediums.
Instagram can be a gateway into a deeper relationship with prospects and customers, but in order to drive followers to take the next step, you must create compelling “calls to action.” Usually, a good call to action can be placed in an Instagram caption. Calls to action should be relevant to the content being shared, and usually ask followers to visit a brand’s website.
In the example above, Nike uses a good, and contextual, call to action to encourage followers to visit the Nike store
7. Analyze competitor successes and failures.
Owlmetrics, our Instagram analytics platform, allows you to see how competitors are faring on the platform. Careful competitive analysis can highlight strategies that are effective in connecting with your target audience. This can help you to create a similar strategy to begin engaging with new and existing followers in a more effective way.
Alternatively, monitoring the failures of competitors on Instagram can help you to avoid similar mistakes – again making it easier and faster for you to engage with the right people.
8. Try Instagram stories.
Instagram Stories are one of the fastest growing components of the platform. So much so, that Stories now has more users than Snapchat. Consider creating regular Instagram Stories, especially if your target audience is those in their teens and twenties.
Good Instagram Stories often include behind the scenes content that allows followers to access aspects of your brand that they might not otherwise see.
9. Use ads to amplify important messages.
When Apple recently launched the new iPhone X, the company invested in a series of compelling Instagram ads to amplify the new value propositions associated with the new phone. The ad, which is similar to this one, provided Apple with the ability to quickly amplify their message, without needing to rely on organic Instagram content alone.
10. Engage with follower comments.
Instagram uses engagement as a key metric for evaluating content appeal. In fact, creating content that engages many users is a good way to get on the Instagram Explore page. One way to encourage users to engage with content on a regular basis is to reply to follower comments regularly.
11. Avoid recycling content from other mediums.
Instagram is unlike Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook. Often, the people using each platform is different, and if they are the same, many use different platforms to satisfy different goals. That means Instagram marketers should be wary of recycling content shared on other platforms, on Instagram.
Either followers will have seen this content on other platforms, lowering engagement, or the content will not be truly optimized to appeal to your Instagram target audience.
12. Collaborate with an influencer.
Over 90% of marketers who have an influencer marketing program believe it is effective. A great way for Instagram marketers to quickly build a larger and more engaged following is by partnering with an influencer. Identify the right influencer to partner with will require a good knowledge of the target audience, but once identified, an influencer can be a great asset in creating high-quality Instagram content.
Content is king. It powers our love or social media and can help brands to create larger and more engaged followings. To creating great Instagram content, you must first understand the target audience. Next, consider using an Instagram analytics tools to accelerate your understanding of what followers enjoy. Then be sure to create varied, and novel content that fits the goals of your brand.