How to Win at Instagram

By Adam Turner • September 16, 2019

When associations marry the art and strategy of posting on Instagram, they open a new pathway to reach potential members.

Instagram surpassed the 1 billion active users per month mark in late 2018, which branding consultant Quinn Tempest told an audience at Digital Summit Chicago makes it the “perfect place to create a relationship with your target audience.” The data has shown this to be true. The 25 million-plus businesses that have profiles will often see 80 percent of their audiences engage with new content.

To share in the success of Instagram, it’s important to build a sense of brand loyalty and to understand the content viewers want to see.

In today’s technological landscape, associations should strive to build trust with their members, and the best way to do that is by engaging with them on Instagram. Some ways Tempest recommends building that trust is by responding to all the comments on your posts and by following and interacting with the members’ profiles. It’s also important to keep up on posting new content.

“Every single piece of content — every blog, every Instagram post, every Insta story — can be the start of a relationship with your target audience,” Tempest said.

Content shapes the Instagram experience for users, and the more frequently you post, the more likely members are to engage with content. By strategically planning a variety of content viewers will enjoy, which may include lifestyle photos, member-made content and brand photos, social media managers can drive the fascination surrounding their accounts.

“Instagram is a curated visual experience of your brand that is creatively presented and strategically planned in order to build a relationship with your audience,” Tempest said.

Another way to increase engagement with an association’s account is through the strategic use of hashtags. Tempest reminds people not to use hashtags that just state what is happening in the photo. After all, those tend to be common tags that have millions of posts all competing against each other for attention. There are three categories of hashtags Tempest recommends focusing on when writing a post:

  1. Niche hashtag: These are hashtags focused on your target audience that may be less common. It shouldn’t be so obscure that no one finds it, but it shouldn’t have too many posts.
  2. Community hashtag: These are hashtags that are related to your audience’s field. Tempest gives the example of #Womanpreneur, a tag created by female entrepreneurs, as one that would apply to her consulting business.
  3. Branded hashtag: This category of hashtags circles around an association or company’s brand. Branded hashtags create an air of consistency and familiarity when engaging with users on Instagram.

Tempest said it’s also vital to manage content to play to the site’s algorithm. Instagram no longer uses a chronological timeline, so posts that get the most likes within the first 24 hours of their lives will be more heavily promoted. To get more likes on your posts, use insights to find out where most of your viewers live and post when they are most likely to check Instagram. By doing so, members will see the posts as soon as they log in for the first time.

There are number of tools that can help you achieve this mastery of the algorithm from a strategic Instagram calendar to a hashtag library and visual grid planner.

After building an association’s following on social media, Tempest recommends building their following off-site by encouraging viewers to sign up for email lists and visit the group’s website. This way you can directly reach members instead of relying on the algorithm working in your favor.

Instagram’s visual setup makes it a powerful tool for member recruit and engagement, and associations are uniquely situated to take advantage of its networking qualities.

Digital Summit has teamed up with Association Adviser to bring you access to videos and content that offers insight to association marketers. Access this content at https://dsum.io/association-marketing-videos.

About The Author

Adam Turner is a content strategy intern with Naylor Association Solutions.