The RebelMouse Guide to a Modern Instagram Marketing Strategy

Guidelines to make sure your Instagram profile is optimized for growth

It's estimated that Instagram users spend an average of 53 minutes on the platform each day. That's a lot of time to grab your targeted audience's attention. Whether you're a new media property just getting started, a legacy publisher, or big-box brand, Instagram can be a great way to move the needle on your social engagement strategy.

However, it can feel like an uphill battle to even dip your toe into the waters of such a competitive platform. Although every brand's aesthetic is unique to them, there are a few key points that companies can follow to grow on Instagram.

Of course, since Instagram is such a visual application, it's essential that your feed has high-quality photos that are visually appealing. Here are some quick tips to help guide and optimize your Instagram marketing strategy for audience growth and engagement.

Refine Your Feed

Apart from maintaining on brand and quality content, all of the best Instagram feeds have one important thing in common: visual consistency. RebelMouse client 7X7 Bay Area is a great example of an Instagram feed with consistently beautiful photography that's equal parts refined and fresh.

Instagram accounts with a harmonious and attractive feed have a higher chance of retaining new visitors and converting them into followers, which helps to grow your brand's account overall.

Here are some tips to achieve visual consistency in your feed:

Use the same font for all text:

It's important to note that it can become visually overwhelming to users if there are too many photos collaged into one picture. The aim is for the feed to not look overcrowded with imagery.

If you would like to use multiple photos for the same post, use the multiple-image post functionality so that users can swipe through photos one at a time.

Try to make sure that each of your Instagram photos has a high resolution so they're clear and sharp. Colors should not be overly saturated, overly opaque, or too zoomed in.

Also, make sure your images are cropped correctly. Here's a link to Instagram's recommended image dimensions.

Find Your Filter Balance

The colors of pictures and videos can be enhanced with editing software, or by using Instagram's built-in filtering options. It's a good idea to be consistent in your editing or use of filters so that your feed maintains color uniformity.

It should be noted that Instagram's own filtering options often result in an overall aesthetic that is too strong, whether it be through the use of contrast, opacity, or saturation.

Too much contrast:

Not enough saturation or too pale:

A good rule of thumb is to not use more than 50% of any filter:

Use On-Brand Captions

Captions should always be on target and suitable for your brand's audience. This will vary greatly depending on the type of brand or website you power, as well as what your target audience looks like. It's important to recognize who your audience is, and how this aligns with your own brand's values, to maintain a consistent tone.

This is a great example of a fun caption that caters to RebelMouse-powered PAPER Magazine's audience. Their use of informal language is fresh and on brand:

Here's a more professional approach from RebelMouse-powered Work It Daily that still keeps the tone on target for their brand and community of support for the modern workforce.

Hashtag Usage and Management

The usage of hashtags can greatly benefit an Instagram post because it allows the post to be found by users looking for a particular hashtag. This can lead to an increase in traffic to the post, as well as the account as a whole.

Developing Instagram accounts such as Work It Daily can benefit from hashtags.

It's important when using hashtags to make sure that they're relevant to your company overall, as well as to the post's content. Furthermore, it's also a great idea to use different variations of the same key hashtags to capture as much traffic as possible.

One thing to note is that the larger the account, the less necessary hashtags are since the account will already have a large reach. Figuring out how many hashtags to use will require a little trial and error, but the main takeaway here is that the number of hashtags to use is not static and will need to change over time as an account grows.

Currently, the limit on hashtags is set at 30 per post.

Aim for Engagement

Interaction with followers and other Instagram users who comment and like your content is also an extremely important part of a successful Instagram marketing strategy.

Instagram's algorithm currently prioritizes accounts with high levels of interaction. The greater the amount of interaction, the more your account's content will get prioritized when appearing in a user's feed.

Post New Content Regularly

Regularly posting new content shows users that a particular Instagram account is active, which is especially important for media and news companies that need to demonstrate to their users that their content is relevant and up to date. Besides helping to increase followers, this practice also helps accounts maintain their current followers.

One thing to always keep in mind when deciding when to post is that "quality over quantity" should always prevail. It's much more efficient to have two great posts a week with high levels of visibility and engagement versus five posts with low visibility and engagement.

Instagram Stories and IGTV

One of Instagram's newest and most popular features is IGTV. To access IGTV, tap the IGTV button located in the navigation bar of your search page.

From there, you'll be brought to a personalized feed of curated IGTV content. The content is pulled in from accounts you follow who have IGTV content, as well as IGTV content from similar accounts that you're not following.

Because a user's IGTV feed is composed of content from both accounts a user follows and new accounts that post similar content, any IGTV content that appears in a non-following user's feed has a greater-than-normal chance of seeing the person view the content and converting into a follower. This makes IGTV one of the most effective Instagram post-types in terms of user growth, since it provides higher levels of accessibility, opportunity, and possibility to reach new users. IGTV will soon feature in-stream ads as well.

Create IGTV Content

Although any sort of format can be used successfully when creating IGTV content, one of the most effective ways that we recommend is to create an IGTV series.

Series on IGTV are essentially short videos with a common format or related theme that help draw in users so that they become familiar with the type of content and format they can expect to see on an account. They're useful at driving loyalty because users will want to see what the next part of the series will cover, and will therefore be more likely to convert into followers.

Win on Instagram

At RebelMouse, we believe that the social ecosystem is made up of a universe of creators. Your brand already has a community of collaborators waiting to engage with your Instagram content — it's just a matter of nurturing your social strategy to find them.

If you have any questions about what's working or not working for your Instagram account, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager today.

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Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A website's LCP is the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Google wants LCP to happen within 2.5 seconds of when a page first starts loading.

First Input Delay (FID): This metric quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. This usually occurs between First Meaningful Paint (FMP) and Time to Interactive (TTI) (more on what these two mean below). You want your FID score to be low to prove the usability of your site. According to Google, pages should haven an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift Score (CLS): CLS determines how often your users experience unexpected layout shifts or changes on a page. To ensure visual stability, you want your CLS score to be low. Google wants pages to maintain a CLS score of less than 0.1.

From Google.

Google says Core Web Vitals scores will be considered across every page, and will be a ranking factor in its Top Stories feature. While relevant quality content will always be the most important, the page experience ranking is now a make-or-break metric for your site's survival.

"A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search." —From Google's page experience announcement, May 2020

Core Web Vitals will determine every site's performance score. You can see your site's Core Web Vitals specifically via Google Search Console, but your website's overall page performance is measured using Google's PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools.

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And here's what the scores look like for some of the biggest sites on the open web:

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First Contentful Paint (FCP): This metric measures the time from click to the time when a user's browser renders the first bit of content from the Document Object Model (DOM), which is your site's HTML structure. According to Google, this is an important milestone for your readers because it provides signals that your page is loading.

First Meaningful Paint (FMP): This is the amount of time it takes the most important content, what Google calls "hero elements," to load on site. Hero elements are different for every site, but should be intuitive based on your content. This metric helps determine your site's usability.

Time to Interactive (TTI): This is the most important metric to keep an eye on. This is when the site is fully rendered and ready for user action. This is a critical point when slow load time can occur, usually because JavaScript or other complex content hasn't fully rendered. So, in short, think of TTI as how long it takes for your site to load in its entirety.

Total Blocking Time (TBT): TBT measures a page's load responsiveness to quantify how long a page is non-interactive prior to becoming interactive. You want your site to have a low TBT to maintain its usability.

Speed Index (SI): SI is the measurement of how quickly the contents of a page are populated. You want your speed index score to be as low as possible.

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Click here to read more about our modern approach to web performance. If you want to make performance a priority, request a proposal today. We can easily transform your site into one of the fastest on the web, giving you increased user retention and better conversion rates than ever before.

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