From Good to Great: Maximizing Instagram Content for Optimal Results | Megs Hollis | Skillshare

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From Good to Great: Maximizing Instagram Content for Optimal Results

teacher avatar Megs Hollis, #DoDigitalBetter

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction to the Masterclass


    • 2.

      What's new on Instagram?


    • 3.

      What role does Instagram play in a social media strategy?


    • 4.

      How do I create content for Instagram?


    • 5.

      How to edit content on Instagram


    • 6.

      Best practise for posting content on Instagram


    • 7.

      Paid Media Options for Instagram


    • 8.

      Thank you for joining & today's assignment


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About This Class

Small business owners are so busy that keeping their Instagram fresh and their feed fabulous can be a challenge - but that's where I come in. In this masterclass, we will run through Instagram for beginners. That means people who want to improve their presence on the platform but are not sure where to start. We will run through creating, editing and posting content on Instagram and how YOU can #DoDigitalBetter with just a few pointers. We will also cover the basics of paid media through Instagram. Keen? Let's go! 

Meet Your Teacher

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Megs Hollis


Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction to the Masterclass : Hello everyone, and welcome to this masterclass, all about Instagram. I'm sure we've all bought into the fact that social media is one of the most powerful assets that small business owners have at this point in time. Instagram has proved itself, time and time again, to be one of the most powerful tools within that arsenal. In today's masterclass, I'm going to be sharing with you how you can unlock the power of Instagram to really get the most out of it for your business. If we haven't met yet, it's an absolute pleasure to meet you. My name is Megs, and I am a Digital Marketing Manager by day, and a YouTuber and Course Creator by night. I can't wait to share tips, tools, tricks, and hacks, that I have learned from over 10 years in the digital marketing industry, and I can't wait to take you guys along for the ride. We are going to be walking through a really cute deck that I've put together, and I think you guys are really going to love. In terms of an agenda for today, we're going to be talking, first of all, about what's new on Instagram, the role of Instagram in a broader social media marketing strategy, tips, tools, tricks, and hacks to make your life a dream when it comes to social media, and finally, the paid media options on the Instagram platform. As I said, it's an absolute pleasure to meet you. I am such an avid fan of Instagram, I use it both for the brand that I work for, as well as for my personal brand, and I find that it really has been powerful in terms of driving my business forward. In terms of what's new on the platform. 2. What's new on Instagram?: Instagram in 2018 celebrated passing the one billion monthly active users mark, and this cannot be understated. What used to be a Facebook's baby brother or little sister has now emerged into an absolute powerhouse in its own right. In January 2019, it reported 500 million daily active story users worldwide, which was also a major milestone, and in 2019, Instagram reported and ads revenue of $11 plus billion. In terms of the Instagram news and what people are saying about it at the moment is that, Instagram has had some really cool changes over the last couple of years. Some of the things that it's launched more recently are Reels which of course launched in August of 2020. Reels is such an exciting one because it invites you to create fun videos to share with your friends or anyone on Instagram. It allows you to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos, which means you've got audio effects and new creative tools. You can share Reels with your followers on feed, and if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore. Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram, and reach new audiences on a global scale. Reels is joining a really exciting family of different functionalities that live within and slightly outside the Instagram world as well. Some of the other examples of this are Threads which is a only messaging experience which opens your camera with shortcuts for instantly sending specific people, photos, and videos. Boomerang, which is much like a GIF, Boomerang of course plays a shortcut video forward but also backwards repeatedly to create a nonstop motion GIF. IGTV is where we of course, watch our longer-form videos from our favorite Instagram creatives, and it's not your typical video experience. It's built for how you actually use your phone and is not limited to one minute, which means you can see much more of your favorite content. Other apps which Instagram is also known for is its Layout app, which enables you to combine photos and videos together in a single Instagram posts through custom layouts and features like mirrored landscapes. Then finally, Hyperlapse, which is an app which allows users to shoot stop-motion time-lapse. While the camera moves a short distance, that action between each shot is rapid. Also, things that came last year specifically were the fact that there is a very improved desktop experience now, so you can use Instagram on your computer without using the mobile app. You can still watch your stories, browse your feed and add suggested users on the desktop experience, as well as editing your profile and managing settings. Some of my favorite resources when it comes to Instagram are Hootsuite, Buffer and Later. They are always incredible, up-to-date reports on Instagram specifically. If you are a strategist of any kind or you're doing work on behalf of a client, I would seriously recommend looking at these three resources before getting started with any kind of Instagram project. 3. What role does Instagram play in a social media strategy?: In terms of the role of platform, what are some of the things that we have come to know and love about Instagram? Because they truly are so many. Well, for me, what brings to mind is hearting stuff, commenting on other people's Instagram, DMing people and getting to know your audience, saving posts, which is super helpful because this signals to the Instagram algorithm when someone saves your posts that the content that you've created is truly valuable. Of course, when stories launched, this more ephemeral format became super popular because it meant that things weren't going to linger longer than 24 hours within your news feed, as had previously being the case. However, you can of course also create stories highlights, which means that your stories do live on. Then IGTV, which is the longer format video iteration of Instagram. From a brand narrative perspective, the way that brands will typically use Instagram is for inspiration, for storytelling, and for engagement. To give you guys a great example of this, is you'll never showcase just the ice cream on Instagram. You'll showcase happiness. You'll showcase the lifestyle element around the product. It's not a literal product like maybe Facebook was. It really does invite you to think about products in a broader sense and in a way that they appeal to you as a consumer within your broader lifestyle. It doesn't sell you a plane ticket, it sells you an adventure. It doesn't sell you a drill, it sells you DIY inspiration. A brand Instagram feed should therefore be focused on inspiring you to buy a product using your dream or your end goal. As I say, it's not a literal platform. Picture should mention your products, your services, and you can, of course, use it to drive traffic to your blog or website. But it is not a platform for hard selling and you will be called out if you use it for that. Instead, it should drive awareness, interest, and engagement. The idea here is that you want to connect first with your audience and then convert your ideal clients or customers. In terms of the role of Instagram within your social media strategy, you want to be using it for inspiration and discovery, lifestyle, opposed to product photography, strong aesthetics, communicating your brand and company values, and soft selling. You're going to do this using the width and breadth of the functionality on the platform. That's everything from geotagging, hashtagging, IG stories, IGTV, Instagram for Business, which we are going to touch quite a bit on later, as well as Instagram Insights. 4. How do I create content for Instagram?: What are my top tips of best practice for creating content? Well, I am so glad you asked. It is very much easier to create content for Instagram when you have clearly defined your brand. You really want to define your why before you start and this is because you want to get to the crux of what is your purpose, your cause, and your belief. When you think, act, and communicate with a why, it's far more compelling, and it inspires a call to action that much better. You want to basically be writing a commander's intent or a dating profile. So you want to be really upfront right away in terms of what you are and what you're not so that your vibe can attract your tribe on this platform. You also want to nail your tone of voice. Captions on Instagram are as important as the images themselves and you don't want to be literal in this caption most of the time. You want to show that backstory, you want to tell more to that moment and really allow others to get to know you using your captions as well as your photography. It's helpful to define your audience of one. What do I mean by that? Well, rather than describing your target audience as a general populace or a group of people, it's really helpful to conceptualize your dream client or customer and then make a persona around that, and have that be your audience of one. When you are creating your content plans, you can think about what does that one person need to know about? What are the pain points in their life and how can I help address them as a brand? In terms of creating content for Instagram, here are some of my top tips. You, of course, want to take your own high-quality photographs, but you also want to leverage user-generated content, which we in the biz often refer to as UGC. We want to do collaborations and takeovers. We love hosting competitions, but bear in mind that you do need Ts and Cs, and sometimes you will attract an audience that's broader than what you'll normally attract, so, of course, do be careful not to attract loads of people that are not within your target audience. I love going on Instawalks and meeting other like-minded individuals in my city while getting a beautiful bank of content. I also like to target feature accounts, so getting accounts which stand for a broad thing, but it's not a brand. For example, a feature account could be @CapeTown. There are many Cape Town or Capetownian accounts which rave about the city and you can appeal to them to use or showcase your photography. This is a great way of building followers. Then, you can also promote your Instagram account on other channels. It's a great idea to think of your digital marketing initiatives as an ecosystem as opposed to looking at each thing in isolation. You basically want your website at the center of everything that you do, and then you want all the other platforms to be driving lots of quality traffic using that. Don't think of Instagram as a standalone thing. One of the best tips that I have ever received when it comes to Instagram is to find your niche and be the account. For example, Lorraine Loots is a South African artist and all she does is paint small watercolors. It's so specific, but you know exactly what to expect from that platform and you'll come back to her time and time again because she is the tiny watercolor account. In the same way I See a Different You is a really dynamic bunch of guys from Soweto who post really cool fashion content. You know to go to them for all the hottest street fashion. Then, Dan Mace is one of my favorite YouTube creators. He posts really funny and off the cuff YouTube videos. In terms of people who also do it really beautifully, Candibod is a Capetownian lifestyle blogger, and vlogger, and all sorts. She produces a lot of high-quality content that relates to holistic wellness and that's what she's been come to know for, and that's what we've come to know and love her for. tailsofamermaid, Natalie Roos is a beautiful blogger who posts about her travels. She lives in Kenya, and she posts the most incredible travel photography. I would say she's the travel photography account. Fitnessgirl_ZA is also an incredible South African content creator and she posts a lot of content around plus size modeling, being a lawyer, and much more. Would you that believe Stories launched as long ago as August of 2016? Well, they are, of course, the photos and videos which disappear after 24 hours of having been on your feed. But what this has inadvertently resulted in is the fact that your feed has become even higher quality because anything that's a little bit blurry or a fan moment that maybe wasn't perfectly posed ends up on your Insta stories, and then the feed becomes even more creative. It is a great way to be experimental in spur of the moment, but don't let it stifle your feed content either because it can be easy to fall into that trap. Of course, influencers and brands have that swipe up functionality, which is as a result of them having 10,000 plus followers. The 10,000 follower swipe up functionality is a huge incentive for people to get to this milestone because it allows people to drive traffic that much more easily on Instagram. Of course, Instagram doesn't let you put a link into a caption of a photo, which can be difficult for driving traffic. What many people will do is leverage a third party system or platform like Linktree, which means that the only place where you can put the link in your bio is actually acting as a mini switchboard, which means that you can actually click on multiple links because it can be a little bit tricky directing quality traffic if you don't have that swipe up functionality. Within Instagram Stories, you also have a whole host of different options. You've got a text post, a live video, normal, Boomerang, which we've spoken about. Focus, which I love, it's great for portraits, and it makes the person appear in focus with a softly blurred background. Super zoom has a bunch of different functionality like Dramatic, Beats, TV Show, or Bounce, which adds dramatic zooming in our artifacts. Rewind, which is videos that play in reverse; hands free, which means you don't have to hold down the dreaded button, and then stop motion, which takes a long series of photos on Instagram then stitches up into a GIF. The cracks of Instagram Stories is that it's low quality and more fun. But, of course, as I said, you can now save your 24-hour stories to rather live for very much longer. One of the ways that you can create beautiful highlight covers is using the platform Canva. That is in the toolkit section of this course, but I'm just going to mention it upfront because it does come up quite a few times. IGTV was launched after almost eight years of the Instagram app being founded and the argument here was really the fact that people wanted longer-form content from their favorite creators. You might have felt like, of course, you knew your favorite influencers well, but you wanted to get a real behind-the-scenes look into their life. With the fact that teens are now watching 40 percent less TV and 60 percent more video, it seemed like an absolutely natural progression for the app to launch this IGTV functionality. But it hasn't been without its challenges. Of course, it comes up against YouTube, which has been in the market for many years. If Instagram is for sit back consumption and Stories is for active consumption, then it does beg the question of what is IGTV for? Sometimes it can find it's off in no man's land, but I must say I've started to enjoy IGTV so much more of late. Unlike on Instagram, videos on IGTV are not limited to one minute or 15 seconds. When it comes to Instagram Reels, IGTV videos can be up to an hour long, and the videos should be between 15 seconds and 10 minutes, typically in a vertical style, which is MP4 format. Before you can post videos to IGTV, you have to create a little channel, which is a very straightforward process. I love this little nugget of advice from TechCrunch on IGTV. They said, "Concentrate on teaching creators how to find what works on the format and incentivize them with cash and traffic." They were saying that Instagram needs to develop must-see IGTV content and stoke a viral blockbuster. Prove that this gravity of extended personality-driven vertical video really works, and then redirect traffic there from the feed. 5. How to edit content on Instagram : Next up, let's chat, best practice for editing your content. My favorite editing apps are, VSCO, this is a beautiful one for adding filters and it's probably one of the most popular Instagram editing apps out there. Snapseed is Google's take on editing and this to me is my all time favorite. I really enjoy using it and even though I have an iPhone, I do find it super easy to use. Whitagram is something which adds a white background to your photos, which means that everything is not in the same square crop. You can do vertical photography, horizontal photography, and it really does give you a feed that arty look and feel. Then Adobe Lightroom is also very popular from an editing standpoint. Here comes my favorite Instagram stories editing app and that is of course the Canva that I mentioned a bit earlier on the far right-hand side. But then other ones which I also really do enjoy are Over and Unfold so be sure to give those a bash. They really do enable a whole host of new funds, new options, new color ways, and much, much more when it comes to editing for Instagram stories and creating really, really interesting and stimulating content. 6. Best practise for posting content on Instagram: In terms of best practice for posting your contents, this can be quite a time consuming exercise. What a lot of people take for granted is that you should just be posting content while you're on the move. This is quite simply so far from the truth. Most big brands and big influences are using posting apps, which post on a schedule for them, which they have set up before the time. This helps them to be a lot more productive when it comes to creating content, because they are actually scheduling things in bulk, and then setting them up to launch as in when they are ready to. My favorite apps for this are Unum, Planoly, Plann, and Focalmark. They're all for slightly different reasons. The first three: Unum, Planoly, and Plann actually have incredible functionality which allows you to plan your feed, and I like to call this row flow. You really want the most beautifully aesthetic feeders you can possibly have, when it comes to Instagram. This often means mixing up a combination of quotes, getting a texture or close-up shot, mixing it with a selfie or something a bit more candid, and then mixing it with further away shot. You really want that full spectrum of you, as a business owner for argument's sake, and that's how you would do your best to showcase it on the ground. But it's difficult for you to imagine sometimes how the feed is going to look. Then once you've posted something, it feels like it's too late. You don't want to go back and archive that content. Unum allows you to drag and drop things interchangeably, as do Planoly and Plann. Give those three a bash and see which is your favorite, but to me they all work equally well. The fourth app that we're going to be talking about as it pertains to a posting content is a hashtagging app called Focalmark. Focalmark enables you to see which hashtags are going to work really beautifully in your niche. The trick with hashtags is that you wanna get a combination of highly competitive hashtags which are difficult to rank for, medium hashtags which have competition but not too bad, and then smaller hashtags which not many people are using. This combination of different sized hashtags it's going to be what gives you the organic growth that you're looking for. Focalmark, if you feeling all out of ideas is a really beautiful one when it comes to helping you post content. I absolutely love The Blonde Abroad. She has a really great grasp on the use of Instagram. If you're looking for inspiration, please do give her a follower. She has an effective use of emojis. She uses handles in her Instagram bio, which also helps greatly to understand the different initiatives that she's involved in. Then her posts always follow the exact same standard format of posting. Literally, she will always do a short and catchy caption, a couple of dots, then a long description, couple of dots, and then almost always similar hashtags, or the same number of hashtags. She keeps to a really beautiful travel aesthetic. I think she is one of the people who I think just absolutely kills at Instagram and really helps me to get inspired whenever I'm feeling like I'm not. Other things to bear in mind when you're posting on Instagram, is to tell stories. You want to supply background information which narrates the stories behind your photos. You really want to get personal. Humans crave honest connection, so you really want to focus on the honest connection as much as you can. You want to be adding value. Whether it's inside your resources knowledge or information that is different, do not regurgitate stats, tips, or anything that you just happen to see on the Internet, that's probably not that relevant to your target audience. When we come back to the hashtag side of things, if I could explain it just a little bit more clearly and spend a bit more time on this. The purpose of hashtag is so that people who don't follow you can find your content. In theory, if I hashtag content with #digitalmarketing, you guys know that I love that. People searching for that content will be able to find it. Right? Wrong. In reality, #digitalmarketing has more than 3.5 million posts, so it's so unlikely that our content will feature in the top of that search results, because this particular hashtag is large and super competitive. If you want to actually understand a bit better how to use hashtags, it's a good idea to look for alternatives and smaller hashtags, in addition to just using something like #digitalmarketing. Go down the list and look for medium competitive hashtag and baby competitive hashtags. You can actually use a maximum of 30 hashtags, and some people compare it to lottery tickets. They say, if you had the option opportunity, how many lottery tickets would you buy? Of course, people want to swear by all 30. I love using about 12 or so. I find that's the sweet spot without killing people with your hashtags. Then I also like to often put them as a comment as opposed to in the caption itself, which has no impact negatively on the SEO of the post, but rather it just makes your post seem a lot less spammy. Instagram also makes it super easy to find other people who are similar to you, and this is done through the suggested user feed. It's really helpful to follow like-minded brands and products for a understanding on how similar producers use different hashtags. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can look at how other people are using hashtags within your niche. It's worth spending some time on geotagging. Geotagging is as important as hashtagging on Instagram. Whether you're a local business trying to reach nearby customers, or a global brand that wants to target audiences in specific regions, geotags are super helpful in helping you do so. Because remember, people are searching by Top, People, Tags, and Places on the Discovery tab of Instagram. The more opportunity you have to show up the better. Here is my beloved Linktree. You will see The Blonde Abroad using it beautifully. Once you click on her Linktree, you'll see she gives up opportunity to shop her bikinis, travel tours, travel tips, travel videos, shopping sandals, or work with her. She makes it really easy to get in touch with her. I think, this the whole point of an Instagram buyer, is to make sure that people know who you are. Something that people often leave under the Instagram bio, which is a top tip as well, is to of course, always include your locations, that people know where you're are before they contact you about a brand deal, that maybe has no relevance to people in that audience. 7. Paid Media Options for Instagram : Let's get into paid media options. Setting up advertising on Instagram is straightforward, but there are also some things you need to know before you get started. You are able to set up Instagram adverts as follows. The first way is to Facebook's ads manager tool. Ads manager uses the same powerful advertising tools as Facebook. Of course, remember that Instagram was bought by Facebook awhile back, so the backend of their advertising interface is exactly the same. This means that you can set up, make changes, and see results for all your Instagram campaigns. This is probably the most comprehensive way of doing it. You can, of course, also set up some adverts within your Instagram app but you have to have converted your profile to Instagram for Business profile, which we are going to discuss shortly. Simply select the posts that you want to promote and then track how many people see and interact with your promoted posts from the app itself. What I love most about the Facebook ads manager is that it gives you a really good indication of placement, as well as the corresponding amount of potential reach based on that placement and that audience segment. It gives you an estimation of reach as well as link clicks. Then if you go within the app, it's a lot less data heavy, but it does, in fact do the job. But as I said, it requires you to have Instagram for Business. The difference between Instagram and Instagram for Business is that Instagram for Business allows you to access analytics so that you can learn about your followers, age range, and gender. It also enables you to reach customers paid promotion, as well as giving you new contact options, such as adding contact buttons to your profile that make it easier for people to contact you. What exactly is Instagram for Business great for? Instagram for Business is great for increased brand awareness, so leveraging the power of Instagram to really get behind your products and services. Showcasing your team, recruiting new talent, increasing customer engagement and loyalty, enhancing and complementing your event experiences, incentivize and consumer engagement, sharing company or industry news, building a more engaged community, connecting with influencers, demonstrating your company culture, and driving sales through traffic. Once you've swapped over to Instagram for Business and you've got access to Instagram insights, you'll be able to see the following. Impressions, reach, website clicks, profile views, email clicks, and follows. It really is super handy and all you're going to do is click the slide up menu from the left, go to switch to business profile, and there it'll just ask you to link up a Facebook page before changing your account to Instagram for Business account. You can change between Instagram and Instagram for Business as many times as you like, so you don't have to worry that once you've changed over that, that's all there is to it. In terms of the objectives of Instagram advertising, the three biggest ones are awareness, consideration, and conversion. There are different things which fall within these different packets. Brand awareness and reach for within awareness. In terms of considerations, you've got traffic like website clicks, app engagement, app installs, video views, and lead generation. Then from a conversion standpoint, it can be website conversions, product catalog sales, and store visits. If you click the Promote button, you can either promote your profile, your website, or your direct messages and each have a slightly different outcome. Promoting your profile will result in you gaining followers. Your website, of course, will result in you getting traffic and direct messaging is great for engagement. From a website perspective, you can actually choose an action button like learn more, shop now, watch more, contact us, book now, or sign up. This is exactly how the process will look. Select where you want to send the people, select your target audience, select your budget and duration, and you are all set. Instagram advertising is really not as difficult as people make it out to be. Similarly, if you're following the journey for your website, here you can add your call to action button. Again, just your target audience and telling you your set. Here are some examples of those ads. Shanell on the far right-hand side is encouraging you to click on the link to go to their website. If you select the more DMs option, you will get lots of DMs, and here you can see the process is exactly the same. 8. Thank you for joining & today's assignment : That brings us to the end of our Instagram masterclass. I really hope that that's given you guys a solid foundation of why you would use Instagram for your business, Some of the objectives that work really beautifully, and the functionality which underpins and enables all of this. I cannot wait to see you guys for our next course. Please do let me know if you have any questions, I'm very responsive on social and I'd love to come back to you with anything that might have been unclear during this masterclass. But I cannot wait to see you in our next masterclass so that we can continue to do digital better. In terms of today's assignment, what I want you to do is log on to your own Instagram and just spend two solid hours taking on board the feedback from this course and really starting to implement it in real life. Whether that is upgrading your bio, using a functionality in Linktree, getting high quality photography and editing it in one of the editing apps that I've referenced, giving Insta Stories a bash using something like Canva and any of the other top tips that you found of most helpful in today's masterclass. I hope you guys are feeling just that little bit more confident with leveraging Instagram for your business, and I can't wait to see you soon.