Boost Organic Reach on Instagram
This message should make you take notice: Instagram has surpassed 700M users as of June 2017 and is growing faster than ever before. The social site also boasts that of those 700M users, 60% are daily users. The stories alone draw over 200M active daily users. If your top initiative this year as an association is to draw the millennial crowd, Instagram is looking like a big party of young potential professionals wanting to share on a kinder site (more on that later).
According to the Pew Research Center, 28% of all American adults use Instagram and 59% are between the ages of 18-29. Sitting at nearly half that percentage, 33% of adults between 30-49 are Instagram users. And females bypass males at 38% usage vs. 26% usage.
Instagram has been in the news lately, airing on a CBS special this week, for their latest roll out of a machine-learning phased approach to making the site a kinder place to share and engage. Some are questioning whether it is a form of suppression and asking how far is too far for eliminating negative comments. What this means for brands sharing on the platform is only starting to take shape. If Instagram is aiming to be the kindest social media player in the sandbox, then it may align with an organization's goals of participating in an environment that makes users feel more comfortable sharing, more accepted, included, and open to expressing themselves. With all the divided opinions across social media, it can be challenging remaining above the fray. With Instagram, they are turning the, “street lights up on the dangerous alleyways.” Keep an eye out for phase two of this initiative, which is to weight nice comments by elevating them higher in the feeds.
It remains to be seen whether a goal of censoring out the bottom 5% of negativity will equal greater usage of the platform, but at the rate of growth this year, I would predict this as a boost for what is to come on the platform. Interested in finding out more? There will be a feature in the September issue of Wired magazine next month.
Now that I’ve made the case for millennial seeking associations posting on Instagram, here’s a quick summary of a few ways to engage and be seen in the news feed. As of March 2016, Instagram ended the chronological order of serving up posts to users - making it more difficult and imperative to post timely, relative, engaging content.
The sooner users comment, like, or share a post, the better reach a post will receive. Consider the timing of your posts, and look into Instagram insights and analytics for best times to post throughout the day. There is such a thing as "Instagram pods" and so far these are legitimate ways to boost a post. It is a dedicated group of users who have agreed to comment, like, and share posts for each other across the platform to boost posts reach. Perhaps, associations can gain participation from colleagues, friends, volunteers to help set the stage with early comments to indicate a good post to the Instagram algorithm.
Consider the audience you are cultivating with your Instagram feed. Post interesting images of behind-the-scenes photos from events, let key speakers do a Instagram takeover of your feed for a period of time to leverage their followers. Post enticing sneak previews of what is to come at the next event.
Make informed decisions with more data and understand how your posts are performing using Instagram analytics. Find insights on gender, age, location, and more.
Timely monitoring of your audience still matters. Thank users who comment on your posts, direct message those who attend your events, and engage with your community - because behind the screen they are individuals and potential members.
Use specific, relevant hashtags on your posts. Observe what others are using on the platform to get impressions. Put a hashtag strategy in place with the help of this article from Later.com.
Lastly, according to HootSuite, the amount of time people spent watching video on Instagram increased by 80% year over year. I won’t go into how to post an Instagram story when all that is already out there, but I will emphasize how it can apply to an association’s brand with a personal example. As a recent volunteer of two years with AIGA of Hampton Roads, I still follow all of their email notifications and social posts. They are doing a bang-up good job of posting sneak peaks of speakers and events, posting during events and behind-the-scenes and utilizing relevant hashtags to entice comments and engagement. On that note, are you following other big associations in your niche to spark fresh and new ideas for your own marketing?
Now, I know this article is about boosting organic reach on Instagram, but perhaps with the challenge of so many users and great content going out on the platform, sponsoring an ad may be a good idea. Since Instagram and Facebook have gone under one roof, you get all the facets of choices to target your ads. Maybe consider a paid ad strategy in combination with your organic efforts to get the most out of this demographic.
If you found this article on engaging with millennials on Instagram insightful, you will love this webinar on how to attract millennials to join and growing your membership in general.
About Emily Nash
Emily is a Digital Advisor with 10 years of blended experiences in inbound marketing strategy, email marketing & marketing automation, marketing technology, content production, social media, and advertising. With a versatile background in freelance, consulting, and corporate settings, Emily specializes in identifying and implementing effective digital strategies for associations and businesses. She’s also a host of HighRoad's Rethink Association podcast, where she discusses mainstream marketing and technology solutions and how association growth and recruitment goals can appeal to younger generations.