Later’s Social Media Strategist Mel Brittner

Instagram Tips from Later’s Social Media Strategist

Want to be successful at Instagram marketing? Focus on quality, not quantity of followers. This is just one of the great Instagram tips that Mel Brittner, Social Media Strategist at Later, shared with us in a recent interview.

A pioneer in the world of Instagram scheduling, Later takes the stress out of running an on-the-ball Instagram account by helping small businesses, social media managers and influencers streamline their social media strategy.

Formerly known as Latergramme, Later is currently a top-ranked Instagram marketing and scheduling platform, with over 2 million users globally. It keeps its members well-informed with a first class blog that offers important Instagram tips and tricks, such as ‘How to Design Instagram Stories That Captivate Your Audience’ and ‘The Secret Trick to Increase Your Engagement’.

To learn about their insights into mastering Instagram, we sat down with Mel, who’s been involved in the social media strategy space for six years and can claim such accolades as having helped @lululemon achieve their first million followers. Here’s the interview…

Hey Mel, naturally Later’s Instagram account is outstanding! What Instagram tips would you give to a small business on the platform?

First, identify why you have an Instagram account in the first place. Your answer to this will depend on what your brand or business does. Once you can clearly identify your Instagram goals, your strategy will become clearer. I also think it’s easy to become overly focused on quantity of followers when, for most businesses, quality engagement is what will help you meet your goals.

Next, once you’ve identified your ‘why’, you’ll want to create an identity for your brand on Instagram. Having a curated Instagram aesthetic is one of the best ways to do this. It also helps you grow your account by showing off your brand’s unique style and tone. Remember, more and more people are turning to Instagram to search for their favorite businesses. That means your Instagram profile is now just as important as your website’s homepage. You want it to look great. Start with mood boards, or other accounts that inspire you with their look and feel. Think about the colors and the mood you want to achieve with the overall look of your profile.

Finally, schedule your content in advance. Sitting down when your creative juices are flowing and batch scheduling your content will save you time and streamline your processes.

How important is user generated content on instagram to Later?

User generated content (UGC) is huge for us and usually our top performing content. Using UGC saves us time and gives us an opportunity to highlight some incredible creators. We always ensure that we ask for permission ahead of time and clearly provide credit by tagging the images, as well as adding their Instagram handle in the caption. In doing this, our followers’ feeds are enhanced because they are introduced to and then follow some brilliant photographers, designers and artists. From there, we’re also able to drive traffic to our blog, without having to spend a ton of time on our own photoshoots and creating original content. Instead, we spend time finding incredible people to highlight, whose photos and videos match our aesthetic so that it all fits seamlessly.

What impact does content marketing have on the Later business?

We’ve established ourselves as experts in our field. Through blog content created for small business owners, social media managers, entrepreneurs and influencers, we are able to reach our target audience by providing them with education to improve their social media marketing strategy. Within this content, we integrate information about the value of our product (when it makes sense). Our followers are excited to see new content or open a new email from us because they know it will be relevant and valuable to them.

What has been your most successful piece of content on Instagram and why do you think it was so well received?

Our most successful photo to date is this one from Later user @linen_house. We have started a series where we feature Later users with great content—it’s a way for us to build community and share best practices.

I think it was well received because we know our audience’s interests – and they’re big dog people. The content was also posted at an appropriate time, on a Sunday evening, as it was light, cute and inspiring. Hitting them with an ultimate guide or info-packed blog post would probably not have worked here, but a cute dog in linen sheets? Yes please.

Another piece of content was a video we shared from @creativekipi. It was a quick, fun, 1:1 video that worked well with the sound off. It hit all the marks for an Instagram video, so I thought it might perform well, but it performed really well. As you can see, 82% of the people who watched it weren’t following us–this is because it ended up in the Explore feed. This is something that’s much more likely to happen with video than photo.

Which other brands do you admire for their social media content, and why?

I have huge respect for @glossier’s social team. They have clearly identified who they’re talking to with their content and, while it’s not the most beautiful feed, every post carries a clever intent. They nail it with their brand campaigns on social, finding ways to deliver the same message multiple times but in different ways in order to reach more people at the various points in their funnel.

Another brand that consistently blows me away is @basically. They have done a brilliant job with Instagram Stories and creating personas for their employees, who regularly show up on their Stories. Each piece of content they create (which is, in their case, recipes) is delivered through multiple posts—a step by step video of the recipe (with high production value), education about the ingredients or a technique in the recipe, an Instagram Story of the making of the recipe live (low production), etc. Again, it’s a great lesson in creating more content for social for the same concept. They do a great weekly series called ‘Effed It Up’, where you can engage and send questions about your cooking and baking mishaps–each week has a different theme. Simple, consistent and well executed!

How does Later use Instagram Stories versus in-feed video on Instagram to engage with its audience?

Instagram Stories provides so many more opportunities to engage with your followers than in-feed videos. Whenever possible, we include engagement stickers in our Stories, like the question sticker, polls, emoji slider, or the countdown sticker. It also gives us the chance to engage one-to-one with followers, since their replies go to a DM, so it’s an open invitation to really connect with that person or brand. Having said that, the new IGTV in-feed update creates a great opportunity for brands to get more views (about 300-1000% more) by posting to IGTV and sharing to the grid!

Key Takeaways for Instagram Marketing:

  1. Be clear about your goals for using Instagram
    No matter what your business is, your first step in using Instagram effectively is to identify why Instagram is important to your business and what you want to get out of using it. Once you’ve established clear goals you can then develop a strategy for achieving them.
  2. Focus on quality, not quantity of followers
    There’s no point having a huge number of followers if they’re not engaged with your content. It’s more important to have followers who are engaged with your brand and thus more likely to buy what you’re selling.
  3. Branding is key
    Invest in your Instagram profile in much the same way as you would your website homepage. Instagram is all about visual appeal. Careful curation of your account’s imagery will not only show off your brand’s unique style and tone, but also help attract a following.
  4. Streamline your process
    Streamline your process and save time by working on your content when you feel most inspired, and then batch schedule your posts in advance.
  5. Cultivate relationships with people whose aesthetic matches that of your brand
    Much has been written about user generated content, and with good reason. It gives businesses access to great material from talented people, without them having to invest the time and resources to create it themselves. It is critical, however, to practice good etiquette by always asking permission before you use content found on Instagram, and of course always give credit to the owners.
  6. Know your audience
    The best way to ensure that you produce content that your audience responds to positively is to understand what they like and when they’re active online. Much of this you will discover by trial and error, but also pay close attention to the information provided by Instagram’s insights.
  7. The Explore feed is your friend
    There are many great reasons to create video, and one of the best is that it is more likely than images to land you in the Explore feed. What’s so great about this is that being featured in the Explore feed increases your organic reach by exposing you to an expanded audience, beyond your own followers.
  8. Deliver the same message in different ways and in different places
    To use Instagram well, it’s helpful to understand the characteristics and strengths of its various areas and then to deliver the same messages in different ways for each of the different areas. That might look like polished photos and videos in-feed, short low-production videos, slideshows and photos in Instagram Stories, and longer, high quality videos on IGTV – all communicating the same messages.
  9. Use Instagram Stories to engage personally with followers
    With its many interactive features, Instagram Stories offers several opportunities for small businesses to engage with followers and vice versa, whether through polls, the emoji slider, countdown stickers or direct messages. Taking full advantage of these various features just makes good sense.

If you want more insight into how to use Instagram, head on over to the Later blog, and for a great example of a well-curated Instagram account, check them out @latermedia.

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