Inventive Instagram Strategies for 2021

The Data-Driven Marketer

Lauren Teague, Digital Marketing expert, Instagram aficionado, and analytics superfan talks all things Instagram strategies for this year.

Watch the interview with Convince and Convert’s Lauren Teague to get some intel and inspo for your 2021 Instagram strategy including how to spend your time on the platform, why you should care about your impressions, and what type of content to put into a Reel (also, what the heck is a Reel?).

Along with host Seth Bridges, Lauren shares her top takeaways from the 2021 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report, her favorite resources, and of course, what you should be trying out on Instagram this year.

Watch the full interview for all the insights:


Instagram Strategies To Consider

Lauren lists the twelve features of Instagram that are available for marketers to deliver a message to their audience: Feed, Stories, Highlights, Reels, Instagram Live, IGTV, Guides, Shoppable posts, Stickers, Custom AR filters, the “link in bio” real estate, captions, hashtags (which Lauren points out are another opportunity to differentiate your content) and of course, DMs. She makes a great point by mentioning Instagram’s update to allow keyword searches for both captions and hashtags in the search capabilities–so don’t underestimate those extra places for content!

Seth and Lauren also dive into the data, specifically in regards to engagement metrics on Stories, from the 2021 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report. Notable strategies they highlight include before & after frames getting great tap-through rates and longer captions gaining engagement because a user needs to “hold” or pause the Story to read the full text. These are both useful strategies to invest in if you’re looking to boost your engagement rates and impressions.

Other notable strategies mentioned in the conversation include opening up your brand’s direct messaging functionality, utilizing Instagram Reels, nailing down a posting frequency, and collecting user-generated content. Let’s walk through each of these possible paths to take with your Instagram:

The Value of Opening Your DMs

Another exciting area to make an impact for your brand is the direct messaging functionality of Instagram. While this level of customer communication can feel like a full-time job itself, it can provide a lot of valuable opportunities for engagement. Lauren makes a great point that spending at least ten minutes a day responding and engaging with your audience elevates your brand to a more social experience to your following and having open DMs can also result in user-generated content to repurpose.

Seth mentions an excellent example from Kum & Go, a convenience store chain that repurposes funny DMs with customers into additional Instagram content. The idea here is that not only are you making an impact in the DMs, but efficiently using that time investment to bolster your Instagram strategy elsewhere. You can hear more about this Instagram strategy in the podcast from CStoreDecisions Seth was on earlier this month.

Instagram Reels

We’re seeing Instagram Reels live in their own space on Instagram. This challenger to TikTok is certainly making a splash on Instagram, including pulling attention to an additional section of the app and asking for a significant time investment from content creators. Here’s an Instagram overview of what Reels are, in case you haven’t tuned in to the latest trend just yet.

Of course, Reels are a significant time investment to create consistently. But if video production and ideation are in your team’s strengths and you’re looking to cultivate a following surrounding Reels before it becomes oversaturated it would be a great place to invest in. If you’re looking for some brand inspo when it comes to 🔥 content, we interviewed Alex Lewis from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to talk about all of their content creation initiatives.

How Often to Post on Instagram

It can be intimidating to keep up with all these content options! While the app’s appetite is insatiable and there are a ton of places to post, it’s important to understand your following’s interest through data and testing while making the most of your team’s strengths. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to Instagram strategy. A data-driven approach for your brand that utilizes benchmarks from your industry will help keep the expectations around content creation realistic. We gathered some helpful data about how often you should be posting on each social channel. Check it out if this is a pain point in your strategy.

Amy Landino’s Detail Therapy podcast which Lauren mentions cites a Business Insider article (gated) in which Instagram recommends handles with a following of 50-150k post 3 in-feed posts per week (Reels published to your feed, Posts, or IGTVs), 8-10 Stories a week, 4-7 Reels per week, oh AND 1-3 IGTV’s per week. Of course, that’s an extreme amount of content for any team to keep up with! So be sure to rely on your metrics for a posting frequency that works for your brand.

User-Generated Content in COVID times

It’s no surprise we’ve all been a little light on the content creation over the past 11 months… Lauren and Seth recommend asking your followers for their content. A ton of micro-influencers out there would love to be featured in your Instagram strategy. Lauren and Seth also spoke a lot about the Instagram “takeovers” which have seen a huge rise in popularity as a strategy this year.

A takeover could be as simple as a “day-in-the-life” of someone on your team, or could go as far as the celebrity Instagram swaps we saw over the summer. These types of user-generated content create a level of variety to your Instagram that can boost interest and engagement.

Strategies for Instagram Growth

Lauren got a ton of live questions about growing your Instagram following and engagement, most notably to get to that “creator” 10k mark. Lauren mentions that cross-over content can be key here: with 86% of Instagram users are also monthly active users on Facebook re-posting the same thing across your channels should be avoided. When you have a small team or just a small amount of time to invest, Lauren reiterates that main-feed posts (whether it’s a Reel, carousel, picture, etc.) will get you the most reach and algorithmic reward.

Carousels, which our data has shown get rewarded with repeat-impressions for non-swipers (see our top takeaways from the Social Media Industry Benchmark Report), are certainly a good place to start for main-feed Instagram posts. Don’t sweat it if you’re not a huge team; Lauren and Seth emphasize keeping up with consistent and high-quality content is more important than quantity. Plus, you can get creative with the multiple ways to repurpose that content like screenshotting your DMs, sharing UGC, and maintaining an up to date Highlight section.

Lauren was also sure to mention that your bio, and whatever link you have there, is important real estate to keep fresh and up-to-date to cultivate the qualified audience-channel fit that you’re looking for on Instagram–and don’t forget a CTA!

Wrapping It Up

Watch the video for all of the specifics, including some rapid-fire questions from the live audience covering which metrics to track on Instagram that align to your KPIs, the pros and cons of a stylized Instagram grid, the best tools for a seamless Instagram planning and posting, and where you can catch Lauren speaking next.

If you have more questions about Instagram strategies, social media metrics, or how to be a guest on the Data-Driven Marketer, reach out to us on Twitter.

Christina Everett

Christina is a startup fanatic and an analytics wizard with a serious passion for all things marketing. At Rival IQ she's focused on optimizing our technical SEO, sending out all our emails, advertising, and partnerships. When she’s not working on the latest marketing automation hack or color-coding all our marketing plans, she can be found playing team sports and hiking around the PNW.

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