Wondering how to plan out your Instagram strategy?
Figuring out an Instagram strategy can seem like dark magic sometimes. You want your Instagram feed to engage your audience and we all want that beautiful, curated Instagram aesthetic. Our audience wants to be entertained and find useful stuff.
It isn’t always easy to know how best to accomplish all of this. I’ve been there. You have an Instagram account for your brand and you’re posting and sharing and engaging. But, is it mindful, intentional work? Do you have a goal?
I’ve put together nine questions for you to download at the end of this post. Because it’s hard and there wasn’t anyone willing to help me for free. You’re welcome. Let’s go.
What is the BIG IDEA that your Instagram strategy should communicate?
The big idea is really the purpose of the profile. Your why. What are you trying to achieve with an Instagram profile? Do you want to share useful information? Maybe you want to raise awareness for your brand and direct people to your website to purchase items. If you don’t have a big idea then you need to at least figure this out. Without this first answer, you may as well just delete the account.
My big idea was raising awareness for my brand and creating a connection with real people so that they would reach out to learn more or get help.
How will I communicate my BIG IDEA and serve my audience?
Now that you have that one down, you can move onto the how. When I was trying to figure out my Instagram strategy I sketched out a hundred scenarios about how I could best use my profile and what content would help me do that. I wanted to raise awareness for my brand and encourage people to reach out to learn more.
To accomplish this goal I decided I would curate various post content based on my portfolio. I pulled together lots of images of logos and other graphic work to showcase what I get paid for. This wasn’t all I wanted to accomplish though. Remember, I wanted to connect with my audience as well. In order to create a personal connection with people you can’t just show off your work all the time.
What else will I share to “show up” on Instagram?
In order to create a connection you have to be willing to share stuff that might not be “Instagram worthy”. I didn’t want my brand’s feed to be full of private family moments or cute selfies, but I didn’t want it to be void of humanity either. I wanted my audience to get a sense of who I was without sharing every little thing on Instagram. I decided on a combination of portfolio work, my doodles and other artwork and quotes.
Do I want my Instagram feed to reflect a specific aesthetic?
Every one wants that clean, perfectly curated feel on Instagram. I was no exception. I could not figure out why it as so hard for me, a freaking graphic designer, to nail down an aesthetic and just implement it! My aesthetic was just few words: bold, interesting, branded.
To accomplish this I sketched out a very general wire frame of my feed. Then I laid it out in my software (Adobe Illustrator) just as it would appear on Instagram. This helped me visualize exactly how this would flow. Alternating my brand colors to feature single color logo designs with photos and sketches broke up the feed and gave it a cohesive pattern. I threw in some round tiles and quotes to break up the rigid square feeling of the app a bit.
I think it all ended up flowing very well and I think when I return to my feed, I’ll likely stick with this aesthetic.
What specific content will I share in my Instagram feed?
On my Instagram you’ll find a mix of my paid graphic design, portraits and web development projects. The first sketch I shared was of my Instagram feed strategy. It wasn’t enough for me to just post interesting stuff. I also wanted it to be visually pleasing and organized. It’s the dream we all have for our Instagram feed, isn’t it?
So I had portfolio work and sketches. I wanted to communicate a bit of my personality as well. The best way I could figure to do that was to share quotes that made me say, “Hell yes”. You’ll see stuff from Lady Gaga, Billie Eillish and Wayne Gretzky there. Weird, but I think it creates a sense of who I am aside from just a graphic designer trying to sell her services.
What specific content will I share in my stories?
In my stories section I share stuff like videos talking about my struggles, my process or ideas or tips for my audience. I had already decided that I didn’t want my feed to be full of my face. I didn’t want all of my stories to end up lost though so, I created highlights to include more in depth portfolio work as well as advice and tips for my audience.
How many posts will I commit to a month?
I didn’t really settle on this and ended up sharing those 30 posts over about two months. That’s a post every 2-3 days. Which is pretty frequent. The pros will tell you that you should post and engage regularly and often, but I don’t really like social media. What I did was set up all of my images ahead of time and set myself a Google task reminder for every few days. Then I had a notepad document in the cloud that I could type out my caption on and then access via my phone to upload (since Instagram doesn’t allow that on a desktop).
It was a simple enough process and allowed me enough freedom to not have to worry about time sensitive content. All of my stuff was intentionally “evergreen” content. This means that it’s relevant pretty much all the time. I wasn’t trying to complicate my process with timely promotions or content deadlines.
How far ahead do I plan to schedule my content?
When I first sat down I planned out about 30 posts. I used Adobe Illustrator to create the images and lay them out as they would appear in my feed. I made sure to name my art boards accordingly so that I would post them in the right order. My feed aesthetic relied heavily on this since I used a combination of square and round tiles.
What actions do I need to take to start figuring out my Instagram strategy?
This was the hardest part for me. I fall short in the planning department. Because of that I got burned out and haven’t posted anything recently. I think I could have helped myself by assigning one or two days a month to hammer out content and used a scheduling app to upload those posts for me. Here are some things to think about when you’re nailing down your creation process:
Backup your content and clean up your existing feed. I downloaded all of my Instagram content and deleted all of my past posts to make room for the new and improved feed. I will repurposed some of that old content, but to fit into the new aesthetic.
Use a scheduling app so that you can minimize the time you spend uploading content.
Create a content calendar / task reminders to allow you to prioritize.
Plan photos and captions ahead of time and create content in bulk.
Now it’s time to figure out your Instagram strategy.
I’ve laid all of these questions out in a neat little workbook for you. There’s even an Instagram feed template so that you can doodle to your hearts content. Sketching was what really flipped that switch for me.