By Roz Sandham

Instagram is the third most popular social media network in South Africa, after WhatsApp and Facebook drawing over 73% of active internet users in the country accessing the platform at least once a month.

Instagram is a powerful marketing tool that is often overlooked by marketers. This platform is a powerful arrow in your quiver that offers you an opportunity to speak directly to an already engaged audience of followers and fans either through spending money on boosted posts or engaging with your organic following. High quality images that appeal to your audience can go viral with very little effort from your side! Instagram also allows you to share user generated content to your story, embedding you into your community.

Types of post

  • Images: Images on Instagram are shared in a specific aspect ratio, you should aim to use images that fit the requirements. These images will be shared with your audience’s newsfeed.
  • Video content: Much like pictures that are shared on Instagram, native videos can have a specific aspect ratio of (Ideal for sharing on Facebook too) However Instagram also supports videos with other aspect ratios. These videos will also show up alongside regular posts on a person’s newsfeed. (Instagram is placing a massive amount of resources around video content with the rise of TikTok so now is the time to take advantage of this!)
  • Reels: Reels are Instagram’s answer to TikTok, they are a full-screen mobile experience that are shared and these posts have a massive organic reach and can also be shared to your profile, Reels are a major focus of Instagram as the popularity of video content grows.
  • Stories: Stories can be either pictures, videos or posts that you are tagged in by clients. They have the same ratio as reels, but don’t need to be videos! If you create a new post, the best way to alert your following about your new post is to share it with your story!

How to make a post go viral?

The first question you need to ask yourself when creating any social media post is “how is this of value to my client?”  Is the post informative? If not, is it engaging? Instagram is a space where people go to be entertained, informed and updated about their friends as well as the businesses they follow. The content you share needs to provide value to this experience!

You can share, images, videos and reels on Instagram which gives you a multitude of ways to create content!

Much like Twitter Instagram allows people to follow threads of posts that use the same hashtags, a hashtag is like a digital marker that links your post to all other posts in the thread. Using common hashtags may result in your post being lost among all the other posts that make use of the same hashtag. It is therefore important to use some hashtags that are unique to your business as well as common ones.  Hashtags allow you to become part of the larger conversation that relate to your industy, giving you the opportunity to assert yourself as an an expert in your industry!

Growing your Instagram audience may seem like a daunting task, but the chances are that your competitors have already don’t the hard work for you! Following people who have engaged with your competitors is an ideal way to grow your audience with potential clients that may not know you exist, without spending money. This growth strategy is free and highly effective.

When to post

You should aim to post on Instagram a maximum of 15 times a month. Instagram has an option to view when your followers are most active, use this to your advantage! Posting an hour before your ‘audience peak’ will result in maximum exposure! Using a tool such as Hootsuite, will provide you with access to a free scheduling tool so that you can decide what content to share, and when, without stressing about it during the day. Giving you time to focus on running your business! There are a host of free training videos available on YouTube that will get you proficient in this time-saving tool in no time at all!

Instagram allows you to have conversations with clients, both current and potential in a neutral space, this allows for honest feedback, reviews and quick communication. Responding to comments, and sharing clients’ posts and stories takes your communication from general to personal and give you space to recognize those who butter your bread.

Instagram has continued to grow in popularity among people migrating from Facebook, as well as those seeking a more engaging platform. Creating conversations through questions, competitions or asking your users to share their experience of your business will result in your brand becoming more personal and relatable to your audience