Social Pathshala: How to Nail Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

Social Pathshala: How to Nail Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

Vividha Chopra
13 November 2019

Instagram is deeply engaging as a social media platform. It keeps you scrolling and thumb-stopping on content specially curated for you. So much so, that Instagram executives created a feature to help make consumers aware of how much time they were spending on the app, to regulate excessive use. In short, on Instagram –  engagement rules!

Globally speaking, India is big on social media. In fact, India is home to its third-largest base, which is comprised of 69 million people. Instagram posts used to have a very short life span, but today users see posts, from the people they engage with the most, at the top of their feeds – even if that person posted a full day prior. The platform is a marketer’s delight because on Instagram the audience is generally engrossed by content that genuinely interests them. Plus, there’s room to showcase every kind of product, as long as you focus on aesthetics, and especially if you’re willing to get creative about it.

The Ultimate Trident of Insta-Stardom

  1. Interest: The platform is a haven for specialised influencers. People have spent time curating their profile to position themselves as voices of their generation, experts in travel, beauty, fashion, business, etc. Therefore, in the same ecosystem, your business must build value by sharing high-quality content and incentivising users to engage, similarly. Or, even better, partner with these influencers to give your brand a breath of fresh air and align with established personalities.

    Instagram Influencer brand collaboration. Fashion influencer doing a contest and a giveaway. Nitika Bhatia Whigh, #theshopaholicdiaries
    Take Nitika Bhatia Whig, for example, one of India’s best-loved fashion influencers (@theshopaholicdiaries). Here, we can see how she partnered with various makeup brands to bring her fans a giveaway.
  2. Recency: The more recent the post, the more likely you are to see it – presuming all other factors are equal. Instagram doesn’t hide posts, so all content will be visible to users at later dates as well. However, if someone goes on a posting spree, Instagram intuitively manages this avalanche by interspersing it with other content to keep viewers engaged.
  3. Relationship: Instagram ranks your interactions higher than silent connections. Profiles that interact with other users get more visibility because of engagement. The more people you follow the more diverse the content you will see. If you follow strictly within a specific genre, the content you see outside of your network, will be similar.

Why Should You be Interested in Insta- Interest?

Instagram creates a persona based on the interests of your users. Getting their attention and tagging your content is important because the algorithm profiles your account accordingly and shows your content in “Recommend Suggestions” to new people who are seemingly most interested in it. This is important if you want to grow your follower base, organically.

Factors influencing interest (as determined by Instagram):

  • What pages you follow.
  • What photos you like, comment on and share.
  • How much time you spend on a post, also called thumb-stopping content.
  • Which ads you click on.
  • Which hashtags you follow.
  • Your location.
  • People you direct messages

Make Algorithm-Friendly Content

As a brand looking to build an active follower-base, You need to consider the following:

Don’t directly punt sales too much: Talking shop is important for a business and the real need for reaching out. But this direct sales and conversion-led content plug shouldn’t overpower other types of content. A business should behave like it’s hanging out with friends in a lounge on Instagram, having a conversation and plugging the product/services after building value.

Keep your content human-centric: The audience on Instagram wants to see the behind-the-curtains story. Employee stories, testimonials, the highs and lows of the firm. But, what it wants to see most is a human-like interaction. Your brand must spend as much time scouting and engaging with conversations across the ecosystem. People like it when a brand talks directly to them and are more likely to convert because of this.

Engage your brand squad and reward them for their support: The need for validation can’t be stressed enough. A brand is only as strong as its support base. Try to build on your ‘squad’ of people, with whom you regularly post, collaborate, like, comment, share and engage. It will be very useful when you always have a few people ready to comment on your content and get the conversations started. Interact with them before rolling out a campaign and also do weekly interactions with users aspiring to be in your squad.

Offer educational value in your posts: Becoming a thought-leader in your business space can be an important part of your strategy. People love nuggets of information. Specialist content shows the brand as an aspirational leader in its category. Such content is relatively time-consuming to read. The algorithm observes how much time a user spends viewing a piece of content and gives more reach to your posts, accordingly.

Add in some bonus content, every once in a while: This refers to all kinds of content that doesn’t fall in the categories above. This can range from topical to tertiary content plug-ins. This category can also be called the “experimental bucket” which a brand can use to try new things and map the performance of new initiatives. Experimental content is important from the perspective of throwing new things at the algorithm to include in the way it profiles users.

Be a Jack-Of-All-Avenues

While Instagram is transparent about the fact that it doesn’t prioritise one product over another, for example, Insta-Stories over Explore – there is still merit in building content specific to an avenue. Each time Instagram launches a new avenue it gives it an extra push to make it a hit among users and leverage its power. This initial phase offers marketers a wealth of potential. Remember the experimental content bucket mentioned above? This is the time to go wild with it!

Deep-diving into the platform

Explore: Instagram has really worked on building an immersive experience with this search feature. Within the tab you see content segregated across genres like Shopping, Food, Fashion, Travel, etc. Not only can you look at new content across the universe but you can also go specifically to a vertical that you want to see more of. Key brand takeaways?

    • Focus on the copy that you write for your images and videos
    • Geotag your content
    • Use the right hashtags

Insta-Story: This is the most engaging product by Instagram. Instagram itself has shared that most users don’t go beyond the first scroll but engage with everything happening at the top of the feed. Within the stories, Instagram has filters, mentions, hashtags, gifs, images, music, and animated filters to make your content even more engaging. Key brand takeaways?

    • Use ‘Hashtags’ and ‘Location’ to bring in more views
    • Music and filters to increase view time
    • In Insta-Stories break long videos into smaller stories of multiple uploads

IGTV: This long-form content platform by Instagram is slowly but surely building an audience. While a brand needs to upload its longer videos here, you can’t rely on organic reach to get to the users. It needs to be seeded into the Insta-stories and posts to entice a user and then drive the traffic from there to IGTV. This will lead to higher engagement rather than taking them away from the platform and driving them to another, like YouTube.

Trending Hashtags: Understanding hashtags isn’t rocket science, they’ve been around for a while. However, there has been enough speculation about how many (and which) are best to use. It pays in views and likes, for a brand to research the hashtags (potentially) relating to their business. Instagrammers often use hashtags to find new content and thinking of hashtags as search queries help a brand create a link here. You can also use this as an opportunity to join the conversation if you aren’t there already.


People come to Instagram to be inspired and discover things they care about, which includes content from brands and businesses. It’s an extremely engaging platform and if your brand’s not there you’re missing out on the chance to really connect with your audiences, visually. If you just got started, work with the algorithm to get the best out of your new Instagram account! Want more tools to help you understand your social users better? Contact us.

If you liked this article, go ahead and check out how to improve your social media game on Facebook!