I don't know about you but I love reading about Instagram tips and tricks as well as sharing them on my blog. That's why I was hella excited when the lovely Melissa Hebbe approached me to write about Instagram on Zoe Linda. I can't wait for you to read her simple steps to planning and scheduling your Instagram content. Take it away Melissa!
One common statement I hear from people who utilize Instagram is that it takes up so much of their time. In fact, they claim it takes up too much of their time. But it doesn't have to — at all!
If Instagram gets the better of you and your time, then you need to start planning and scheduling out your Instagram. There's nothing wrong with planning out your Instagram content in advance. In fact, it will probably take the frustration and time consumption out of keeping up with your Instagram on the fly if you start planning it in advance.
While I've been able to plan out my Instagram content a month in advance, you don't necessarily have to do that. You can plan and schedule out your Instagram content as far in advance as you want.
When you start planning out your content, you're probably thinking: "But where do I start?!"
I've laid out my 5 super simple steps to planning out your Instagram content. Sit down, take a deep breath, read through the rest of this post and then start planning out your next week of Instagram. Baby steps, right? Once you plan out that first week, try another week. Remember, this method can help you plan as far in advance as you'd like.
5 SIMPLE STEPS TO PLANNING YOUR INSTAGRAM
First and foremost, decide what kind of content you want to share.
By content, I mean what do you want the subject of your Instagram picture and caption to be. What do you want to share with your audience? What do you want to talk about? There two different ways to determine what the subject should be.
1a. Your subject could be valuable content
I like to also think of this as free advice. Think of yourself chatting with your best friend and she asks you a serious question that only you could answer. You would share advice with her for free, right? Right! What is some of the best advice you could give to your best friend? Share that on Instagram.
1b. Your subject could be promotional content
If your free content is on point, imagine what your paid content could do. You're going to want to let your Instagram followers know about your paid content, the extra value it could bring, and potential results.
When it comes to the subject or topic of your Instagram posts, they are either going to be of free value or paid value. Decide which one you want to focus on, but make sure it's not always one or the other. You want a healthy mix of content.
Take pictures that relate to that content and/or your business
Now that you know what the subject of your Instagram post is going to be, you need to take relevant pictures.
If you're referring to products you sell in your boutique or shop in your post, then deciding what to take a picture on is really a no brainer. But if you're talking about a service or sharing advice about something that's not tangible, then taking a picture can become a little difficult.
What I like to do in this instance is think of props that relate to the subject. If you're talking about styling advice, then put an accessory in the image. If you're talking about technology, the include a phone or camera in your image.
Make sure you are taking good quality pictures. While you don't necessarily need fancy camera equipment, you do need to make sure you are taking clear pictures with good lighting.
You have your pictures, now what are you going to say?
Remember to think about the subject you decided this Instagram post would be and whether or not it would be of valuable content or talking about your paid content (a promotional post). When writing your caption, don't hold back.
Provide value to your audience even if you're trying to get them to purchase your products. Share with your audience what they will gain from your paid product. You want to gain their trust and respect. The way to do that is through writing captions your audience can relate to and learn from.
And always, always, always include a call to action. By that, I mean tell your audience the next step you want them to take after reading your post. Direct them where you want them to go. Ideally, you want them to click the only clickable link you have in your Instagram bio.
Figure out what hashtags to use
I can't say it enough how important hashtags are. Instagram is unlike most other social media platforms, like Pinterest or Facebook, for example. With Instagram, the only way to search is through hashtags unless you are searching for someone else's handle. With Pinterest or Facebook, you can type in a few keywords or phrases (like how you use Google) and still get search results.
It's no longer enough to just use hashtags. You need to be using the right hashtags and that means really diving into your ideal customer and knowing what they are using.
Posting it on Instagram
After going through the first four steps, you can finally post your image, your caption and your hashtags. But you can't just post when you feel like it. Not if you want to see your post reach a successful amount of engagement and get people to your final destination (that clickable link).
You want to post at a prime time for your Instagram audience, meaning when they are actively on Instagram. You can check that out using the Optimization section of your Instagram analytic program of choice. Now that Instagram offers business accounts, they provide their own analytic system, but you can also choose a third party program like Squarelovin' (my personal favorite) or Iconosquare.
So, we covered the five easy steps to follow when planning and scheduling out your Instagram, but how can you continue to keep up with it?
3 TIPS TO KEEPING UP WITH PLANNING + SCHEDULING OUT YOUR INSTAGRAM
Batching is your best friend
From planning out what content you want to share on Instagram to taking pictures to writing out your captions, that all takes time. The best thing to do to make sure you hit each step is to set aside a short amount of time to just focus on one task (AKA batching).
First things first, set aside 10 minutes to plan out what content you want to share for the next week. Will it be advice or will it be about a paid product?
Two, set aside 30 minutes to an hour to take the pictures you'll need for the upcoming posts and to edit them as well. Make sure to save them all in one place for easy access.
Next, set aside 30 minutes to write the captions and determine what hashtags to use.
Now, you may not need the amount of time I said you need for each batching task. It totally depends on how fast you work through the tasks and your schedule. The point to take away from this all is to set aside a batch of time for each task to just focus on that one thing. Trust me, it's a life saver!
Then, we get to setting aside time to post on Instagram all the hard work you've been putting in, which leads me to my next tip.
Use a scheduling program
You are more than welcome to set a reminder on your phone for each day that sends you an alert to post on Instagram, but I find that's not the most efficient way to go about it. I like using a scheduling program like Later. I use Buffer for scheduling out my other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but Buffer now offers Instagram scheduling too. Yay!
When I use Later, I'm able to upload the picture and pre write the caption as well as the hashtags I want to use. Later prompts me to post on my phone and I have the information I need to post right in one place. Wayyy better than a calendar reminder.
Another trick I found to schedule our your Instagram posts is Trello. Lanie from Miss #GSD posted a YouTube video all about how to use Trello to schedule out your Instagram posts. It's pretty epic.
Find the scheduling program and system that works for you. Total game changer.
Keep track of it all with a digital calendar
When I'm planning out the initial content we cover in steps one through four, I like to have a form of digital calendar available, so I have all the details in one place.
I create my own social media content calendar in a Google Docs spreadsheet, where I can refer to the name of the saved picture file I'm going to be using, the pre-written caption and the hashtags I'll be using.
That way, when I go to schedule out my Instagram posts in Later, I just have to upload the picture, copy and paste the caption and hashtags and hit that schedule button. Simple as pie.
Want more Instagram tips? I've got a bunch up my sleeve like my free e-mail course, Become An Insta-Pro in 3 Days to help you grow your account and boost your engagement.
Melissa Hebbe is a social media strategist for boutiques, shops and product sellers and blogs all about social media marketing over at melissahebbe.com. Since Melissa likes to keep the social in social media, she believes all platforms are a great way for boutiques, shops and small businesses to stay connected with their customers and audience.