Gain and Retain Instagram Followers With This Type of Content

Tue Jun 25 2019
Terilyn Walker
Best Practices

Instagram, the go-to destination for 24/7 access to memes and photos of puppies. For many of its one billion users, Instagram is the number one source of news, and it’s the most-often used way to keep up with distant relatives and that old friend from middle school.

But for brands, Instagram is much more than just a photo-sharing opportunity. Businesses should capitalize on the fact that Instagram is truly a product discovery tool for the majority of consumers. Hootsuite found that 60 percent of Instagram users discover products on the app, and 75 percent take further action, such as visiting a website.

In many cases, Instagram is the first point of contact a brand will have with a potential customer. And you know what they say about first impressions. You only get one, so you’ve got to make sure it’s a good one.

Although 62 percent of consumers judge companies based on the design quality of their marketing materials, for brands looking to boost their following and engagement on Instagram, it’s not enough to just post amazing quality content and hope for the best. Utilizing popular hashtags, giveaways, and other get-followers-quick strategies will help more users come to your Instagram. But what will make them stay? And even more importantly, what will make your followers convert to customers?

Brands that successfully gain and retain followers post content that is less focused on self-promotion and more centered on understanding their audience, fostering community, and providing useful information.

Lucky for you, you don’t need an entire in-house content team to sustain a high-performing Instagram. In many instances, the most successful content on a brand’s Instagram comes from influencers. Keep reading to understand what type of content performs well on Instagram as well as how to leverage relationships with influencers to source this content.

The types of content consumers want to see on IG

Hubspot recently did extensive research to understand how consumers want to engage with brands on social media. In a survey of 3,665 U.S consumers, they found that consumers’ motivations for using social media channels can be classified into five categories: bridging, bonding, communicating, discovering, and taking action.

  • Bridging - Magazines and television can feel worlds away from reality. Bridge the communication gap between your brand and your audience by posting behind the scenes glimpses into your business that your followers wouldn’t otherwise get.
  • Bonding - Understand what your followers care about. Use these findings to post content that resonates organically with your audience and their interests.
  • Communicating - Encourage interactions with your followers by asking questions, replying to comments, creating polls, and more. Social media, Instagram in particular, is unique in that it allows consumers to have two-way conversations with the brands they love.
  • Discovery - Promote new products and services, or new ways to utilize them. Consumers are open to discovering new brands and products on Instagram. In fact, 82 percent of people admit to having purchased a product or service from a company after consuming content.
  • Taking action - Direct users to more information. Always feature your website in your bio, or better yet, utilize one of Instagram’s shopping features.

Keeping these five reasons for engagement in mind, we can categorize the types of content that should be present on each successful Instagram into one of three groups: identity, utility, and emotional.

Identity content

Identity content is the content that reflects how consumers see themselves. Most people use Instagram to follow accounts that inspire them. In fact, because more and more brands are popping up every day, a brand’s “inspirational” factor is becoming more important than ever. 22 percent said the top reason they have strong feelings toward a brand is that “it inspires them,” versus only 11 percent in 2012. Take a successful brand such as Nike, whose Just Do It slogan is represented in all the content they share online.

The key to effective identity content is a brand’s understanding of their audience. For most brands, your customer base consists of people from different ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, and the list goes on. People want to see themselves represented in the content their favorite brands share on social media.

Instead of taking a one-to-all approach on your social media, source content that speaks to each segment of your audience on a one-to-one basis. Nearly 90 percent of consumers like the idea of custom content, or content that tailors to specific demographics or interests, as a way for brands to engage with them. 89 percent of people also believe personalized content is a great way for brands to break through the rest of the clutter online.

Brands showcasing only a specific profile of consumer on their Instagram risk losing the interest of everyone who does not fit this image. Consumers crave inclusivity and demand it from brands. Four different surveys by Barkley and Futurecast, eMarketer, and The Harris Poll found that both Gen Zers and Millennials, the youngest, but most powerful work-aged consumers, report that they are most receptive to advertisements that showcase diverse people and are more accepting of non-traditional gender roles than older demographics.

By partnering with influencers from different walks of life, you can ensure that the content you post on Instagram reflects the diversity present in your customer base.

Utility content

Utility content is the content that provides followers with education and information. This can include content forms such as:

  • • Discounts/sales
  • • New products/services and/or
  • • How to's and tutorials

73 percent of consumers have been impacted by a brand’s social media presence when making a purchasing decision. By giving your consumers more information, you allow them to make educated choices. However, keep overly promotional content to a minimum. Consumers want to be informed. But bombarding them with ads or stale product shots is a surefire way to get someone to click “unfollow.”

Post informational content but make it dynamic. Educational video content sees major engagement on Instagram. Video is consumers’ number one favorite type of content to see from brands on social media. And Instagram is the fastest-growing platform for driving purchases with video. The top videos that people consume on social media are how to's, videos about sales or promotions, as well as “top 5” videos.

Splenda posts short videos on their Instagram that illustrate how to make zero calorie recipes with their products. The brand also leans on foodie influencers to create recipes that they repurpose on the Splenda Instagram.

Emotional content

Emotional content are the videos and images that make your audience feel happy, empowered, nostalgic, etc. Consumers are beginning to value emotional connections with brands. 86 percent of consumers believe it is important for brands to make them feel better. There’s a reason why the content that elicits an emotional response, whether that be humor or otherwise, sees a huge boost of engagement on social media.

The key to creating content that pulls at the heartstrings of your audience is authenticity. While user-generated content gives your followers a genuine peak into your customers interactions with your products, it fluctuates in quality. By partnering with influencers, who are well versed in capturing life’s authentic moments, you’ll have a never ending supply of high quality content that still resonates with your customers.

Framebridge sees a huge spike in engagement on their Instagram when they repost influencer generated content featuring pets. Because who doesn’t double tap a picture of a furry pup?

Top-performing content

The most followed accounts have a well-balanced mix of identity, utility and emotional content. However, if you’re wondering where to start, Hubspot found that the top performing content on Instagram is humorous, identity content, and content that resonates or promotes people's hobbies and interests. On the other hand, the lowest-performing content on Instagram was educational or focused on the news.

Why influencer content is the key to a well-crafted Instagram account

Ok, so you’re probably thinking, where am I going to get content that resonates with my audiences, that is educational without being overly promotional, and that gets my followers to laugh cry?

If you haven’t already guessed, the answer lies in influencer marketing.

Today, 7 in 10 brands repurpose influencer content on social media. It’s the most obvious application. Social media marketers must feed the content beast. Content designed for social media also performs best on the platforms it was created on. In fact, nfluencer-generated content (IGC) delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.

Ideas for repurposing IGC on social media:

  • • Post as throwback content (#TBT)
  • • Launch a new product
  • • Promote an event
  • • Host a social media takeover
  • • Feature a giveaway
  • Pro Tip: Repurpose influencer content while your influencer marketing campaign is still running so that the posts reinforce one another.

Influencer content will boost follower retention and conversion because it is:

  • Authentic - Influencer content excels on social media because it blends in with other content. Today’s consumers are fatigued with marketing messages and only 2 in 10 say they like online ads, reported AdWeek. Studio-shot creative looks out of place on these sites and disrupts the experience. Influencer content works just the opposite. It looks native to the channel and receives higher engagement.
  • Diverse - Different people have different viewpoints and values. Sourcing content that’s made for the people, by the people is made easy with influencer marketing. Influencers that represent and speak to virtually every age group, ethnicity, and gender exist in the thousands.
  • Quick to make - Consistency is key when it comes to the Instagram algorithm. Influencers create content in days, giving you the ability to source a large amount of content at a quick rate.
  • Engaging - Influencer content expands your audience. When influencers post for you on their own account, their fans can develop an affinity for your brand. Some will follow your account. And when you repurpose content from an influencer they like, you’ll cement that connection and build a deeper relationship.
  • Conversion driven - According to social media software Sprout Social, 74 percent of shoppers make buying decisions based on what they read or hear on social media. Influencers can help tip the scales for consumers. Brands wanted to pivot away from traditional advertisements, such as magazines, can use Influencer content to target a demographic of young consumers.

The best part of IGC is it’s already paid for because it is a by-product of your influencer marketing campaigns. Double your return on content you already own by repurposing influencer content on your own Instagram. IGC allows big brands to be more nimble and small brands to source large amounts of content without breaking the bank. Rather than deploying photo production teams and relying on large agencies with months-long turnaround times, marketers can tap into distributed and diverse influencers to rapidly grow and retain their audience on new channels.


Does your Instagram feed need a makeover? Book a strategy call today!

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