Instagram absolutely CAN drive traffic
- Why is Instagram Good for Businesses?
- Challenges of Marketing on Instagram
- 3 Steps to Driving Traffic from Instagram
- How Businesses Can Stay Active and Engage People on Instagram
- How to Convey Your Brand Visually on Instagram
- Instagram Stories, Hashtags, and Video
- Instagram CTA Tools and Tips
- Instagram Ad Campaigns
- Where to Put Instagram Hashtags
- Instagram Captions and Demographics
Andrea: Hello. Welcome to this webinar by SEMrush. Good morning, good afternoon, and good night maybe. For me, it's 1:00 a.m. here in Bali, Indonesia, so I am still awake and ready to kick off this amazing webinar.
We have two great speakers today. Let me introduce you to them briefly. One is Susan Moeller from Tailwind, and the other one is Chloe Alysse. And I am Andrea D’Ottavio, and I run a digital marketing agency, which is a location-independent agency, and we focus a lot on Instagram and Facebook marketing.
Today, we're going to go all in about Instagram marketing especially, and see what the trends are, what's working, what's not working, and probably also we will maybe have some anticipations on what Instagram will be in 2020.
Susan, where are you based at the moment? Where are you speaking from?
Susan Moeller: Yes. I am in New York City. Tailwind is based in Oklahoma City, but I work from the New York City office, and I'm excited because today I'm using our conference room, which means that I have kicked all the engineers out of this space.
Andrea: What about you, Chloe? Where are you based?
Chloe: I am in Lexington, Kentucky, and I also work remotely, so Susan and I are on the remote side of Tailwind, but on the same team.
Andrea: Okay. Nice. And what's the weather like?
Chloe: It's been really cool lately, which has been really nice. Last week it was in the 90s, and then this week's in the 60s. It just made a big change. That's Fahrenheit. But yeah, it was a really fast turn into Fall.
Andrea: Okay. I would say enough for the weather, and if we are all ready, we can actually start the webinar.
Susan Moeller: Let me share my screen with you. There we go. I am really excited to talk to everyone today about Instagram, and particularly about how Instagram can drive traffic to our websites. You have probably heard a lot about Instagram, and I'm sure you're thinking about how to add Instagram to your marketing mix.
Why is Instagram Good for Businesses?
And I wanted to just start by talking a little bit about why people are so interested in Instagram, and I think the basic reason is because so many people are there. When you look at Instagram by the numbers, there are one billion Instagram accounts that are active every month, and 500 million of those are active on Instagram every day.
80% of people who use Instagram follow a business on the platform, and 60% of people say that they discover new products on Instagram. There's absolutely an opportunity on this network to get your products in front of an audience that is eager to hear about them.
I think, though the numbers are impressive, that it's probably even more beneficial for you to hear a little bit about how other people are succeeding in their marketing on Instagram. Chloe, in addition to her work at Tailwind, also maintains an Instagram account with 25,000 followers. I was hoping that she would be able to just tell you a little bit about her Instagram story and how she's using it in her business.
Chloe: I started my blog last year, last August, and I started it with a very specific focus of sustainable fashion. Collaborating with companies or purchasing from companies that had ethical manufacturing practices, and paid their workers a living wage, and that was really important to me.
And it eventually grew into a little bit a larger account, which allowed me to actually work with brands and have more of an influencer-company relationship with them as opposed to just a consumer. I really had to navigate that transition, and now it's turned into a full blog where I talk about all sorts of things other than fashion, as well.
For me, it's been a really fast learning curve of just a year of learning kind of how to grow on Instagram, and I'm really excited to share some of that with you all today.
Susan Moeller: You should definitely be convinced about Instagram. Tons of people are there, we know it works, and if you're still not convinced, I would encourage you to remember that your competitors might be. And if your competitors are on Instagram with their marketing and you're not, you're missing out on an opportunity to have first access to the audience that's gathered there.
Challenges of Marketing on Instagram
Let's go ahead and talk about why Instagram can be a little bit daunting for us as marketers, and a little bit daunting for us when we think about driving traffic to our sites. With other social networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, there's a very clear path to get people from the social network to your site. You can share a link in a post, you can share a post that is only a link. But Instagram is a little bit different.
With Instagram, there are a couple of paths to get people from the social platform to your site. The first is to create a social post for Instagram. Most often, people would include their call to action in the caption for that photo or image. That call to action would encourage people to move from the post in the feed to the bio for the account where there would be a link that would lead them to your site. You can see in the picture here an example of smart bio in my Instagram profile.
Another path is for people to interact with you on Instagram to the point that they have enough awareness of your brand that they would visit your site on their own. The third route is one that's available to people who have 10,000 followers. Once you have 10,000 followers on Instagram, a new feature opens up which allows you to swipe up within the feed to get a link to someone's site.
Those are the main pathways to your site from Instagram. And if you're like me, you look at that, especially the first one, and you think, "Okay, Instagram posts, CTA, to my bio, to my link, to my site," and you can just picture all the people that you're losing as they get to your site.
But as SpongeBob says, there is a bright side, and the bright side is that when people follow that path to you, they are really interested in what your site has to offer them. You may see smaller numbers, you may not, but if you do, I think you can be confident that the traffic you're getting from Instagram is higher quality traffic than you might get from just a link being shared in a social post on another network.
3 Steps to Driving Traffic from Instagram
What Chloe and I are going to talk about today is how to actually unlock that traffic from Instagram, and there are three keys that you can take away from this. The first one is to unlock traffic from Instagram you need to be active on the platform. There's no substitute really for being active on the Instagram platform. As part of that, you'll be focusing on building your audience. And then, the third effort is really bringing people to your site from Instagram.
Just to give you a little bit of a perspective about how Instagram works. There are three parts to the algorithm that Instagram uses to decide what posts are going to be displayed in a user's feed. The first of those is interest. The algorithm is trying to determine if a person is going to be interested in the content that you're posting.
The second is relationship, and you can just read that as engagement. The algorithm is trying to determine how often this person is already engaging with your account on Instagram. And then, the third one is recency. We are looking, well the algorithm is looking to see how frequent or how fresh the post is.
If you're like me, you might look at this and just be a little bit overwhelmed and thinking, "How am I going to be this active, this involved on Instagram?" And Chloe and I talked a little bit about how she does it. Chloe, I thought it would be great if you could maybe just tell us a little bit more about how you manage this need for fresh content, and engaging with people, and looking for new interests on Instagram.
Chloe: I think it's really important to have your goals laid out in advance. I think sometimes with Instagram we think, "I need to get followers to get where I want to go," especially as a blogger, that's a huge temptation for me.
But what I actually want to do is bring people to my website. I need to go into everything that I do on the app with that intention in mind. You need to have your goals for your business or your blog laid out in advance, otherwise Instagram can take up a lot of your time.
Then I like to break up the work that I do, so maybe I'll have a day where I write a few blog posts, a day where I take several sets of photos.
I like to do all that in chunks because I'm in the same head space as opposed to feeling like every single day I need to take a great photo, come up with a great caption, and direct people to my website in a really compelling way. That can be overwhelming, and I think it prevents people from using the app in a way that could really support their business.
I also have a timer for how long I'm on the app everyday, and my phone allows me to do that. I think there's different ways you can set that up. But it makes me go into the app with intention. Am I going to engage? Am I going to post? I know an estimation of how much time it's going to take, because you want Instagram to support your business, not take away from time when you could be building your business.
My recommendation is to attempt to post every day. If that feels like a lot, maybe it's every weekday, and you can always grow from there.
Susan Moeller: Those are good insights. This is just to reaffirm how important it is to consistently be active on the platform. In 2017, at Tailwind, we looked at 100 thousand different posts and found that people who were posting seven or more times each week got more engagement than people who were posting less frequently.
And I think that definitely makes sense given what we know about the algorithm, and also what we know about name recognition. I found myself the other day liking a picture of someone I follow's grandchild, and as soon as his picture popped up, I was like, "Oh, that's Elliott." I've never met them, but that's the power of someone who's really engaged on Instagram; I start to feel like I know them.
How Businesses Can Stay Active and Engage People on Instagram
One thing that I thought, and Andrea alluded to this, is that, how do you keep this up when you're a business? And so there are a couple of, I guess, sanity savers that I would recommend. One is what you mentioned, scheduling posts. And it's important to know that won't hurt your account with Instagram as long as you're using someone who's an official partner with their program in order to schedule.
The other thing Chloe alluded to, which is a content plan. At Tailwind, we've developed a framework that we refer to as the value framework to give you five types of posts that you can use on Instagram every week. And to remember what they are, you just remember the word value.
As you're approaching this from the standpoint of someone who may already have a blog or have a content marketing organization, remember that the content that you create for Instagram can be derived from your blog, it can be derived from customer testimonials, it can be derived from videos you're already posting.
You don't have to think of everything as being created from scratch for Instagram, but you can take those content pieces from other places and present them in an Instagram-friendly way.
To use the value framework, you would want to think about identifying what you can provide that is valuable to your audience. Valuable posts are helpful, they're educational, your audience would see them and be able to learn something from them. If you have a blog and you have an outline for your blog post with maybe two or three points, those are two or three valuable things that you could say to your users on Instagram. Taking a main point from your blog and repurposing it with an image is a good way to go.
Aspirational posts give your audience an idealized or tangible view of what your product could accomplish for them. When you're creating aspirational posts, think about the feeling or the benefit you want your audience to get from your product, and then translate that into an image.
Lifecycle posts are probably where you're going to have more calls to action, or they might be frequently occurring. You would invite people to come to your blog, or to an event, or to connect with you in some way.
Unique posts are proprietary, they're branded, they're something that's focused on your business that only you can offer. You could look at customer testimonials or case studies for some of those things, or just posts that display who you are as a brand. And then, evergreen posts are those that are not only timely now, but are going to be relevant for a long time to come.
Keep in mind that you can set out a content plan, and you don't have to just wake up every morning, look at your phone, and decide what to post that day.
Andrea: That's the worst way to manage a profile.
Chloe: Yeah. I would agree. I was thinking about that as you were sharing, Susan, and you might find that certain types of posts do better and you might want to include more of those, but having the diversity of your different angles for each post is going to keep people interested and allow you connect with different types of people.
Susan Moeller: If you want people to find your profile, words of wisdom, start by engaging with them. Start by liking their photos, adding comments, building a relationship with them, and following other people. Getting to know and letting people know about your profile on Instagram is a social function.
Andrea: Yeah, you just leveraged the power of notifications. Basically, while you interact with other people, they receive notifications, and eventually they will visit your profile, and if they like it, they will follow you. That's basically really the basic action you can do to start growing your brand awareness.
How to Convey Your Brand Visually on Instagram
Susan Moeller: Yeah. I like how you said that. Leverage the power of notifications. Another thing that you're going to want to think about is how do you translate your brand to a visual-first social network? And that's definitely going to take a little bit of planning, and I would suggest it's probably a process.
Some of it is about the colors and the styles that you use in your Instagram posts. This is a sample from SEMrush, and you can see that they're leaning heavily into a black color scheme with lots of bright colors as their color palette.
As you begin to think about your brand and how to translate it visually, one way that you might want to start is just with your logo. Use a color picker, point to a dominant color in your logo to get that color number, and then use a color scheme designer, this one is from Paletton.
You put the color in that you've chosen, and it will suggest for you three or four complementary colors or contrasting colors. And you can begin as easily as that to develop a visual look for your content on Instagram.
Chloe's feed is also a beautifully orchestrated look. It's a lot different than the Tailwind one in terms of color scheme, but you can see there's a very cohesive, inviting palette. And Chloe, I was hoping maybe you'd tell us a little bit about how you do this.
Chloe: As far as editing goes, I have an Adobe Lightroom mobile preset that I made, and I had to test out a bunch of presets to find one that really worked for me. I think because I take my photos indoors, sometimes it could be hard to find the right way to edit, and if any of you have practice editing and started as an amateur editor, it can be really challenging to figure out what works, and it really took a lot of practice.
I just recommend trying a bunch. One tip that worked for me was I try to take my photos indoors with no indoor lighting, just natural light, or outside with no bright light. I find that both of those lighting, the lighting in both of those types of pictures allows me to use the same preset, so everything kind of has the same look and feel, and I only have to make a few small adjustments maybe with saturation or exposure.
And I was a complete novice at this. I learned it all just from practicing, so I recommend trying that out. And then, my brand colors have that warmish, brownish earthy tones, as well, so I kind of like how that all ties together.
Andrea: Chloe, if I may ask, do you take the photos yourself or you have someone else taking the photos?
Chloe: My husband started helping me, but then I got a tripod, and it actually ties into kind of what you were mentioning earlier, Susan. I realized there was a specific angle that really worked better. I don't know why, but some people just, it resonates with them more than other angles.
And kind of going into the conversation earlier, Susan, when you were sharing about just having a specific kind of look for your photos and having a content plan, and being recognizable, I like having one consistent background, but then kind of mixing it in with other photos.
Having that consistency but then also sharing something new is a way that you as a creator and marketer don't get burnout, but then you also have something that people are really going to connect with and recognize.
Susan Moeller: Yeah. Well, those are such great tips. A couple other things that could help keep your posts fresh. Don't be afraid to give people a look behind the scenes. The picture on the right here is someone's microphone out their window, and then the one on the left is a group of coworkers. You absolutely can use your feed to give a behind-the-scenes look at your business.
When you're focusing on products particularly, it's a good idea to have really high quality product images. You don't have to have a professional photographer to do a good, high quality photo.
Instagram Stories, Hashtags, and Video
In addition to your feed on Instagram, there's also something called Stories. Stories are different than the traditional square post on your feed. Square posts on your feed are going to live forever unless you delete them, stories only last for 24 hours, and they can be composed of images, photos, or even 50-second, 15-second videos.
There are a couple things about Stories that it's good to keep in mind. One is just that scarcity mentality. As soon as you post a story, the clock is ticking. And Instagram helps keep that scarcity mentality alive by reminding your followers how much time it's already been online. People know that the story's going to be gone and they're often encouraged to click through it.
You also get bigger images, Stories are more prominently displayed, and there are some handy stickers that you can use to get more engagement. Do try your hand at Stories. They tend to be a little less formal than posts that go in your feed, as well.
Just as we've talked about so many of these things that we need to do with Instagram, I love this quote: “Good things come to those who start”. Don't be overwhelmed by thinking, "How do I get images? How do I do this design work?" I've listed out some tools on the left that you can use for images, for design, and for scheduling. Definitely check those out and get started.
Now, hashtags are a thing on Instagram. If you are used to hashtags on other social networks, you know that some networks love them, some don't. Instagram does, so definitely use lots of hashtags. They're also a good way to get to know what your audience is already interested in.
If you are not sure what hashtags would be appropriate, look at some competitors or influencers in your space, see what's working for them, or use a third-party tool that can recommend hashtags for you.
Also, lean into video. Video performs extraordinarily well on Instagram. And this is a video from Brooklyn Tweed, a yarn store that I follow, and they're telling the story of where their yarn comes through, or comes from. They have captions on the bottom, which is nice because a lot of people look at stories without the sound on.
Instagram CTA Tools and Tips
What about those CTA's? I've talked about calls to action a couple of times, and I just want to encourage you that you don't have to put a call to action in every Instagram post. You can use your captions to build engagement.
Remember that not everything in your Instagram feed has to encourage people to click to your blog or somewhere else. If you do encourage viewers, users, audience members to go from your Instagram feed to your blog, don't forget to offer value along the way.
After the call to action, we've talked about how it would encourage people to go to a link in your bio, and that's the methodology that people use to get someone from Instagram to their website.
Tailwind has developed something called Smart.bio, and you can see it displayed here. It allows you to turn that one link in your bio into multiple links. It's a great way to save time because changing up that link in your bio every time you post something new can be a real pain. This will automatically update for you.
And you may have noticed as we've been going through the presentation the Bitly link in the upper right-hand corner. That will pull you through to Tailwind where you can get a $30 credit to apply toward a monthly or annual plan that will include this little Smart.bio, link in bio.
Get started, focus on engagement, being active, building your audience, and pay attention to the results that you get in order to drive traffic from Instagram. I'm going to stop sharing my screen, so we can see each other's faces.
Instagram Ad Campaigns
Andrea: That was really awesome. We've been having a few questions. I think we might have already addressed some, but let's see what we have and see what we can reply. The first question is..."Should I run one campaign through Facebook and include Instagram placements, or place an ad just on Instagram?" Who wants to reply?
Susan Moeller: I'm not sure, but I think that's a good thing to tell people, is if you're advertising on Facebook, you may already be on Instagram just via that automatic placement. Don't assume that you're not on Instagram. If you've been using Facebook ads, you probably are.
Chloe: That's a great point. I would also want to add that I think it's really important to optimize specifically for Instagram and maybe you're repurposing the same content. But Instagram users sometimes have a different motivation than Facebook users. You have a smaller space, I think, on Instagram to really get your point across, so I think it's important to be really clear and have a really compelling image, whereas on Facebook you can have more text.
Andrea: Yes. I would add also that I usually prefer to run campaigns on Facebook, even if the placement is on Instagram, because you got so many options, and if you just want to post a post from the app, you have limited options.
Where to Put Instagram Hashtags
Andrea: Okay. Thank you. Next question is from Kisen Sikma. Hashtags in the primary caption or put hashtags as a separate first comment?
The latest trend is put the hashtags into your main caption, don't put it in the comments as a first comment. I can also agree with this. But I think that that might be because there are many, let's say, unofficial tools to post on Instagram using different absurd ways. That was one of the hacks and tactics that a lot of, let's say, Instagram growth hackers have been using over the years.
Putting all the hashtags in the comment, as a first comment, so you could remove the comment after a while and just keep your caption clean, which is something that you can actually do anyway because you can edit the caption and just get rid of the hashtag. That's going to be exactly the same result. Yes. The latest trend is keep the hashtags in the main caption. Yeah, that's it.
Chloe: I'm a bit rebellious. I don't do that, even though I have seen everywhere that that's what everyone's recommending, and also to use less hashtags. But for me personally, I've found that I like keeping my hashtags in the first comment because I like it looking really nice and I like my caption to just have what I'm trying to say.
And I really like to emphasize if I'm asking a question or directing people somewhere because I don't want them to get overloaded and distracted. It's easier to just really solidify my point with my captions in my first comment.
Maybe that's not as successful across the board, but it's my personal choice, and I think that as long as you're changing it up, using different hashtags, switching up your hashtags, not using the same ones every once in a while, I don't think it's a huge issue. But I agree, I have seen that people are finding more success with the hashtags in comments, or in caption.
Instagram Captions and Demographics
Andrea: Great. I think we have maybe one or two questions more. “Can you talk more about the most effective formatting of captions? I notice that many accounts I follow are moving toward longer captions”.
Chloe: Well, it's likely that's happening because the longer someone's looking at your post, the more engagement you're getting. If you're getting someone to look at your post for a longer time, it's more likely that they're staying with you and Instagram tracks all of that.
Instagram loves when we use their new tools, like IGTV, which takes a while, you have to watch a video, or having a carousel post where you're sharing multiple images in one post. People are looking at your first photo, scrolling to the next one, scrolling to the next one, reading your caption. They're spending a lot of time with you.
That's what you're trying to do on Instagram, get people to spend time with you, and that's probably why people are using longer captions. Also, I don't like to just have a long caption to have one because then that gets redundant and people start to think, "This person isn't really adding value to my life," or, "They're not entertaining me," or whatever your goal is. For me, everything's moderation. I like switching things up. But that's probably why you're seeing a lot of longer captions.
Susan Moeller: It's interesting, right? You have to create for the algorithm and the humans and find the balance between the two. Just like with SEO and Google. You know?
Susan Moeller: Google likes really long posts, but they can't be so long and text space that you lose your reader. I think it is a balance.
Andrea: Yes. I would say we take the last question because it's going to be an hour in two minutes. And it's from Bianca. Any data on the demographic distribution on the platform?
Yeah, so I'm sure if you go to the Instagram blog, they constantly release an update on the demographic distribution, and the number of users they have, and a few other information, which are really interesting. And also, yes, I remember I've seen it many times. It's like the countries where Instagram is more used. Yeah, it's probably on the Instagram blog or in the press area of the official Instagram website.
Chloe: And you can see some of those insights, too, within your account, and then you can see, okay, I have this many people in the US, or Europe, and then that helps with kind of finding the best time to post, and then figuring out, if you can't ship to Europe but you have a lot of followers there, you might need to expand, and having those insights can be really helpful.
Andrea: We got a lot of questions. I think we've answered them all, or most of all. And I would like to thank you, Susan and Chloe, for your time and for this really helpful and interesting presentation.
Susan Moeller: Thank you so much.
Andrea: I learned a lot of new things myself, also. I was able not to just attend, but to even host this. Thank you very much for joining, and thank you, everyone, from anywhere you are for following this webinar. Just a quick note, we will be posting the link to the Tailwind link that is in Susan's presentation in the chat on YouTube, so people can also click. Yeah, that's it.
Susan Moeller: Thanks so much, everyone.