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Instagram having over 1 billion users means there is plenty of opportunities for both businesses and personal brands alike. But how many are actually maximizing their Instagram presence instead of just sort of existing there? You can’t just rely on random posts without any sort of strategy or purpose if you’re looking to achieve something from a marketing perspective. You need structure, set goals and most importantly a marketing strategy.

Even with the wide variety of social media platforms, Instagram still remains the top choice for anyone looking to market a brand. This includes businesses selling products or offering services, and influencers/content creators looking to build a name for themselves. According to Oberlo, the average engagement rate on Instagram is between 1-5%, which is way higher than platforms like Facebook and Twitter. So for those really looking to maximize their online presence, Instagram is probably your best bet at success.

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While many big names on Instagram have insane marketing budgets, the foundation of their strategies can easy be replicated without having to break the bank. In fact many of their tricks cost nothing to implement. With that being said, let’s take a look at our top 5 tips for improving your Instagram presence and making your mark on the platform.

Tips to Improve Your Instagram Presence

1. Build a Strategy with SMART Goals

Everyone knows that in order to achieve success with any marketing efforts you need a solid strategy. This should include performing a good social media audit, determining your target audience, defining your KPIs and creating SMART goals.

Auditing your social media will give you the lay of the land at it’s current state. This should include reviewing current content posted and your profile insights like reach and engagement. Once you have an understanding of where you currently stand you’re better able to build out from there. You’ll be able to see what worked for you so far, and what hasn’t which will help you to avoid repeating any mistakes you’ve made.

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Once you’ve completed your audit it’s time to dive into your strategy. If you haven’t already you should first identify who your target audience is. For a business or brand this is your ideal customer. For influencers and content creators, this is the type of people you’re looking for your content to resonate with. You cannot move ahead to setting your goals and KPIs without this step.

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators, is a fancy term for how you plan to measure success. If your goal is to boost your Instagram presence, your KPIs might be things like your overall reach and follower growth. Together with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) this will ensure that you set yourself up for success from the beginning.

2. Invest Effort in Creating Quality Content

No matter how robust your strategy is, if you don’t publish quality content the chances of building a strong Instagram presence are slim. Being a visual social media platform the quality of your content is extremely important. The good news is you don’t need to invest in high tech equipment or hire a professional. These days with the quality of smart phone cameras, a lot of magic can be done with the tools you already have.

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Quality content has a few aspects to it. First is the actual content itself, be it a video or photo. You want to make sure that the quality of the image or video is as high as possible when created. Instagram for some reason tends to reduce media quality once it’s published. So if you’re content is grainy, blurry or low quality it’ll only get worse once published. Then you want to focus on the composition of your content. Taking an image of a plate of food is great but adding props and ingredients to fill the frame really adds to the mood of the content. Finally is your copy, or caption as it’s known on Instagram. Many don’t realize the contributions your caption makes both to your social media SEO and to your audience. Be sure to write clear, clean and short so that your message can be understood effortlessly.

3. Maintain a Consistent Posting Schedule

Many people don’t realize how important consistency is to your Instagram presence. In fact, the platform actually rewards the most active users with boosts in their reach. So, if you go on posting once every couple weeks and you’re wondering why your reach is low now you know why. Having a consistent posting schedule doesn’t mean you have to post twice a day everyday. In fact you don’t even need to post daily. As long as you create a schedule that you can stick to weekly you’re ahead of the game.

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The best way to go about setting a posting schedule to is be realistic with your commitment. Is posting daily too much for you? Why not shorten that schedule to 3 times a week, say Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays? You also have Instagram Stories at your disposal which makes it so much easier to be active daily even without publishing a post. Staying consistent with your content doesn’t just help gain you points with Instagram. It also allows your audience to anticipate when you’ll post and be ready to check out your latest content.

4. Be Versatile With Your Content

The last thing you want is your content to go stale. So the best way to avoid that is to be versatile with the types of content you post. Instagram provides a variety of avenues for you to get creative. From classic posts to the newer Reels there is so much you can do to keep your content fresh for your audience. And as we mentioned above Instagram Stories are not only a great way to stay active, but also share content that you might not want to permanently publish.

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But asides from the types of content you publish, you also want some versatility within the themes of your content. While it’s important to stay within your niche it’s just as important to show some variety. A beauty creator for example might stick to posting content including makeup tutorials and beauty product reviews. But they might also want to sneak in a little style into the mix to keep things fresh. Posting the same things, different ways can be just a boring to your audience and you risk loosing their attention.

5. Use Targeted & Popular Hashtags

By now most people are using hashtags but the bad news is they’re using them like it’s still 2011. Instagram is always changing it’s algorithm and how it collects content to be showcased. Before it was unchallenged that you use all 30 hashtags in every single post. However as Instagram has grown and put focus on reducing spam content, the recommendations around hashtags has changed.

While there many who still have great success maxing out the hashtag limits on Instagram, others are seeing harm. The problem with trying to use all 30 hashtags is depending on your content, you might be reaching to try and fill that quota. Our best advice for using hashtags in Instagram is to ensure that every hashtag chosen is not only relevant to your post, but also popular. Lowering your hashtag quota to 10-15 is definitively helpful in achieving this.

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Stick to using hashtags that are directly related to your content first. A style influencer might find themselves posting food content. So while hashtags like #style #fashioninspo might fit their niche it’s totally unrelated to the content being published. You also want to be sure the hashtags you are using have a variety of posts under them to improve your chances of going a viral. A hashtag with any less than 1,000 posts is probably not that popular, so unless related to a campaign avoid those. You also don’t want to exclusively use hashtags with over a million posts, because that will just lower your chances of being seen among the crowd. Finding a healthy balance is your best shot at getting your hashtags to work towards your Instagram presence.