Instagram has fast become one of the largest, most lucrative social networks: 300 million people use the app every day and Instagram’s users spend more in purchases than any other major social network.
That’s a huge audience and a huge opportunity!
We’re thrilled at the chance to help you succeed there.
There are many different tactics and strategies for finding success on Instagram-timing, consistency, hashtags, links, and more. Being able to act on these strategies and to do so in a streamlined way alongside your other social media marketing can be a huge difference maker as you seek results on Instagram.
We’re so excited to announce today that we’re setting out to help you achieve this with the launch of Buffer for Instagram!
1. Find your best time to post to Instagram
Like most other social networks, two of the most important factors for success with Instagram content are …
- When you’re posting
- How consistently you’re posting
With Buffer for Instagram, you can make good on both (read more about consistency in point #2 below).
Here’s how to find your best time to post to Instagram, with Buffer:
- Visit Buffer’s Analytics section for your Instagram profile
- Click on the Posts tab
- Click to sort your Instagram posts according to the Most Popular (a combination of likes and comments)
The sorting works just like Buffer’s support on our paid plans (Awesome & Business) for networks like Facebook and Twitter. With Buffer for Instagram, you can sort every post by the most popular, most likes, and most comments. You can also select any custom timeframe or choose from presets like 7, 30, or 90 days.
Once you’ve sorted, do you notice any trends?
If the same time keeps coming up on your top posts, you can feel confident knowing this might be a time to focus on with your future posts. This tip works great when you test multiple times, say a best practice like 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern plus an outlier like 9:00 p.m.
Using this method, we’ve found that our best time at Buffer is 11:00 a.m. Pacific.
2. Post consistently to Instagram
After timing, the next consideration to make is how to post consistently.
What feels best for a consistent rhythm on Instagram?
Union Metrics put together data on brands and Instagram (note: data came prior to the change to an algorithm), finding that most brands post 1 to 2 times a day on Instagram (the actual average was right in the middle, 1.5), and – this was really interesting – that there was no correlation between increased frequency and lower engagement, meaning brands that posted more than twice per day didn’t see any ill effects.
The takeaway: Post often on Instagram. Brands that get in a regular flow with Instagram posts tend to see the best results.
To post consistently with Instagram, we schedule Instagram reminders in Buffer. Here’s the process:
- Find, edit, and upload a beautiful picture to Buffer. Add a caption with hashtags, @-mentions, and emoji. Schedule for the ideal time.
- Receive a push notification from the Buffer mobile app at the scheduled time.
- Open the notification, select Open in Instagram. This loads the photo into Instagram, with the caption saved to the phone’s clipboard, ready to be pasted.
- Make any final edits (filters, geolocation) and share from the Instagram app.
The Instagram API doesn’t quite allow scheduling, so Buffer has made it possible to plan in advance by adding a post through the Buffer dashboard on web or mobile and having a reminder pop up on a user’s phone when it’s time to send it out.
Here’s a look at how things appear from the web dashboard:
And this is the look from a mobile device:
To see the effect of a consistent Instagram presence, you can dig into the advanced analytics for your Instagram account in Buffer (available on our paid plans). Here’s how:
- Visit Buffer’s Analytics section for your Instagram profile
- Click over to the Analysis tab
- View Posts Per Day plus Likes or Followers
The combination of these stats can help you judge the effect of a consistent schedule on important Instagram metrics like likes and followers. If the spikes in engagement match the spikes in posting, you can have visual evidence of a strong correlation between the two.
3. Track and sort through your Instagram history
Right now, when you connect an Instagram account to your Buffer, all of your past Instagram posts will appear in your analytics dashboard, giving you loads of great data on what’s working best for you on Instagram.
Then each successive time you share to Instagram, all your stats will be integrated directly into the Buffer dashboard where you can sort, compare, and analyze.
What this means: You don’t have to wait until a week from now to start analyzing what’s been working for you on Instagram.
You can get insights, today, on what’s worked well yesterday, last week, last month, and beyond.
When I connected my Instagram account, the first thing I did was visit my analytics and sort my past photos to see my most popular Instagram posts. Having that knowledge helped me prep and plan for the next one (in my case, hashtags proved quite key).
Speaking of hashtags …
4. Add a hashtag (or 11) to your caption
Buffer for Instagram cannot post directly to the app for you – but it can get you 95% of the way there!
You can plan nearly every detail from the Buffer dashboard, including the full caption you wish to use with your photo. And as part of this caption, we’ve found that hashtags work extremely well on Instagram.
Hashtags have become a uniform way to categorize content on many social media platforms, especially Instagram. Hashtags allow Instagrammers to discover content to view and accounts to follow.
Research from Track Maven found that posts with over 11 hashtags tend to get more engagement.
To find your best hashtags, we recommend a tool like hashtagify.me, which ranks and analyzes all sorts of different hashtags. This is what we typically look for:
- Hashtags used by others in your industry
- Hashtags that are the most popular (by volume of posts)
- Hashtags that are the most active (trending)
When you’ve chosen your hashtag, you can add it to your caption and set your Instagram notification in Buffer. Later, when it’s time to post, you can open the reminder notification from your phone to have your photo automatically added to Instagram and your full caption copied to your phone’s clipboard.
5. Include emoji in your caption
Along with hashtags, you can also include emoji in your captions (there’s even a bonus 3rd thing you can include, if you keep reading).
Why might you go with an emoji? Well, they’re popular, they’re expressive, and they might just be the new way we communicate online.
Plus, they’re a key part to the language of Instagram, so much so that Instagram itself commissioned an emoji study on their network. What Instagram found is that many popular emoji have meanings in-line with early internet slang and have been adopted as a way to replace these words.
Here are a few emoji and the slang Instagram found them to represent: