Does it feel like your Instagram posts are falling flat? Wondering how to create a steady stream of content your audience loves without burning yourself out?
In this article, you'll discover the three-part framework for building a long-term Instagram content strategy that works including the types of content that perform well.
How an Instagram Content Strategy Can Help You Avoid Burnout
A lot of social media managers, marketers, and business owners get overwhelmed trying to keep up with all of the content they're posting online every day. They spend a lot of time researching what content performs well but don't focus on creating a sustainable long-term content strategy.
The truth is, you can have the best plan in the world and know exactly the type of content you want to post, who you're going to reach with it, and what hashtags you're going to use, but if it's not something you can execute consistently over time, then that strategy isn't going to help you meet your goals on Instagram.
Instagram growth relies on a slow and steady approach to organic posting. So when we talk about putting together a sustainable strategy for Instagram, what we're really talking about is creating a plan that you can execute for weeks, months, and potentially years to come without falling victim to burnout.
When you feel exhausted by the platform you're posting on, it's hard to find the motivation or creativity you need to continue creating content for that platform, which is, of course, the ultimate detriment to your growth. Additionally, it's far easier to prevent burnout than it is to try to come back from burnout.
In fact, the only way to come back from burnout is to give yourself a long enough break to recover and self-reflect. Unfortunately, most marketers don't have time to take a break to self-reflect, and the anxiety builds while they try to power through their burnout, which can actually make the exhaustion last longer, hit harder, or both.
One of the best ways to prevent burnout is to build a content strategy that you can consistently deliver without feeling overwhelmed. Here's a three-part framework you can follow to develop a plan that works for your business.
#1: Identify the Content You Love to Make
The first component of this strategy is posting content you love to make. This is an important piece of a sustainable Instagram content strategy because when you're posting content you genuinely enjoy making, it will be less taxing to produce and easier to deliver consistently over time.
Chances are, the type of content you enjoy posting is also the type of content you enjoy consuming. If you love watching Instagram reels, for example, that's a good sign you might enjoy creating reels because that format speaks to you. You'll also understand the trends and structures that work well in reels so you're going to be a better creator.
If, on the other hand, you don't enjoy short-form videos and find yourself procrastinating on tasks related to publishing reels, you probably don't want to make that content a part of your core strategy. That's not to say that you would never record or publish an Instagram reel, just that you would be very selective about when to publish one.
You'll need to take an honest look at yourself and your strengths as a creator. Are you good at writing captions or do you feel more comfortable going live and talking? Do you enjoy taking photos? If you lean into your creative strengths, that's going to help you more naturally create content for Instagram and avoid burnout.
#2: Find Out What Content Performs Well With Your Audience
Before we talk about the different kinds of content on Instagram and what they each do well, it's important to remember that performance on Instagram is very subjective. Just because something works for someone else doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you. It's all going to come down to your audience and what they respond to. Here are four popular types of content to consider including in your Instagram strategy.
Unlike the regular Instagram feed and Instagram Stories feed, the Instagram Reels feed is organized around topics a user has expressed an interest in rather than the accounts they're following. So Reels is a great way to get in front of new audiences for your business.
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There are a few formats that perform well on reels. Obviously, putting your own spin on a trend or using trending audio can be effective, especially if you can find a way to tie it back to your business.
And more recently, creating your own audio in the style of talking directly to the camera also works very well. But you want to approach creating a talking-to-camera reel differently than you would for a regular feed video or story.
When you post a video on your feed or story, you're posting for somebody who knows you and trusts that it's worth their time to watch. But when someone sees your reel in their feed, they may never have seen you before and don't have that trust built up with you. When you're creating a reel, use a stronger hook at the beginning to catch people's attention and some snappier edits to keep the reel engaging.
And, of course, tutorials can also be an effective way to reach your ideal follower and solve a problem for them.
Instagram carousel posts are also proving to be highly effective for businesses. This format seems to work especially well for educational graphics with text overlays that answer a question or solve a problem for your audience.
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And if your audience finds the content valuable, they can easily share it to their Instagram story, which gets you more organic reach. Keep in mind that your carousel images will perform better if each slide within the carousel can also work as a stand-alone graphic since people can only share one slide from your carousel at a time.
If you haven't already tried them out, you may want to consider using memes in your marketing, which have grown in popularity on Instagram over the last few years. A meme could take the form of a joke in the context of your niche and possibly some pop-culture references. Anything that's highly shareable, funny, or relatable tends to perform very well.
And the good news is that it's easy to create a meme. You can use a platform like GIPHY to find inspiration and ideas for your memes.
When you create a meme, it's important to choose pop-culture references that your ideal followers can relate to. If your meme hits the mark, you can get lots of great comments and people sharing it to their stories, which can help with your organic reach.
But don't feel like you're restricted to only using pop-culture references. You can use images of yourself, members of your team, or celebrities and get creative to create a meme related to your niche or industry that's funny and shareable.
Tweet graphics, or images designed to look like tweets, are also very popular on Instagram. This kind of content is short and consumable, and it's easy to add to your Instagram story if the quote is something you connect with or agree with. This kind of format also works for sharing a quote you heard in a podcast or a thought you have about your industry that your audience might relate to.
Photos Combined With Long Captions
Candid photos paired with longer Instagram captions are also effective on the platform. This type of content works especially well when you use the caption to tell a real story about you and your business from a place of transparency and vulnerability.
When you show your vulnerability online, you build trust with your audience. It can feel scary to share something personal or that you feel insecure about and wouldn't normally share with the public. Your audience can sense that and appreciate that trust you're extending to them.
A longer caption also gives you more of an opportunity to connect with your audience and build that know, like, and trust factor we're always after.
#3: Determine How Much Time You Can Allot to Creating Instagram Content
Once you've identified the type of content you want to post that will energize you, now you have to find the time to post it. Sometimes, just going through the first two components of this content strategy will get your creative juices flowing and motivate and inspire you to start creating content. But as you draw up a list of ideas to create, don't forget you need to make time to execute them.
This is where time management is going to play a significant role in your Instagram content strategy.
Start by analyzing your calendar, doing a little bit of self-reflection, and then performing an audit to find out where you're spending your time when it comes to your Instagram content. It might be effective to use a time tracker app and log your content creation time for a couple of weeks. Then you can see how long it takes you to perform certain tasks as you go through your workflow and create content for Instagram.
- Check out the free resources Katie mentioned at KatieSteckly.com/SME.
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