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Why I've not given up on Instagram: And a reminder that it (and other social media platforms) are only a part of my overall marketing strategy

I promise this isn’t just another blog post moaning about Instagram…. 

But whilst I was on holiday Instagram changed quite a few things and made all video Reels and I woke up to my lovely account looking pretty awful....

 

 

Months of carefully created content re-sized! Thankfully my main grid was still looking ok. I don't get too hung up on having a perfect grid as it's more important to me to show up regularly rather than overcomplicate my social media... and it's not my only marketing channel so it's important that I protect my energy.

Over the last few months, Instagram has been on my mind a lot as a small business owner and marketing coach.

I don’t usually blog about every single update on social media because I’ve never claimed to be an Instagram expert, also I don’t like to moan about change or jump on every trend out there because social media is only part of my marketing strategy. But as all the changes on Instagram have impacted my business and my clients so much I had to share what I’d learned so far and what changes I’m starting to make with my own marketing and content. This blog post will also help me share my own ideas and the updates with my team and clients as well.

Why I used to love Instagram

I chose Instagram as one of my primary marketing channels as a business owner.

I chose it because:

  • It’s where a lot of my audience and potential customers are (but they are also on other channels!). I don’t believe only one strategy works for your business, there are so many options - and so many different ways you can make it work for you.
  • I enjoy Instagram, I like the people, community and experience there, I have been lucky enough to have a good experience.
  • Feeling good about which channels you like using means you are more likely to put the effort in!  
  • Energy goes where energy flows! Right? Especially if you’re doing all your own marketing.

Instagram has changed so much, and I’ve had to re-think my strategy 

However, I’ve been finding Instagram really hard and overwhelming over the last year, as have my small team of contractors, and my clients.

Judging by the conversations on social media, so have you.

What’s changed on Instagram?

Lots! And this blog post doesn’t cover all of it.

There have been a huge amount of updates as Instagram “moves away from being a photo sharing social media channel and becomes more of a video social media channel” to compete with TikTok and win back a younger audience. 

I know this isn’t new news to a lot of you.

“Right now, Instagram’s biggest competitor is TikTok, which serves users an infinite feed of personalized trending short-form video and whose popularity has skyrocketed just as Facebook’s has begun to wane. In an effort to replicate its success, several of the latest Instagram and Facebook updates prioritized “recommended” videos (i.e., from random users across the platform as opposed to someone you already follow), among other things that made people very stressed out”. Source Vox.com

Some of the Instagram updates have been rolled back because of backlash from users saying that they want Instagram to stay as it is.

 “The new Instagram update really understood what I was looking for: none of my friends’ content, reposted TikToks from meme accounts I do not follow, 100x more ads, everything played at full volume against my will,’’ summarized one viral tweet.

 And also a post by photographer Tati Bruening went viral, demanding,

“Make Instagram Instagram Again,” and “stop trying to be TikTok, I just want to see cute photos of my friends. Sincerely, everyone.” And it also promoted a petition as well.

How has this affected my business?

I’ve definitely seen a decline in engagement and reach on static posts, (though I know a lot of people are still killing it with static posts). Instagram influencers are also saying they’re finding it hard. So I know it’s not just me! 

I’ve also had to re-think my own content marketing plan and perhaps how I automate and schedule. 

What has been working for me is now a bit up in the air whilst I get to grips with:

  • Every video now being a “Reel”.
  • New Instagram post sizes.
  • How I can keep managing Instagram without it taking over my life.
  • How can I enjoy Instagram again and find content I want to engage with now there have been feed changes?
  • Finding a scheduling tool that schedules Reels as the one I have doesn’t!  
  • Work out whether I “should” try out posting on TikTok as well or instead.
  • What would be the best workflow and tools for repurposing my content?

As a small business owner, the impact has been huge! And time-consuming as I put a plan in place.

I used to have a repeatable marketing system and all my lovely contractors knew what they were doing, but it’s time for a change and a new workflow.

Here’s my current monthly marketing system (before I change it)!

  • 2 podcasts are released per month.
  • At least 1 email per week (includes sharing the latest podcast episodes).
  • Audiograms and videos from the podcast are shared on social media.
  • At least 3 posts per week - shared on Instagram and cross-posted to other channels as well.
  • Lives, Stories, Reels and videos.
  • About 70% of my content was static posts and 30% was video content.

This was working really well. I had a lovely system and support, but for months I have tested posting static posts and Reels, and the Reels 9 times out of ten get more engagement and views.

But I’m now reviewing this strategy and how I will share content on social media, including Instagram.

What advice do I have for you?

1. Give Reels a go!

I’d suggest trying out using Reels. In some ways, the “all video is a Reel” could make it easier for small business owners as there’s now one video format and size. Reels don’t have to be trending sounds or you dancing, so you can adapt what you already do and make it work on Reels.

Here are 6 simple Reel examples, (that don't need you to show your face and some are an evolution of the static post):

2. Start re-sizing your video content

Start re-sizing your Instagram video to the correct sizes, here’s a handy blog post from Corinne Wallington on all the image and video sizes on Instagram.

Keep an eye out for the changes but don’t react to every change, as Instagram is changing all the time and is talking about rolling some changes back.

3. Schedule Reels like you would your grid posts

Many people post Reels on the go and save them to their phones and to Instagram drafts. But this strategy doesn’t work for everyone, especially if you’re used to batching content, planning and scheduling ahead.

Later and Planoly schedule Reels so if you are embracing using video more consider using a scheduling tool to batch create and schedule. If you know of any other good social media schedulers that schedule Reels then please let me know!

4. If Instagram is trying to be TikTok maybe try it out?

I can’t help feeling this push for Instagram to be like TikTok might be backfiring. The strategy worked when it competed with Snapchat but I think people are much savvier now and perhaps less loyal to Meta.

So you could consider introducing TikTok as a channel as well (if you’re embracing video/Reels) and share your videos to both platforms.

Here’s a handy video from Vix Meldrew on how to do this: 

5. Keep posting!

It’s ok to take a break but if a break starts to impact your business then please:

  • Don’t stop posting.
  • Don’t stop being you.
  • Don’t make loads of work for yourself.
  • Don’t wait for perfection, honestly, you learn by doing.
  • But….maybe test and test again… who knows what Instagram will look like in a few months?!

Remember it’s still about creating awesome content whatever the changes are on any social media channel.

 

Need support with your digital marketing strategy? Join the Online Business Collective and I can support you with your marketing strategy. It’s a place where you can get all round Business, Marketing and Mindset support. You also get access to amazing digital marketing experts as well to support you with all your digital marketing questions.