How to Make the Most of Instagram Marketing With Limited Time
We all know how much of a rabbit hole Instagram can be. You just pop on for a minute to see the latest updates and suddenly half an hour later you're months deep in some obscure account.
As an individual, this is a bad habit at worst, but as a busy business owner, putting in the time to develop a good Instagram presence can feel insurmountable. Who can think about posting perfect photos every day when you're trying to make payroll or respond to an urgent client request?
With 500 million daily active users, it can be hard to shun Instagram completely when it comes to growing your business—but with a few smart strategies you can develop a meaningful presence, even on a time crunch.
1. Set Up a Strategy
By spending some time now coming up with a clear strategy and content calendar for your Instagram, you won't have to spend time later worrying that you haven't posted in weeks or fretting over coming up with a picture on the fly.
Sit down for a couple hours and come up with a plan for your Instagram channel for the next month or two. Even if you don't have all the images you need now, consider post themes that you can pull on, campaigns you have coming up that you'll want to promote, or special events or holidays you want to tie into. Map it all out so that you know when you need to engage, and when you can ignore the platform. You can even use a tool like Hootsuite or Later to schedule your posts ahead of time. You'll still have to go on at the scheduled time and post it, but you'll get an easy reminder and a post that's all ready to go so you just have to push publish and get on with your day.
2. Get Quality Images Quickly
We all know that good photography and stunning design reigns on Instagram—which can be intimidating to the entrepreneur who doesn't have time to stage fancy photo shoots! Worry not—even if you're not a professional photographer (and can't afford to hire one), you can create eye-catching, on-brand imagery for Instagram. Since you want your Instagram to be an extension of your website anyways, start by considering if there are photos or graphics from your site that you can easily re-purpose into Instagram posts. Then, check out stock photography sites like Unsplash or Twenty20 to find beautiful photos that you can use on your own account, or use tools like Canva to create custom graphics (to share things like quotes or advice).
Finally, don't forget that Instagram users often like seeing behind the scenes of your work and your life. Don't be afraid to share simple snippets of your day-to-day—using photography best practices like good lighting and not-too-busy shots. If you're nervous about this, maybe start by posting this via Instagram Stories, since doing so will seriously boost your account and they disappear in 24 hours anyways.
3. Prep Each Post for Maximum Impact
Did you know Instagram followers are not as engaged on the weekend as they are during the week? Monday has the highest user engagement and Sunday the least, according to CoSchedule. Thursday is also a strong day to post. Commuting hours (8-9 AM, 5-6 PM) are some of the most active times of day and thus good times to publish posts if you want to get the most bang for your time. Of course, these times won't be true for every business, but with a little bit of testing you can find the most engaged times for your followers, and focus your efforts then.
You'll also want to include hashtags relevant to your business and the post in order to help it reach a wider audience. According to Simply Measured, posts with at least one relevant hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag.
Finally, don't forget to include a call to action in your captions so that your posts have a purpose! Capture users' attention with a creative description, and then call out a specific action you want them to take. Many Instagram brand accounts prompt users to click the “link in bio" as you can't add hyperlinked URLs in a caption, but even asking them to post something in the comments ups your engagement and your chances of success.