- Marketing experts, Cat Johnson and Karina Patel, recently hosted an advanced Instagram training session.
- During the session, they shared various strategies to help Insta-savvy coworking spaces level up their marketing game.
- For your Instagram game to measure up, you need to have a solid strategy and always remember to test, measure, and learn.
Instagram is all about telling stories. And that’s what makes it arguably the best social media channel for flexible workspace operators.
As we learned recently from content marketer Cat Johnson, storytelling is a great way to share the values of a company, particularly small and purpose-driven workspaces. “It’s a great equalizer. Big businesses can always outspend you on ads, but if you can tell a real story that resonates, people will find you.”
You can share stories about your brand in different ways – a blog post, a commercial, a social media post, a video, or simply a face-to-face conversation.
But we humans are visual creatures, and if you can share stories through attention-grabbing imagery, you’re much more likely to keep your audience’s attention.
That’s where Instagram marketing comes in.
It’s already a popular social media channel for coworking and flexible workspace operators (check out these coworking spaces that are killing it on Instagram). And thanks to a training session this week by Cat and her co-host Karina Patel, Marketing Director for Pacific Workplaces and CloudVO, Insta-savvy spaces can now level up their marketing game.
Here are the highlights of Cat and Karina’s workshop. You can watch the replay here.
Sidenote: this workshop is for people with a solid understanding of Instagram marketing. If you’re new to this social media channel or need a refresh, check out these resources:
- An Introduction to Instagram for Coworking Spaces
- 5 Key Elements to Rock Your Instagram Marketing Strategy
- Common Instagram Marketing Mistakes, And How to Fix Them
Strategy is Everything
First up, define your primary goal. “It shouldn’t be to drive traffic to your website,” says Karina. “You should aim to tell a story and drive engagement with your audience.”
You can identify your target market on Instagram by filtering three key areas:
- Psychographics and behaviour
Once you’ve narrowed down your target market, create strategic content that’s tailored to their interests. We’ll get to some of the specific types of content in a moment, but first make sure that your content approach follows these simple considerations:
- Always provide value or a solution, and have a purpose
- Use personalized content for higher conversions
- Consider why your brand’s message matters to your audience
For your content strategy, start by choosing 4 or 5 visual themes. This could be your members, events, motivational quotes, or educational tips. Then determine 2 or 3 caption formats.
- London coworking brand Fora runs a series called ‘Fora residents’, in which they share stories about members.
- Another format could be ‘did you know’, in which you share educational content about your buildings, such as sustainable practices.
- A caption format could also be a question, which is a great way to pique curiosity and drive engagement. For instance, hotel brand citizenM recently posted: “What’s 264 feet above NYC and serves up some mean cocktails?”
Have a different set of hashtags for each visual theme, and make sure they correspond to that theme.
“Write out your captions first,” Karina advises. “Do it in a Google Doc, or in a note. Write down your ideas and then attach images to them afterwards. This will streamline your content planning.”
Think About New Users
Before you get to the engagement stage, you first need to attract new users. Your content planning should appeal to people who are coming across your brand for the first time, alongside those who view your content regularly.
“Consider what a new user would see when they visit your gallery. Think about your first 9 posts. Does the grid show off your brand? Always think about that when planning your content.”
If you’re stuck for caption ideas, have a brainstorming session. Start with these suggestions:
- What lessons have you learned recently? This could be related to your career, business, travel, or lifestyle.
- What is the backstory of your brand?
- What is something that separates your brand from other brands that are similar?
- What is something surprising about your brand?
- What recent transition or transformation has your brand made?
- Have you had any “aha” moments recently?
Another type of content is user generated content. Basically, that’s the reposting of other people’s content.
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“It’s easy but there are rules,” says Karina. “It’s also effective. Sharing user generated content is 76% more trustworthy than branded advertising.”
You should always ask permission to repost and give credit where credit is due. “Send the user a DM, or comment directly on the post. Let them know you like their post, and ask if you can share it.”
The majority of people will grant permission to use their photos and most will respond quickly, within 24 hours. But don’t simply assume it’s okay to use their content. Always ask permission.
“Branded tags help create a community around your business.”
If you don’t have a branded hashtag, brainstorm some ideas and create a shortlist of favourites. Then search for your ideal tag, before implementing, to make sure it’s not already being used by another brand.
Your branded tag doesn’t have to be your company name. It could be a slogan, or an inspirational term. For example, STA Travel uses #StartTheAdventure
Engage, Engage, Engage
Once you have your strategy nailed down, it’s time to engage.
You can build your audience by searching for brands you like (or where your audience may be), and clicking on the profiles of people who have liked those posts. Then interact with their content directly.
“Comment on their posts, but avoid DM-ing if they don’t follow you, as your message will be filtered into a requested section and can easily be lost.”
Encourage meaningful activity by asking genuine questions to get to know your audience.
Types of Collaboration
Aside from regular, consistent posting, there are various ways to spice up your Instagram channel, attract new users and drive engagement. These include:
- Takeovers – let someone take over your Instagram account for a day. This could be a ‘Day in the life of’ and is a great way to showcase your space, location, and events.
- Giveaways – competitions and prizes.
- Challenges – attempting to complete a challenge for a specific goal, such as a charitable cause or as part of a National Day.
- Influencers – this is usually a paid collaboration in which your content is featured on another person’s channel (usually someone who is well known in their community).
Takeovers are a popular style of content, but like any branded event, it should be well-planned.
Karina shared her 9 tips for a successful takeover strategy:
- Define your goals – will the takeover advertise an event, or your brand?
- Set the date of the takeover
- Create a list of potential takeover partners
- Share your guidelines and content requirements with your takeover partner
- Schedule the content
- Promote it – ask your partner for a headshot photo and share your plans on social media
- Go live!
- Save the content to your highlight reel
- Measure the success of your takeover – look at analytics. What are the key learnings that will help you for next time?
As with any social media marketing, you need specific tools to help plan and schedule your content, and measure your efforts.
Karina recommends Planoly or Buffer, which enable you to manage hashtags, plan stories, write captions, schedule content, and access analytics.
Other tools include: Later, Sprout Social, Sendable, Hootuite, and Preview.
Test, Measure, Learn
As with all great content, it’s important to regularly check your metrics to measure your success.
Look at activity across multiple channels, such as website clicks, post saves, post shares, swipe ups, and DMs.
“Track your top performing content. You need to know which content is best suited to your audience.” Once you know that, you can focus on that type of content and finetune it to increase engagement and attract more users from a similar demographic.
Whatever your level of Instagram activity, from paid ads to takeovers or even influencer partnerships, these five key takeaways will help you improve your social media performance:
- “Start small to learn big”
- Identify and understand your target market, and create strategic content that fits their interests
- Engage with your target market regularly – have a schedule and stick to it!
- Encourage meaningful activity. Don’t post for the sake of it – publish content that your users will engage with.
- Measure engagement. Learn from it. Repeat.
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Next Training: Join Cat on November 13th to learn how to turn your newsletter into a coworking marketing machine. Find out more and register here: Create a Newsletter Your Members Will Love: 15 Strategies for Coworking Space Operators