instagram experiment

We have many resolutions for Clique this year. Or are they goals? Or line-items on our To-Do list? Whatever you want to call them, we have some serious plans.

But, while we are working to achieve those big things, we also wanted to make some small changes too.

For example, we wanted to create a new free list of top tools to help business owners, marketers, and bloggers create, curate, and schedule social media posts. Finding content to post is something that we get asked about regularly, so it’s about time that we come up with a simple answer that we can point people to. So, the first week of the new year, we created the list of our fave tools. You can grab it here. So, the first item was checked off the list.

But then I wanted to do something a little bigger. Something that we’ve been talking about for a while, but never had the time to devote to it. So, I chose Instagram.

We’re not newbies to Instagram by any means, but our page has been greatly lacking. Managing others’ Instagram profiles has caused us to neglect our own. We had only posted three times, and were using it more as a name placeholder than anything. But, 2016 is the time to change that. And we would like to show you the progress as we go.

The Instagram Experiment: Part One


Instagram Goal

I always start with a goal, or in this case, goals. First, I’d like to send more traffic to our new “Top 5 Tools to Simplify Finding Content + Posting to Social Media” lead magnet. I will do this by having that as the link in our bio. I will occasionally add promotional posts about my free tools list to send traffic there.

Second, I’d like to grow this profile to show our blog audience (you!) how you can do the same with strategy and consistency.


Instagram Content Strategy

First we had to figure out what our Instagram feed would be all about. Many service-based businesses have the question of, “What do we post on a visual platform like Instagram when we aren’t selling anything physical?”

There are many options. You can post behind-the-scenes peeks, feature your team, selfies of you working, quotes, graphics with tips, highlight your clients, and so much more. Or a combination!

I chose to go the quotes and tips route. Both are very relatable and shareable, so the Instagram audience would be likely to start engaging quickly.

I’m also going to allow enough flexibility in the content strategy that if I want to occasionally post something outside of a quote or tip, I will do so.


Instagram Positioning

The Instagram Experiment - Clique Social + Design“Is it me or is it the brand?”

That was the big question on my mind. The other social platforms have our logo and are all about Clique as a whole. I wanted this Instagram account to be a little more personal. I chose to do this so that I could further position myself as an expert in the field rather than exclusively promoting the brand. Having even a greater “expert status” will help down the road as we unveil some of the bigger plans we have for the year.

So, while our Instagram handle is @cliquesocialdesign, I have “Amber Dewey Schultz” as the name, with the bio about me as an expert rather than Clique as the brand.


Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Hashtags are key on Instagram, so I did a bunch of research on social-media-related hashtags before deciding on the final ones to use. I came up with two sets: one for quotes and one for tips. The hashtags chosen will increase the reach on each of my posts. I will also add additional hashtags if it’s relevant to the specific post. You can see the hashtags I chose for each post in my Instagram feed here.


Instagram Posting Strategy

A big mistake many businesses make on Instagram is that they don’t post frequently enough. I decided that Clique had to go “all in” and post 2-3 times per day, every day.


Instagram Timing Strategy

It’s difficult to know what timing will work best without any point of reference. So, I will post once before noon and once between 2 and 8pm each day, at different times. When I start to see some consistency with people engaging more at specific times, I will narrow those windows. I’m also allowing some time in the early afternoon to add one of those additional posts that are not related to quotes or tips.


Instagram Experiment Blueprint

Instagram Process

Whew! With the strategy part of it complete, it’s time to move on to actually making it happen!

The Instagram Experiment - Clique Social + DesignTo accomplish the outlined strategy, I knew that I needed to create plenty of content, and then schedule it. We already had some quote and tip graphics created for Facebook and Twitter by our content specialist, Cat. Those graphics were based on an internal style guide that includes which fonts and types of images to use. I wanted to keep a similar look on Instagram, so I am using those same parameters.

I found some quotes online and wrote a list of tips I thought would be valuable. Using PicMonkey, I created graphics using stock images and text.

The Instagram Experiment - Clique Social + DesignI also wanted some plain-text graphics to stand out between the ones with stock images. I curated a few posts that I liked on Instagram to provide inspiration. I used the Clique color palette and fonts to create some text-based graphics somewhat based on the styles of my curated inspiration posts.

I scheduled all of these on Hootsuite, one of the few management tools that will schedule Instagram posts, so that I could stay organized with posting times.


Instagram Progress

I’m now on day 5 of my Instagram Experiment for Clique.

So far, the initial strategy seems to be working. Before the experiment started, I had 68 followers. These were all friends and colleagues who I knew already. As I type this, I have 122 followers. So, that’s an 80% increase, which isn’t bad for 5 days. Most of these new followers are entrepreneurs and other marketers who I don’t know.

My engagement is also growing. My first 3 “placeholder” posts got 7, 3, and 17 likes respectively. The one with 17 likes also got 2 comments.

While my newest posts aren’t all winners, the majority are getting 30-45 likes. My post yesterday evening topped out at 74 likes and 8 comments! Not bad.

The Instagram Experiment - Clique Social + DesignThe only post that didn’t get much engagement was one about the new Peach app. It was both promotional and not many hashtags were used, which I’m guessing caused the low engagement rates. But, instead of deleting the post in fear that someone will see a post that didn’t “do well” (something that I see some brands do), I’m going to focus on the outcome. Did it inspire anyone to connect with me on Peach? While there’s no direct way to track that, I did get several connection requests after that post. So, I’m going to ignore the vanity metrics of “likes” on this post, and focus on the actual goal: connections on Peach.

But, the main metric I’m looking for is getting traffic to that “Top 5 Tools” free download. So far, I have had 7 people click on the link in the bio. This number is low, and that’s to be expected. I haven’t once promoted the link, and I’ve avoided doing so intentionally. I figure that if I share amazing content, and start and participate in conversations, that when I finally decide to promote that download, people will know, like, and trust me enough to click on it. It’s a bit of a waiting game at first, but I think there will be a big payoff in the end.

Learn how we started growing a targeted audience in 2016 Instagram Experiment: Part 2!

Want to create your own Instagram Experiment?

Download our Instagram Blueprint and use the same techniques we do to turn our Instagram into a lead-generating machine!


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