You post to Instagram, hold your breath, and wait for the comments to roll in. You’re feeling good about what you whipped together and hope that it brings you a good ol’ boost of Instagram love.
But what happens when you post… and all you hear is crickets?
You feel defeated… you feel confused… you may even decide to forget Instagram altogether. It’s clearly not working for you.
The good news is… you’re not alone. This not-so-fun phenomenon has happened to everyone (yes, EVERYONE) at some point or another. And you can absolutely come back from this.
But first, it’s important that you understand why your audience isn’t interacting with your posts. What are you doing… or not doing?
It can be incredibly tempting to jump to blame your misfortune on the Instagram algorithm, but the algorithm really plays a minor role in the Instagram play - just an extra on stage. Your Instagram strategy, on the other hand, is the protagonist, the main character, and where your focus needs to be when you’re auditing your latest, not-so-hot post.
So let’s talk about some of the main components of your Instagram strategy. And then, let’s run through some of the common reasons why your post may not be receiving the love you feel it deserves!
What goes into your Instagram strategy?
With every marketing tactic you use - social media, email marketing, blogging - you need to have a strategy in place. Your strategy is what guides you. It provides you with clear goals and direction so that you’re less likely to be distracted by the next shiny, trendy thing.
When talking about your Instagram strategy, here are some vital pieces that you want to flesh out before hitting that Publish button.
Your branding is so much more than your logo and some killer fonts. Think of your branding as the backbone of your business. Your branding includes things like your core values, mission statement, personality, and tone of voice.
Don’t skip the branding work! Whether you’re DIYing or hiring someone like Mikaela at Pet Marketing Unleashed, your branding is a huge asset that deserves your time and attention.
But where does it fit in when it comes to Instagram? Well, your branding dictates how you talk and interact on social media. Are you a humorous and clever brand, sharing puns and hilarious jokes left and right? Or are you more serious and put-together, sharing educational content that really helps and inspires your audience?
Your brand’s personality and tone of voice is an important tool to build your brand’s recognition. People learn what to expect from you, recognize your posts as they’re scrolling through the Instagram abyss, and can start to build a real connection with your brand as they get in touch with its unique personality.
Your ideal customer
Duh! You’d be nothing without your customers. But when writing out an Instagram caption or planning an Instagram Reel, your ideal customer needs to be front of mind. What do they like and dislike? What kind of content are they attracted to? What gets them to stop scrolling? What do they like to talk about?
These are certainly big questions to consider and ask yourself before each and every post. And that can seem really daunting. But the more you do it, the more second-nature it will become - promise!
Goals are great. We all have goals whether we have them written down in a journal or stuffed in our brains in between grocery lists, random celebrity trivia, and that song that you can’t get out of your head.
So let me ask the big, important question: Why are you using Instagram to begin with? Did you pick it because it’s your favorite platform? Did you think it was the most popular social media channel? Make sure that you have a clear understanding of why you exist on Instagram in the first place. What are you trying to achieve?
Some common goals for using Instagram are things like building a community, boosting sales, or connecting with your current customers.
While these are all great goals to have, you want to pick just one, main goal for why you’re even on Instagram to begin with. This goal will steer the ship and help make sure you’re not fixating on follower count when you should be connecting local dog owners with other local dog owners as you build your kickbutt community, for example.
But your goal doesn’t actually stop at one
While you absolutely want a main, overarching goal to keep you steady and headed in the right direction, you also need individual post goals to help you understand whether or not you’re makin’ waves or just drifting along.
Sure, tons of likes and comments are AMAZING, but if your post’s goal was to sell X number of your product or service, and then you sell X number of your product or service, guess what? You’re achieving that goal! Don’t let the like number distract you from that.
It can be really easy on a platform like Instagram to focus on what’s called vanity metrics. These are numbers that look good to others but don’t necessarily paint the picture of how successful your business is behind the scenes. Follower count and number of likes can definitely be vanity metrics.
So ask yourself, “what’s the goal of this particular post?” Maybe you’re wanting to sell something or send people to your website or yes, start a conversation in the comments.
The specific goal helps you understand whether or not your post truly was a flop or not.
Common reasons why your Instagram post didn’t perform well
Now that you know the key players of your Instagram strategy, you’ll totally understand these common reasons for why Instagram posts don’t do so hot.
1) Your imagery isn’t attention-grabbing or recognizable.
Instagram is a unique platform because it is very visually focused. While captions and text used in the app are absolutely important, don’t get me wrong, the photos, graphics, and videos are what’s initially bringing eyes on your stuff.
If you’re putting too much focus on your words and not enough on considering, “is this an image that will cause my ideal customer to stop scrolling?”, then you risk getting lost in the scroll.
Thinking about who your ideal customer is, consider what kind of content they like to see. Maybe they like funny cat pictures or are super interested in your educational Reels where you share a ton of dog training tips.
But don’t stop there. You also want to make sure that everything is recognizable, so that means it’s important to follow your own branding guidelines with every single post. Use your brand colors, fonts, and logo so that people instantly know it’s your brand!
2) You’re not speaking your ideal customer’s language.
Both your imagery and words speak a thousand words. Make sure that all aspects of your posts are geared toward your ideal customer and what they like.
But here’s the real kicker that tends to get lost in the shuffle: It’s your social media account, sure, but the posts need to be about your customer, not you or your business.
Your posts need to be centered around your customer. What can your business do for them? What transformation will they see after working with you or buying from you? What will their life look like after investing their money (and time) in your business?
3) You didn’t specifically tell your audience to engage + interact.
This may seem silly, but people need to be told what to do. Do you want your audience to comment on your post? Tell them to!
The same goes for anything else you want them to do. Do you want them to visit your website? Tell them to (and show them how by telling them to go to the link in your bio).
So don’t forget to include a command, or call to action, in your posts so there’s no confusion about what your audience needs to do next.
4) You’re not considering the algorithm and Instagram’s features.
I didn’t say that the algorithm was totally useless. Like any online platform, Instagram has its own algorithm. As a result, you may hear Instagram experts telling you to “post at this time” or “comment on 20 posts right before posting”.
Instead of getting lost in the algorithm details, consider this: What does Instagram want? Instagram is a business, too, and it surely has its own goals. So let’s break it down.
Instagram wants people to hang out on its platform - plain and simple. In order to get people to hang out on the platform, it needs to have a lot of interesting content that really reels viewers in.
So first and foremost, create good content. Don’t post just for the sake of posting. Remember, every post needs its own goal.
Then, don’t just post and ghost. Spend some time on the application. Use its features, actually interact with people, get social. Treat Instagram as a place to truly connect with your ideal customers, not just a tool that you have to use.
Posting to crickets? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and revisit your Instagram strategy. Chances are, there are some small tweaks that you can make TODAY to more intentionally and thoughtfully use Instagram for your pet business.
Rachel Doran, owner and founder of Tell Your Tails, specializes in helping pet business owners attract and connect with their ideal customers in order to stand out from the pet industry crowd. Rachel firmly believes that marketing to customers doesn’t need to be complicated or scary. After years of firsthand pet business experience, Rachel’s sweet spot is in helping pet businesses build a sustainable marketing strategy that actually works for them.
And finally, be sure to say ‘hello’ at www.instagram.com/tellyourtails