#1: SEO Drives Organic Instagram Visibility
When it comes to gearing up for 2021, especially with Instagram marketing, there are two things that all marketers should take advantage of: SEO and Reels.
In November 2020, it was officially announced that Instagram would become more search-friendly. Now, without the use of hashtags, if you search for a keyword in the search bar, relevant videos, profiles, and posts should populate.
This will be game-changing for marketers as we should expect increased opportunities for more reach on posts. My recommendation to take early advantage of this update is to make sure your captions include relevant keywords that will help Instagram identify what’s being shown or talked about in your post.
example instagram profile for @splumdeluxe showing key words of ‘plum deluxe’ and ‘loose leaf tea’ in the bio of their page, allowing them to show up well in search resultsTo further help Instagram categorize your account, you want to consistently post content that’s relevant to your niche. To illustrate, if you run an Instagram account for your dog training business, you’ll want to focus on posting content about dog training and avoid content that strays into an unrelated category. Other ways to help you show up in search within your category include following other similar accounts and adding a relevant keyword to your name in your bio (i.e., Alexa | Dog Trainer).
To compete with the rise in popularity of TikTok, Instagram launched Reels, a new form of video content delivered in 15–30 seconds to create quick, attention-grabbing moments in a creative and entertaining way. Instagram’s new UI update, which put IG Reels front and center, should hint to marketers that Instagram Reels will be here to stay in 2021.
If you don’t know where to start, my biggest tip is to leverage what’s already working. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you just need to build on what’s already working on another platform. Even if you aren’t a TikTok user, create a TikTok account and see what’s already going viral on TikTok. Take notes, figure out which sounds are most popular, and decide how to put your own spin on it. Then create that content on Instagram Reels.
We’ve found that 15-second content pieces outperform 30-second content pieces, as the Instagram Reel preview is limited to 15 seconds before people need to click See More. Stick to creating Instagram Reels content that is 15 seconds long so that the full video plays on Preview mode.
#2: Reels Ignite Organic Instagram Exposure
Though there are plenty of fun and fancy features rolling out for marketing on Instagram, the trend is clearly moving towards video—especially short-form video.
We’ve seen this pattern when Stories came out in 2016. Engagement and reach for feed posts decreased as Instagram moved the attention of its users to 24-hour disappearing Stories. Now in 2020, we’re seeing the same thing happen; reach is dropping for Stories and feed posts but is exploding for Reels. I’m talking 10 times the number of views you’d expect for your stories or feed posts.
The time to embrace short-form video marketing is now. Instagram Reels can be 15 or 30 seconds long and I like to think of them as stories on steroids. Reels don’t have to be intimidating. They can be as easy as talking to your camera, just like stories. What makes reels so engaging is the fact that you can add music and text to keep things interesting. My favorite is to time the text so it appears and disappears to the beat of the song, as well as using the Green Screen effect.
The Green Screen effect is uber-powerful for small businesses in Reels because it gives you the ability to share photos, screenshots, or videos in your reel. Photos could be before-and-after images that illustrate the transformation that your business delivers. Screenshots could be used to showcase questions your business gets via email or Direct Messages—where you answer the question as a “talking head” in front of the screenshot. The options are endless (and better explained in a visual way!) but I do recommend getting comfortable with the Green Screen effect in Reels, and watch the views, leads, and customers roll in.
#3: Brick & Mortar Stores Embrace the Shift to Online Shopping on Instagram
As we become accustomed to the “new normal,” businesses need to pivot to ensure sales keep coming in and numbers exceed previous years. But with new mandates and measures in place to keep consumers safe, what does that look like?
While eCommerce has been a popular monetization method for many brands over the last few years, it typically isn’t utilized by brick-and-mortar stores.
In 2021, I predict your local gym and yoga studio will offer classes online in a range of formats—from free Instagram Lives, Zoom calls, or their own integrated and propriety platforms. Grocery stores will have 1-hour turnaround online shopping, professional services like banks and lawyers will offer online meetings, and your favorite retail stores will offer local delivery or curbside pickup.
example instagram product shopping from @boisejuiceco showing lucky pink for $8.50 and under more from this shop appears a berry on-regular bowl, and mighty mango-regular bowl along with the option to search the shopAny traditional operation that can be turned into an online process will do so, and all in-person contact will be limited. This change is bound to be adored by some and loathed by others as it significantly augments the way we’re used to conducting business. This makes it even more important that the online version of your product or service is delivered at its highest quality and standard.
This shift toward contactless shopping will allow eCommerce stores to thrive even further in 2021. With social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook already beginning to integrate in-app purchasing, the steps traditionally required to convert a user to a customer will be reduced and the gap between ‘scrolling’ and ‘shopping’ will be significantly blurred.
To take advantage of these changes, your local business will need to:
- Survey your audience to determine their true wants and needs from an online offering
Research and test multiple video platforms to find one that supports your new offerings
Collect contact information from customers to ensure you can be in touch at any time
Sign up for Instagram and Facebook shopping to link products to your social posts
And all brands should consider the following:
Set up retargeting ads. A majority of your traffic won’t purchase on their first visit to your site. Implementing a retargeting strategy will ensure you capture them later and increase your overall revenue.
Focus on user experience. If your website is slow, not optimized for mobile, has a clunky checkout process, or lacks shipping and return policies, now is the time to fix it. Any inconvenience can significantly reduce your conversion rate.
This space will be ever-evolving but if you and your brand can get on board now, you’ll be better-equipped for the unprecedented changes expected to happen in 2021.
#4: Brands Must Humanize
Smart businesses will understand that being transparent, authentic, and even vulnerable is smart marketing in 2021. People connect with people. This means the brand should be personified in a way that reveals who they stand for and what they stand for.
Get more faces out there, create more video, and talk about what matters to your core tribe.
#5: Facebook Advertising Success Is Tied to the Customer Lifecycle
My advice for 2021 is two-fold. As the online marketplace continues to become more saturated and Facebook advertising costs continue to rise, returning to the foundational aspects of running ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram will be critical to success.
Central to that success will be accurately assessing the customer life cycle and the average customer value so you know how much you can pay for a lead and still remain profitable. Review the records of your past customers to get a solid sense of how leads join your list, the length of time between someone joining your list and becoming a paying customer, and how much your average customer spends with you.
Use that information to build out your projections and a Facebook advertising strategy that reflects your true customer data. Then you can move into developing innovative ad campaigns that play to Facebook’s preferences with creative.
For example, because Facebook is giving more prominence to Reels on Instagram, I predict that video ads will convert better than images. I recently tested ads that featured an image with audio, a static image, a moving image, and a video and found that the ad with video converted at as much as half the cost of the others. Test videos, GIFs, and Reels in your own ads to see which perform best with your ideal customer.