Instagram’s most elusive KPI is potentially the most valuable for content marketers – referral traffic to your blog and product pages.
How do you get traffic from a network that seems designed to keep its users inside the platform forever?
This simple framework can help, and better yet, it’s the simplest way to repurpose your blog content.
Before diving into the framework, let’s review some social media marketing basics. Just as with other networks, to be successful on Instagram, you need to:
- Understand your unique audiences
- Have clarity on what you are offering
- Resist the temptation to use quick fixes and shortcuts
- Optimize profiles for individual networks and purposes
- Develop a content plan
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What about the link
There’s good and bad news.
The bad news is that the only place on Instagram where you can put a clickable link is in your bio. To generate traffic to an article, you need to change your bio whenever you post something new.
The good news is accounts with at least 10,000 followers can give viewers of their stories the ability to swipe up for a link.
Clearly then, the first goal is to get to 10,000 followers. A content plan is a must to accomplish that task.
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Why a content plan to drive Instagram traffic
At Tailwind, we looked at 100,000 Instagram posts over three months and found that accounts posting once a day got substantially more engagement from their audience. Plus, Instagram has said recency is a factor in prioritizing posts in viewers’ feeds.
But posting every single day to Instagram is hard. Without a strategy, you are more likely to skip days and miss out on traffic and engagement. A content plan will make it easier for you to keep posting for the long haul and deliver a fresh stream of recent content.
With Instagram, it’s important to think in batches of nine. Think about it this way: if someone finds one of your Instagram posts due to a hashtag search and taps to see the rest of your profile, will they be impressed?”
Blogger Mike Allton once planned his Instagram posts to create a checkerboard pattern by alternating black-and-white images with colorful ones.
It’s a great look made possible by clear editorial decision-making.
If adding one more thing to your content strategy is overwhelming, I get it. Me too! Here’s help.
Before I delve into the VALUE framework for Instagram content planning, it’s important to know how to successfully translate your blog content into visual-first Instagram posts.
How to translate a blog into an Instagram post
You need to distill your content into a visual format to succeed on Instagram. Let’s consider how to do this while keeping the focus on promoting the blog content.
To create a dazzling feed, consider your brand colors and voice.
Rotate the colors in your brand palette in your Instagram posts. For the best aesthetic appeal, experiment with one color for each five-week plan.
If your brand doesn’t have a palette, pick a color from your logo and use tools to create one that you think your audience would like. I use ColorPick Eyedropper Chrome extension to identify the color then Paletton to choose an appealing palette.
Or if you prefer not to overthink things, pick a set of colors you like or work through the rainbow (hello ROYGBIV).
Now that you have your color palette, look through the images in your blog post. Are any visually appealing enough to stand alone on Instagram? Can they work with this five-week plan’s color theme?
For example, this image from a post on the TopRank Marketing blog could easily convert to an Instagram friendly post. The tone also suits a more serious B2B audience.
If you need to find a new image, tools like iStock allow you to search by color for an image that works for both the post content and the intended color palette.
For example, with voice search as the topic, you want to convey the concept of speaking. The color of the five-week plan is blue. You can search iStock for “speaking, blue” and discover more than 142,000 options.
You’ll see other examples of text-based blog content adapted to Instagram as I go through the VALUE framework.
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What is the VALUE framework
The VALUE framework lets you quickly create an Instagram content plan for five weeks at a time. It also ensures that your followers find something worthwhile in their feed, so they click to your blog for more valuable content.
VALUE is an acronym for the types of content to post on your Instagram account:
- Valuable: Helpful or educational content from which your audience can learn
- Aspirational: Idealized, tangible content to help attain a vision or a goal
- Lifecycle: Content builds awareness, nurtures relationships, or encourages action
- Unique: Proprietary and branded content focused on your business
- Evergreen: Timely, relevant, and useful content for years to come
Pairing VALUE with a weekday rotation results in a five-by-five grid like this:
Don’t forget that your profile viewers will be seeing nine posts at a time so plan accordingly.
TIP: To simplify the grid further, assign a day to each letter. For example, always post valuable content on Monday and aspirational content on Tuesday.
“Rotating through VALUE content will keep your Instagram audience from being bored by your feed and give them consistent opportunities to click through to your site for more,” says Rebekah Radice, social media and marketing performance strategist.
How do you use the framework for existing blog content
Now that you have your Instagram content plan format and know how to convert blog content into Instagram-friendly posts, it’s time to look through your good stock of blog content.
Set aside an hour or two. Assign each post to one of the VALUE categories. Then repurpose them on Instagram (and other social networks).
TIP: Don’t forget to change the bio link for each post until you get to 10,000 followers and can add links through swiping.
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Ask which of the blog posts teach your audience something they may not know. Remember, the topic itself doesn’t have to be new to fit the valuable category. Look for the posts where you introduce a topic for the first time. Valuable content often has definitions, comparisons, or analogies.
Here’s a blog post on voice search from Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide.
For Instagram, you could resize an image in the post for Instagram (optimal size 1,080 pixels wide by 566 to 1,350 pixels high).
Or you could choose a new image that aligns well with the topic and the feel of Instagram. This image offers the same valuable content and the bullhorn, woman, and rainbow allude to the original imagery. But the new image also has a happier, lighter look and might work better on Instagram.
Aspirational content offers tangible help to achieve a goal or a vision. How-to or list posts often fall into this category. Consider one or two aspirational posts each month that can stand alone on Instagram without reference to your content.
Take this blog post from Hootsuite, How to Take Good Instagram Photos on Your Phone, a Step-by-Step Guide.
To transform it into a standalone Instagram post, you could post a snippet on the importance of natural light accompanying a photo taken with natural light for inspiration.
Standalone posts work well because Instagram viewers don’t want to see blog promotions. And if you include a couple keywords and your brand name (#lighting, #photo, #phone, #Hootsuite), your followers can search and find your related content.
With aspirational content, you also can highlight great ideas from others in your industry or quotes that motivate you. And don’t forget to tag anyone you quote or highlight.
Tailwind used this technique recently with a quote from Peg Fitzpatrick taken from a Marketing Live, Facebook livestream. And Peg commented on it, further extending the post’s reach.
Lifecycle posts build awareness, nurture relationships, or encourage action. Keep the “cycle” part of lifecycle in mind. You’ll often find yourself repeating these posts.
Content Marketing Institute uses a series of lifecycle posts to announce speakers for events.
Here’s an example of a lifecycle blog post – cyclical news coverage – on Jenn’s Trends followed by its related Instagram post.
TIP: If you frequently create breaking news posts for Instagram, consider creating a template for that purpose.
Unique content is proprietary, branded, or focused on your business. When you think of unique content, think of the things that only you can provide.
Case studies work well in this category. You can create an image quote from the case study about the value of your brand, then give more context in the caption.
Customer testimonials are another form of unique content. Here’s an example from Charlotte Mechanical, a heating and air conditioning company in North Carolina.
One of my favorite Instagram feeds is Ann Handley’s (@annhandley). Spend some time with Ann’s unique feed, and you’ll want more of the person behind it. Her posts deliver glimpses of her personality and life, which works well with the call to action in her bio, a sign-up form for her biweekly newsletter.
TIP: A feed full of people singing your praises gets boring. Make sure to change up the unique posts you offer.
Evergreen content is timely, relevant, and useful for years to come. Look for your blog posts that drive traffic and social engagement month after month or year after year.
Here’s an Instagram post from Express Writers (@ExpWriters) that points to a piece of evergreen content on its blog.
You can also break up longer evergreen posts to fill out a month of evergreen Instagram slots at one time.
Here’s an example from Moz (@mozhq). Its image quote is one fact from a longer research post.
What to remember
Don’t leave the traffic potential of Instagram untapped. To reach the magic 10,000 followers, which triggers the ability to swipe up to see links in stories, use the VALUE framework. It makes your content planning for Instagram simpler and requires no new content from your writers.
Remember, the key tips for successful Instagram VALUE planning:
- Choose a color scheme and stick with it, using one color family at a time.
- Post every weekday.
- Rotate through valuable, aspirational, lifecycle, unique, and evergreen content.
- Change the link in your bio to point to your desired blog post and grow your followers until you have enough for the swipe up link in stories.
You’ll be to 10,000 and beyond in no time.
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute