Congratulations! You’ve written a great piece of content for your website’s blog, and you’ve published it on Twitter and LinkedIn for your followers to read.
The good news is that it’s performing well and is generating plenty of traffic to your site. The bad news is you need to work out a way to make this text-heavy article Instagram-friendly to maintain your schedule and active following on there.
Repurposing your blog content for Instagram can be a tricky process, with Instagram’s prioritisation of photos and lack of link opportunities making it difficult to gain meaningful off-site traffic. However, with a bit of work and creative know-how, you can make your blog content ideal for Instagram, and grow your following without having to break your posting schedule or style.
The difficulty around marketing your content and pushing people to your site through Instagram is due to the layout of the platform.
Instagram prioritises visual content (photos and videos) to the level of not allowing a user to post without attaching some form of media. While this can be great if you’re creatively inclined, it doesn’t lend itself well to promoting text-heavy blogs.
In addition to this, Instagram is very strict on caption truncation. Any text attached to a post gets hidden after the first 125 characters, with the rest of the text hidden under a ‘See more’ button that requires additional user interaction. This means it’s difficult to provide meaningful snippets of your blog in the caption, as they won’t be seen easily.
Finally, Instagram still has a long way to go in terms of linkage and off-website journeys. Currently, Instagram doesn’t allow hyperlinks to appear properly in captions. It is only recently incorporating its own linkage features to profiles (until now, users have had to rely on Linktree and Linkinbio), and attaching website links to Story posts isn’t allowed unless you have over 10,000 followers.
It all sounds pretty bleak, but don’t fear! As marketing specialists, there are many methods we can use to not only circumvent these restrictions, but produce some excellent posts that get results as well.
Let’s start with Instagram Reels – and how with a little bit of work, you can use this new algorithm to promote blog content.
Instagram Reels launched as a feature in August 2020, as a way for Meta to break into the medium of short-form video, which TikTok had dominated the market in. The feature initially started with a 15-second limit, but has since expanded to allow users to post up to 90-second videos without restriction, as well as adding a full editing suite and filters to use.
While the reach of Instagram Reels has expectedly not caused too many waves compared to the TikTok juggernaut and its 1.05bn MAUs (monthly active users), there is still a large market for Reels and huge user potential.
Hootsuite has reported that Instagram Reels have a potential advertising reach of 675.3m users, meaning roughly half of Instagram’s 1.22bn MAUs are also using Reels and discovering new content via the Explore tab every month. If Reels users were a country, they’d be over double the size of the USA!
But how exactly do you use Instagram Reels to its highest potential when promoting your blog content?
With a bit of creative knowledge, you can easily take excerpts from your blog’s punchiest paragraphs and turn them into engaging, interesting video content with retention value. Our top tips for this are:
While Instagram Reels have a 90-second limit, this doesn’t mean you have to use all 90 of those seconds! Write the script as if you were going to read it out verbatim and time yourself reading it out loud. The optimum engagement length is dependent on many factors, so you will need to test it yourself and find what length works best for your content and your audience. However, as a good rule of thumb, after 45 seconds you risk losing the attention of your audience more and more with every passing second.
You can always post multiple videos and break up the text – this also gives you the opportunity to include a CTA for your users and push them to watch more of your content! They’re much more likely to stay for the whole ‘series’ if you’ve already offered them 5 short videos, rather than 2 long videos.
If you’re struggling to find good quotes to repurpose into video content, or are finding it hard to be ruthless picking 2 or 3 of the punchiest points out of the entire blog, have someone who is knowledgeable about the subject read the blog and your choices for the videos. Ask them what points they’d choose or remove, and get them to ask you why it’s important that this point is made into a video over other parts. If you struggle to explain why, it’s likely that the point in question can be removed or replaced with a more fitting topic!
Stationary slides and ‘talking heads’ do little to promote user engagement and retention. Jazz up your video wherever possible! This can be as simple as adding text that appears or disappears based on what the subject is talking about, or having a cutaway to secondary footage such as those on a stock site, or even a different angle of the subject!
Not all video content needs to be able to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Sometimes, a simple image, waveform and subtitling will do the job just fine. One tool we recommend for making simple, Reel-friendly content is Headliner – you can create up to 10 minutes of video content that looks professional and at home on sites like Instagram. A big selling point for Headliner is their subtitling tool, which automatically captions your content and puts them at the correct times in the video, saving you a lot of time from doing it manually. This brings us to…
Not only should you be making use of closed captions and alt-text on all your content already to make your content more accessible for users with disabilities, but it can also help with retention and gaining extra viewers. Instagram will often promote Reels directly in your feed that the algorithm thinks you will like. With 80% of social media users scrolling their feeds with muted phones according to Zubtitle, not having an option other than turning your volume up will cause many users to give up on your content and scroll past. Adding subtitles is an easy way to fix this problem and can help aid retention, even if your viewer is in a location where they can’t listen to what you have to say.
Making great video content from your blogs is meaningless if you aren’t directing them back to your profile, or to your website to read the full article. By adding simple outro cards saying something like ‘Head to the link in our bio to read the full article now!’ you can get as much interaction with your audience as possible, and direct user traffic towards the showstopper piece – your original article.
With Instagram being strict on linkage, it’s important to make sure you maximise the potential of your links. Instagram is allowing native linking very soon to push out companies such as Linktree, but in the meantime, these link aggregation pages are still king for Instagram. Keep them clean and updated, and always have your website link on there too – you never know who will want to get in touch with you about an order or services!
Another feature that you can use to full effect to promote blog content is Instagram’s Carousel function.
Carousels are a selection of up to 10 images of the same dimensions that can be housed under the same post, and don’t require any extra user actions such as clicking to be viewed. This is in contrast to sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which only allow you to view 3 and 4 images respectively before having to click on the post to view more. By removing the extra step and appealing to the familiar gesture of swiping on social media (made famous by dating apps such as Tinder), carousels often see a higher-than-average retention and engagement rate compared to single-media posts.
What’s even better is that Instagram changed its rules recently, so you are now able to host a mix of still images and videos in the same carousel. This opens up more opportunities for highlighting important quotes or using the still images as intro and outro cards on otherwise minimally edited videos.
If video content doesn’t work for the blog you’re aiming to promote, carousels should be at the top of your list for text-heavy blog promotion! Here are our top tips for making carousels a success for your brand:
Instagram doesn’t like posting images of multiple different sizes and will crop the odd ones out to make them all fit in the same aspect ratio. This can lead to a lot of important information being cut out, or your images looking amateurish. Square 1080×1080 is a good format for Instagram carousel posts, as it will never be cropped.
Just as we mentioned that you don’t need to use the full 90 seconds on Reels, the same is true for the 10-image limit on carousels. While the chance of exit scrolling is lower, by adding in 10 images you run the highest risk of people leaving halfway through the post. If you’re struggling to fill all 10, you probably don’t need them! Remember your main aim of the carousel is to push people to visit your blog post; don’t give them the whole article for free on Instagram.
By adding a question or statement at the start of your carousel, you grab the user’s attention and entice them to continue with the post without risking scaring them off with a text overload from the beginning. Ensure the intro slide is gripping, and the outro slide has a clear CTA!
Best practice for this includes not going more than 4 lines of text per slide, using a large font size, choosing a clear font, and not using light-coloured text on a light background. By doing these you ensure your slides are easily readable, can be picked up by screen readers, and do not dissuade people from reading on due to large blocks of text.
A great way to grab attention from the start of your customer’s journey is to include some big numbers along with positive, active language. This can be done by making the subject (usually the customer) the focal point of your sentence. For example, ‘75% of dogs are more energetic after eating our brand’ is active, whereas ‘Feeding your dog our brand increases energy in up to three-quarters of dogs’ is more passive and less engaging. Use active language wherever possible to grab the attention of your reader!
If you’re making your slides as digestible as possible, people will be flying through them, spending no more than a few seconds on each slide. It’s important to push your company branding in these slides and to have it in the same position and size in each of them. By doing this, the logo will be present for the longest time via continuity of design, and will position your brand as a voice of authority in the topic you’re discussing. Furthermore, it protects your hard work from being stolen and reused by other accounts, trying to pass it off as theirs.
People like to see other people and relate to them! A study by Georgia Tech found that using faces and human features in social media posts means you are 38% more likely to receive a like from the person viewing it, and 32% more likely to receive a comment from them. These are important metrics for social media success, and even by just having a small picture of the author next to a quote from their article, you can start boosting your social media KPIs with minimal extra work.
Now go forth and give your blog a new lease of life on Instagram!
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