In my opinion, pretty much every business out there should be using Instagram. It’s a great platform for connecting with others, building relationships, and sharing your expertise. Instagram can help you grow your business in many ways — that’s why I love it so much! But what I DON’T love about Instagram is how much freaking time it takes. I wanted to figure out a way to take advantage of Instagram, but not have to spend hours and hours every week on it. So I created an Instagram System that allows me to do just that!
What is an Instagram System?
This Instagram System I’m going over today is primarily for saving time on creating your IG feed posts. This is arguably the most time-intensive piece of Instagram marketing. So if you can get this one piece more systemized and created in an efficient way, it will save you a LOT of time and energy. Then, you can use some of that extra free time to focus on some of the things that aren’t as easy to systemize with Instagram — like sharing daily IG Stories and engaging with your audience.
This post goes over the basics of how to create your own, but I give you my ENTIRE plug & play Instagram System in The Systems Society if you want to save even more time! (It includes all of my Asana workflow templates, scripts, and tech tutorials — everything you need to create an Instagram system for yourself or your clients.)
The Instagram System I’m talking about today is something that can be used for yourself OR your clients! I’ve been offering Instagram management services to my clients since 2016, so I’ve learned a thing or two about the platform. This system is exactly what I do on Instagram, both for myself AND my clients.
It’s something that I’ve been perfecting for years, but never shared until now!
Disclaimer About This Instagram System
The structure of this system is what I do for all of my clients (and myself), but keep in mind that you get out of it what you put into it. This is something that I’ve learned about creating systems specifically for social media platforms. Other types of systems are completely different, but social media is its own thing!
When it comes to social media, you shouldn’t automate everything. Part of what makes social media so great is the actual REAL interaction with other human beings. It’s totally possible to automate and delegate 100% of your Instagram marketing if you want. But just know that you’ll have a hard time getting results if you do that.
It’s important that at least some of what you (or your clients) are doing on social media is authentic, real, spontaneous, and live. For me, I’ve found that my Instagram marketing strategy works the best if I automate/delegate all of my feed posts. Then I spend my personal time and effort focusing on Stories and engagement. This is what I do with my clients as well.
Before you get started with implementing this system, you need to decide how much time and money you (or your client) is willing to invest in Instagram. And then use the step-by-step directions below to create a system that works within those boundaries.
This basic Instagram System I’m going to walk you through is great if you or your clients don’t have a ton of time or money to invest, because it is completely built from content repurposing. I’ve created it in the easiest and least customized way possible on purpose. But then, as needed, you can easily adjust it by adding or removing elements to make it more customized, depending on how much time/money you or your clients have.
The Never-Ending Instagram System
The reason I call it “never-ending” is because once this system is set up, you don’t have to create any new content directly for Instagram. All you have to do is plug in the content you already have and then schedule it! Once set up, it takes about 30 minutes per month to maintain it. This is why I love systems. Take the time to set up this Instagram system for yourself — or your client — and then enjoy all the time you save in the future!
Step #1: Decide on Your Content Buckets
The first step is to decide on what your content buckets will be. Again, you’ll want to take into consideration how much time you have to spend and how much you want to rely on repurposed content vs. brand-new/timely/relevant content. If you stick with just repurposed content, it’s the easiest (but least customized) option.
Each content bucket contains 3 things:
- An image/video
- A caption
We’ll talk about hashtags more in a minute. First, let’s focus on the image creation and caption copywriting. You can kind of mix and match your images and copy however you want, and there are several different types of each.
Here are some examples of IMAGE content:
- Stock photos/flatlays
- Promotional graphic
- Quote/tip/question graphics
Here are some examples of CAPTION copy content:
- Personal story
Keep in mind that some types of images/copy may be more time-consuming to create or harder to repurpose. Choose options that fit in with the level of investment you or your client is wanting to make.
To finalize your content buckets, you’ll want to choose which types of images you’ll be using, which types of copy you’ll be using, and what mix-and-match combinations of the two that you’ll be using together.
For example, here are some of my personal content buckets:
- Question + repurposed tip (see example)
- Blog post promo graphic + blog post promotion (see example)
- Headshot + personal story (see example)
Step #2: Add in Your Hashtags
Each content bucket also needs matching hashtags. You can add all (or some) of the hashtags for each post individually or have a set block of hashtags that you use every time for each different content bucket. Again, it depends on how much time you want to invest in this.
An important part of this process is doing hashtag research. Whether this is for yourself or for a client, create a database of hashtags that you can use for them. Find popular hashtags that match their brand and niche and add them to your database (I share my process for how to do hashtag research inside of The Systems Society!). Then use the database to decide which hashtags you’ll be using for each post.
The fastest way to do it is to just have a set block of 30 hashtags that you always use with each content bucket. But if you want to get more custom, you can create a unique block for each post.
Here’s what an example hashtag database looks like:
Step #3: Finalize Your Posting Schedule
Next, you’ll need to decide on the frequency that you will post each content bucket and finalize a posting schedule. There are different types of posting schedules that you can do and, usually, it’s either based on (a) day of the week or (b) having a particular feed style.
For example, if you want to do a checkerboard feed style, what content buckets you share on which day is going to depend on making sure your feed remains in that style. Whereas if you have a podcast that you want to promote every single Wednesday when your new episodes come out, you may want to create your feed style based around days of the week instead.
Step #4: Create Your Never-Ending Content Library
Depending on how much repurposed content you’re using, you may have some types of content that won’t be included in this content library. This library is JUST for the repurposed content or the content that can be created in advance.
Create all of the necessary images and copy needed to fill up your content library by repurposing older content.
For example, if you will be sharing tips as one of the copy pieces, go back through old videos/blog posts/podcast episodes and pull out snippets of advice that you can share by themselves. You might need to make some small edits so that it stands alone. This works well because you can usually get several shorter tips from one longer piece of content! This is an easy way to plan multiple IG posts off the effort of one blog (or other content) and reinforces your brand’s core messages again and again.
Then, as you or your client release new content (i.e. blog posts, videos, FB Lives, etc.), create a workflow (or add to your existing content creation workflow) with steps to create the copy and graphics needed. For example, add a task to your blog post workflow like “Repurpose 3-5 tips from this blog post to use on IG.” You can complete this task yourself or delegate it out to someone on your/your client’s team.
This is how you make sure that you’re constantly on top of it, each piece of content is repurposed, and you never really have to build out new IG-specific content (unless you want to)…it’s all being built out as part of your regular content creation!
Step #5: Schedule Your Posts
Personally, I schedule out all of my content 1 month in advance, so I only do this once a month. That’s why it only takes me about 30 minutes or so to maintain this system!
I just hop into the content library that we created in Step #4 and then pull out what we need and schedule it so that the correct copy/graphic content buckets are going out on the right days (based on the schedule created in Step #3).
You may want to implement some sort of a content review process if you’re doing this for your clients. Let them review everything before it goes out so that you can make changes if necessary.
Step #6: Review Metrics + Make Adjustments to Improve
Each month, I like to review the metrics and see what performed well and what didn’t perform as well. Try to figure out what the audience loves and really engages with, and do more of that!
Use this data to make decisions on how to adjust your schedule moving forward (if needed). This is a straightforward and streamlined system, but again you get what you put into it. Adjusting as needed can make all the difference for your social media stats.
And that is the Never-Ending Instagram System! This system is so easy to implement and it’s also really easy to add to or adjust if you want to get really fancy with it. I focused on repurposing content, but depending on the time and money you/your client wants to invest, you can include custom content as well.
In The Systems Society, I get into ALL the details. I show you how I take this system and set it up inside of a monthly workflow for my clients so that we can easily deliver this service every month — and how we stay on top of creating new content. Plus so much more…
Here’s what’s included in just this one system:
- One-click install Asana workflow for this Instagram system
- Hashtag research process and spreadsheet template
- Tons more ideas and examples for content bucket images and copy
- Instagram engagement system
- Tips on systemizing your IG stories
- Metrics tracking spreadsheet template
- Posting schedule template
- Content Library spreadsheet template
- Feed style examples and mockup template
This is all just ONE system — and you get one new system a month when you join The Systems Society!