This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.
Instagram allows brands to reach a massive global and engaged audience, humanize their content, showcase their products or services, and inspire their fans.
Over one billion people use the app monthly, and more than half log in daily. The facts are there: Instagram can be a key driver to business growth.
I’m on the HubSpot Academy Team at HubSpot, and not only have we read up on the facts, but we also teach them. Last January, we launched a new course on Instagram Marketing, where we brought together internal and industry experts to teach 10,000+ businesses how to develop an end-to-end Instagram marketing strategy for their businesses.
So, we’ve done the research and we have the internal expertise — there was just one problem: We weren’t practicing what we taught. Our HubSpot Academy Instagram had been laying dormant for months and didn’t have a clear strategy or owner.
We knew that we owed it to our community and to ourselves to fix this.
Despite its growing popularity, we know Instagram isn’t for every business. So, we made a list of why we thought that investing resources into growing the HubSpot Academy Instagram channel made sense for the HubSpot brand. Here's what we found.
1. The fans are on Instagram.
HubSpot Academy, as a brand, has an amazing fanbase. Our growing audience loves learning from us and is proud of what they've been able to accomplish in their careers with HubSpot Academy.
If we created Instagram content that delighted our audience, we'd likely be able to bring that energy to that platform, too. Plus, our Instagram Marketing Course received great feedback — indicating that, if our audience wanted to learn how to create an Instagram strategy for themselves, it was very likely that they were on the channel themselves.
2. Instagram could help us reach our goals.
My job is to grow our HubSpot Academy community. While Instagram isn't inherently set up as an acquisition channel (as there’s nowhere to link except for in the bio — unless you have 10,000 fans and can use the "Swipe Up" feature on Instagram Stories), there were acquisition opportunities that we weren't yet testing or leveraging.
3. Our content worked for Instagram.
The HubSpot Academy courses are filled with actionable and visual content that would work well for the platform. We figured: If our audience didn't have time to take a full course right now, why not learn part of a lesson while they're scrolling Instagram?
How We Doubled the Size of HubSpot Academy's Instagram Account for $6 Per Month
The next step to growing the HubSpot Academy Instagram account was coming up with a plan. Starting in April 2019, I set out to answer the question: “Does growing our Instagram following make enough of a positive impact on our goals to justify the amount of time that goes into running the channel?"
I then determined how many new followers (~10,000 — we wanted access to the “Swipe Up” feature!) and new HubSpot Academy learners we’d have to drive through the channel to make it worth our time.
Here’s how I set out to grow the channel.
I established a consistent posting cadence. We only wanted to allocate two hours to content creation and scheduling per week, which resulted into two to three posts per week. (If we had more resources, we would increase this cadence to four to five times per week.)
I added some variety to our editorial calendar. Prior to this project, we were just sharing content that highlighted HubSpot Academy culture. Now, we have expanded our content to include short video snippets of lessons, graphics announcing our new courses, educational tips from courses, and quotes from HubSpot Academy professors.
I optimized our look and feel. By leveraging Canva, we can easily access our brand fonts and colors to create cohesive images.
Most importantly, we added more links to our Instagram bio.Linktree, a “link in bio” solution, provided a link that allowed our audience to seamlessly go from Instagram to HubSpot Academy. Linktree gives Instagram accounts the ability to list out as many links as they want in their bios. Now, whenever we post about a course, we add it to our Linktree list and let users know they can find the course by clicking the link in our bio.
This is where the $6 per month came in — to be able to brand our Linktree account with our Academy logo and HubSpot colors. I’d say it was worth it.
What’s Next for HubSpot Academy’s Instagram
Since launching this experiment in April, we’ve seen 17% month-over-month follower growth, and we’re on track to hit our goal of 10,000 followers well before the end of 2019.
We’ve also increased the amount of new HubSpot Academy learners coming from Instagram by 475%. Since we are solving for both the customer and the business, we have decided that: Yes, Instagram is worth the investment for HubSpot Academy.
Here are some next steps we hope to introduce in 2020 and beyond:
Start leveraging Instagram Stories more — especially when we can start linking out to content once we hit 10,000 followers.
We have begun hosting quarterly Instagram Lives with our Academy Professors, and we’d love to increase the cadence to make it a monthly show for our audience to stay up to date.
Right now, we’ve only been posting organically on Instagram, but we see an opportunity in paying to boost our most successful posts to reach a larger audience and continue to grow our community of learners.
If you are wondering whether or not you can implement the same Instagram strategies for your business, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” First, determine that it makes sense for your brand to be on Instagram. Then, check out the strategies in our free HubSpot Academy Instagram Marketing Course — we leveraged these for our own Instagram using low-cost or free tools like Canva and LinkTree.
Ultimately, we hit our goals without spending a lot of money, but it does take a good amount of resources to restart and maintain an Instagram channel. We recommend finding a social scheduling tool, like HubSpot, to help alleviate the time it takes to publish on a consistent basis.
Originally published Oct 24, 2019 7:30:00 AM, updated May 05 2020