Hard Rock Increases Instagram Engagement in These 3 Ways
Instagram is evolving its algorithmic view according to engagement, relevance, relationships, timeliness, profile searches, direct shares, and the duration of time spent viewing a post.
The fight between brands for ownership over relevant content has never been fiercer.
At Hard Rock International, we’ve prioritized our battle gear, and as a result, have seen our Instagram following and engagement explode.
With a 450% growth in engagement and 230% increase in community following in the past two years, we’ll just leave these tips here.
Below are three tactics you can implement on Instagram to effectively increase your engagement.
1. Yes, You Should Still Be Using User-Generated Content
At this point, it’s no secret that User-Generated Content (UGC) is a powerhouse tactic for content strategy.
UGC not only performs 50% better than branded or stock photography, it’s free content created by followers to make brand experience more relatable, touchable, and authentic.
When Hard Rock hit 100K followers last year, we launched an initiative to only post UGC for the next 100 posts.
The initiative was so successful that we’ve continued the spirit of sharing. UGC now makes up about 80% of our content on Instagram.
Fans want to interact with your brand in a relatable way. We have some of the most beautifully designed spaces around the world and the professional photos to prove it, but over and over again we are seeing that fans would rather see photos that look like they could be taken by the average traveling human.
These photos of our locations, framed and captured from the perspective of fans and guests, have been our most engaging posts ever.
A post shared by Hard Rock Cafe (@hardrockcafe) on
Fan content also plays into the current micro-influencer trend sweeping the industry.
UGC has been a huge community-building and engagement tool for us – we tag fans, fans tag their friends, and our reach grows exponentially. We leverage and value influencer marketing for all of our business units, but there’s been a shift lately away from those over-saturated feeds (especially with the FTC’s crackdown on Instagram sponsored posts).
A post shared by Hard Rock Cafe (@hardrockcafe) on
UGC content has a smaller individual reach per post than traditional influencer posts, but our overall program has a more engaged, ready-to-buy audience.
2. Use the Insights Available to Constantly Evolve Your Content
Curating UGC goes beyond populating our feed with content—it also helps us shape our own branded content.
Fan preferences, expectations, and perceptions of our brand really shine through in the content they share. Every day, travelers, foodies, and music lovers are telling us exactly what they want to see from us. All we have to do is listen.
This has helped us brainstorm creative and social campaigns. We have a more educated idea about what will resonate with our target audience.
It has also empowered us to become true gatekeepers of the content. We’ve seen a stark comparison of overly branded content, such as graphics with text, to our user-generated content, making it easier to challenge our team to develop more engaging assets.
Part of this process is evolving our metrics. Even with the current platform restrictions, data has been invaluable for us in shaping our content to encourage those engagements.
Capturing data around the Bookmarking function, for example, is the newest measurement we’ve implemented to track the success and engagement of a single content piece or overall campaign effectiveness.
3. Supplement Curated Content with Instagram Stories
When Instagram realized that users were over-curating their feeds and posting less frequently, they rolled out Instagram Stories and the social team at Hard Rock rejoiced.
Instagram Stories allows us to capitalize on the less polished, casual content space with more nimbleness than a feed post.
And because it’s more casual, we are able to strategically roll Stories out to our international regional teams to capture content around the world at a moment’s notice. From new location openings to behind-the-scenes peeks of major campaign photo shoots, Instagram Stories has become one of our best ways to spike engagement and build buzz.
For this to work, it was vital for our team to empower content ambassadors around the world to capture as needed and post.
As a best practice, we supply the team with a shot list and recommendations for covering large events or campaigns. We’ve enabled teams who know our brand inside out to post with simple pre-approval. This has made all of the difference in creating timely, engaging Story content.
Engagement on Instagram will only get more difficult if you aren’t evolving your strategy to keep up with platform developments.
Although Instagram is releasing new tools rapidly, there are still some surefire ways to stand out in the crowd—and in the feed. Sourcing UGC, emulating photos of fans to shape future content creation, and using analytics to your advantage will get you to Instagram gold, engaging all the way.
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Tanya (Gabrish) Cramp is a Digital Content Manager for Hard Rock International. As the chief brand voice enforcer and content curator for the brand, she serves as primary content developer for all brand initiatives and all social media content concepting and implementation. Overseeing a community of 16+ million engaged fans, her working knowledge of music history and witty dialogue oozes in every post, from caption to commentary. Prior to her life at Hard Rock, Tanya helped brands like JW Marriott and SpringHill Suites with social engagement and content and served as Digital Director for a team of six for an integrated communications agency. When Tanya isn’t strategically incorporating hospitality and dining stories into marketing campaigns, she’s hanging out in Orlando with her husband and rescue dog and pretending to be a ballerina at her favorite barre class.