Last week, we learned that UGC provides health and fitness brands with big reach, especially during the proverbial January reboot. Not only is earned content an essential way for brands to grow their audience and gain a few (or a thousand, natch) new followers, but it also provides them with a continually replenishing pool of potential influencers.
So after nailing down those influencers (check), what happens? It's time to tend to another piece of the content puzzle: understanding what type of content resonates with your audience.
Together, let's check out the most efficient way that it can be done.
When you're collaborating with influencers on an Instagram campaign, it is most certainly essential that what they post should be left to their own creative devices (remember: authenticity reigns in the faux world of Insta). You want that content to be as pure, organic, non-GMO as it possibly can be. But what about your brand's original content that's being pushed out?
Grasping content trends provides brands with an understanding of the various types of content that their audience is responding to, and therefore what visually pleasing piece of photography will increase engagement and snowball into amplified reach and follower growth (or alternatively, what will prevent Instagram unfollowers).
Consumer preferences are ever evolving and it’s important for brands to stay in the loop to continue growing and building relationships.
A Method to the Madness
So how do they do this? One simple way to understand Instagram content trends is to organize all posts based on engagement and take note of the aesthetics and/or subjects that you’re seeing (sometimes these trends can be overwhelmingly clear). But if, like us, you're more into digging deep, you can compare and analyze content performance with Dash Hudson’s easy-yet-incredibly-efficient Boards tool.
After noticing a huge increase in UGC for health and fitness brands this past January, we were curious to go even further and identify what types of content were best performing (how's that for detail-oriented?!). It made sense to revisit the galleries of the same four health and fitness brands we had previously observed: @soulcycle, @swellbottle, @pressedjuicery and @spiritualgangster. Figured we should finish what we started and extract what's trending on their accounts so far in 2016.
The method was quite simple. We determined four different content categories for each brand according to what they post. Then, we grouped original content and UGC into 21 posts on each of the boards that fit within the respective categories to ensure strong data that wouldn’t risk being skewed by any anomalies (read: Kylie Jenner posts). Finally, we organized the boards based on their average engagement levels.
Get out your glasses and notepads, it's time to observe:
The four most common styles of posts that emerged from @soulcycle’s original content and UGC were Quotes & Memes, Group shots, Creative Shots (think colors, lights, abstract bicycles) and Sweaty Selfies.
Despite Creative Shots having the highest total reach, Sweaty Selfies took the cake with the highest engagement rate, sitting at almost 4%. This board also saw the highest number of comments.
With the main focus for @swellbottle being their beautiful product, a series of different but very clear trends emerged for this brand. Retailers, influencers, and S’well themselves have created an abundance of Product Shot posts, whether it's the bottles on their own or posed with related items.
Following in second place for popularity: the ubiquitous (and attention-grabbing) Babe Shots, trailed closely by Outdoor Shots and Food & Drink (here we learned that S’well Bottles can hold an entire bottle of wine, say what!).
Engagement-wise, Outdoor Shots came out on top with an average rate of almost 5% despite having a significantly lower reach, with Babe Shots in close second. Can't say we're surprised there, ha.
As we sorted through @pressedjuicery’s content, it became clear that juice wasn’t the only thing that consumers were after; they sell froyo too. We divided their most recent original content and UGC into Sweet Treats, #FWIS, Green Juices and Non Green Juices.
It came as a surprise to see that not only did Non Green Juices win the juice wars, but that Sweet Treats beat the whole lot with an engagement rate of almost 3%, in addition to the highest number of total comments. It appears that even the health-conscious prefer indulgences!
The final and biggest account that we looked at was California’s ultimate cool kid yoga line, @spiritualgangster. Here, Yoga Shots was an obvious Board choice, along with Quotes & Mantras, Nature Shots and Food & Drink.
Imagine our surprise when finding out that Yoga Shots ranked third in terms of engagement! The top performing content for them? Quotes & Mantras. Also important to note: this category had the highest number of comments, which is a recurring commonality we've been noticing with this type of content strategy. Namaste.
The Year of Engagement
Based on the trends that we’ve observed when it comes to Instagram engagement rates, it seems to be foreshadowing 2016 as the year where users are valuing keeping it real and living a balanced life, all while remaining inspired. Seriously though, what's life if you can't indulge in the occasional @pressedjuicery sweet treat after your intense @soulcycle sesh?
However, it’s important to recognize that these top performing categories are not necessarily a one size fits all content strategy solution. All brands are unique, which makes understanding your particular audience even more key.
For example, quotes didn’t perform as well for @soulcycle as they did for @spiritualgangster. That said, the overall trend of authenticity can and should be considered in your brand's 2016 Instagram strategy. Always keep it real, bruh.
Another thing to consider is that engagement doesn’t necessarily correlate with reach: the board with the highest average engagement (@swellbottle’s Outdoor Shots) also had the smallest reach. This most likely means that Outdoor Shots are being posted by content creators with smaller but more engaged audiences.
The various types of content that users are engaging with are constantly evolving. Dash Hudson’s Boards provide an efficient way for brands to get granular with their content trends and keep up to date with what their audience is engaging around. Pretty much an essential tool for crafting a successful content strategy.