Whether you're a social media influencer, marketer, business owner or simply interested in boosting your personal profile online, chances are you've thought about how to increase your engagement on Instagram. Yes, there's the tried and tested way of personally interacting with followers in authentic ways, but let's be real. There's never enough time for this and with Instagram's super intelligent algorithm, it's not a foregone conclusion that this will even work.
Engagement has become the holy grail of Instagram influencers and marketers. The more the platform grows, the more users like, follow, share and tag other users, the easier potential customers are able discover your business. Many small businesses – from coffee shops to make-up artists to vintage clothes stores – as well as big celebrities have found success in skilfully engaging their followers on the Gram. And with more than 4.2 billion photos like every day and 50 billion posts shared to date, you want to get in on that action.
So, how do you do it? First, it's important to know what different types of engagement there are on Instagram. What is engagement? Really, it comes down to the degree of your audience's involvement with your content. The level of their interest in and interaction with your posts are indicated in how they engage with your stories, posts and comments. Use our Instagram Engagement Checker to see how you are doing.
Here are some important measures that define engagement on Instagram:
While size always matters, the size of your following on Instagram is not the most important factor when determining engagement. That's why there are hugely successful micro-influencers on Instagram, sometime with as few as 2 000 followers. While these influencers don't necessarily have a massive following, they know exactly who their followers are and what they're interested in; thus, what content they have to produce. When determining the success of your engagement efforts, rather look at the rate at which you are gaining followers and analyse through with the help of the appropriate social listening tools what it is that hooked them into following you.
Likes are pretty straight forward the simplest form of engagement your content can get. It's also a good measure of how popular the posts are you publish. It does not ask a lot of you audience to double tap your post to give you a like, so while it's not the deepest form of engagement, it provides a good baseline for measuring the traction a post got.
Where likes provide a purely quantitative measure of your post's popularity, comments can provide much deeper insight into why a post did well or not. Comments are the most valuable form of engagement as a comment really is an indication of a follower or customer's loyalty and commitment to your brand. The fact that they spent the time to think of and write a comment, means your audience is highly engaged with your content. Of course, a string of thumbs up emojis does not indicate such a high level of engagement as a well-thought-out comment, so keep that in mind when considering the impact of comments on your level of engagement.
Where comments are indicative of a follower's interest in your content, shares and reposts are a good indicator of their willingness to be associated with your brand. This is even more important if you want your followers to be ambassadors for your brand. Each share of your posts is like a mini organic advertisement for your content and therefore rates very high on the engagement scale and is something you want to encourage at all costs.
So, with hordes of creative brands and social media fundi's competing for audience's attention and engagement, how do you make sure your Instagram strategy will improve your audience engagement?
Here are 9 tips to boost your Instagram engagement in 2019:
1. Be consistent
One of the biggest challenges is to keep people enticed to keep coming back to engage with your content. A good way to build a loyal following on Instagram and keep people entertained is to post regularly. This will show your followers that you are committed and loyal to your brand but also to them. There's nothing more attractive than someone who is truly invested in their content and passionate about what they do. And there's nothing less inspiring than an account that only bothers to post something new once every two months.
But even more importantly, by posting consistently, your followers will get into the habit of engaging with your content on a regular basis. This will help you build a loyal relationship with them that will ultimately boost their engagement with you.
If posting on Instagram consistently is a priority for you (which it should be) using a social media calendar is a great way to achieve this as it will allow you to plan and schedule ahead. Read Influencer Media Hub’s article on how to create your on social media calendar, if you are unsure how to do it.
2. Use hashtags
Instagram was built on hashtags. It is the platform's primary method of sorting and filtering content. Unlike Twitter, where most people use just one or two hashtags in a tweet, Instagrammers may use up to 30 hashtags per post. But using too many hashtags that are irrelevant could make the system think you are spamming followers which could place you at risk of receiving an Instagram shadowban. Hashtags that lead to a topic page can be used in your bio, Instagram Stories or be location-based to create higher visibility, or can be used to create user generated content campaigns. Hashtags on Instagram are usually more descriptive than on Twitter. Content hashtags such as location hashtags are particularly useful to increase engagement.
These hashtags are not necessarily trending or extremely popular but are commonly used and therefore enhances the search engine optimisation (SEO) of your posts as users would use them to search certain topics.
Make sure you employ the right hashtag analytics to track whether you are using the best hashtags to improve your engagement rate.
3. Stick with one filter
Because Instagram is primarily visually-driven, its most popular feature is the filter options that give your images and videos a distinct look and identity if used consistently. According to a WebDam report, 60% of the best-performing brands on Instagram use the same filter each and every time they post. So try out a few filters and then stick to one that gives your content a distinct look and feel so that your followers can recognise and relate to it. Graphic design company Canva did a study that showed Clarendon is the most used Instagram filter in the US and worldwide. Other studies show that brightness is the key to attract viewers and more important, engagement.
If you don't like the filters Instagram offers, there are tons of third-party photo editing apps that require various degrees of technical know-how.
4. Post Instagram Stories regularly
As we all know, Instagram Stories only last 24 hours (although you can save them to your profile for those who missed it) but if you use them like a pro, you can get much more mileage out of your Stories. Every time you add a new Story, your profile image gets red circle around it, indicating to your followers that there is new content. By posting every day, you keep the content fresh for your audience with a constant reminder of your new content. Your followers will learn to come back regularly to check if you have posted a new Story and this way you will increase engagement.
You can also categorize and share stories again using the Stories Highlights feature across the top of your profile page. This is a great way to showcase stories you’ve done in the past that all follow a theme. Categorizing them according to themes makes it easier for users to find content that they’re interested in.
Remember to use hashtags in your Stories, just like you would in regular Instagram posts. With Stories, you can use broader and more popular hashtags, as long as they are relevant to the content you’re posting.
5. Get feedback with polls, questions and stickers
A great way to get feedback from your followers is by using polls. You can ask them what their favorite products are, what they enjoy about the content you post, and what they want to see more of. You can then use this feedback in crafting your future posts for maximum engagement.
The “Ask Me Anything” question is also great for engagement. This allows your followers to ask questions about your brand, your personal life (if you want to share), or useful information that you are an expert on.
The Swipe Meter allows you to survey your audience to get their thoughts on something. Use it to find out how much your audience loves a specific product, workout, outfit, etc.
6. Be careful of follower fatigue
Have you ever read the news and thought that every article is presented as the biggest problem in the world? Being passionate and enthusiastic about your brand is good. But being overzealous can be exhausting to your followers. Don’t shout at your audience or compose every caption to have a sense of urgency. This will only teach your followers over time that nothing you post is urgent. Thus, have the exact opposite effect you want.
If you are a social media influencer, you are in the business of information – you are giving your followers valuable information about certain products, brands, trends, or items that will help them make decisions. You want your followers to feel like you are interested in things that may be of use to them, or may add value to their lives.
If you're unsure whether you are causing follower fatigue, think of an instance where you felt like unfollowing someone, or unsubscribing to an email, or muting a profile in your feed. Why did you do it? Listen to your gut. This will help you find the right tone and frequency in your engagement with your followers to make sure they stay tuned.
7. Mention others
If you feature any person or brand in your post, mention them. Even better if it's in an Instagram Story where they can share your post in their own Story. This not only helps increase your engagement, but expands your reach because it allows people who follow the person or brand you’ve tagged to see your content as well.
8. Explore Instagram's video features
Media agency Zenith predicts that by 2020, consumers will spend 84 minutes a day watching online video, up 25% from 67 minutes in 2018. That's a lot of time spent watching video and if you're not using this feature, you are missing out. There is simply no arguing with the efficacy and popularity of online video content. Instagram knows this and offers a range of video options for marketers and influencers to use that accommodate various video lengths and formats.
Instagram Stories’ live video option can be very hand for big reveals about new products or services. Or you can use a prerecorded ad for more curated, strategized content. Instagram Stories can mash up videos and stills into a single ad or standalone 60-second videos. The latest feature, Instagram TV is ideal for long-form features.
Video content makes your followers stay on your profile for longer, which means higher engagement. It's simply a must if you are looking to increase engagement time.
9. Be authentic
You can be as clever, funny or artistic as you want, nothing beats being authentic. When you really live your Instagram brand, it shows. This is true of your photos, captions, videos and stories. You want to show your followers real content that shows them the value of your brand.
This means sometimes showing them the flops or the behind-the-scenes, not-so-perfect images. It also means having conversations with your followers in the comments, thanking them for their support and encouraging them to explore other brands, even if it means giving the opposition a shout out.
Repost your followers' images in which they tagged you. Think of Australian fitness rolemodel Kayla Itsines whose Bikini Body Program absolutely exploded. She often shares the success stories of her clients on her Instagram page and congratulates and motivates them.
Having unique and believable content establishes trust with your followers and is your most valuable commodity as an influencer as this is what brands and businesses are looking for when employing social media influencers in their marketing strategy.