How much do you know about your brand’s Instagram engagement? Are you happy with the engagement you’re getting?
Brands need engagement on Instagram to build a strong following and eventually turn those followers into customers but many times people can get caught up in the numbers game and just try to increase their follower count. While having a large following can provide social proof and credibility to other potential followers—or even brands or influencers who might want to partner with you—at the end of the day, a follower count won’t increase revenue for your brand. It might not even drive traffic to your website.
What will do those things, though, is having strong engagement rates on Instagram. When your followers like what you’re publishing, are responding and asking questions, and just generally getting to know you on the platform, you’re building a strong “know-like-trust” factor. You’re essentially priming them to buy from you one day.
If you’re looking to increase your Instagram engagement rate, you’ve come to the right place. You could try a lot of different things to get more engagement, but if you aren’t strategic about it, chances are you won’t see the steady, quality increase you’re hoping to see.
Here are our top five strategies that you can use to increase your brand’s Instagram engagement.
Instagram Engagement Tip #1: Create Quality Content that Works with the Algorithm
Ah yes, the infamous Instagram algorithm. While it might seem like the algorithm is the enemy, that’s really not the case. If you can create content that actually plays into the algorithm’s ideal posts, it can help you increase your reach and engagement.
Understanding the Instagram Algorithm
The key to creating posts that work with the algorithm is understanding it, and more importantly, understanding your audience. The algorithm wants to reward content creators and profiles that are generating engagement with their audience since that indicates they’re posting high-quality content.
That’s it—that’s the secret to the algorithm: Post high-quality content (images and captions) that your audience is interested in and wants to see.
Instagram sees this engagement and, recognizing it as great content, will share it more broadly across the platform.
How to Post Great Content
Great content starts with a great image. Whether you want to post a photo, a quote, a graphic, a video, or anything else you think will work, you want to make sure it looks beautiful and is eye-catching.
It’s true that Instagram is becoming slightly less perfect, which is great. Many users want to see real-life or behind-the-scenes images instead of absolutely perfect (or potentially photoshopped) images that are clearly unattainable. That said, a well-composed, nice-looking image will catch a viewer’s attention much more easily.
When creating your images, you want to design them so they make people stop scrolling. Whether that means adding a captivating quote or finding a nice background for your photoshoot, take some time to think about how this will look to your audience.
Then, it’s time to think about the Instagram caption. A great image works wonders to capture people’s attention, and maybe even get them to like your post, but it only goes so far. Then you have to keep their attention with a compelling caption. Whether or not you tell a story, share a fact, or ask a question, your caption is what will inspire people to comment.
You’ll also want to optimize your caption for your desired category on the “Explore” page. Depending on your brand, this might be “Shop,” “Style,” “Food” or something completely different. By optimizing for a particular category, Instagram will be more likely to feature you on the Explore page, helping you reach more interested users who can then engage with your post.
Posting Best Practices
You’ll want to make sure you’re posting consistently. Profiles that are actively sharing content often make the algorithm happy. Instagram wants to see you creating posts for your audience, so whether you’re posting in your feed or in your stories, post frequently. The more you post, the more likely it is that your followers will see and then engage with your posts. If you’re starting to get overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Set aside some time to plan out your content, and then use a scheduler like SocialBee or Buffer if you need so you can automatically post your content.
You also want to use your Instagram stories as much as you can. They might not be on your feed, but the engagement you get from them still counts toward your account. Use the question stickers, polls, and the other tools Instagram has provided to encourage your audience to engage with you.
Instagram Engagement Tip #2: Use a Reputable Growth Service
Notice that we said reputable. Not all growth services are good. Some use spam tactics and promise you 1000 new followers overnight. Here’s a little secret: Chances are those will mostly be bots or fake accounts which will increase your follower number but they won’t ever engage with you.
And that’s not what you want, right?
We want you to have an engaged following of users who look forward to seeing your posts so they can comment and reach out to you, building that relationship and eventually becoming customers.
Engage with Them
One of the best ways to increase engagement on your posts is to be engaged with other accounts. When you engage with other users, they are much more likely to respond back and then check out your profile and potentially follow or engage. Organic Instagram follower growth is the most reliable way of increasing your follower count with real people who want to be there and see your posts. They won’t be bots or fake accounts, and they’ll be ready to engage.
When you go and like photos on other people’s accounts (perhaps your ideal followers?), you are likely to get their attention. This will then bring more users to your profile and also indicate to Instagram that you are a real person and not a bot.
Use a Service
If you’re starting to get overwhelmed again, because now we’ve told you that you should be creating consistent, quality content and engaging with other accounts, it’s going to be okay.
This is where you can use a quality, reputable growth service that uses non-spammy tactics to help you get real Instagram followers. A service like Kicksta will do the heavy lifting for you.
Once you provide a list of your ideal followers, Kicksta will go and like photos of the followers of your target accounts from your profile. This will help generate interest and try to direct them back to your page. These potential followers then make their own decisions about whether or not to follow you—which means you’ll only get accounts that want to be there and see your content. They never use annoying tactics like follow/unfollow or buying fake accounts.
Instagram Engagement Tip #3: Hashtags
Are you using hashtags to your fullest potential? You probably know that Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags in each post, and if you’re using less than that, it’s a missed opportunity. Obviously, hashtags help you expand your reach on the platform, as you become easily searchable for people looking for those tags.
This is also another way to optimize your posts to help the algorithm understand who it should show your content to. Hashtags provide more information that Instagram can use to place you on the right Explore page tab, which again helps you reach more people who would probably want to engage with you.
Tips for Using Hashtags
While you can certainly just add hashtags to your posts or in one of the comments, they can also be a great tool for things like contests or creating user-generated content (UGC), which in turn is a great way to boost engagement. If you can create a unique hashtag that you can associate with your brand and a particular campaign, you can track posts your followers create. If you can capture that content and then re-publish it on your site, you have a great opportunity to increase engagement.
People love to see non-curated posts, like UGC. Not only is UGC more widely trusted, but people can usually relate to other users’ stories more easily than branded messages most of the time. Strategically-shared UGC can be a great way to generate buzz and engagement on your posts or for an upcoming promotion.
When you’re adding hashtags to your Instagram post, you’ll also want to be careful of what hashtags you use. It might seem like you’d want to use some of the biggest hashtags out there because obviously people are searching for them, but it would probably just be wasted effort. If a hashtag has more than 500,000 posts, it’s too big. It would be very difficult for your posts to show up, so you’re probably better off steering clear and trying to find a smaller hashtag to use.
If you’re stumped, you can use a hashtag generator or another tool of that kind to help you figure out the best hashtags for your brand. Strong hashtags can help your content get noticed, and they can help you find ideal followers. So don’t forget to look through hashtags to find accounts you could potentially engage with to bring them back to your page.
Instagram Engagement Tip #4: Use Your Analytics Fully
How often do you actually look at your Instagram analytics? Whether you use the built-in metrics from the app or a third-party tool that synthesizes those numbers into a neat package, it’s a good idea to take control of your numbers and understand what they mean.
Good analytics can tell you information about your followers (demographics, mostly) but they can also show you how your followers are interacting with your posts. This can be incredibly valuable because you can use it to understand which kinds of content that you’re producing is resonating with your audience.
You can track which posts are getting the most engagement, and then when you’re planning out and scheduling your content, you can make sure you’re including more of those types of posts. Maybe you love posting inspirational quotes, but the posts that have you in the picture get twice as many likes. This means it might be time to get yourself in front of the camera more often than using the quotes.
Boosting High-Performing Posts
Have you ever seen sponsored posts on Instagram? Not influencer posts that are sponsored by a brand, but sponsored posts that a brand has paid to put on your feed because you’re in their target audience?
These sponsored posts are most often “boosted” posts that began organically. If you have a post that’s doing very well, you might want to consider boosting it. Posts that receive far more engagement than you usually get are the perfect ones for boosting. This means it’s resonating well with the audience that’s already following you, so you can then share it with other accounts that are similar to them.
When you boost a post, it can reach thousands of users on Instagram, which can make it a very cost-effective advertising tool. Once you choose a post to boost, Instagram will ask you what your goal is. You can then choose website traffic, profile visits, or promotion views. They can all be effective, so just choose what’s best for your strategy.
You might think that you’d only want to boost posts that have a strong call-to-action that sends viewers to a freebie or even a paid program, but that might not always be the case. As we said, the most effective boosted posts are those that are already performing well with your audience.
Consider boosting a post that doesn’t have a particular call-to-action if you’re looking to increase your audience. Since you’ll be showing up in new people’s feeds (potentially people who have never even heard of you), asking them to click on a link or even leave Instagram might not be the best idea. That said, if you’re confident in your post and your call-to-action and you want to try boosting it, then go for it!
Watch your boosted post’s analytics, too. This can help you determine which types of posts you should boost in the future, and which would be better not being boosted. As with anything, try it a few different times and see what works best for your brand!
Instagram Engagement Tip #5: Partner with Another Account
Whether you want to seek out another brand or an influencer, partnering is a great way to increase your brand’s Instagram engagement. You’ll get your name out there to a new group of people, and your partner will likely be the one recommending you. This means that their trusting audience will likely give you a better chance than if you just randomly appeared in their feed; they trust the brands and influencers they follow and their recommendations.
Choose the Right Partner
Before you jump into this relationship, make sure you evaluate and choose the right person or brand. You’ll want to choose someone in your industry or one related to yours so that you’ll be introduced to people who will likely be interested in your brand and your story.
You’ll also want to look past their follower count and look at their engagement (see, it all comes back around!). If a potential partner has thousands of followers but a low average engagement rate, chances are they have fake accounts following them, or a community of disinterested followers. It would be better for you to partner with someone who has fewer followers but higher engagement. Micro-influencers, for example, are becoming increasingly popular because they tend to have very real relationships with their followers, so there is a strong level of trust there.
Run a Contest
You can choose from many different types of partner campaigns, but one of the best to do for increased engagement is to run a contest. Both you and your partner will advertise the campaign, and you’ll make engagement part of the entry. Whether you want followers to like your most recent posts, follow you, leave a comment, or tag a friend, you can help boost your engagement that way.
Contests are often beneficial in both directions, especially if it’s a strong, well-fitting partnership. Your followers will likely get something valuable from your partner’s account, and they might even be grateful that you introduced them to this partner.
When planning your contest, you want to make sure that your partner has the same goals as you. For instance, if you want to increase engagement but your partner wants to drive sales, that might not be the best fit. You can certainly get creative and see if you can create a contest or some other sort of partnership that serves both of you, but it’s easiest if you have the same goals.
Hopefully at least one of these tips will be helpful for you when you want to start increasing your brand’s Instagram engagement. Make sure you start out with the classic Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated. If you want to receive comments on your posts, go leave some comments on other accounts’ posts. This will help you get in front of more people, and it will help show Instagram you’re a real account.
Finally, make sure you’re always actively engaging with your audience. When people start to leave comments on your posts or send you direct messages—respond to them! That is one of the best ways to encourage people to comment again. Social media is all about being social—when we say something, it’s often because we want to be part of a conversation. So ask a question and respond to the answers. By increasing your brand’s Instagram engagement, you’ll build that relationship and grow your followers’ trust in you.