If you are reading this, you are probably one of the 500 million people who use Instagram every day.
If you are attempting to effectively increase your engagement on Instagram, then you are fighting with 75% of the rest of the businesses who are trying to do the exact same thing.
It can definitely be frustrating when you create some spectacular content and images only to receive a few likes and low engagement, most of which are randomly produced through your over-enthusiastic hashtags and not from genuine sources.
Here are 5 strategies that you can implement today to begin building a stronger following and increase your Instagram engagement.
1. Conduct research about your audience
It is important to properly research the type of content your audience wants to see and how you can deliver it strategically so that they are more inclined to engage.
You need to take time to engage your followers instead of sharing content blindly – or posting for the sake of posting. You will soon realize that there is an optimal method of sharing content that works uniquely for your business.
A valuable tip for understanding who your audience is would be to build fictional personas of their habits, personalities, education, career, and interests. What makes your audience happy or frustrated and why and when are they browsing Instagram?
Many of these answers can be realized and acted upon simply by writing a few sentences down on a piece of paper. Ask a few people their thoughts, test out some content, and pay attention to the numbers. Think about some obstacles and offer solutions.
For example, if you are a home builder, it may be a good idea to offer insight into the home building process – from the decision to build a new home all the way through to completion. Poll your audience on design trends, ask them questions about their concerns on the process, timing or budget, run a contest or giveaway to incentivize them to engage with your page.
Chipotle is a great example of a business that has strategically built a plan to provide their audience what they want to see – clearly, memes and images about burritos. Followers know what to expect and engage with the restaurant.
2. Interact with other users
Sharing content and hoping someone will engage is almost the same as talking at a group of people, while not paying attention to what they have to say in return. It seems a little one-sided right?
It is essential when building your engagement to be active on Instagram. Search for content or other user profiles that are valuable to you, and begin conversations – start engaging.
Search hashtags that are relevant to you and your business or interests and respond to content with your own expertise and advice – (more on this in tip #3 below).
Another reason why you should interact with other users on Instagram is to become inspired. Perhaps you will see what competitors are doing or what other users are posting that is attracting engagement. What are they doing to gain their engagement or alternatively, what are they not doing that you could be to give yourself a competitive advantage?
Take 20 minutes per day to utilize the platform for your own engagement and research. It is amazing what you could oversee from using the platform in the way that you wish your audience was.
3. Use keywords and hashtags
Hashtags have quickly become an Instagram feature that everyone uses somewhat ineffectively to optimize and enhance their social media presence.
Search hashtags and keywords that are relevant and associated with your business, industry, and niche audience.
- If you are a lawyer, you may want to follow and use #lawyerlife (602K posts) or #lawyersofinstagram (157K posts).
- If you are a realtor, you may want to follow and use #realtorsofinstagram (4.1M posts)
- Restaurants or a business in the food industry may want to follow and use #foodstagram (63.4M) or #foodie(144M posts)
When you find other posts, ‘like’ or comment on them, expressing your interest and your own valuable advice on the theme or topic. In this way, you will already be engaging with other businesses as well as their followers.
You can also search for your location or the area in which you provide business and engage with other businesses in this way as well.
4. Take advantage of insights
Every business should have a Business Profile on Instagram. If you have yet to make the switch from Personal to Business, you will want to do that. Click here for instructions.
A Business profile provides you with insights and analytics that will help you in learning about post performance, reach, engagement, etc.
Take a look back at your previous posts, especially the ones that had the most engagement, reach, profile visits, and subsequent followers.
Pay attention to the type of post and tailor your content accordingly. For example, if the post was offering an opinion, or asking a question or divulging some big news, you may want to structure similar content to test the audience.
You can actively use analytics tools through Instagram that will effectively provide you with the information you need, such as the location and time-zone, to understand when and how your audience is more likely to engage.
For example, if your followers are Canadian and interact in the evenings, then you will want to post when it is appropriate for them – not when it is appropriate for you (schedule your posts through platforms such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite if this is the case).
5. Create high-quality content
If you are creating quality content that you have put effort into researching and building, then you are more likely to see quality engagement from your followers.
If you do not put any effort into the posts you create and share, then you likely will not see any effort from your followers.
It is not only the content that needs to be high-quality; your images, colors, themes, as well as the layout of your Instagram profile all contribute to the authenticity of your business.
Due to its simplicity and the platform’s intricate algorithms, Instagram Stories gain more views and traction than newsfeed posts. Instagram stories provide the capability to engage your audience through polls, questions, and more. You can drive attention to your posts by using your Instagram Stories to feature your content and persuade followers to visit your profile and engage.
You can share a post to your Story by clicking the paper airplane symbol under your post and clicking “Add post to your story.”
The best part about Instagram is that it is an easy and efficient tool used to communicate with your audience and build strong relationships with your consumers and prospects.
Unlike generations before us, our source is right here at our fingertips. If there is something you want to know about your audience, reach out and ask them – poll them, ask them questions, ask for feedback.
You will be surprised at the honest answers you will receive – oh hey, and it is an excellent way to engage your audience and show that you care.
Guest author: Marly Broudie is the Founder and CEO of SocialEyes Communications Inc., a digital marketing and business development consulting firm based in Toronto. Marly launched SocialEyes to help businesses and professionals broaden their opportunities through the power of digital marketing. Her goal-oriented approach and ability to help clients develop a vision to drive growth is her fuel for success, and consequently, the success of her clients.