Unless you’re like Bettie Page, you may be finding it difficult to increase your engagement on Instagram.
I feel your pain. You’ve spent hours finding the perfect image that’s Insta-worthy AND reflects your brand, crafting a witty caption, and then trying to find hashtags to boot.
Then you press the ‘share’ button to send it into the abyss.
And at the end of it all, you feel like…
But the fact is Instagram is the overall engagement winner for brands. It’s 10x higher engagement than Facebook; 54x higher than Pinterest, and 84x higher than Twitter.
But I know what you’re thinking, ‘But every time I post, I get zero likes and comments. ZERO! Nada. Zilch. Nothing. What’s the point?’
But the truth is Instagram now relies on the same algorithm as Facebook. And now it only shows 70% of your posts to your audience.
Yep, only 70% of your posts actually REACH your followers.
And now I can hear you saying, ‘But what’s the point for brands? I’m just starting out, and I don’t see the value.’
Entrepreneur (and social media early adopter) Gary Vaynerchuk says Instagram and Instagram DM is the number one way to engage with clients, forge partnerships, and build your brand.
And you don’t need to take your clothes off!
So now you’re saying, ‘But what about all those influencers who post shots of them in pink bikinis feeding swimming pigs in the Bahamas? Don’t they get heaps of likes and comments?’
Well, yes. But let’s break down the anatomy of one of these types of accounts.
- These influencers are typically in the lifestyle/beauty space.
- They usually started their accounts when Instagram was in its infancy and posts were chronological order AND shown to all followers.
- Some MAY have used bots to boost follower counts.
All of these things may your account pale in comparison. But they just make the influencer’s account POPULAR. It doesn’t mean that all of them are PROFITABLE.
Which would you rather be? I know which P I’d be going for.
When it comes to followers, the most common misconception is that having more followers means you have more engagement and ‘are doing Instagram properly’.
Yes, it may be true for some accounts. But how many of their followers are QUALITY followers who actually want to buy a product or service from them? I’d say it’s pretty low.
And tell me, do you REALLY want to be spruiking a weight-loss tea from your account?
OK, now, let’s delve into 3 ways you can boost your Instagram presence without taking your clothes off.
1. Engage for more quality followers 💍
There is no quick fix to boost your follower count, engagement score, or comment count. Sorry, folks.
First up, if you want to calculate your average engagement rate for Instagram, divide the number of likes and comments by your follower count, which will give you a percentage.
To give you some context, the average Instagram engagement is pretty low at 0.5% to 1%. Mine’s slightly higher at 1.6% (with 658 followers at the time of this article).
So to boost yours, you gotta go the old-fashioned route and reach out to accounts and comment. (Don’t ‘like’ as much as that is easier to ignore and get buried on someone’s notifications.)
Ways to boost your engagement
- Tap on a hashtag, see which posts come up, assess if the user is a good fit for your brand, and comment on one of their posts.
- See who interacts with your competitors and start interacting with them on their account. They could be a potential client of yours, so jump on their Instagram and comment!
Instagram limits you to 60 comments per hour, but aim for 20 per day. You can do it just before bed. I do this strategy and in a day, I received 6 new followers over 2 days. While it may not seem like a lot, they have interacted, and commented on my account, which boosts the engagement rate. And best of all, they haven’t unfollowed after 24 hours.
2. Plan your content
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with what to post, when, and what your Instagram grid should look like, there are few apps that can make your life a whole lot easier.
I love using Planoly because it has great analytics, tracks hashtags and competitor accounts, has an easy-to-use interface, and desktop feature. It’s a little pricey at $20 per month for 2 accounts (or $99 per month for 5 accounts).
(Of course, there are loads more out there, but because I haven’t used them, I can’t talk about their features or benefits.)
The content pillars I try to work with are:
And post every single day.
Ways to plan
- Plan one to two weeks at a time, so you can plan content for fun days, like National Ice-cream Day, and also have time to react to last-minute ‘newsworthy’ events.
- Make sure your Instagram grid is consistent. It doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s (you’ll see a lot of white, gold, black, pink feeds out there with flatlays). It needs to look like your brand.
- You can take photos with your smartphone as long as you have good lighting. My favourite editing app is A Color Story. It made this photo I took for a client’s account look 100x times cleaner, brighter, and sharper:
Ah, hashtags. You need hashtags to reach a wider audience. You can use up to 30 hashtags, and I tend to use up all 30 for each post. BUT you also can’t use the same hashtags over and over. That will get your account shadowbanned (i.e. banned by Instagram so you don’t reach anyone).
Think of hashtags as search terms. Which search term would you like to be discovered under?
For example, if you’re a fashion brand, using #fashion is a highly competitive hashtag. Say you’re a fashion brand based in Melbourne, perhaps a hashtag like #melbournefashion or maybe #melbournestyle would be more suitable. You’ll reach your target audience and also have more chance of being discovered.
Ways to be part of #TeamHashtag
- Research your hashtag. See what your competitors are using and use those too. Also click through hashtags to see what posts are appearing. I found a lot of the accounts under the broader #hustle or #entrepreneur hashtags look spammy.
- Don’t be afraid to use hashtags outside of your industry as well. I use lifestyle hashtags for my posts and I find these work well to extend your reach and bring in new and different followers.
- Some say to place hashtags in the first comment, others say to include it in the caption. I say try both and see what happens.
Kidding! You can never fail with Instagram.
The algorithm keeps changing, so you have to keep experimenting and planning to see what works for you and your brand.
And you can keep all of your clothes on!
Want more social media insights?
Join me to unlock the secret sauce for a social media strategy that delivers results at the St. Louis Digital Marketers Meetup on October 17. You can RSVP here.
PLUS… everyone who attends on October 17 gets my 10 Instagram Tools You Need In Your Life for FREE. (Using just one of the tools on this list will cut your Instagram planning time in HALF for your own business and clients, so you don’t wanna miss this handy resource.)