How to Get More Instagram Engagement!
If you’re a small business owner, Instagram is your best friend! I think we all know how important the gram is, but how can you get more engagement? Getting engagement is the most important thing to focus on, and it should be your number 1 goal. Here are some super practical tips for getting more Instagram engagement, regardless of what happens to the algorithm. Let’s go!
Know your audience.
I know… a boring place to start, right? But the irony is, this is the main place people fail. All the content, ads, stories and ‘hacks’ in the world won’t get you far if you don’t understand your customer!
Think about who you’re trying to target. Who do they already follow? What content to do they engage with, and why? What do they want? Don’t think like a business, think like the kind of person you’re trying to attract.
An easy way to find out what people want is visit the top accounts in your industry, and see which posts are getting the most engagement. Do this for a few different accounts, until you have a solid idea of what works, and then incorporate that into your content plan.
Don’t think like a business, think like the kind of person you’re trying to attract.
Have a content plan.
If you’re throwing up content willy-nilly, it probably won’t be that great. If you use a content calendar to plan out posts ahead of time, and then use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Later, you will be much more organised.
If you’re organised, you have more time and freedom to think of really cool content, instead of trying to think of something witty on the spot (which is never easy).
Luckily for you we created an epic content calendar and you can get it for free. Click below!
Post epic photos.
The final piece of generic advice, but again so important. Instagram is SUPER visual and your image (or video) needs to POP right out of the feed. Something you’d stop scrolling for even without reading the caption. This is really important, if you want to stand out you NEED epic visuals.
We’re very picky with our photos and spend quite a while looking for the right ones. You can use Unsplash to find great photos, and we often repost other people’s photos from Pinterest or Instagram. (Just make sure you give them credit of course).
Quick side note - it’s a good idea to create a bit of a ‘mood board’ for how you want your brand to look. E.g. Mastered Marketing is very fresh, relaxed and fun. We use lots of beach photos, colour and happy images to create a fun and approachable style.
Use images that really POP out of the feed.
Engage with similar accounts.
Okay now into the specifics. The best way to get engagement is to engage with others. This is the #1 way to build a community on Instagram. If you’re not engaging with others, they won’t want to engage with you! Simple as that. There are bots that like, follow and comment on pictures, but we believe in genuine human interaction (it pays). Here’s a better way to do it, step by step:
Finding People to Follow
Go to competitors, similar pages and influential accounts. Follow the people that follow them. (If they are following that page, they are likely interested in yours too).
Search for locations that are near your business and follow people that often visit there (for local businesses obviously).
Search hashtags related to your business and follow people who are using those hashtags.
Find new posts and accounts and join in the conversation. Leave relevant comments not just an emoji or a comment that says ‘nice!’. Bots do that, and you’ll just look like spam.
If they reply or someone has commented on one of your posts, keep the conversation going People want some genuine interaction and brands should do that to grow.
Take 15 - 20 minutes every day to do this, and you’ll start getting more engagement.
The best way to get engagement is to engage with others
Write long captions.
This one tip skyrocketed our engagement. We went from getting 120 likes a post to literally 600+ (and it also gets lots of shares on Facebook).
Most people give a little piece of advice with a nice photo, and occasionally link back to a blog. This is fine, but it’s not awesome. You want to tell a story or add a LOT of value in a long-form caption, that is creatively written to keep the reader hooked. There’s a few reasons this works:
Not many pages do this, so you can stand out and offer them something fresh.
The reader gets real value without having to do anything else (like finding a link in your bio)
Instagram wants users to stay on Instagram, and since you aren’t pointing people away from Instagram it will prioritise your post.
The easiest way to do this is recycling your existing blog articles (or transcribing your videos) into long captions. Then just break it up and make it conversational so it’s easy to read. The easiest way to explain this is with an example. Check out this post where we go into detail about recycling content!
Post photos of people.
People really like photos of other people. I don’t know why, but they do. If you can, share photos of yourself, your customers, someone you met or whatever works. Not only does it help with engagement but it builds trust and makes you look relatable.
They also love pets. Who doesn’t love a good doggo or a cat photo - hey if you can get people and pets together you’ve hit the jackpot!
One of our clients @benwakelyproperties sharing a great photo.
Encourage commenting, and reply to comments.
In your captions, ask questions or ask them to leave their thoughts in the comments. And if they do leave one, make sure you reply! Feel free to keep a mini conversation going by asking a follow up question. The more people that get talking, the better.
You can also post quizzes where they need to comment the answer, or fill-in the blank questions like “If you could time travel, you would __________.”
Or you can straight up say “tag someone who needs this”. That works too 🤣
Track your best time to post.
This is a simple one (if you have an Instagram Business profile). If you don’t, just create one (it’s free and easy - here’s how). To see your insights:
Open your Instagram app.
Open the menu (in the top right)
Tap the Audience tab.
In the Audience tab you can see all sorts of data. From the top locations of your audience to the best times your audience can see your content and when you are getting followers. It’s all there!
You can see the best time to post and what content works best. Obviously make more of this content, and consider boosting your top posts (more on this in a second).
Switch to a business profile so you can see analytics.
Use the right (and relevant) hashtags.
Use hashtags that are popular enough to have people searching for them, but not so popular that it’s over saturated where you'll never be seen. It’s better if you use hashtags that describe your brand, type of business and target market.
For example if you're a restaurant in Melbourne, you can use #melbournefood. If you just did #food you'll be drowned out.
You can also create your own hashtag (like #masteredmarketing), or if you’re hosting an event. Just keep in mind not many people will search for this, so the majority of your hashtags should be more popular ones.
You can use up to 30 hashtags, and you want to switch up the tags based on the post. Don't use the same thing every-time, as Instagram can consider it spammy.
Final tag tip… to avoid making your caption look like a mess, comment on your photo after you’ve posted it and copy-paste them here.
With 165 million pictures, it's extremely unlikely you'll get discovered for this tag!
Something specific like this is much better. Lots of people searching, but not too many.
Use Instagram stories, polls & questions.
Instagram stories are the bomb! Sharing behind the scenes content and casual snippets regularly are HOT right now. As long as it’s interesting, there’s no limit to how many times a day you can post a story. Go hard!
Things like Instagram story polls not only grab attention, they also create an opportunity to hear directly from your followers and customers. You can share a poll (with 2 options), a quiz (with multiple options) and a question (where they type the answer).
The possibilities are endless here! Personally we like polls because they are the easiest to engage with. Think of an A or B option (e.g if you’re a personal trainer, put up ‘do you prefer mangoes or watermelon?’) and watch the votes roll in!
If you have a decent number of followers, asking questions is a great way to engage with your fans too.
Run Instagram ads.
You don’t have to spend money to get results but I think it’s a waste not to. They’re only going to get more expensive! BUT…. you have to have good content otherwise it’s pointless. If you know how to use the ads manager, set up an ongoing ad for $5 a day and rotate the ads each week. If you want to keep it super simple, just book each post for $1 a day for 7 days or so.
For more on Facebook & Instagram ads, check out our article here.
5 dollars a day can go a LONG way on Instagram. It’s a waste not to!
One of the most effective tactics to quickly increase engagement and grow your audience is to run contests on Instagram. From selfie competitions to giveaways, there are endless ways to create the best Instagram contest.
How to create a competition
1. Create an entry method. Choose between a ‘tap-and-tag’ competition, or get people to share photos with your hashtag (user-generated content).
2. Choose a theme. If you’re feeling creative and chose to go for a UGC-based contest - it’s time to pick a theme! Choose something that aligns with your market and your niche interests.
3. Create the perfect hashtag. Hashtags are being created every day, coming up with a unique one can be tricky. Just remember to keep it short, catchy and original and you’re good to go!
4. Choose an appropriate prize. If you own a furniture shop, don’t give away an iPad. People will just be entering to win and not because they would ever be concerned with your page!
*Hint: Feature the prize in your photo to make everything more tempting.
5. Spread the word. Once the planning is done, think of a promotion strategy. No one will enter your Instagram contest unless they know about it! Adding the word “Giveaway” or the actual contest hashtag into your image can help to capture followers and generate more entries.
6. Pick a winner and make someone’s day!
Collaborate with influencers (if relevant)
Social media influencers are popular for a reason. They have an audience and they know what they want, analyze them and respond to them. That’s why collaborating with them is perfect for brands just starting to get into the social media game - especially on Instagram.
Find an influencer who has a realistic amount of followers (someone with a million followers won’t even reply to you), with expertise in your field. Talk and connect with them and propose to collaborate on something that can benefit you both.
Offer them something they would want, and create a relationship with them so that you can have a few influencers you can go to whenever you have to promote.
If you implement these tactics, your engagement rate will be on the rise! You’ll also get new followers and increase your reach simultaneously. If you want to get more results faster and with less effort, click the button below or check out our social media cheat sheet. Happy gramming!
Mitch Hills @masteredmarketing