Do you remember the first days of Instagram? When growth was easy and engagement was sky high. When the feed was chronological? While crying over the past is of no use, it is towards the future that we must look into. And how to play around the current algorithm to ensure brand content is seen and engagement on Instagram improves.
We agree that sometimes, the Instagram algorithm can be a headache. However, knowing how it works and to use it to your advantage will really help you grow your brand. Plus, it will help increase engagement on Instagram. The app indeed has great features that can help you understand your audience better. Then, will you be more able to create content that they are more likely to like, and therefore see.
Below are ten ways to increase engagement on Instagram. Most of them can be executed straightaway and fairly easily. Others will require a bit more work and content creation. Either way, your engagement on Instagram will grow and give your brand more visibility.
Use all of Instagram’s features
The Instagram algorithm prioritizes accounts that use all the different features within the app. This is probably to encourage users to create more diverse and interesting content. After investing time and money researching new features, of course they want you to use them.
Instagram came up with Instagram for business and creators. While there is no obligation to switch to one or the other, each still offers features that can help you understand your audience and growth better. And while we are at it, no, switching to Business will not harm your engagement and reach.
Other features in the app of course include static posts, carousels, videos, IGTVs, stories, boomerangs and now Reels. Using all the app’s features will help you increase engagement on Instagram as your content will be seen by more people in more places (i.e. IGTV, stories, feed).
Be consistent with posting
Before you build a loyal following, you need to keep people enticed to keep coming back to engage with your content. That is why posting regularly is so important. Not only are you updating your feed with new content but also entertaining your audience. After all, why would you follow someone who does not post often?
Posting consistently on Instagram also shows that you are truly invested in your content and passionate about what you do. This is something your audience will feel. Therefore they will be more active and your engagement on Instagram will increase. People want new fresh content. Knowing that you post often will also get your followings into the habit of engaging with your content on a regular basis.
This will help you build a loyal relationship with your followers, which will boost your engagement on Instagram. A good way to help you organize content to post daily is a content calendar with key campaigns to help you schedule content ahead.
Use relevant hashtags
Instagram allows users to use up to 30 hashtags on a post. While there was time the rumour that using all 30 hashtags would actually hurt your reach, it has been proven wrong. You can use up to 30, so use them all. Otherwise Instagram would not have given users the option to do so.
Instagram is mostly a visual platform. However, hashtags are a feature that makes it a little bit of a search engine. They are the platform’s primary method to filter and sort content. People can also find new content and users to follow after doing a hashtag search. They create more visibility for posts and can also help create a community around a brand.
However, the use of hashtags can be tricky and counterproductive. It is important that hashtags used on a post are relevant to that particular post. For example, no point using #foodie on a fashion post. Users will not engage with it and you will lose engagement. Find a good balance between very popular and smaller hashtags to ensure you get as much visibility as possible.
Be smart with analytics
When you switch to Instagram for business or creator, you have access to insights and analytics. This feature is a great opportunity to understand your audience better and plan your content accordingly. Insights on Instagram always show the last week in terms of reach, interactions and followers.
When you click on “accounts reached”, you will get more details in terms of impressions, profile visits, website clicks, etc. You will also be able to see your most performing posts, ergo the posts that your audience liked the most, engaged with the most. Knowing this will help you know what your audience likes, create content they like and are more likely to engage with.
The audience insights also show you when your audience is the most active. Thus, you can post at the time your content is most likely to get a lot of engagement, i.e. days of the week and time of the day. Or schedule with an Instagram scheduling tool should you be in a different time zone than your followers.
Use different content formats
When Instagram started, it was just a photo sharing application. Now, it goes far beyond photos. It has brought a lot of new features, and of course, the app wants you to use them. You can use static posts, carousels, stories, videos, boomerang, Reels, ads, highlights, etc. Therefore it makes no sense to use the same type of content day after day.
As mentioned above, the app wants you to use all its features. Indeed, doing so will help you increase engagement on Instagram. Furthermore, since Instagram started to allow videos and stories on the app, creators and brands have noticed that those two formats get a lot of engagement. On the feed, video is king. In stories, well stories are.
While it takes a few seconds to see and scroll past a photo, a video is always more eye-catching (due to the movement) and piques the user’s curiosity. Even if people do not watch the video until the end, 3 seconds count as a view.
Interact with and reward your followers
If people are following you, they want to know that you know they exist. Does it make sense? They are giving you a follow, engaging with your content and being loyal to your brand. Therefore, they want a bit of acknowledgement. While engaging with everybody is mere impossible, especially if you have a big account, you can still interact with your followers.
Answering comments is one way to do so, even if it is just a heart emoji. When users DM you, reply. If users interact with your stories, like their message. Social media is very commonly used as a customer service tool nowadays. Therefore it is important that you check all DM requests.
Finally, to increase engagement on Instagram, and nurture your existing following, you need to reward your audience for their loyalty. Use freebies and host giveaways. Giving your followers the chance to win a prize will increase engagement, interactions as well as grow your follower number. Indeed, most giveaway entry mechanics include following the brand and tagging a few friends that should do so as well.
Prioritize quality over quantity
Although consistency is important to increase engagement on Instagram, that does not mean you should post all the time and any type of content. People are attracted to beautiful photos. Therefore, posting lower quality photos for the sake of filling content blanks will not help your engagement.
Indeed, your followers are unlikely to like said content and might even follow you, seeing the content is not as good as they expect it to be. Thus, it is important to always put quality over quantity.
Write longer captions
Remember what we said about hashtags? That Instagram allows you to use 30 and therefore you should use them all? Well, Instagram allows you to write 2,200 character long captions. That is a lot of space to share a lot of things with your followers.
The Instagram algorithm uses many different factors to show a particular post to users and push it to the top of the feed. The type of content they engaged with in the past is one factor. The time spent on a post is another. Therefore, one easy way to improve your engagement on Instagram is to write longer captions.
If it’s longer, it takes more time to read, and you spend more time on the post. The caption length has more than doubled since 2016. Posts with longer captions got more engagement. In 2020, the average size of a caption is 405 characters or 65 to 70 words. Whether you fill your caption with details of your life or with advice for your audience, know that it will help increase your engagement on Instagram.
Test out video content
As we mentioned above, video content on average gets more engagement on Instagram. Therefore, it makes sense that you give them a go. They were already a big thing in 2019 and not slowing down any time soon.
First, a video on your grid or IGTV takes more space on your viewer screen. Thus, your content fills the screen and grabs their attention. Second, IGTV videos get four times more space on the explore page than a regular static post. So of course, your eyes will get on the videos faster!
It can seem a bit daunting to create video content as it takes more time and effort than a photo. However, sometimes, just adding a bit of movement to a photo while editing will do the trick. Apps such as Enlight Pixaloop can transform a still image into a video, which will get more traction on your feed.
Use stickers in stories
Last but not least, a great way to increase engagement on Instagram is to encourage your followers to interact with you. While you can do so with a question in your caption on a grid post, stories offer the option to add stickers.
Polls, quizzes, music, geo location, hashtags, and other stickers are great to make stories more dynamic and encourage your followers to actively take part in a conversation with you. Even with something as simple as a small poll on a slide.
It can seem tricky to go around the Instagram algorithm. However, once you know how to get around it and make the most of the app’s feature, you will see a significant increase in your engagement on Instagram. What matters most is that you listen to your audience, understand what they love and create content accordingly.