Whether you use Instagram to promote a business, build your brand, or as a personal page, you probably have wondered how to build and scale authentic engagement.
In 2021, Instagram reached 2 billion active users worldwide, a number that will surely continue to rise. So it's no wonder everyone and their mother wants to get their engagement up! Increasing your engagement can feel like an overwhelming, elusive concept without a plan, but that is far from the truth. You can implement efficient and easy steps today to increase your engagement.
So if you're looking to take your Instagram game up a notch, look no further. In this post, we'll show you how to increase your platform engagement using simple but effective tactics.
What is "engagement"?
Before you can even build engagement, you need to understand what it is. Instagram engagement is any sort of interaction between a user and your content.
Think of engagement in four areas:
Followers: An Instagram following is often viewed as the most important engagement factor. High following = high engagement, right? Wrong. This is why micro and nano-influencers can have crazy high engagement rates. You can have a small but extremely loyal follower base that produces better engagement than 10k+ followers that never interact with you. So, size matters, but it’s not the only factor to consider.
Comments: Some influencers argue that comments are the most valuable engagement you can receive, as they give you direct insight into what your audience is looking for. It's written feedback that you can then use to optimize your content even further. Also, when was the last time you left a comment on someone's post? Commenting shows a high level of commitment since a user took the time out of their scrolling to interact with your content. Amazing!
Likes: This is the easiest form of engagement. Double-click a picture or a Reel and move on. Likes are definitely important and valuable, as they do indicate what content is doing well and what content concepts could use some improvement.
Shares: When someone shares or reposts your content, they are affiliating themselves with your brand. That's a pretty big deal when you think about it. They value your content and/or opinions so deeply that they’re endorsing it on their own page! Shares aren’t always going to happen, but they are more likely to occur with high-quality content.
Okay, cool, we know the four areas that are referred to when people talk about "engagement." We want consistently high numbers of followers, comments, likes, and shares to consider our engagement rate top-notch.
So how do we achieve this?
Strategies for increasing Instagram engagement
Know your niche and what you bring to the table.
You can be in a niche for years and have no idea why people should listen to you or not be sure what you bring to the table. Both of these are going to stand out in your content. People can tell when you truly care and when you are a trustworthy voice on a topic.
For example, if you are a foodie, think deeply about your "why." Do you love the art of baking? Do you love how food brings people together? Maybe you went on a cooking journey during the pandemic. Whatever it is, advertise it clearly! People like to know WHY they should listen to and connect with you.
Half-assing it isn’t going to work here. So don’t be a faker.
Posting content in your story is a self-promotion tactic to make your followers more likely to watch your reel or engage with your picture. Every time you add a new story, your whole following will see your little profile circle light up. If you post on your stories regularly, people will be reminded to go check out your latest content.
Another great way to utilize stories is to just talk. Yep, for real. Your audience wants to get to know you and feel like you’re one of their friends. So connect. Maybe you have made a discovery in your niche that they need to know about. Maybe you want to elaborate on a reel you just uploaded. Try it out!
Include CTA’s regularly in posts and stories
A call to action can be a really simple way of inviting your community to interact with you. You can include a discussion topic in your description, have a question at the end of your reel, or include a chat box in your next story.
With CTA’s make sure you are being genuine with the discussion. If you post something totally random and ask your followers to share a specific topic about their week in the comments below, they will notice a disconnect and assume you're fishing for engagement. Create authentic conversations. Think about something you know would be valuable to discuss with your followers. And make sure YOU follow through. If you are having a discussion in your comments, take the time to respond. If you are using stories to have questions asked, make sure you are responding to stories where you answer as many as possible. You have to facilitate the engagement by being engaged yourself.
Knowing other creators in your niche community who share your same values is a game changer. Once you know like-minded people on the platform, you can create collaborative content. This gives both of you direct access to the other creators' following.
If you have a two-person reel idea, instead of making your boo fill the role, reach out to another creator. If you are both truly working on your community, it is a mutually beneficial situation.
Reels have exploded in the last year or so, and they are by far the best way to increase your engagement rate. Instagram went from a static image platform to a combination platform, and users love it. Reels can be a fun way to get more views, likes, and followers, as the algorithm highly favors them.
Whenever you see another creator in your niche using a sound you like, save it! By using those trending sounds, you increase your odds of getting found. If you don’t feel creative enough to come up with your own concepts, jump on trending bandwagons! Remake common video trends with a twist for your niche and specific audience.
While there are popular times to be on Instagram, depending on who you ask, you should always track your best upload window. A quick and easy way to do this would be to look at your last few weeks of uploads. What content received the most engagement? What times were they posted? Review your professional dashboard and decide based on your personal audience data, then experiment with posting at these times for a week or so. So what the data says and adjust as needed.
This goes along with being an expert in your niche. If you aren’t super passionate about your content, you are probably not going to be uploading as much as you should. Your audience is going to respond better and view you more as a voice of authority if you are consistently creating content for your niche. Remember, your audience assumes you care, so show them you do.
The frequency of posting is going to depend on your niche and also on your mental health. Choose what works for you and your audience and stick to it. The cliche is true. Consistency is key, especially with Instagram.
We touched on this a little bit in suggestion #1, "Know Your Niche." Fakeness comes through on Instagram eventually. It will be obvious if you use all of these tactics solely for growth and not to spread a message you truly believe in to your audience.
Let’s be real: creators share A LOT of their lives online. Staying true to yourself, your values, and your mission is what will give you engagement and longevity. For example, if you are an advocate for ethical fashion and accept a brand deal with a fast fashion clothing line, you are sending a mixed message to your audience. Suddenly, your credibility is being questioned because your values were compromised. Stick to your brand. Stick to your values. It will help you in the long run.
There’s never been a better time than now to work on your page engagement. It’s far too easy to see influencers with a loyal community and think, "oh, I could never do that." Think again; you can! Walk through these steps and tweak your page/strategy as you go. Great things are waiting for you!