Since Instagram announced that they would be rolling out changes to the platform's algorithm a couple of months ago, there's been a lot of panic followed by a lot of requests to “turn on post notifications” followed by a lot of talk about “focusing on engagement” to make sure that people continue to see your content. I'm firmly on team panic-is-dumb-let's-take-action, but regardless of the algorithm changes, engagement has always been important. So let's talk about how you can actually get more engagement on Instagram!
How to get more engagement on Instagram
I hosted a webinar on this topic in April, but realized I've never really shared much about it on the blog – so I'm breaking down 5 actionable ways to increase your engagement!
Create Relevant Content
First things first – if you're not creating relevant content, you're going to have a hard time getting people to engage with it! Remember the purpose of your Instagram account – assuming you're using it for your business (or blog), what are you trying to share with your audience? Are you educating them / inspiring them / sharing behind the scenes with them?
Is sharing a photo of your avocado toast really relevant to your purpose? No? Then don't do that.
“Relevant” is obviously relative, so you need to know your audience. More on that in this post, but if you're trying to appeal to everyone, you're probably appealing to no one. And that's no fun. We've got ya covered with this handy list of 365 Instagram prompts! Need help figuring out what to post on Instagram for your business?
Remember your purpose, know your audience, and create content that's relevant to your purpose and relevant to your audience.
For example, THIS <– I relate to this so hard. #bikiniseason #notready #hatesworkingout
Engage With Your Audience
Here's an easy one – if you want your audience to engage with you, engage with them. Common sense, right? But how often do you actually do it?
Engaging with your audience means including calls to action in your captions to encourage your audience to actually do something. Ask them a question. Ask them to tag a friend. Tell them to click the link in your profile to get something VALUABLE.
Engaging with your audience also means responding to their comments (please tell me you are already doing this) AND engaging with their content. You don't need to follow all of your followers back, but taking some time to give some of their posts a little love can go a long way!
If you have trouble making time for engagement, I've found that it's easier if I carve out specific blocks of time for it. Rather than try to keep up throughout the day, I usually take a few minutes around lunchtime to respond to comments, etc. and then again at night when I'm watching tv before bed.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Remember your purpose, know your audience, and create content that's relevant to your purpose and relevant to your audience. ” quote=”Remember your purpose, know your audience, and create content that's relevant to your purpose and relevant to your audience. “]
Focus On Community Building
Of all the things I've learned in my 6+ years of blogging, one of the most important things is how much community building matters. You can only do so much on your own, but when you have a community of like-minded people to support you, the possibilities are endless. As an introvert, reaching out to new people is something I'm constantly working on, but on Instagram it's really not that hard to 1) find new people whose content you like / connect with 2) follow them 3) leave genuine comments on their photos. Seriously, that's it!
As you start to find more of “your” people, don't forget to provide value to them and find ways to give back to your community. You could literally give something away (by hosting a giveaway), but there are plenty of other ways to give back. Collaborate with people. Share their content. Learn from each other.
Use Hashtags Strategically
If you want more engagement on Instagram (which I assume you do if you've read this far!), then getting more eyes on your posts certainly can't hurt. But not just any eyes – targeted eyes.
I could write an essay on hashtags (sidenote: Maybe that's a thing that people do in college these days? I'm so old… but recently a FIT student interviewed me about my dog's Instagram account for a final paper, so apparently that's a thing), but if you aren't using them strategically to help people find your content, you're missing out!
Your hashtags should be relevant to your target audience, specific to your brand / your niche, and popular enough that they are being used and searched by other people.
So for example, if you want millenial-creative-entrepreneur-work-at-home-moms-who-love-watercolor-art to see your content, using a hashtag like #harleydavidson is not relevant.
And using a generic hashtag like #love is not helping your content get found because it's not nearly specific enough and probably has nothing to do with your business, but #lipsticklove could be relevant if you are a makeup artist or beauty blogger.
And #pleasedontusehashtagslikethis because #nooneissearchingforthem <– seriously.
Pay Attention To Your Analytics
Last but not least, if you want more engagement on Instagram, pay attention to the types of content that people are engaging with, and post more of that. I think that many creative business owners have a tendency to have lots of ideas and want to try new things, but sometimes the best thing you can do is focus on doing more of what already works.
I use Iconosquare Pro to track Instagram growth and engagement and specifically look at the photos/video that get the most likes and comments to see if there are certain patterns or things that they have in common – then try to incorporate those things into future posts. This is such an easy concept (and yet something that a lot of people don't do!) – plus, you can use Iconosquare to determine the best times to post for your audience, so you can post during the times when they're actually on Instagram to optimize your engagement!
But what else?
So those are 5 actionable ways to get more engagement on Instagram, but I know you might be thinking ok, great but…
- How do I figure out what to post on Instagram? (here's a list of 365 Instagram prompts to help you out!)
- How do I get more followers? (here are 10 ways)
- How do I get my followers to actually buy my products or hire me? (I've got ya covered)
- And how do I make my feed look pretty? Because let's be honest – even if you do all of these things, if your images don't LOOK GOOD you're not going to get more engagement or more followers. (I can help with that too!)
Download 365 Instagram prompts for creative business owners!