How to Get More Engagement on Instagram

5 ways to get more engagement on Instagram - for bloggers, entrepreneurs, small business owners who want to grow an engaged Instagram following, get more likes, more comments, and more customers!

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.

Planoly - best visual Instagram scheduling tool

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…

Download 365 Instagram prompts for creative business owners!

5 Things I Learned From Getting 50,000+ Instagram Followers

5 things I learned getting 50,000 Instagram followers plus a free Instagram Resource Guide download.

Last week, we hit a pretty cool milestone – 50,000 Instagram followers. If you're new around here, “we” is me + my dog Mochi. She's obviously way more popular than I am.

This post not about how we grew from 0 – 50,000 followers but more about a few of the things I've learned along the way. Although you can read this post + this post!

There will always be someone ahead of you and someone behind you

This is probably the most general life + business lesson of the bunch, but I've found the need to repeat it to myself lately. I often struggle with feeling “good enough” to do things – as a recovering perfectionist, I feel this annoying need to be REALLY good at anything I do (or not do it at all) which is a really terrible thing for my mindset when it comes to basically everything I've done / tried to do for the past 2 years. I had the idea for Celebripet Boot Camp last year but it took several months for me to actually launch and make it happen (in part) because I was worried no one would want to take an Instagram course from someone with “only” 15,000 followers (when there were so many people with thousands more). And even now just a few months later with over 50,000 followers, I still occasionally feel like a small fish in a big pond in comparison to accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers.

This is silly. This is insane actually. To say that I still sometimes feel irrelevant with over 50,000 Instagram followers (which is more than four times the number of people in the city my parents live in, FYI) – kind of makes me want to slap myself into reality. You only need to know more than the person you're teaching to provide value. And just because someone else may know “more” or be further along, that doesn't mean you're not good enough. Period.

The most specific your niche is, the easier it is to find your people

I've mentioned before, niching down was something that took a few years to figure out, but once I did, magical things happened. This is something that many of my clients and students have struggled with as well – and to be honest I do think it takes some time to figure out, but when you do, it's easier to find “your people” and easier to create content that appeals to them. This post has several tips on finding your niche including 4 questions you can ask yourself to get more specific.

With that said, I don't think that you have to limit yourself to the same niche forever or even to one niche at a time!

[click_to_tweet tweet=”One of the keys to growth + success is acknowledging when something isn't working and knowing when to pivot. If you aren't seeing the results you want, change something.” quote=”One of the keys to growth + success is acknowledging when something isn't working and knowing when to pivot. If you aren't seeing the results you want, change something.”]

Creating “valuable” content is really all about your audience

Here's the thing – valuable content does not necessarily mean having professional photography or swoon-worthy design or 2,000 word blog posts. It really depends on your audience and what is “valuable” to them – so whether you are educating or inspiring or entertaining your audience, to keep them engaged you need to be creating content that actually makes them give a sh*t. You can create a 12 page download with tons of great information but your audience might find more value in a simple, 1 page checklist.

I've tried A LOT of different things (checklists, ebooks, free workshops, giveaways, etc.) when it comes to converting Mochi's Instagram followers into subscribers and you know what the #1 lead magnet has been? A digital Valentine. Seriously, she offered to email a Valentine to her followers and got hundreds of subscribers in a couple of hours. Sometimes the best things are the simplest. 

Analyze, tweak, repeat

I'm a total data nerd (in another life, I worked in finance), but the truth is, sometimes the data doesn't tell you what you want to hear. One of the keys to growth + success is acknowledging when something isn't working and knowing when to pivot. If you aren't seeing the results you want, change something. Sometimes that means improving what you have and sometimes that means creating something totally new. And once you've figured that out, it will probably be time to analyze again and make new adjustments.

On Instagram in particular, I learned that some of the things that worked when we had 10,000-15,000 followers are not the same things that work now that we have 50,000+ but that's ok. In business, sometimes the things that work when you're first starting out aren't the things that work a year or two down the line. Your audience might change, your services might change, your entire business might change . Honestly EVERYTHING in my life has changed over the past 3 years (except my husband, thankfully he's still sticking around!) – but with each season of change comes new opportunities. 

Sharing your knowledge positions you as an expert

I mean duh. But for some reason, this is was somewhat of an unexpected realization for me. When I launched Celebripet Boot Camp and started actively teaching Instagram strategy through the course, but also through webinars and live workshops, more people (including people who weren't dog people) started asking me about Instagram. Almost all of my consulting clients over the past few months have hired me specifically to talk about Instagram strategy, and I've gotten a random assortment of other exciting opportunities lately because of Instagram as well. Basically my life revolves around Instagram (and my dog) at this point – and I don't hate it!

Instagram has changed my life in so many ways over the past year, so I'm pretty passionate about the platform and sharing what I've learned along the way. Click below to download my Instagram Resource Guide which includes everything you need to plan, create, and schedule your Instagram content!

Instagram Resource Guide for shooting, editing, scheduling photos

How To Know For Sure Which Social Media Networks To Use

How to know for sure which social media networks to use? An infographic for brands / small business owners.

A guest post by Cara Chace

Whenever I start discussing social media strategy with a group or potential client, the conversation inevitably turns to them asking questions about which social media networks to use for their brand or business.

It usually goes something like this:

Business Owner: “Should I be on Pinterest (insert any platform here)? I really don't get it, don't like it, and don't want to learn it. Do I have to use it?”

Me: “Well, that depends…are your clients and potential customers on Pinterest?”

Business Owner: **BLANK STARE**


It does not matter which social media networks you like and/or use personally. If your clients are on Pinterest, you damn well better be on Pinterest.

How To Know For Sure Which Social Media Networks To Use

Identifying your target audience first, then determining which social media network to use for your brand based on those demographics, is the only way to know you are where you should be in the social media universe.

How do you do that? Easy.

Step 1: Look at your Google Analytics for your website and your Facebook Insights if your are already on Facebook as a business. Note your top-level demographics such as age and gender.

Step 2: Do a quick Google search to identify what the demographic breakdown is for each social media network you are considering.

Step 3: Pick 2-3 social media networks that overlap with your website traffic and/or Facebook analytics.

I typically recommend that brands only use 2-3 social media networks to start. Building a following and consistent, relevant content takes time and lots of effort. If you are trying to use 6-7 different platforms, you'll drop the ball and inevitably let a few of those accounts die a slow, painful death.

Usually what happens is a small business tries to post on every platform, but ends up auto-posting the same content everywhere. Fans are savvy – if they see you’ve auto-posted a photo from Instagram to Facebook, they know you’re not really present on Facebook and they won’t really bother to engage with you there – thus defeating the whole purpose of being on Facebook.

It is of note, however, that as soon as a new social media network pops up, or you even maybe, kinda think you might want to use it in the future – you should create an account to claim your name/business immediately.

If you have no immediate plans to use a social media account, in whichever about/info section it provides, you should let people know which social media networks you ARE on, or point to your website.

For example: “Hey peeps! Thanks for finding your way here, but my social media party is over on – see ya there!”

The other part of this equation is that you need to consider the types of content you are going to share. Is it mostly text or mostly photos? Both? Are you talk to other businesses or to consumers?

You could come to the conclusion that you only need to be on one social media network to start – that's totally cool and you can/should rock the shit out of that network.

Regardless of how many social media networks you decide to use, remember that EACH account should align with your brand voice and brand topics. You must know the types of content you are going to share on each account – some overlap is ok, but all the same content across all accounts is not.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Building a following and consistent, relevant content takes time and lots of effort. If you are trying to use 6-7 different platforms, you'll drop the ball and inevitably let a few of those accounts die a slow, painful death.” quote=”Building a following and consistent, relevant content takes time and lots of effort. If you are trying to use 6-7 different platforms, you'll drop the ball and inevitably let a few of those accounts die a slow, painful death.”]

Remember, the keys to any social media strategy are to 1) give more than you get, and 2) BE CONSISTENT.

If you know which social media networks make the most sense for your target audience and the content you want to share, then everything else is just fine tuning your strategy!



Cara Chace

Cara Chace is a social media Bosslady. Cara’s goal is to empower small businesses with the tools and knowledge to end their frustrations with social media. Formerly in law enforcement, she believes in “just the facts ma'am” when it comes to creating social media strategies for clients.

She has worked with everyone from solopreneurs to a world-renowned band – at one time managing 13 million social media fans on her own.

With her creative awesome sauce and to-the-point strategies, she will bring you a well-rounded, easy to understand plan to help you use social media like a rockstar.

Find Cara on Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / Facebook