by Laura Gatsos Young
As in, the kind that really moves the needle!
Are you struggling to get the right engagement on Instagram? Your posts might get some likes and a few one-liners in the comments, but so far, your hard work on IG isn’t moving the needle for your business at all!
So, what gives?
While Instagram relies on compelling visuals, there is a lot more required to build an engaged audience primed to buy.
These actions demonstrate that your audience is watching and reading through your content with genuine interest. They are stopping the scroll and taking the time to write to you about the content, which is the goal.
How the Instagram Algorithm Favors Accounts
Are you frustrated by the way the Instagram algorithm displays content? The anxiety-inducing algorithm changes strike fear into personal users and businesses alike. But the key to getting exposure is less complicated than it seems.
As per @Instagram:
The bottom line: create consistent, high-quality content that people engage with and engage with those that you share an audience with. That way, you will be featured on explore pages, and have a higher rank in hashtag searches, recommended accounts to follow, and the feed.
7 Tactics to Get The Right Engagement on Instagram
So, if the key to getting noticed by Instagram is engagement, it’s up to you to ensure that your posts encourage your audience’s true participation – comments, shares, saves and DMs.
Here are 7 tactics to make that happen:
1. Captivate with photos
Instagram is a visual medium, and while images are not enough to consistently grab attention on the platform, they are an essential part of the formula.
To create eye-popping content, think about what is visually striking. There are many free apps out there to add dimension and the “wow” factor to images. Filters are easy to use and add a professional feel to the imagery.
Have you posted yourself dancing and pointing to captions yet? I know, it’s silly. But the almighty algorithm is pretty proud of Reels, their answer to TikTok, so they favour accounts that use the feature.
If you get on this bus, you’ll likely experience an uptick in engagement. This is a great reference for how to create reels!
So rumor on the street is still that stories do not influence the Instagram algorithm, but they are easily the most popular type of content out there when it comes to engagement.
Stories also provide a great way to gauge the interest of your audience with built-in features. You can use polls, ask questions, or encourage your audience to have some fun with you.
Stories are also widely shared by other users. Screenshots of your stories posted to other people’s accounts are a great way for people to discover you.
Posting to stories and your feed also allows you to get a double whammy out of one content idea. You can tease content in your post and direct your follower to your story in your caption. This increases the amount of time they are on your account, which Instagram notices.
Stories also push your brand’s account to the front of your followers’ Stories updates, putting you quite literally front and center on their feed as a result. Tip: Always remember to use a hashtag (1) and include captions, as many viewers watch without sound.
Are you tired of hearing marketers tell you to think of social media platforms as a cocktail party? I see you nodding.
But the idea that people want to interact, especially during this season, with actual people makes total sense.
And video allows you to come alive on the platform in a way photos can’t.
Video also encourages the viewer to stop and watch to see what is transpiring. They don’t have to be long or professionally edited either. Some of the best performing (viral) content is time-lapse or Boomerang style, which you can shoot right in the app.
IGTV content also appears in followers’ feeds rather than being confined to IGTV itself. This also signals that Instagram wants to see creators producing video.
5. Craft Compelling Captions
Are your captions converting for you? Captions are just as important to encourage engagement and develop a true (social media) relationship with your followers. And there is a science for creating them.
Generally speaking, a compelling caption consists of the following:
- proper formatting – easy to read
- valuable/insightful/entertaining copy
- call-to-action (most of the time)
- appropriate hashtags
It should encourage two-way communication between you and your followers, and between other like-minded people in your audience.
If you’re writing killer captions, you’ll likely see a spike in followers, comments, and traffic to your territory (i.e. website and email list).
To learn more about how to craft highly-engaging killer Instagram captions that convert, click here.
6. Are You Up for a #Challenge
I recently asked my small business coach how she grew her following and engagement in her early days.
She told me that the number one factor was running challenges.
A challenge is a grassroots social media strategy where you challenge your followers (and a wider audience) to do activities on social media using tags and hashtags.
When they participate, they tag the challenger and use hashtags, which inevitably drive traffic to the challenger’s account.
Usually, challenges run for a few days and direct people to post high-quality content in various areas of the platform, essentially asking users to fire on all cylinders, which the algorithm loves.
If you think a challenge might work for your business, ensure you’re using them strategically and spacing them out to avoid fatigue.
7. Be Consistent
Most social media marketing pros will tell you that consistency is the key to success on Instagram.
Your audience is hungry for a constant stream of content that speaks to them and encourages participation.
Similarly, the algorithm favors people who are very active on the platform because the app’s goal is to keep people there for as long as possible. To do that, they need a constant stream of fresh content.
If you can be the one to help them captivate their audience, they’re likely to show you some love.
The Right Engagement on Instagram Takes Work
Leveraging social media for your business requires strategy and dedication of time and resources. It’s no longer enough to post and get off the platform.
If you commit to creating a range of high-quality content that caters to user preferences and the algorithm, you will benefit from true engagement – comments, shares, saves, DMs and tags.
Plan to dedicate time to foster two-way communication with your followers and comment on other accounts to build community.
I am a digital content writer based in Toronto. I write email, social media and website copy for female entrepreneurs that serves their audience, drives traffic to their website and converts followers into clients. Follow me @writerlauragatsosyoung or subscribe to get weekly tips and insight into digital marketing.