Tackling social media successfully means mastering the art of engagement. Engagement plays a huge role in growing your social media platforms, and the key to successful engagement is consistency. Consistency in engagement takes time and regular work but is not out of reach with a few simple strategies. Around 80% of all Instagram accounts follow a business on Instagram, making this prime real estate to build your brand’s social media presence. Implementing the following easy strategies can help you boost engagement and ultimately grow your brand on Instagram.

Switch to a Business Account 

First things first, make sure your Instagram is set up as a business account. Business accounts have access to Instagram Ads, boosted posts and analytics. Instagram analytics will gather data on its own as you use the platform and give you insights to your activity, audience activity and content. Using your Instagram analytics will help you monitor what does and doesn’t work so you can develop best practices tailored to your brand.

Write an Instagram Bio 

Take advantage of this 150-character space. A well-written bio should speak to your target audience to attract genuine followers who align with your brand and are more likely to become customers. 

Link Social Accounts

You want to encourage website visitors and increase the potential for conversions, so link those social accounts! Make sure to include your website in your Instagram’s bio section, and connect your Facebook and your Instagram accounts together. Instagram allows you to tag products in your posts and stories, but this is only available with access to Facebook Catalogs. Instagram will review your Facebook Catalog and determine if your products are eligible for Shopping on Instagram. Once your accounts are connected, you can also easily share stories and post content on both platforms at the same time. This will save you time on posting stories and sharing content that’s relevant to both platform audiences.

Decide the Direction of Your Instagram

Instagram is all about visuals and their ability to connect with your target audience. You want to create a visual platform that mirrors your brand identity. If you are unsure where to start, do your research. Research your competitors and industry influencers to see how they connect with your target audience. Your followers should know what type of content to expect from you as they scroll through their feeds. Remember to post high-quality content, try to stick to one or two specific filters, and keep your content cohesive so that your feed flows smoothly. Curated feeds take time to plan and put together, so don’t expect results overnight. 

Take Advantage of Peak Posting Times 

It’s important to know when your audience is online since chronological order is long gone. The newest algorithm is tailored to Instagram users and it’s important to post content around peak times to reach your target market and drive engagement. Keep in mind, Instagram’s algorithm favors quick engagement.

Posting at peak times means you’re posting when you have the most active users online. This is your best chance to build comments and likes as quickly as possible. When post engagement is successful, this tells Instagram your content is high quality and to keep your post available in user feeds for followers to see first. This will keep posts top of mind to expand your reach so that more people will see them and engage with them.

Implement a Hashtag Strategy

When picking out hashtags, it’s important to pick hashtags that will drive more people to your posts. Using relevant and targeted hashtags on each of your posts and stories is one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences on Instagram. Choosing popular and common everyday hashtags can be counterproductive to expanding your reach since there are millions of posts using the same hashtag. Aim for hashtags that are specific to your industry and more niche. Niche hashtags tend to be more successful. For example, instead of using #dog on a picture of your pet, you can use #germanshepard to reach an audience that likes and has an interest in your dog’s specific breed.

Research your audience, your competitors and industry influencers. Look over their hashtags and see if they fit your target audience. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post, although you don’t have to use all 30. Try to switch up the hashtags on each photo; this will keep content from appearing “spammy”. Monitor your hashtags so you can learn what generates engagement and what doesn’t. With an Instagram business account, you can monitor your audience impressions simply by looking at your profile insights. 

Implementing a hashtags strategy is a great way to expand and connect with your audience, increase engagement, and attract more followers.

Encourage and Use User-Generated Content (UGC)

The holy grail of marketing on Instagram: user-generated content aka UGC. User-generated content gives your audience the opportunity to be more involved with your brand while providing you with content that is already created and approved by your audience. 

People are exposed to thousands of ads a day and are no longer responding to brand-created content the way they used to. Users are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands. Using UGC allows you to connect and establish brand trust and credibility.

Think of UGC as reviews and recommendations. Instagram users see UGC generating under your brand hashtag and see your brand in a positive way while also sparking brand desire. UGC can drive purchasing decisions; 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust online consumer opinions.

You can encourage brand-related UGC with hashtags. Include the key hashtags in your bio and use this hashtag in your posts. For example, Petco’s Instagram bio includes: “Tag #Petco & join the movement.” Once you’ve decided on your brand’s hashtags, make sure you follow the hashtag so you can stay updated on posts using that hashtag.

Utilize Video Format

Videos are dominating advertising content. Video accounts for 52% of all mobile traffic, and 96% of shoppers find videos helpful when making purchase decisions online. The more authentic and genuine your video content, the better. The enjoyment of video ads increases purchase intent by 97% and brand association by 139%. When users enjoy and relate to video content, they’re also more likely to share it and expand your reach. About 92% of mobile users are re-sharing video content. Since videos are so versatile, you can educate and showcase your brand message, products, events and so much more. Video is a must for Instagram and is highly encouraged if you want to see an improvement in engagement.

Use Instagram Stories

Instagram stories can help keep your brand top of mind for your followers while also making your profile discoverable. Instagram stories are at the top of every user’s home feed and the first thing they see when opening the app. Instagram has more than 500 million users online every day, and one-third of all Instagram users watch Instagram stories every day.  The average user spends about 53 minutes a day online, and 28 of those minutes are spent watching stories.

Instagram Stories takes engagement to a new level, and are great for a wide range of content. Brands using stories can use real-time marketing by posting behind-the-scenes videos, new products, live events and influencer take-overs. You can also link blogs and products in stories so viewers can shop directly, turning engagement into sales. Including hashtags can help increase reach and platform discoverability, as well as build brand transparency and hype. You can post polls, ask questions and guide engagement with your followers to help start a conversation with your audience. Instagram also runs ads in-between stories, making this good real estate for you to run your own video ads.

With Instagram stories, there’s less pressure for your content to be picture perfect like your feed. You can have fun and get creative with your content to tell your brand story.

Don’t Pay for Shortcuts

There is no overnight fix for poor engagement. Don’t get impatient and pay for followers to grow your Instagram. Instagram constantly improves and changes its platform and has cracked down on removing bots, ghost accounts and spam accounts. Instagram will remove followers, likes and comments that are associated with any of these accounts, so they’re not worth investing in. These types of accounts remain idle and are ingenuine followers that don’t participate in comments, liking, following and messaging. Too many of these accounts following you can make your brand appear spammy and untrustworthy, so it’s best to avoid them.

Longer post captions 

Short and sweet doesn’t always cut it anymore. Followers want to relate and feel connected to a brand. More Instagram users are engaging with long post captions. Long post captions are more successful when they have a narrative arc. Consider telling a story with your caption that adds to the visuals of the post. While writing longer captions, ask yourself what’s going on behind the image. Why or how does your content resonate with your brand? Emotionally appeal to your audience and make sure to include a call to action in your captions.

Be responsive, Start a Conversation and Engage 

Popularity doesn’t equal connectivity. Be active with your account: reply to comments, reply to DMs and start conversations. Instagram’s algorithm does its best to curate users’ feeds to show content based on what they like and interact with regularly. If you take the time and make an effort to connect with your favorite accounts, you can increase the chances of your profile’s content being shown to them in their own personal feed. Being active on Instagram plays a huge part in improving engagement. Instagram will “rank” your profile better amongst your followers and show more of your content when you are consistently active and engaging with other user content.

Remember To Be Patient

Don’t expect to see insane Instagram growth overnight. Building a genuine, organic and loyal follower base takes time. Be patient, develop a strategy and give it ample time to run before you make changes. 

Instagram is a competitive platform, and the algorithm is constantly being updated and improved. Implementing these suggestions into your social media strategy may take some trial and error before you figure out what works for your brand. Stay consistent, be creative, trust the process and have fun with your social media!