If you think Instagram is only a social platform for selfies and food pictures, think again. With over 600 million active users, Instagram is the go-to platform for businesses owners ready to step outside of the norm and make a lasting impression on their customers. With its recent rollout of Instagram Stories, Instagram is encouraging its users to go deeper. As Kevin Weil, Instagram’s head of product, recently told Forbes, “[Instagram Live and Stories] are both about being able to share the moments of your day with exactly the audience you want to share with.”
But at the heart of all these strategies is one very important principle, engagement. Understood as a wide-reaching term, engagement is fundamentally understood as how active your followers interact with your account. Engagement is more than just the likes and comments you get, but how responsive you are to these interactions and use that to build an authentic, connected Instagram audience.
If you’re new to Instagram, this can seem like a daunting task. You might be asking yourself, “How do I know which strategies will help me foster consistent, strong engagement.” No worries, wherever you are in your Instagram strategy, here are a few do’s and don’ts that will you foster stronger engagement on Instagram right now.
Instagram Engagement Don’ts
After working on Instagram over the past several years it’s become clear to me that there are a few things you simply cannot do if you want a truly engaged Instagram audience. Here are three of the most common Instagram engagement mistakes:
Don’t miss out on relationship building opportunities
Too often, business owners become so hyper-focused on sharing the most #InstaAwesome pictures, they forget about the relationships that will help their business grow. In addition to sharing your regular updates, make sure you are taking the time to share meaningful comments on other people’s content.
Whether it’s an account that’s within your industry or a potential customer, starting meaningful conversations shows that you’re not just there for the likes and comments. Instead, it demonstrates your willingness to go above and beyond to connect with others.
Don’t use bots
Spamming other accounts with irrelevant comments or generic “great pics” is one of the fastest ways to get flagged by Instagram. Not only are these comments annoying, they fail to spark the meaningful conversations you need to grow your Instagram reach. Worse, Instagram has started monitoring these spammy, bot accounts to discourage this obnoxious engagement attempt.
If you want real connections with your customers, ditch the bots. Trust me, everyone knows when you’re using it and it will be a bigger headache than it’s worth.
Don’t copy and paste comments
While this might seem like a smart time-saving strategy, repeating the same comment repeatedly will backfire quickly – especially if you’re sharing it with multiple influencers in your industry. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve found an awesome account who is jeopardizing their ability to grow because they are copying and pasting the same comment.
It only takes a few moments to think about how you can substantively add to an Instagram conversation. Ideally, you want to share a comment that demonstrates your knowledge or passion and entices other people to click over to your account to see what you’re all about.
4 ways to improve your engagement right now
Now that you know what you shouldn’t do to increase your Instagram engagement, here are four go-to engagement strategies that are sure to help you tap into industry-relevant conversations and get the attention of your ideal customers:
Do check your notifications
Instagram is a mobile-facing platform, but that doesn’t mean you always have to be glued to your phone. You can also keep up with the comments and likes on your photos via your desktop too. In fact, sometimes it’s even better than using your mobile device. Using your larger desktop display you can view the full conversation happening in your photo’s comments and share meaningful responses.
You can view your larger Instagram feed on your desktop too. Scrolling through you can gauge the content being shared by other influencers in your industry and take note of their winning (or less than stellar) engagement strategies. I do these quick check-ins between 3 to 4 times a day, but you should commit to logging in at least once a day to make sure your followers are taken care of.
Do leave a comment
Forget the spammy comments like “love it” and “great pic.” Whatever industry you’re in you should always try to leave comments that advance the conversation and demonstrate your knowledge and willingness to be part of the Instagram community. This isn’t limited to other accounts either.
When you’re checking on your notifications, take the time to consider how you can effectively respond to your followers. People are often really impressed when business owners take the time to respond giving your account the “wow factor” it needs to get eyeballs on your content.
Do strategically tag relevant content
Finding a product, service or business you can love is great, but giving them a shout out is even better. As I continue to work with Instagram clients from around the globe, I’ve found lots of relevant resources and products that have improved my team’s workflow and ability to deliver top-notch service to our clients. That’s why when my clients comment to inquire about recommendations, I always make sure to include an @ mention in my response.
Not only does this help connect my customers with the amazing resource or product, it also pops up as a notification for that @ mentioned account. This is a win-win scenario for both my clients, who are being referred a new tool and the tagged business who will get a notification and possibly a new follower. Including an @ mention is the best way to over-communicate and helping to connect business-to-business.
Do check your Instagram direct message inbox
Some of the most intimate conversations can happen right in your Instagram direct message inbox. I’ve found a shit ton of people who not only want to inquire about the coaching services my team and I provide but also to ask more in-depth questions about my posts and business strategies. Taking a few moments to respond allows me to foster a genuine conversation and demonstrates my willingness to connect with my followers.
If you really want to blow your followers’ minds, send back a video response to any direct message you receive. Not only does this video help you stand out from your competition, it shows your willing to take the time to truly engage with your followers.
Quality always wins over quantity
There are a lot of articles out there that promise to help you grow a massive Instagram following. Spoiler alert: more followers will not necessarily make your Instagram account better. Truthfully, growing a ton of unengaged, uninterested Instagram followers will actually hurt your chances of being seen in Instagram’s algorithm. Toss out the mindset that tells you more is better. To win on Instagram you always need authentic, real engagements.
Are you just getting started on Instagram and unsure where to start? I am hosting a free live webinar training on May 15th & 16th for Instagram beginners. I will be covering how to design a marketing plan for your creative business. Register here!