You’ve put in the hours to create content to reach an engaged audience to grow your Instagram following.
But, something’s not right.
You publish a new post, and all you hear is crickets. No likes, no comments.
Now, you’re wondering if it’s worth investing your energy into Instagram at all.
Instagram presents a huge opportunity — if you can master it.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the key ways you can master Instagram engagement and use it to reach a highly engaged audience.
Let’s look at some simple strategies with examples from real brands that you can follow to grow your Instagram engagement and your business.
1. Set your Instagram engagement up for success with audience research
Any good marketing strategy starts with a deep understanding of your audience. You need to know what topics and content they care about, then create content for them.
Start by diving into your Instagram Insights: it shows you data on where your audience is located, how old they are, gender, and much more. You can also see analytics on a post-by-post basis, so you can see exactly what type of content resonates with your audience.
You can also review your buyer personas to ensure the content strategy you’re creating aligns with your audience’s interests.
If you’re completely lost, you can always ask your followers.
At the end of one of your posts, or on your Instagram Story, ask a simple question: “What type of content do you want to see from us?”.
You’ll quickly learn exactly what type of content your audience cares about.
2. Build trust and engagement with user-generated content
Your followers want to see authentic content on your Instagram. Luckily, you don’t need to spend time creating this — your customers will do it for you.
For example, Chameleon Cold Brew uses UGC to show its followers new ways to incorporate their cold brew into their lives.
In this case, the team is sharing a photo of someone using their product as part of their morning protein shake. They give credit to the original poster, making them feel special, and add value to their other followers — showing them a new way to consume their product.
This doesn’t just work for product businesses, either.
Service businesses like restaurants, hotels, and sports facilities can re-share photos that your audience are taking at your venue.
Using UGC helps you create a feed of authentic and engaging content without feeling like it was carefully manufactured by a marketing team.
3. Use call-to-actions to boost comments
Another simple way to generate engagement is to use call-to-actions (CTAs) at the end of your posts.
For example, in this post, Qantas shares a set of photos they know its travel-interested audience will like.
Rather than wait for replies, they ask a direct question: “Can you guess how many kilometres Australia’s coastline stretches over?”.
Make sure your CTA matches the content of your post.
For example, if you’re posting about your New Year’s resolutions, use a CTA like: “What’s your main goal for this year?”
If you’re posting content relating to food, you could ask a question like “What’s your favourite 15-minute lunch recipe?”
You don’t need to overthink it — as long as your CTA is relevant to your content and followers, it’s a fantastic way to boost engagement.
3. Encourage virality with giveaways and reach more people
A fast way to increase your follower count and engagement rate is to build virality into your posts using giveaways.
Ask your followers to tag their friends, or share your post to enter.
You just need to create the post, add a clear caption, and your followers will do the rest.
Here’s an example.
Ooni teamed up with two other brands that have a similar audience to its ideal customer.
The team at Ooni ran a competition where their followers had a chance to win a free product, but, to enter, they had to tag their friends in the post and follow all three of the accounts involved in the competition.
The post generated over 50,000 comments, and undoubtedly, thousands of new followers for the brands involved.
If you wanted to run ad campaigns to increase your post engagement, you’d need to spend thousands to generate a similar engagement rate.
4. Create platform-relevant content your audience relates to
You should always ensure your content matches Instagram’s platform, and the reason your audience is there. People are usually browsing it for a break, or to discover non-work-related content.
For B2B businesses, this presents a challenge. On first impressions, business content isn’t a perfect fit for the platform.
But, it’s still possible to generate great Instagram engagement.
Here’s how Shopify does it.
It mixes business with fun. For example, in this post here, it used a pop culture reference to turn its business content into something relatable.
It takes a topic that’s not usually suited for Instagram — business advice — and turns it into content that its audience would want to read and engage with.
The post has more than 1,000 likes, and multiple comments telling them how much they enjoyed the content.
Don’t be afraid to try something new.
5. Respond to comments to boost loyalty and Instagram engagement
If you run a company account, you need to show your followers that there’s a real person behind it.
A simple way to do this is to respond to comments from your followers.
For example, in this post, Lemon Perfect’s team responds humour.
The team behind the brand does this on every post. It’s a great way to increase trust in your brand, build loyalty, and increase engagement with your audience.
Remember, Instagram engagement isn’t just about conversions
As a business owner or marketer, you always want your efforts to result in conversions. Instagram can be an amazing place to drive new business, but it takes work.
Provide value, share interesting content, and show your audience that there is a real person or team behind the brand.
You’ll build trust and engagement with existing or repeat customers, as well as attracting new followers.
The conversions will follow, but don’t give up if you can’t attribute any sales to the platform in the first few months of using it.
There’s a reason the fastest-growing companies around the world are all on Instagram.
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