Instagram is a growing marketplace for many entrepreneurs and businesses and it’s only right that you get in on the action too, right?! Well, at first glance, Instagram seems like a simple platform to master but many entrepreneurs have given up on Instagram. One of the top complaints about Instagram from entrepreneurs have revolved around gaining an engaged following.
Too often, people are amazed that users have 12k followers or even 100k+ followers but they overlook their engagement. Engagement on Instagram is defined as a like or comment on a post. So let’s use some examples for this exercise.
John Doe has a following of 12k and receives an average of 20 combined likes and comments per post. Jane Doe has 2,000 followers and receives an average of 250 combined likes and comments per post.
While John has more followers than Jane, Jane has a highly engaged following. Because of this following, Jane is able to sell her services, get referrals and grow her email list.
So whose profile would you rather have, John’s or Jane’s? Keep reading to find out the 7 things you should be doing to grow an engaged follow on Instagram right now.
1. Check out others in your niche
Tony Robbins said, “Success leaves clues” and Instagram is no exception. There is no harm in taking notes and learning what successful Instagrammers are doing in your niche and using those skills. Save yourself valuable time and don’t reinvent the wheel.
To find these successful users, do some hashtag research. Use the Instagram search tool and head over to the tags category. Search hashtags that describe your service, product, or industry. Once there, check out the top 9 posts for that hashtag and see if there is anyone who provides the same or similar service you do.
So, for example, if you provide healthy alternatives and recipes for dogs, then maybe you’d search #healthydogfood or #homemadedogfood. Think of similar words when doing your search. Perhaps using words such as canine, gourmet dog food, etc will bring up different and varied results.
Go through about 8 accounts for each hashtag and see if you come across accounts with high engagement. Once you’ve found a couple, scour their accounts and jot down what you think is working for them.
After all, you have the same or similar audience so whatever is working for them can surely work for you.
2. Get in front of your audience
You know what works on social media? Being social. Don’t get on social media and only be consumed about yourself and your business/blog. Get in contact with your audience, ask questions, make connections and help them out.
Your helpfulness and engagement will prove valuable to your audience.
In return, they are more likely to follow your account, subscribe to your email list and even purchase your products and services. So get social and comment on relevant posts you see. Be polite and friendly when interacting with other users and keep it up.
When you disappear and become inactive on any social platform, followers begin to forget about you and what you have to offer.
3. Use the Right Hashtags
Hashtags are often misunderstood by many users and some don’t understand the purpose of hashtags. Think about hashtags as keywords for Instagram.
Hashtags should be used for two reasons:
1) for tagging your posts with relative keywords
2) for exposure.
When you use hashtags on your posts, you are increasing the likelihood of hundreds and thousands of users, outside of your followers, seeing your posts. This means a greater chance for more likes, comments, and profile views. The more eyes on your posts, the better.
When you select the right hashtags to use on your posts, you put your posts in front of those who need or want your services. What you have to offer is valuable and Instagram can help you increase in business if you use it correctly.
Remember when I told you about the top 9 posts when searching hashtags? Well, those 9 top posts are posts that have received some of the highest engagement in a specific timeframe for that hashtag.
When you choose the right hashtags for your business/blog and you have a targeted following, you increase the chances of your posts ending up in the top 9 spots. Check out a few screenshots below of my posts in the top post section. You’ll see that my posts are in the top 9 spots of keywords (hashtags) that I wanted to show up for. Being in the top 9 static position allows your post to be seen by thousands for many hours and greatly increases your engagement.
4. Post Relative Content
Above all of the aforementioned points, the greatest of them all is posting relative content. Content is king as many say, and if it’s one thing you must know, it’s that you will be judged based off of your content.
If you pose yourself as an Instagram Marketer but you post irrelevant pictures about Pinterest and you have a low amount of engagement, people are less likely to trust you.
Every aspect of yourself and your business will be scrutinized as customers consider whether you are worthy of their business, time or money. With relevant content, you will prove yourself as an expert on your topic. Your followers will begin to trust you and then you can redirect that trust towards your email list and blog. So wherever your niche and expertise lie, be sure to communicate that in your posts and images. Keep your profile filled with information that your audience needs.
So wherever your niche and expertise lie, be sure to communicate that in your posts and images. Keep your profile filled with information that your audience needs.
#5. Post Often
Consistency matters. Whether you’re posting 1x a day or 4x a week, stay consistent.
I would recommend posting at least once a day, minimum….but when it really comes down to it, you have to stick with a schedule that you feel comfortable with. The thing you want to avoid is spam posting 6x one day, and then disappearing for 6 weeks.
A great way to help you stay consistent is to plan out your posts in batches.
Check out my other post The Ultimate List of Instagram Tools Resources for tools to help you do that!
If you want your audience to engage with you, you have to put in the effort. You have to show up, regularly. You want people to recognize your content and your name when they’re scrolling their Instagram feed. People stop scrolling and start engaging with people that are familiar to them; people they can connect with or feel that they can trust.
Besides building a relationship with your audience, every time you post a photo you get the chance to use those amazing hashtags we talked about above. The more photos, the more hashtags, the more likely people will SEE your content. You can’t expect ultimate levels of engagement if no one is seeing your posts.
The higher engagement that your profile receives, the more likely Instagram will be to show your photos to your audience. Instagram used to show feeds based on when photos were posted, but now that they’re owned by Facebook, they’ve adopted a similar algorithm to show users the most beneficial posts vs. chronological order.
#6. Cohesive Instagram Feed
When first starting out with Instagram, give yourself some wiggle room to test this one out. Creating a cohesive and themed Instagram is not easy. It takes trial and error, planning, and evolving.
Even those Instagram accounts that are killin’ it with the engagement had to start somewhere. If you continuously scroll their feed, you’ll notice when they decided to start incorporating a theme. Don’t worry about curating the “perfect” feed, because you’ll stress yourself out.
I suggest starting out with a color palette and go from there! Incorporate photos that align with a color scheme and have the same style. (Style examples: lots of white space, monochrome, high-contrast vs. low contrast, same filter used)
Not sure what style you want? Spend some time scoping out successful accounts and take note of what they’re doing and how they’re creating visual consistency. Start with a style and play with it.
There are two different types of Instagram followers. Ones that focus on their daily feed (single images by themselves) and ones that focus on the overall theme of an Instagram account.
- The user’s that focus on the overall theme of an Instagram account are the ones that you’ll most likely attract with a cohesive feed, ya know, what we just talked about.
- The user’s that focus on the single pictures that pop up on their Instagram feeds by themselves are more focused on the quality and context of that single photo…..posting consistency is important for keeping these followers.
It’s important to understand and recognize both types!
#7. Take Note of Your Posts
Take note of which kinds of posts and content your followers are engaging with and focus on posting more of those.
The Ultimate List of Instagram Tools Resources that I mentioned before has a few Instagram Analytics tools that you can use to help you narrow down whats working and whats not.
Stuck on what to post?
Here are a few examples:
- blog posts
- personal stories
- target an audience pain point
- things you love (I’m guilty of constantly posting in this category)
- product/service shoutouts
- flat lays
- behind the scenes shots
- your creative process
- highlight a biz/blogger friend
Take a look at what types of content do the best with your audience.
Take a look at what day of the week and what times of day tend to perform the best.
The only way to analyze is to experiment.
Try out new content types and post at different times. Sometimes your audience just might surprise you!
So there you have it!
These seven tasks have helped us grow numerous accounts time and time again.
Remember when I mentioned Instagram’s new algorithm? Well whether you love it or hate it, it’s changed how Instagram interacts with its users. So now, more than ever, it’s important to share great quality photos that your audience is interested in, consistently. You have to be authentic and social. Engage with not only your audience but your industry and your community. Have conversations, be personable, make connections.
If you focus on quality, over quantity you’ll be able to grow an Instagram following that is not only engaged but that benefits your blog, business, and visibility.
This post with written in collaboration with Alicia Bright!
Alicia Bright is an entrepreneur and blogger with eight years in growing and building brands. Building her web design/marketing firm, Project 1000 LLC, has afforded her the opportunity of helping entrepreneurs build their brands/businesses and turn their passion into income. While she’s not building brands, she is coaching entrepreneurs who seek assistance in building and marketing their blog/biz online. Her blog provides valuable and actionable tips, tutorials, and advice on blogging, business, and social media. You can find Alicia on Instagram, Facebook, and her website.