Did you know that Instagram counts over 500 million active daily users? Whatever industry you’re in, you will find your customers on Instagram these days. Finding them is one thing – but engaging with them in a meaningful way presents a whole new level of difficulty.
In order to make sure your brand is using Instagram effectively, you need a tailor-made Instagram strategy. The keys to success on Instagram are regular posts, planned responses in case of a crisis, and creative ways to utilize your content across other networks, too. Luckily, there are certain rules of thumb, so to speak, that can guide you on your way to crafting that strategy and in the aim to increase engagement on Instagram. Here are a few Insta-perfect tips to maximize your engagement potential with your followers asap!
Get creative with videos
Perceived as a predominantly image-driven platform, Instagram is brimming with visual content such as photos, and it’s no wonder your office photo, or that product image gets lost in the crowd of pictures that overflows Instagram every day. A number that will help you get a better understanding of your brand’s position is as follows: 38% more engagement and twice as many comments goes to videos over images!
Although every brand is different, and the same goes for your audience, testing out this theory will help you tweak your strategy.
Introduce more videos of your staff, your products, your influencers, events that you visit, anything that helps put your brand in a more human perspective and makes it more relatable – and watch those numbers soar.
Use hashtags that will create a pattern for your audience to start anticipating their favorite content
To make your videos stand out and be more engageable, use hashtags that will create a pattern for your audience to start anticipating their favorite content, such as #ThrowbackThursday, #MeatlessMonday, or #WellnessWednesday. Add a quote to your video to strike a chord with your followers.
Have any user videos?
Even better, use that, credit them, and you’ll create a promotional video that’s actually not that promotional at all.
Another great way to inspire interest is to create short and sweet videos that showcase the finest tips and tricks to simplify your followers’ lives.
Want to try even shorter formats? Boomerang is Instagram’s video app that lets you do just that – create immersive bursts of visual stories that resemble GIFs, and people love them!
Make sure you have a user-friendly routine
We know, you’re a busy person, and running a business is no piece of cake. Still, we are creatures of habit, and we like when our brands don’t disappoint us. With that in mind, you need to make sure that you’re posting your Instagram content when your followers expect you to, and when they are most inclined to engage with your content.
To that end, you can utilize a scheduling tool that can help you automate the posting process, and you can even benefit from recommendations, and get insights that can help you change your routine when necessary. Creating a content strategy for your Instagram page will be much easier with the data you collect and the trends you learn about.
Before you move onto creating your routine, get to know your audience. What kind of a routine is common for your key audience members? Are they nine-to-five people who will check their Instagram when they wake up? Will they reach for their phone in the afternoon during their lunch break? Where are they located mostly, and what time-zones you should take into account? However, although your audience is unique to your brand, there are certain golden rules that can help you establish the best posting routine and the kind of content that inspires the most engagement.
Typically, weekends on Instagram generate the most buzz between 10 am and 2 pm, with 11 am being the sweet spot for most.
That’s when people enjoy their weekend coffee and brunch with their loved ones, or they’re recharging their batteries from a hectic week.
As for your overall best posting days, Thursdays seem to be exceptionally popular, closely followed by Wednesday. And what about the best posting time of all? Wednesday at 10 am CTD.
As for specific industries, here are a few examples that are easy to apply, but always make sure to use your Instagram Insights to tweak posting times and frequency based on your specific audience.
- If your brand is in the travel industry, your best bet is Friday between 9 am and 1 pm. As the weekend approaches, people are more likely to start making their getaway plans as well as daydreaming about that long-awaited vacation.
- You’re a food and beverage business? Aim for Fridays at 12 pm, and mealtimes, in general, are your rule of thumb.
- For brands in retail, get those posts out on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at noon for the best effect.
- In case you’re a tech expert, Mondays and Tuesdays at 2 pm are must-haves on your posting schedule.
Don’t forget those contests and giveaways
Another human trait that goes in favour of your digital marketing campaigns – we like freebies! One of the best ways to increase your engagement on Instagram is by creating a competitive giveaway campaign. Whether you wish your followers to tag your brand in a photo of them using your brand, or use a specific hashtag, like/share your post, follow you, sign up for your newsletter – the ones who are picked or score the most likes for that shared content can get a gift.
Choose a freebie that is in line with their lifestyle. If your followers are health and fitness enthusiasts, then giving away personalised water bottles is a brilliant way to promote your brand online and offline, and gain more exposure via the giveaway. The element of personalisation is there to boost that emotional bond with each individual participant, so make sure that those giveaways have a personal touch. Plus, this is a great opportunity for turning it into a #FreebieFriday theme, to grow engagement gradually over time for each giveaway you host on Instagram.
In addition to personal values, you can draw on themes and common topics that are relevant in your society and for your followers in particular. That is why Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other holiday-related contests and giveaways make so much sense and generate such a successful buzz. Use themes that are specific for your industry, and those relevant moments in your brand’s history such as an anniversary, a product launch, or a merger – all of which can be celebrated with a generous giveaway. Add a charitable note to your giveaway by donating to an organization your followers and you support at the end of the contest – and you’ll make a difference in the process, too.
Pro tip: invite your contestants to tag their friends in the comments of the post to generate even more engagement. Chances are, they’ll end up tagging other friends, following your brand, and perhaps subscribing to your email list.
Still haven’t got your influencer?
This is certainly not a new trend, nor is it going to wane in relevance in the upcoming years. As time goes by, influencers are actually becoming more popular every day, and their presence is becoming more meaningful in your followers’ decision-making process. They will help your audience determine whether or not to purchase a product from you, or if they should follow you at all.
No matter if you’re a major corporation or a small local business, you will help your engagement rates go through the roof when you partner up with the right influencer. It can be someone local, a micro-influencer if you will, or a famous Insta-star that will help you promote your products and get more people interested in your offers. How you utilize those bonds can make all the difference in generating more interest for your brand among people that will benefit from your presence in their lives.
- Don’t let your influencer marketing boil down to “vanity” metrics, but focus on specific goals from that collaboration that will grow your engagement, such as email subscriptions, sales you can trace back to their followers, and the like.
- Co-create content with that influencer, and always ask for their permission when you wish to quote their posts in your content. Add relevant data to support their statement, whether it’s research data, statistics, or your own brand experience, but you’ll add more credibility to the post and you’ll be able to start a vivid discussion and get more people interested.
- Shoppable Instagram stories are a perfect opportunity to utilize your Influencer bonds fully, as their fleeting, temporary nature will get a greater number of people interested in your offers. A few stories later featuring your influencer, you’ll find more people eager to see the next one in line.
Ask the audience with polls
Instagram is getting more interactive every day. One particular feature that has enabled businesses to inspire their followers to engage is their ability to create polls. However, you need to make sure that you ask clever, relevant questions for your audience so that you can increase your chances of their response and interest.
This is a brilliant way to test your new products and their features before you launch, to see how your audience reacts to any relevant events in your industry, and to start important conversations where you can gauge their opinions and use them to fuel future campaigns on Instagram. For example, if you’re about to launch a collection of new summer sandals, you can post two different designs and see which pair gets more votes – this simple tactic can help you with your inventory forecasting, but also get more eyes on your latest collection that’s about to hit the stores without sounding overly promotional.
Do you want more engagement on your blog? Instagram is actually a perfect tool to harness that engagement and spike those views and comments on the platform itself with the help of polls. By posting a question that gets your followers to “swipe up” to read the entire article, you’ll double your engagement results with a single successful poll. Use catchy prompts that are relevant for your audience and that reflect their lifestyle preferences – which is easy to do as soon as you use that Insights data from your page.
Make the most of those trendy hashtags
Trends come and go, and you need to make the most of them in order to stay visible and harness the power of hashtags to communicate with your audience. For starters, it’s not enough to just use branded hashtags, as you need to use industry-relevant ones as well and local hashtags to filter your content towards the right audience.
Don’t forget to use long-tail hashtags, because they work just like your typical long-tail keywords for Instagram and they’ll help you gain more visibility for relevant audience members. This, in turn, will boost your engagement since you’ll appear on the feeds of followers who will benefit from your content and your creative ideas.
Instagram is one of the greatest assets for your social media strategy, so make sure that you invest time and creativity into creating content that will be relevant for your audience and that will inspire your followers to love your brand and look forward to your posts!
Jacob Wilson is a business consultant, and an organizational psychologist, based in Brisbane. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Bizzmark blog.