Instagram is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that can reach billions of people, for free. eMarketer estimated that in the United States, for example, 31.8% of the population uses Instagram. Globally, Dustn.tv measured that Instagram has over 800 million monthly active users. That's a lot of potential clients!
While Instagram grew in popularity, we have seen many changes and developments that impact the way we grow our Instagram page: the algorithm changed, growth strategies and marketing trends transformed, and the behavior of Instagram users changed too.
Growing a large number of followers has always been relatively easy, but having them engage with your content can be more challenging. And this is exactly what most social media marketers are after, since 'real' and engaged followers are the ones that are sincerely interested in a product or account, and might turn into customers one day.
But how can we make sure we get - and keep our followers interested? How do we turn them into real fans, instead of 'fake' and passive 'numbers'?
Based on our own experience and supported by several reports, we created a list of five great ways to improve your engagement rate on Instagram. If you pay close attention to the steps below, we promise you your fans will notice you and appreciate the great content you share.
All over the internet, video content attracts attention. It is simply entertaining, easy to watch and makes people curious.
The same goes for video content on Instagram. Several reports found that videos receive the highest numbers of likes as well as most comments on average, compared to image - or carousel posts. However, as explained in Mention's Instagram Engagement Report of 2018 , when looking at the median number of likes, images seem to be getting more likes than videos. This probably means that the most liked video posts get a disproportionately high number of likes.
The average number of comments on video posts, however, is significantly higher than those on image posts. According to Hubspot's recent report , video content just receives more than 2x more comments than other types of posts.
This leaves you with the question, what kind of engagement do you want? Do you prefer large amounts or likes to track what your audience is interested in? Then image posts may be just as valuable for you as video content. Do you prefer to start a conversation with your audience? Are you hoping to get to know them and have them know you in a more personal and engaging way? Then adding videos to your feed and stories may be a great idea.
Planning your posts carefully is another easy way to increase engagement. Think about it; most people won't check their Instagram account in the night. In the morning, however, just before getting out of bed, many people take a quick look at their phone and engage with whatever pops up. The same goes for lunch time and dinner time.
Each country, culture and Instagram following is different though. In the insights section of your account, you can easily find out on which days your content gets the best engagement, and which posts perform best. By testing a few different posting times, you can easily find out which times work for your following.
In general, we like to take the recent findings or SproutSocial as a guideline. Looking at many different accounts, they are found that generally, posts shared on weekdays have a higher engagement rate than those shared on weekends. Also, Thursday turns out to be the best day or the week to post on. Timewise, they recommend to post on "Wednesday at 3 pm, Thursday at 5 am, 11 am, and 3 to 4 pm, and Friday at 5 am."
Our advice: Take Sprout Social's findings as a guideline, but always test what works best for your audience.
Adding hashtags to a post may be one of the most commonly used methods or creating engagement and gaining followers on Instagram. They are a great way to expose content to a new audience and reach the right target market easily.
However, apart from being used very commonly, hashtags have also been a topic of discussion and confusion for a long time already. What is the right number or hashtags to use? What is the best placement for these hashtags?
Mention's recent report showed that most people stay within the limit of 30 hashtags and that many successful accounts use way less than that. The report also found that a larger number of hashtags doesn't automatically increase engagement and can even decrease it at times. This was confirmed by Hubspot's Engagement Report . Hubspot showed that a large number of hashtags decreased the engagement rate significantly.As Hubspot mentions, the reason for these findings may be that the most influential and engaged Instagram users get a substantial number of likes on their content naturally, not due to the use of hashtags, content receives good feedback on its own - no hashtags needed.
Our advice: Experiment.
We believe that, especially for smaller accounts, the right hashtags can be a great tool for an audience and reach new people. We advise you to share a post without hashtags, one with 5 hashtags, one with 10 and one with 30. Do you notice a difference? Simply go with the number that works best! Are you looking for ways to find new hashtags that are relevant for your brand? Check out the Display Purposes website . By entering a word related to your brand, this tool gives you lists or hashtag suggestions to choose from.
Have you ever been tagged in someone else's Instagram post? If you have, what effect did this have on you? Chances are good that you liked the post, or left a comment.
Tagging others in an Instagram post is a great way to increase engagement. You can choose to tag accounts in a field similar to yours, accounts that you think may be interested in your product or service, or accounts that might share or repost your content.
Also, once an account is tagged in your post, the post will be visible in this account's 'tagged images' feed too. This will automatically increase the visibility of your content to everyone who views the tagged account's feed.
Although this sounds hopeful, it is important to note that an unlimited number of accounts in your post won't have the results you would expect.
Mention's findings or 0.5 - 1 new like for each tag, seem only to be working when only a few relevant accounts are tagged. Hubspot's recent report found that when tagging more than 5 accounts in a post, the engagement rate stops increasing.
Our advice: Tag only highly relevant accounts in your post, and never exceed 5 tags per post.
Although tips and tricks regarding post setup, hashtags and post type do make a big difference, you will most likely not develop a real fan base or community without spending some time engaging with them.
According to Mention , the accounts with the best engagement are not necessarily the ones with most followers. The accounts with most engagement are the ones that actually share interesting content and communicate with their followers regularly.
People love to be acknowledged and heard; they like to follow an account that actually helps them solve a problem or simply entertains them.
Our advice is simple: If you would like your followers to engage with your content, engage with them too. Reply to all their comments, like their posts and just start a conversation with them.
You can take this a step further and engage with potential new followers. As Iconosquare explained, an easy way to do this is by looking for a hashtag that's relevant to your business, and liking and commenting on posts in which this hashtag is used. You can also find relevant users through Instagram's suggestions or by searching for relevant keywords in the app. Make sure to keep your comments personal and sincere, since short and standard comments will most likely not result in new and engaged followers.
If you post high-quality content and spend around 20 minutes each day on existing and potential new followers, we promise you your engagement rate will go up.
Although these are all great tips and supported by strong statistics, we think testing what works for your account is still a must.
All of the reports we mentioned their findings on a huge number of accounts, from very big to very small, from very active to completely empty. Although their results will be a great guideline that will probably apply to many accounts, it is crucial to still test things out with your audience.
Be aware of the type of content your audience would engage with (video or photo), test out which posting times work best for your account, be smart with a hashtag strategy that reaches your audience, only tag people in your posts if you have relevant accounts to tag, and most importantly - remember that to gain engagement, you will have to engage too.