Instagram is an excellent platform to grow your brand and connect with your audience in 2020. In addition to the number of followers you have, you should also work to increase your Instagram engagements as well.
Without the appropriate level of engagements with your audience on Instagram, all efforts applied towards using the social media platform to grow your brand will be in futility.
Recently, we met with an industry leader in the fast-moving consumer products (FMCG) niche to discuss their social media strategy for one of their brand.
Noticeably, they already had a presence on Instagram with a sizeable following of about 5,000+ followers. However, their engagement levels across various posts were zero to nil.
Now, instead of going into details to discuss their strategy for social media, we took a step back to understand why a brand with 5,000+ following on Instagram is not getting the appropriate engagements for that audience size.
First of all, what it the appropriate engagements for an audience size of 5,000 on Instagram? Quite frankly, it depends.
According to Scrunch an engagement rate between 1% and 3% is good for influencers.
And they provided the following benchmarks:
Less than 1% = low engagement rate
Between 1% and 3.5% = average/good engagement rate
Between 3.5% and 6% = high engagement rate
Above 6% = very high engagement rate
While our client is not an influencer per se, I believe that when it comes to social media, every brand should be an influencer because the brand’s goal is to influence and connect with its audience positively.
So with 5,000 followers, our client should be an influencer. And should have been seeing at least 50 engagements with its content on Instagram.
And this is common sense, with such an audience, the brand should be seeing meaningful engagements and not zero.
However, different parameters impact a brand’s engagement on all social media platforms, Instagram inclusive.
And based on our analysis in this client’s case, we observed several factors that suggested why the engagement was so weak, with the chief culprit being lack of the right target audience.
Whoever managed their Instagram a few years ago, spent budgetary resources buying followers! But that’s a topic for another discussion.
So, in this guide, I want to discuss the importance of increasing your engagements on Instagram as a strategic advantage to growing your brand. It’s not just a case of having thousands of followers, but are they meaningfully engaged?
By increasing your brand’s Instagram engagements, you tell your brand’s story, provide what matters most to your audience, build meaningful connections, and form lasting relationships.
And this will inevitably establish your brand as a leader in your niche and drive your brand growth.
Ready? Set? Let’s go!
- What is Instagram Engagement?
- How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate
- 1. Timing is Key
- 2. Hashtags are Your Friend
- 3. Bond with Instagram Stories
- 4. Promote Contests & Giveaways
- 5. Spread Your Reach with Omnichannel
- 6. Engage Other User Accounts
- 7. Instagram Filters are Fabulous
- 8. Say Hello to Captions
- 9. Have an Instagram Bio
- 10. Post Quality Content
- 11. Use Location Tagging
- 12. Always Have a Call-to-Action
- 13. Build Positive Relationships via DM
- 14. Maintain a Content Calendar
- 15. Maintain Visual Consistency with Themes
- 16. Engage with Followers via Comments
- 17. Be Mindful of Follower Fatigue
- 18. Use the Right Image Size
- 19. Be Fun & Social
- 20. Analyze, Measure & Improve
- Final Thoughts
What is Instagram Engagement?
Engagement is when someone shares, likes, tags, and comments on your Instagram posts. Also, when someone saves your post, that’s considered an engagement.
What is Instagram Engagement Rate?
Engagement Rate (ER) is a metric that helps you ascertain how useful your posts on Instagram are and to understand better if your audience is engaged. A higher engagement rate is a good indication that you’re posting quality content that resonates with your audience.
How to Calculate Your Brand’s Instagram Engagement Rate
It’s pretty tricky (if not confusing) to calculate your brand’s Instagram engagement rate. But let me show you three options that you can use to do so:
1: Using Engagement / Followers
With this option, you calculate your Instagram engagement by dividing your total number of likes and comments by your total number of followers. Once you do this, multiply the result by 100 to get the percentage.
Engagement Rate = ((Likes + Comments) / Followers) x 100
2: Using Engagement / Impressions
Another option is to total all your likes and comments, then dive the results by your total impressions. The result should be multiplied by 100 to get the percentage.
Engagement Rate = ((Likes + Comments) / Impressions) x 100
3: Using True Engagement / Impressions
The third option is to use “true engagement,” which includes your likes, comments as well as the number of saves your posts get. The equation is:
Engagement Rate = ((Likes + Comments + Saves) / Impressions) x 100
You can get all the values needed for each equation from your Instagram content insights.
How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate
Now, let’s get into the meat of the topic. Here, I’ll be going through the 20 effective tactics you can implement to realize increased Instagram engagements for your brand.
1. Timing is Key
Timing is an important but often ignored aspect of increasing post engagements on Instagram. It’s advantageous to post your brand content at a time when your followers are likely to be logged in and using the platform.
By doing this, you will be posting your brand content at optimized times that, in turn, will help grow your brand’s followers as well as get more engagements for your content posts.
However, you may be wondering what will be an excellent time to post your content for maximum engagement.
For one, Instagram provides inbuilt insights and analytics tool that allows you to gauge when your followers are most likely online.
So by using their tool, you’ll get a better picture of when to post and ultimately achieve better engagements.
Also, you can use third-party tools such as HootSuite to schedule your posts ahead and have constant posts published at those times your followers are most likely to be using the platform.
2. Hashtags are Your Friend
You’ve probably used hashtags or heard of them. They are the primary way of sorting and filtering content on Instagram.
When you use hashtags, you’re helping people find your content, which inevitably leads to the discovery of your brand on Instagram.
For example, if you own a skincare brand, when you post content showing a customer holding your product, you can hashtag it with #skincare #healthyskincare and #skincaregoals, as well as with other applicable hashtags you deem related to your brand.
Instagram arranges all posts on its platform according to hashtags, and yours is no exception. When Instagram users search for any of the key phrases related to your hashtag, your post will show up along with other posts using the same hashtags.
So you can increase our brand engagements on Instagram by using popular hashtags as well as branded ones.
I also suggest including hashtags in your bio and Instagram stories. Such hashtags can be a brand hashtag relating to your product or service.
Likewise, it can also be a category hashtag relating to the central niche of your post, an event hashtag relating to a particular engage, or a campaign hashtag designed for a specific marketing campaign your brand is running.
3. Bond with Instagram Stories
Did you know that over 500 million Instagram users watch Instagram Stories every day? But first of all, what are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories was launched in August 2016 and allow users to share content by posting to their “Story.”
The story disappears after 24 hours and is only visible to your followers as well as specific users you follow.
Instagram Stories can deliver a whole lot of engagement and value to your brand. Several brands such as LEGO, NASA, and Nike are experiencing lots of success with Instagram Stories according to Hubspot.
Moreover, Instagram states that business brands account for one-third of the most viewed stories; while one in every five stories get a direct message from its viewers.
Also, using the Highlights feature is one way to increase engagements on your Instagram page. As mentioned before, Instagram Stories usually lasts for 24 hours.
But the Highlights feature allows you to enhance and extend the lifetime of your story, thus making them last longer and increasing the likelihood of converting the viewer into a follower.
4. Promote Contests & Giveaways
We all love freebies, don’t we? So don’t be shy to take advantage of this innate human desire to increase your engagements on Instagram by offering free stuff in exchange for an action.
For example, you can ask your followers to tag a friend or like a post. And for non-followers, you can ask them to follow you for a chance to win free stuff.
Ultimately, running contests and giveaways on Instagram is an effective way to increase engagements with your brand on the platform.
However, you have to be mindful of and adhere to Instagram rules.
Most notably, Instagram requires that you include the statement of release in all contests and giveaway posts. Here is a statement you can use:
Therefore, make sure you insert this statement at the end of your contest caption to stay compliant and avoid any blowback with Instagram.
5. Spread Your Reach with Omnichannel
One useful but often ignored tactic to increase your brand engagements on Instagram is the use of Omnichannel marketing.
What is Omnichannel Marketing? It’s a cross-channel content strategy that blends different content distribution and promotional channels to drive traffic and increase engagements on your Instagram.
So it’s a way of engaging with your brand’s audience across different platforms. And this means you can use it as a tactic to bring in more traffic to your Instagram profile, grow your followers, and improve your engagements.
For example, you can cross-reference your Instagram profile within your website blog posts. Also, you can embed your Instagram posts within your blog post. Doing so ensures that your blog readers are aware of your Instagram and will most likely click to visit your profile.
Likewise, you can include a strong call-to-action in your other social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook. The objective here is to expose your audience to your content across channels. When you do this consistently, you’ll surely see your followership and engagement rates rise.
6. Engage Other User Accounts
Engaging with other Instagram users is an excellent way to drive engagements for your brand, especially when you engage with similar accounts or even competitor accounts.
And doing this is pretty simple and straightforward. First, follow those accounts that are similar to your brand. And then you interact with their followers.
You can also interact with the accounts they follow as well as the users that regularly comment on their post.
Doing this strategically and consistently will yield positive results, especially when they find you have exciting and engaging content on your profile.
7. Instagram Filters are Fabulous
It’s no doubt that Instagram Filters are a great way to make your pictures and images’ posts dazzle.
They are fun, and when done correctly, they can increase views, drive user engagements as well as grow your brand’s following on Instagram.
According to Refinery29, Instagram photos with filters have a 21% more likelihood of being viewed than those without; and 45% more likely to receive user comments than ones without filters.
So here are some quick tips to increase your brand’s engagement on Instagram with filters:
- Be consistent and use a similar style each time you post. Doing so will give your profile a uniform and persistent look and feel.
- Avoid using too many variations in filters.
- Black and white photos are dull and don’t stand out, so avoid them.
- Too much color intensity in the image or photo doesn’t drive engagements, so avoid filters that increase saturation.
8. Say Hello to Captions
An Instagram caption a useful way to attract more engagements such as likes, comments, and visits to your brand’s website.
Not to mention, posts with captions not only drive more engagements, but they also help build a stronger relationship with your audience.
Captions are written descriptive information about the Instagram post and provides your audience with more context. Also, you can include hashtags, emojis, and tags in your post caption.
Whenever you use a caption, it’s also ideal to ask for something of your audience. You can ask your audience to tag a friend, what they think, or to do something such as click to visit your website.
Likewise, don’t hesitate to take advantage of the 2,200 characters limits allowed by Instagram to make your captions stand out and give more context to our post.
Take your time and brainstorm on the right caption to use on your post. So start by writing out different captions on a sheet of paper or your favorite word processor.
Look at similar profiles and see what captions they are using to give context to their posts. Observe, learn, and come up with an excellent caption for your Instagram post.
9. Have an Instagram Bio
Usually, the first thing your customers or prospects see when visiting your Instagram page is your bio description.
And for many brands, their Instagram page is vital to building their brand awareness, so it’s crucial to have a good bio so visitors quickly understand who you are and why they should follow you.
Therefore, don’t just put up “anything” as your bio. Be thoughtful, strategic, and specific as to your bio description to gain the maximum impact possible.
Start with defining your call-to-action (CTA) and what you want your followers and new visitors to do.
Do you want them to visit your website, share your hashtag, shop your product catalog feed, sign up for a newsletter, ready your blog post, etc.?
Whatever it is you want them to do, be specific, and ask them to do it. You must include a link to the resource in your bio.
Also, make sure that you have a suitable profile photo as well as a username. You can also use emojis to add some excitement and make your bio more fun and relatable.
10. Post Quality Content
Instagram is a visual platform, and the right photos, images, and emojis are a way to make it fun and exciting.
However, you need to ensure that you’re posting content that is useful to your audience.
Don’t forget the purpose of your Instagram page. And this is to build a meaningful relationship with your audience and drive engagements with your brand.
As such, your brand stands to benefit from having a content strategy that delivers useful and quality content that your audience will appreciate.
Posting quality and useful content is essential to build your audience, increase engagements with them, and drive brand loyalty.
Some of the characteristics of quality content are ones that share experience, appeals to emotion, build excitement, and tells a story.
Don’t be shy to ask your followers for content. Interestingly, user-generated content (UGC) is quite popular on Instagram, and you can run a contest or giveaway for your users to generate content around your brand.
11. Use Location Tagging
One handy feature Instagram provides its users is the use of location tagging, also know as geotags.
Whenever you’re posting on the platform, you get the option to “Add Location.”
Geotag is the specific location (with latitude and longitude) of the place where you are when posting the content on Instagram.
When you add a geotag to your post, you are pinning your location to that post. And this is beneficial because it allows users to discover your brand anytime they click on the same geotag on another post.
Geotag are a powerful but yet underutilized feature that promotes brand discovery. And if your brand is not taking advantage of it, you should. The feature gives you an edge over your competition!
Most notably, local businesses can leverage this feature to engage with users that are in close physical proximity to their stores.
12. Always Have a Call-to-Action
A call-to-action (CTA) is a way to prompt or encourage an immediate response from users.
Instagram users a bombarded with information and marketing messages every moment they are on the platform. And this inevitably leads to decision fatigue on the part of users.
Subsequently, when an audience is confused with so much information, they are less likely to pay attention or become a follower or customer.
And this is why call-to-actions are crucial to give clear direction to the user on what action to take.
When used appropriately, CTAs help clear up the confusion and direct your profile viewer’s action based on what you want them to do.
Also, CTAs provide meaning to the content you post on Instagram, and as a result, grows our audience and increases the prospect of turning them into paying customers.
So you can use CTAs to grow your Instagram engagements by asking your followers to like, comment, tag a friend, share your post, or view our bio.
Equally, you can seek their opinion by asking a question. And this is a call-to-action for a response on the part of the follower.
Likewise, your Instagram bio presents another opportunity to have a clear CTA.
On your bio, you should ask the follower or viewer to perform a specific action such as visit your website or any other platform when they can get more information and ultimately convert to a lead or customer.
13. Build Positive Relationships via DM
You can send private messages, videos, images, and pictures to users with Instagram Direct Messages (a.k.a DM’s).
Heck, you can even create groups!
DM is another vital but mostly under-appreciated tool available on Instagram for building your brand.
As you know, relationships with followers are essential for any brand, and yours is not an exception.
So you must spend some time listening and responding to your followers via DM – no matter if their messages are positive or negative.
As a brand, when you show a follower that you care and see them, you’ve taken the first step in building a relationship with that follower.
Likewise, Instagram’s DM is a great tool to leverage in providing better customer care. You can use it to respond to product questions, resolve disputes and issues as well as say thank you.
Overall, use it to nurture relationships with your followers. Don’t be shy to use DMs to follow up with new followers, tell a follower you love their work, send event photos, or connect with a group.
14. Maintain a Content Calendar
I previously talked about the importance of timing your posts appropriately for maximum engagements. Also, it’s equally important to have and maintain a schedule for your posts.
You should do this by having an editorial calendar. Essentially, this is your well-thought-out schedule for posts to your Instagram profile.
Driving user engagements for your brand on Instagram is all about planning. When you plan, you take a step back and think through all the possible scenarios, content types, events, holidays, product launches, etc. that will guide your posts.
If possible, you should do this yearly or quarterly as the case may be. Having an editorial calendar and schedule for your posts allow you to stay organized, be consistent, save, and manage time.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. All you have to do is use some of your organizational skills to get started. You can get started using Google Calendar as a tool of choice, or you can use Microsoft Excel to craft out your content schedule.
Overall, maintaining a content calendar is all about thinking things through and being strategic. Give it a try, and you’ll glad you did.
15. Maintain Visual Consistency with Themes
Bloggers have long used a theme to give visual consistency to their blog posts. Nowadays, this trend is picking up on Instagram, and brands are beginning to adopt the concept.
The look and feel of your Instagram feed are vital to your brand. And it’s not just about the aesthetics, it gives consistency and helps followers identify with your brand and engage with your content.
So it’s essential to have a clear plan for the look and feel of your feed. As well as the individual posts and come together to make up that feed.
Doing so will help followers and viewers of your brand on Instagram form an outright impression in the first few seconds.
So here are some tips to help you get started:
- Determine your desired aesthetics and be consistent
- Select the core colors that communicate your brand appeal
- Using the qualities and characteristics of your products and services, make your brand personality clear in your posts
- Playing around and experiment with different grid layout, choose one and stick with it
- Use the best and modern font types and be consistent
- Use illustrations when possible if you’re good with graphics or have a graphic designer on your team
- Tell stories with video and motion graphics
- Select appropriate border styling and don’t deviate from it
16. Engage with Followers via Comments
I already mentioned the importance of interacting with your followers via DM. Likewise, posts’ comments are another way to engage with our audience and make your brand more accessible to your followers.
Take out time every day to go through your posts and read the comments they are generating.
Show appreciation by commenting back to user comments by answering their questions, providing clarity, and resolving any issues.
By doing so, your followers will feel special and appreciated. They will also identify with your brand and interact more often with your posts.
When you consistently interact with your followers via comments, you’re building strong relationships for your brand.
Also, inevitably you turn those followers into viable leads that will complete the purchase journey for your products and services in the future.
17. Be Mindful of Follower Fatigue
So you were getting engagements on your posts, and all of a sudden, you’re not.
Now, you’re confused and perplexed as to what’s happening? Why aren’t my followers engaging like they used to?
Don’t be alarmed as you’re not alone; brands sometimes experience follower fatigue.
Follower fatigue is when your Instagram audience becomes overwhelmed with too many posts and pull back.
Follower fatigue results in low or zero engagements with your posts. As a result of posting too much, too often, or low-quality content.
As a brand, you risk destroying your engagements because of follower fatigue if your followers become disinterested or feel you’re spamming them with rubbish.
So it’s crucial that you post appropriate content that is of high quality and don’t post too many, too often. One or two quality content per day is ideal. And based on your niche, if this is too much, you can limit it to three or four per week.
Remember, I talked about the importance of maintaining a content calendar? Doing so is a practical step to combating follower fatigue.
By taking out time to plan your content strategy, define a reasonable schedule, and post high-quality content, you’ve taken the first step to be mindful of this phenomenon.
18. Use the Right Image Size
You’d be surprised that most brands don’t use the right image sizes in their posts.
When you upload a photo or an image with the wrong dimensions, Instagram inevitably truncates it, and you end up with a picture or image that is cut off or doesn’t visually appear as intended.
Not taking the steps to size your photos and images before uploading to Instagram is what I consider brand negligence. Every content (photo, image, video, text, emoji, etc.) you post on Instagram is a reflection on your brand.
So make sure that your photos and images are of the correct size dimensions as well as of high-quality resolution.
Suggested Instagram image size dimensions are as follows:
Profile photo: 320×320 px
Square photos: 1080×1080 px
Portrait photos: 1080×1350 px
Landscape photos: 1080×566 px
Stories/IGTV: 1080×1920 px
Using your favorite image editing app or software, take a brief moment to size appropriately before uploading. Notably, brighter photos and images get more likes than darker ones, so brighten things up.
19. Be Fun & Social
Yes, I get it. Managing a brand on Instagram is not easy. It’s challenging and often requires thinking outside the box. It’s a cutthroat environment where millions of brands are struggling to get the attention of users.
But it can be gratifying. All you have to do is relax, be fun, and be social. See yourself in your audience and provide them with fun and engaging content.
For example, instead of continually posting content about your brand, get their attention with a puzzle or pop quiz that gives them mind break from all the marketing noise.
Likewise, run a recurring challenge around a social impact topic that encourages your audience to engage by sharing their take on the problem with a photo of them making a meaningful social impact.
And remember, it’s a social networking platform first and foremost. So be social. Reach out to your audience, network, partner with similar profiles, and build meaningful relationships.
20. Analyze, Measure & Improve
Finally, to keep increasing your brand’s engagements on Instagram, you need to analyze, measure actively, and seek out ways to improve performance.
When you analyze and measure, you’re able to identify what’s working and what’s not working. Then you can take necessary actionable steps to improve your engagements by applying several of the approaches I’ve outlined above.
Fortunately, Instagram provides insightful analytics that gives you an idea of your performance across your profile, followers, and content.
Using this tool, you’ll be able to access engagement data such as likes, comments, or clicks to determine the best times to post, which posts performed better, your audience demographics, audience location, and much more.
So using Instagram’s insights analytics tool is a good starting point to use in gain an understanding of your audience’s behavior with your content and how to adapt accordingly.
When it comes to growing your brand successfully on Instagram, engagement is king.
At our agency, we’ve met numerous clients who have been struggling with growing their Instagram account and increasing engagements for their brands.
I’m confident this guide gives you some perspective on the various approaches you can use to grow your brand and build a meaningful relationship with your audience on Instagram.
By following the different tactics outlined, you’ll gain a brand following that is loyal, connected, and will become users of your product and services.
However, the big takeaway is to be fun and social. And also to see Instagram as a platform to tell your brand story. A story that should resonate with your target audience, a story that should provide solutions to their problems via content, and a story that drives them to become a better version of themselves.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments section here. How are you using Instagram engagements to drive the growth of your product or service brand? What’s working? What’s not working? Please share your thoughts below.