What are the top ways to increase engagement on Instagram in 2021? We’ll reveal several that you can start applying today in this social media optimization tutorial.
When you look at the numbers, it is easy to see why so many marketers love Instagram as their social media platform of choice. According to Statista, Instagram has nearly one billion active users, many of whom connect to brands. And when it comes to likes, shares, and comments from consumers, Oberlo found that Instagram is king with a 4.21 percent engagement rate. How does it compare to other platforms in this realm? Favorably is an understatement, as Instagram’s engagement is 84, 54, and 10 times higher than Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook, respectively.
How to Increase Instagram Engagement
What’s the foremost issue marketers have with Instagram? Other popular platforms are emerging, such as TikTok, which means it takes more work to stand out from the crowd. Here are some examples of ways you can keep your Instagram engagement on point, regardless of what your competitors or other platforms are doing.
Read: Optimization Tips for Facebook Pages.
Use Consistent Visuals to Improve Instagram Engagement
Instagram’s claim to fame is providing content that is easy on the eyes. As such, your visual content will need to hit the mark to increase brand awareness and loyalty amongst your followers. While editing styles are constantly changing, you want to ensure that your feed stays consistent in its look.
According to WebDam, most of Instagram’s top brands have one thing in common: The look of their posts remains consistent. In other words, if your brand is all about calmness and meditation, you do not want one visual to show a peaceful lake setting while the next is a picture of a rowdy rock concert. Whatever your brand identity is and whatever audience you are trying to attract, the look of your feed should match that.
What can help you create consistency in your look? Photo editing apps, such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO Cam are great tools to help improve your social media presence.
Implement Instagram SEO
If you think search engine optimization (SEO) has zero impact on Instagram, think again. Your account handle and account name can affect your Instagram SEO, which is why you should do the following.
First, make sure your account handle (aka your @ name) clearly describes what sector you are in. Ideally, it should be concise and easy to remember.
Next, pay attention to your account name, which sits under your profile picture. You want it to reflect both your handle and the industry you are in. This is important because when people search Instagram, the platform will check searches against your account name. The more descriptive it is, the easier you will be to find, so insert a keyword you think your target audience would use when searching too.
Read: Top Social Media Tip for Twitter Optimization.
Be Consistent with Your Instagram Posting
It is not rocket science that you will need to be active if you want to increase engagement and attract new followers. What is considered “active”? According to many, it is making one to two posts per day. In doing so, you can maintain a relevant and fresh feed that gives you the necessary visibility to attract Instagram users.
While posting one to two times daily is essential, so is knowing when to make those posts. This can be tricky, as some gurus suggest a first post between 8-9 am while others say 2-5 pm is your best bet.
How can you pinpoint your ideal posting times? By tapping into your Instagram Business or Creator account’s Insights feature. It will give you insight into the habits of your followers so you can see when they are most active. Once you find that hotspot, you can schedule your posts accordingly, so they sit atop feeds for maximum visibility.
Select Your Hashtags Carefully
Picking the proper Instagram hashtags is an art. Using overly generic hashtags like #dogs or #cats will lead to a ridiculous amount of competition. To avoid that route, blend trending with industry-specific hashtags to get your target audience’s eyes on your posts.
Researching hashtags is a must. Before using one, see how many likes its top-performing posts got. Also, look at the content to ensure it matches your brand. If so, then use it.
While hashtag quality is crucial, so is quantity. Just one hashtag can increase post engagement by as much as 13 percent. You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram, but hitting the max looks unprofessional and spammy. Many say that posts with 11-plus hashtags get the most engagement, which could be close to the sweet spot.
As for how to pick your ideal hashtag number, that may take some trial and error. You can start by looking at influencers and competitors in your sector. Give their hashtag volumes a try until you find a match. To get around Instagram’s algorithm that punishes spammy posting habits, switch up the type and quantity of hashtags you use.
The use of a branded hashtag is another tip to keep in mind. It should include part of your brand name and be short and catchy. One example would be ColourPop Cosmetics’ #ColourPopMe hashtag. Using branded hashtags can ignite a community vibe, make it easier to discover your content, and get more eyes on your profile. When you think of one, do not forget to put it in your bio so each visitor can see it. And do not be afraid to create more than one branded hashtag either.
Master the Art of Instagram Storytelling
Why do so many people use social media? Because they want to connect with others. What is a great way to connect? With stories that are captivating and create an emotional connection. If you can connect emotionally with followers, they will be more likely to come back for more while sharing your content with others.
You can create micro-stories on Instagram through various avenues, such as your profile, Instagram stories, videos, and captions. In-depth captions that are lengthy, authentic, and feature elements of storytelling can make your brand appear human, resulting in greater success in building a deep connection with your target audience. Even the length of the caption itself can stop a scroller and trigger curiosity, causing them to spend more time on your post so they can see what you have to say.
You can think of Instagram captions as microblogs, just as many powerful influencers do. Use them to build authenticity, plus get more saves and shares. On a platform that gets plenty of flak for appearing too materialistic, a long caption with a profound, exciting message can certainly help you stand out from the crowd.
One of the easiest ways to implement powerful storytelling in your captions and other areas of your Instagram profile is to see what the best in the business are doing. Brands like Patagonia, Airbnb, Lego, Nike, and Red Bull are known for being powerful storytellers. Look at their pages to find inspiration.
What is the moral of the story? Do not inundate your followers with a steady stream of standard product pictures and sales pitches when posting content. Think of your audience’s pain points and what they care about. Then, make content that is strong on storytelling that also offers solutions to their needs.
Instagram User-generated Content (UGC)
Creating your own content can be time-consuming and costly. And while you will need it, you can take an occasional load off of your shoulders by posting user-generated content instead.
User-generated content offers the enormous benefits of lowering your marketing costs while creating a deeper connection between followers and your brand and making them feel involved in something special.
Some of the biggest brands in the world rely on user-generated content to drive engagement on their Instagram feeds. Starbucks is just one example, as their annual #RedCupContest campaign each December asks for followers’ photos with the company’s red Christmas cup. With over 30,000 entries, Starbucks had plenty of content to choose from without having to tap into their own marketing department’s creativity.
Looking for more social media optimization (SMO) tutorial? Check out our list of Best Social Media Optimization Tips for 2021.