Instagram is one of the best social media channels for any business, small or large, to engage and connect with other social media users. With as many as 600 million active daily users, it’s no wonder why businesses are flocking to this social platform in droves for their social media marketing needs. However, many are left puzzled about why they are having a hard time reaching new audience segments and growing their followers with a constantly decreasing organic reach. This is all due to the dreaded algorithm changes that happen several times per year.
Instagram’s Algorithm is responsible for selecting content to be displayed in users’ feeds. The system will determine when, how often, and to how many people your content will be shown a post on Instagram. It’s a complicated script of code that, for many, might as well be as intricate as the human brain. Fortunately, you don’t need to understand all of the complexities of how the Instagram algorithm works to take advantage and make it work for you.
You might think that if there were some way to “hack” this system, you could grow your followers and boost your conversion rates, and all would be well. But this isn’t the case.
Officially, Instagram has stated that the platform does not “shadow ban” accounts, which is a term that refers to accounts being blocked from showing up in feeds due to suspicious activity. But as marketers research what works best to boost visibility on their instagram profiles, it’s become evident that the platform favors accounts that show signs of authentic interaction and post quality content.
And that’s the best part! Organically growing your following is possible with some time and dedication. But most importantly, you need to know how to manage your account in a way that will tell Instagram you’re real, and people want to see you rather than just focusing on beating the algorithm. That can be tricky, though. People need to actually want to see you. It is up to you to provide your audience with consistent, valuable, and engaging content.
That being said, gaining visibility by showing up in users’ feeds does take some know-how. Since chronological feeds are a thing of the past, it’s not enough to post content and expect to be seen on recent posts. To let Instagram know that your audience wants to see your content, you need to find ways to get it in front of them so they can interact with it and increase your instagram engagement. If you are consistent with this effort, you may see a snowball effect: valuable content with the right placement creates engagement, and, in turn, Instagram will recognize that your content is in demand and further your reach.
Let’s take a look at some of the dos and don’ts, so you can give yourself an advantage on Instagram by working WITH its algorithm to increase engagement with your social media posts. No hacks are needed, as long as you follow these simple steps.
Paying for followers can be a quick and effective way to grow your Instagram following, but, unfortunately, this can hurt your account in the long run. In years past, this was a strategy that many people turned to because it worked not only to grow following, but it also boosted exposure. Instagram favored content from accounts that had massive followings because lots of followers must mean lots of interest.
But as of 2019, their system has gotten a lot smarter. The problem now with paying for followers is that it’s not genuine, and the algorithm that is currently in place wants genuine. If you have thousands of followers that are just bots and fake accounts, then they are not engaging with your content. Not only are you paying for followers that will never become customers, but these only increase a vanity metric and you risk your account of getting blocked.
When determining the value of your content, Instagram looks at the numbers of shares and likes relative to your number of followers. Let’s you have 1,000 followers, and one of your posts receives 500 likes. Instagram will recognize that 50% of your following interacted with that piece of content and determine that it must be high-quality content. On the other hand, if you have 50 real followers, and 950 fake followers, even if all 50 like your share, that’s only 5% of your following. This is why it’s more important to take the time to reach real, active users.
Your Account’s Name
Whether you are using a personal account or a business account, you can implement this simple SEO tactic to improve your visibility.
Optimization, and just as Bing or Google, Instagram is a search engine. People are regularly using it to find ideas, products, service providers, memes, cat videos, and the list goes on.
To make yourself more visible in search results, you can add something about yourself to your profile’s name. For example, if you are a personal trainer, you could change your name to “Jane Doe | Personal Trainer Pro.” That way, when someone is searching the phrase “personal trainer,” they will be more likely to view your profile in the search results.
The type of social media content you post has everything to do with how you will be seen on Instagram, and just as importantly, how often you will be seen. You can utilize your content to announce new product launches or product updates, engage customers, reach your target audience, and much more. Getting your content right is one of the most valuable things you can do to expand your organic reach and drive social media engagement. Your Instagram marketing strategy will depend mostly on what kind of business you have and the target audiences that are going to engage with that business.
It can take a lot of time to learn everything you need to know to get this just right. But once you know your audience through and through, you’ll know when and where to reach them. Keep in mind, getting to know the people you want to reach will require some market research.
Research Your Market
Look at other similar brands, and take note of the kinds of people who are engaging with their content and when most of the engagement is taking place. Knowing these two pieces of information can help you decide on the best time to post on Instagram. For example, if your target customer is someone with a high-pressure, time-consuming job, the chances are that they will typically have little time during their day to scroll through their feeds. You may want to schedule your posts in the evening to get the best engagement with these types.
Post social media content that is catered to your audience. If you have a tech company that produces custom software, your customers are likely to be people who wish to consume educational content. You could try posting an interesting video post on something tech-related to get their attention, add a microblog in the description, and include a link to a full-length blog post housed on your website.
Take it a step further and read their comments. What kinds of questions are they asking? What are they saying they would like to see more? What is unique about the content that is getting the most shares and what are the best posting times for you? The answers to these questions will come from the followers are most active and provide incredibly valuable insights when creating Instagram content.
Test Your Content
A little bit of elbow grease thrown in the mix with some trial and error can also tell you what you need to know. Try some A/B testing to find out what and when you should be posting. You can do this by using similar posts at different times of the day, or different posts at the same time of different days. You can track the metrics from these tests pretty easily, and they will show you when and what your audience is most likely to engage.
Talk to Your Audience
Also, get down in those comments and say something clever. Keep the conversation going with people who are taking the time to comment on your Instagram posts. This is an unbeatable way to personalize your brand and build trust with your audience. If you manage to strike up a genuine conversation with someone, send that person a DM.
And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can ask a question in your followers feeds to get a conversation going, or you can ask in the comments what type of content they are interested in seeing more.
Video on Social Media
Video is quickly becoming recognized for its ability to boost engagement rates with your target audience and grow your social media following. And that’s just the start. Video is a social media tool that is predicted to encompass 82% of all internet consumer traffic by 2022, and 70% of digital marketers are saying that video strategies convert better than any other form of content. There are plenty of compelling video statistics that strongly suggest that you should be using video content in your digital marketing efforts. But, for this article, we’ll be looking at some ways you can use video content for Instagram.
Video is one of the best ways to improve your social presence and customer experience due to one simple fact: it’s what consumers want. You can use videos to explain your products and services, give a behind-the-scenes look at your company culture, and entertain and educate your viewers.
According to Instagram, its new algorithm doesn’t emphasize video unless your followers prioritize video. That means that users who never pause to watch videos in their feed will see fewer of them. But the truth is – people watch videos. Today’s consumers want to connect with your brand on a personal level before becoming customers, and a custom video that is tailored to your target audience is one of the best engagement opportunities you can use to humanize your brand voice and bring a better user experience.
According to Hootsuite, there is an 80% increase year-over-year of video traffic over the internet, so don’t waste any more time. Post on IGTV, use a video ad, share an Instagram Story, go Live, or post a video to your feed to increase the time your audience spends with each post.
Hashtags are an extremely valuable tool for social networking and marketing your business on Instagram. They can be used to expand your reach, get your posts in front of people who are interested in your field of expertise, and gather new followers. Most people already know this, but they may be unaware of the right way to use hashtags and the advantages they can bring.
Change Them Up
Many business owners and Instagram marketers have a list of hashtags that they copy and paste into every post without ever really changing anything. In the past, this may have been an effective strategy, but this is no longer the case. Instagram’s updates now see this practice as being spammy and automated. Today’s consumers want genuine, real-time engagement, and the businesses that provide this receive the most interaction from their audiences. To keep your hashtags fresh and show Instagram that you are actively running your account without bots and extensions, you’ll need to switch it up a bit.
With that being said, there is nothing wrong with re-using hashtags as long as you’re not using the same 30 in every post. Rotate the hashtags that you are using, and never post the same list twice.
Find Those Buzzwords
Do some hashtag research by looking at similar accounts and browsing for lists of trending hashtags on the web. Compile a list of all the hashtags that are relevant and customized for your content. Once you’ve done this, you can begin to break it down into smaller lists from which you can mix and match different tags for each post.
Big Hashtags vs. Little Hashtags
You’ll want to break your list down into two or three separate lists with varying hashtags sizes. By hashtag size, we don’t necessarily mean the length of text within the hashtag, though this can be a determining factor in the size of the tag. By size, we are referring to the number of people who follow each hashtag. You can determine this by typing each tag into the search bar, and the number of followers will be clearly visible next to the tag.
Big hashtags are great because they have millions of followers who will all see your posts and love your business, right? If only it were that easy. The problem with big hashtags is that they are constantly being posted, which means that your post may be quickly buried and is less likely to be seen.
The best practice is to combine different sizes of hashtags, including small, medium, and large, which may vary depending on your industry. Also, try adding another list of long-form hashtags, which contain entire, short phrases. These will have much smaller followings because they are very specific, but the probability that someone within that following will see your post is much higher.
Actively engaging in your online community is undoubtedly going to be the most time-consuming part of growing your following on Instagram. Still, it will more than likely be the most effective. When you are just getting started, you could make this into a full-time job for a social media manager. But don’t obsess too much. Even just spending a few minutes a day using the direct message functionality can make a huge difference. You could set aside the time use for a coffee break to check your instagram account messages and reply to comments, and the upside is that you can still drink your coffee while doing this!
Collaborate with Your Peers
There are many ways you can engage with your social media community on Instagram, but how can you do it in a way that will be effective without taking up too much of your time? One way is to engage in the comment sections on accounts that are similar to yours. These places are great for starting conversations and getting secondary followers. Secondary followers are people who decide to follow your account because it is related to a hashtag or another account that interests them.
But it may not be a good idea to openly promote yourself in this area. Remember to respect the fact that you’re commenting on someone else’s posts. However, you can always try talking to other people within your industry to find out if they would be interested in promoting one another’s accounts. Ask them if they would like to do a mutual shout-out, where you both @ each other in the description of one of your posts. Look for people with a similar number of followers on their account. If you have 2,000 social media followers, and you ask someone who has 20,000, chances are you won’t even get a reply, let alone a shout-out.
Contests and Giveaways
Another great way to get people interested in your social media account is to run contests and giveaways using Instagram posts. This is pretty straightforward, so we won’t go into too much detail here. Run a or Instagram story post letting people know that you’re holding a raffle of sorts for a free product, service, demo, etc. In the description, tell what all of the contest’s rules are. You may have some additional stipulations, but we suggest you start with just a few: like, comment @ three other people, and share. This is a great way to boost visibility for your post, so be sure to utilize all the tactics we mentioned above to increase engagement rates and visibility even more.
Always Be Testing
We hope that this guide for marketers has helped you gain some practical knowledge about how you can improve your business profile’s performance and promote brand awareness. This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything you can do to engage your audience and make your account shine. Still, it’s certainly full tips for increasing your social account’s performance and ways to get started, which will hopefully help you save time when developing your marketing strategy.
Remember that growing your following on Instagram can take a lot of time and patience, so don’t shoot for the moon just yet. Set small, achievable goals that are in the direction of the moon, each one a little bit bigger than the last. Make a plan for how you intend to accomplish each goal and stick to it. Find out what works and double down on that. If you can, fix what isn’t working, but don’t let it take away from what is bringing you results.
Successfully increasing your social media engagement on Instagram and developing your brand voice is a simple process. Be visible. Utilize search engine optimization to make sure that people can find you even when they’re not specifically looking for you. And when they do find you, make sure they know right away what you do.
Provide value. Post content that people want to see. There’s no shortcut to originality, so it’s best to stick with what you know and share more as you grow. Engage your audience. Let them know that you’re there and that you want to talk to them. Be available and knowledgeable to answer their questions.
Collaborate. Get to know other people in your industry and see what you can do for each other to mutually benefit. Don’t be shy about it. Not too many business owners are going to turn down free publicity.
We know how difficult it is to grow your business from the ground up using only the marketing tools available through social media and especially when trying to grow on instagram lately. We believe that paying attention and providing value first is the way to build lasting relationships with existing and potential customers. Check out our other blogs and learn more ways to build your online business.