One of the platforms I took to pretty late in my blogging journey was Instagram.
That’s because I was focusing more on Facebook and Twitter and hadn’t really paid much attention to this platform.
Once I started studying it and understanding more about this space, I realized that this is a perfect place for quality engagement and connecting with your audience.
In the past year (June 2019 to June 2020), I have doubled my engaged followers on Instagram.
Now, you may be wondering about that number and thinking, ‘Well, hey, that’s not such a great growth, is it? I know that people are able to get to 10,000 followers in 6 months.’
But here’s the difference.
Of all of the people who started following me in the past year, hardly 5% of them have stopped following me. That means they begin to engage with my content and then continue to engage with it in the long run.
That is precisely what I will talk about in today’s post.
Whether you’re a blogger, a content creator or a social media power user who wants to leverage the benefits of this platform, you’d find these tips useful.
This post contains Referral/Affiliate links. What that means is if you click on any of the links and make a purchase, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Read my complete disclosure policy here.
Create a Targeted Profile
One of the most important things to remember about any platform, as a blogger, a professional business owner or a content creator is this:
Understand how the platform works.
By that, I mean you have to look beyond things such as ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ and focus on the platform itself and how people engage there.
When you create an account on Instagram, determine whom you are planning to engage with.
In other words, who is your target audience?
Need tips on that? Click to read this article on finding your target audience
Once you know the answer to that question, work on crafting your Instagram bio to reflect what you can do for your audience.
Click here to follow me on Instagram
The more targeted your profile, the more engaged your audience.
In other words, ensure that you are giving the people what they want.
Convert to a Business Account
As an Instagram content creator, it’s valuable to convert your personal profile to a business account.
It requires no payment of any sort.
How does this help with engagement, you ask?
The more you know about the content that makes a difference, the better your understanding of the content creation system, going forward.
That means, you will focus on those topics that tend to get better engagement in the long run.
The key difference between a personal account and a business account is that the latter gives you access to certain wonderful features such as:
- Insights and Analytics: To tell you which content is performing well over the long term
- Quick Replies: You can craft answers to frequently asked questions and send them to your followers over Direct Message at the tap of a button
- Contact information: You can enable easier access to you with a link to a contact e-mail/ phone number/ street location
- Instagram Ads: You can promote posts as Instagram ads by linking it to your Facebook business page.
- Auto publish content: Especially if you use a scheduler, this is one heck of a time saving tool!
Use a scheduler to post at optimal times
Did you know that I use the Instagram app on my phone just once or twice a week, at the most?
That means I use the Instagram stories feature very sparingly or only when I need to do a Live Video.
And yet, I get great engagement on my posts on the grid.
How, you ask?
Remember the point about having a business account on Instagram that I mentioned earlier?
Doing so would immediately enable you to access approved scheduling tools that work very well with Instagram
These tools are designed to help you post your content to the grid at optimal times.
Posting when your audience is active is a great way to boost engagement on your grid.
Which scheduler do I recommend? There are two, actually.
Both the schedulers I mention below let you create the content on the laptop version and post directly to Instagram.
That means, you don’t need the app!
I love Buffer, because you can schedule up to 10 posts on their forever free plan.
I also love Tailwind because it allows smart scheduling, a smart bio link and extra formatting tools (bold font/italics/ posting of hashtags in the first comment).
*I’ve heard that Later and Planoly are also good schedulers, but I haven’t used them myself.
By the way, if you do want to test out certain extra engagement tips using Stories, I go into it in detail in my Free Instagram Course.
Use a Theme for your Grid
Using a theme for your grid gives it a very cohesive effect.
It involves bringing together the elements in a way that makes it easy for first-time followers to understand you and your purpose on the platform.
While I am not too rigid about maintaining strict cohesion on a post by post basis, I do observe that when I do a thematic series on the grid, the engagement immediately goes up.
Case in point: This Truth Bomb series that I ran a while ago on Instagram.
The theme doesn’t have to involve more than 3 posts in a row or 6 posts in a row, if that makes it easier for you to envision.
Keeping the focus on what your audience can relate to, makes it easy for people to engage with you.
Post bright images
Instagram is a highly visual medium.
This naturally means that people are there to see good, high-quality images.
Now, it’s all very well to complain about lack of engagement despite the fact that you are putting out captions that are amazing.
But the truth is, good images do matter on Instagram.
If you are taking your own pictures, ensure they are high-definition pictures.
You don’t need a DSLR camera, by the way.
A good iPhone or Android phone with some after-effects added will work great.
Now, if you’re like me and don’t really take your own photos, invest in a good stock photo subscription.
I personally use and love Ivory Mix!
Their paid subscription plan is phenomenal and comes with captions for Instagram, graphics, Canva templates and monthly workshops too.
Here’s a short video to show you an overview of the Ivory Mix VIP plan.
If you’re on a budget, start with the free plan. That has over 500+ free stock photos that you can use.
Write engaging content
Okay, this may seem like a no-brainer but engaging captions are the secret sauce to consistent engagement.
I spend anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes on crafting a caption for each post.
When doing so, I always go back and review the caption to ask the primary question:
“What’s in it for the follower?”
While the idea of sharing your day to day life is fascinating, am sure, you have to shift the focus towards your follower.
I did a Live Video on Instagram where I shared tips on how you can use Instagram as a content creator to build better engagement.
Format your captions
A good caption on Instagram is guaranteed to generate more engagement if you format it right.
That means, you have to avoid the run-on effect created when you post something on the Instagram app.
Look at this caption below.
I managed to create that with the line breaks, the emojis and the easy-flowing effect by scheduling it out using Buffer.
That’s actually one of the main reasons I don’t post captions using the app.
(That and the fact that I just hate typing on the phone and the impact it has on my fingers and wrists!)
P.S. Check out how I needed to take a break from my gadgets for a whole month.
Add a clear Call to Action
A crucial component of quality engagement is a powerful call to action in the caption of your post or on the image itself.
Every post is a potential path to know your audience better.
Every post is a way to connect with people.
When you keep these two core principles in mind, crafting a call to action becomes much easier.
In the post below, I have done both: A caption that has a call to action at the end as well as a text overlay with a message for anyone who reads.
Stop worrying about the number of followers
Every Instagram course will promise you that you’d grow your followers in the shortest period of time possible.
Not gonna lie, that’s tempting!
Full disclosure: My course also guarantees follower growth, but with a slight caveat.
It doesn’t talk about exponential or explosive growth.
It also talks about a more crucial component of growth: Quality over quantity.
Let me explain what that means.
Imagine that you have 1000 followers. Now, in comparison to other people in your niche that may sound ridiculously low.
Of all those 1000 followers, how many people connect with you, engage with your content, reach out to you and buy your products or read your blog?
If that number is even 50% of your followers, believe me, that’s quality engagement right there.
I remember mentioning this in a Live session on Facebook and it always holds true:
“Likes and comments don’t pay your bills. Clicks, conversions and sales do”
In other words, don’t be swayed by the ego-boosting vanity metrics of number of likes and comments on your posts.
What you need to study is how many of those engaging actually convert to something more: in other words, how many leads are you generating?
That is the SECRET to value-based engagement.
For more tips on how you can use Instagram for lead generation, read this post.
Be Ready to Change Your Strategy
Okay, so this is a tough one to hear, but it’s necessary.
You may be trying all the tricks in the book and nothing seems to budge.
Your follower count doesn’t move.
Your followers don’t engage.
Your account doesn’t grow.
This involves taking one of two decisions:
A) Completely rework and re-visit your strategy from the ground up.
Figure out what your niche is and how to create more engaging content.
Instagram is a platform that has multiple moving parts. Work out what has to be done and take a different approach.
When you do this, you’d observe that you approach Instagram with a very different mindset and are open to improving engagement better the second time around.
B) Instagram may not be the platform for you and your business.
Sad, but true.
In fact, there are many successful bloggers and content creators who do not use Instagram at all and manage to be very effective at what they do.
This post by Limit Breaker explains how she quit Instagram and it actually helped her business.
Maybe that’s something you may need to explore too.