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8 Instagram Best Practices That Will Help You Increase Engagement

You’ve built up a good-sized following on Instagram. Yet, it still seems like your strategy is falling short.

Your reach is good. But, your level of engagement? Well, it needs some improvement.

Engagement is the name of the game for social media marketing. However, figuring out exactly how to get your followers interacting with your posts can be a challenge.

We’re here to help. Below, we’re dishing out nine actionable strategies you can use to give your Instagram engagement a boost.

 

What You’ll Find in this Post:

 

Why Does Engagement Matter?

Engagement is important for any sort of marketing initiative—not just the ones that happen on social media.

Think of a billboard, for example. Is the advertiser only aiming to get people to see that billboard—and that’s it? Of course not. The advertiser wants the passerby to see that marketing message and then take action by paying a visit.

That same goal holds true for all of your marketing efforts—whether it’s a television ad or a post on social media.

Ultimately, getting more eyeballs on your brand is a positive thing. But, it’s their level of involvement that really matters. Are those eyeballs going to pay you a visit, advocate for your brand, or make a purchase? If they’re only seeing your content—and that’s the end of the road—you really aren’t accomplishing much.

This is why inspiring your followers to engage with you on social media is so important. As ThriveHive explains in a blog post, a high level of engagement leads to numerous benefits for your brand, including:

  • Expanded marketing reach
  • Increased sales
  • Greater visibility
  • Repeat customers

Those benefits are why engagement garners so much of the focus on Instagram. After all, having an audience of 50,000 followers is worthless if they’re never interacting with your brand.

Fortunately, when you compare engagement with brands across all social networks, Instagram reigns supreme. Research from Forrester indicates that engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and a whopping 84 times higher than Twitter.

So, the audience is there. But, what does that engagement actually accomplish? As it turns out, quite a bit.

Instagram itself reports that 60% of users find new products on the platform. Even further, 75% of Instagram users take action—such as visiting a website—after viewing a post.

In short, focusing on increasing your engagement as part of your overall Instagram strategy means big things for your brand’s bottom line.

Instagram Story Metrics Made Easy

Grab our ebook Your Guide to Instagram Stories: Measuring What Matters to take Your Instagram Stories game up a notch!

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Boosting Your Engagement: 8 Instagram Best Practices to Follow

But, now another question comes to mind: How can you increase engagement?

Getting any traction on Instagram can feel challenging, but rest assured that’s it’s doable. Let’s dig into some Instagram best practices you can rely on to get people interacting with your posts—rather than just observing from afar.

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1. Get Out There and Engage

Have you heard that old golden rule that goes a little something like, “Treat others the way you would like to be treated”?

Of course, you have—and, it really holds some water on Instagram.

Rather than broadcasting messages to your followers, think of Instagram as a way to form relationships with them. This means that your interactions need to be a two-way street. You can’t expect them to engage with you, without you engaging with them.

While proactively engaging will take a little bit of time, it doesn’t need to be anything complicated. Simple activities like the following will prove that you aren’t just there to shout into the void:

  • Respond or “like” comments that are left on your posts
  • Answer questions that are asked in the comments
  • Like and comment on related content from followers and other users (which you can find by searching relevant hashtags).

Look at Target as an example. Despite being a huge brand, they’re in the habit of responding to many of the comments on their posts—and many of their followers reply right back to them.

They prove that they’re there to engage in a conversation, rather than just bombard people with self-serving sales messages.

instagram-best-practices-target-example

Image source: Target

Again, this doesn’t need to take hours of your time. Even setting aside 15 minutes each day to respond and interact will make a difference. People will be far more likely to engage with your brand if they see that you’re not ignoring their attempts to interact.

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2. Pay Close Attention to What Works

You posted something on Instagram and were shocked at how well it performed. It generated tons of likes and comments for your brand.

Now, what do you do? If you’re like many brands on Instagram, you make the mistake of chalking that up to sheer luck. You randomly post something else and cross your fingers that it has the same impact.

You’re missing a huge opportunity here. Rather than writing off that win as a happy accident, take a look back to see if you can figure out what made it work so well.

Social media can seem unpredictable at times. You should be snagging any opportunity you have to get some real insights into what plays well on your account—because that’s probably worth repeating.

You can apply this same concept beyond a single post basis. Dig through your analytics to see if you can identify trends or themes that you should be sticking to. Do your followers love witty captions? Inspirational quotes? People-focused snaps from inside your office?

Find the common threads between your top-performing posts and then try your hand at recreating that success. In short, you don’t need to blindly produce your social media content—you should be using data to strategize.

Where can you get your hands on this data? If you have an Instagram business profile, you’ll have access to some analytics directly within the app. With Sked Social (formerly Schedugram), you can also dig into more advanced analytics—including a post-by-post breakdown.

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3. Don’t Neglect Your Timing

While we’re on the topic of making informed decisions, the timing of your content also matters on Instagram.

Think about it: You can have the greatest Instagram post on the planet. But, if none of your followers are active on the platform around the time you post it, you’re probably not going to generate the results you’re hoping for.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that timing is a key part of Instagram’s algorithm. Newer posts are more likely to be displayed first, which means you want to be posting at times when your followers are actually active on the platform.

Alright, so, here’s the next question: When’s the best time to post on Instagram?

It’s a question that almost every marketer has asked at one point or another. Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer that works across the board. The best time to post to your own brand’s account might differ greatly from another brand.

That’s why this is another thing you should be paying attention to within your analytics.

Experiment with posting at different times of day and then track how content posted at those times performs. After a week or two of doing that, you should be able to identify some general rules to abide by.

For example, maybe content you post on weekends always flops. But, weekday evenings see engagement skyrocket.

That’s helpful information to use when you think about scheduling content moving forward. The more you can accurately time your posts, the more engagement you’ll see.

instagram-best-practices-scheduling-photo

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4. Leverage the Power of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is undeniably powerful on Instagram. 81% of consumers state that social posts from their friends and peers directly impact their purchasing decisions. This is why more and more brands are leaning on influencers to spread the word about their products.

Does it work? You bet.

A 2016 study found that influencer marketing generates 11 times the ROI of traditional digital marketing. And, in Linqia’s The State of Influencer Marketing survey, an impressive 94% of respondents who use influencer marketing said they think it’s an effective tactic.

FabFitFun is one of many brands that has been leveraging influencer marketing to spread the word.

They promote their subscription box by working with celebrities and reality television stars. And, it works. The company brought in $40 million in revenue and reached 200,000 subscribers (and growing) last year.

Not all of their success is owed to influencer marketing, but it’s certainly a huge piece of the puzzle.

instagram-best-practices-fab-fit-fun-example

Image source: FabFitFun

Influencer marketing is helpful for widening your reach, but what about engagement?

There are strategies you can use to leverage influencers to increase engagement on your own account, including:

  • Re-posting content from influencers
  • Doing an “Instagram takeover”.

During an Instagram takeover, the influencer manages your account for a day or a week. They also invite their own audience to follow along with their posts and stories.

The retailer, TJ Maxx, relies on the “takeover” technique pretty frequently by posting different Instagram story clips of various influencers completing the “Maxx 50 Challenge.”

These influencers head to their local TJ Maxx to see just how much they can get for $50—all while documenting the entire thing for Instagram.

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Image source: TJMaxx

By collaborating with someone who already has a sizable and engaged following of their own, you can attract some new followers to your own account and encourage them to interact with someone they already admire (which boosts engagement for your account).

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5. Use Instagram Stories as a Complement to Your Efforts

When it comes to engagement, it’s pretty tough to beat Instagram Stories. With more than 300 million people (that’s over a third of all Instagram users!) using stories every single day, it’s a feature you need to be utilizing.

Although stories are pretty different from your standard Instagram posts, don’t think that it’s something you need an entirely different strategy for. Instead, your Instagram stories should be a complement to the rest of your content.

Stories are a great way to direct people to your regular content in your feed. Since stories get such awesome engagement, you can effectively call attention to your normal posts that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

You can add existing Instagram posts directly to your story by pressing the little “message” icon (it looks like a paper airplane) that appears under your Instagram post and then selecting “send to your story.”

Or, you can add a little more intrigue (and, as a result, send even more engagement to your post) by not sharing exactly what you posted. Instead, clue users into what your most recent post is about and instruct them to head to your account to see the entire post.

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Image source: Alaina Kaczmarski

Struggle to keep up with posting content to your stories? Using Sked Social, you can not only easily schedule your regular Instagram posts, but stories too!

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6. Make the Most of Your Caption

Instagram is a visual platform, which makes it easy to think that it’s all about the photos. As a result, the captions for your photos become an afterthought.

However, putting some thought and strategy into your captions can drive engagement in a way that feels authentic and helpful.

For example, use your caption to ask a question and encourage followers to drop their answers in the comments. Or, ask them to tag someone in a comment (which boosts your engagement while widening your reach) like the online news outlet, Bustle, does below.

instagram-best-practices-bustle-example

Image source: Bustle

In short, don’t neglect the power of your caption and use that as a tool to generate even more engagement by explicitly asking followers to engage with you.

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7. Host a Contest

People love to win, which means contests are undeniably effective when it comes to getting people to engage with your brand on Instagram.

Maybe you’ll roll up your sleeves and host a photo contest. Or, perhaps you’ll keep things simple by hosting a giveaway where people simply need to comment to enter.

instagram-best-practices-clearly-kombucha-example

Image source: Clearly Kombucha

The important thing to note is that a contest is essentially incentivizing followers to engage with you. They have the hope of receiving something tangible in return for their engagement.

Be aware that Instagram does have a couple of rules about running contests that you’ll need to read and follow to make sure you’re doing things by the book.

Instagram Story Metrics Made Easy

Grab our ebook Your Guide to Instagram Stories: Measuring What Matters to take Your Instagram Stories game up a notch!

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8. Post Consistently

In order for people to engage with your Instagram content, you need them to actually see it. And, working with the Instagram algorithm can be a hurdle in terms of getting your content seen.

One key piece of the algorithm that seems to stay steady with each update? Consistency.

You need to be posting to Instagram on a regular, somewhat predictable schedule. This not only clues followers into when they can expect your content, but it also shows Instagram that you’re active on the platform—and your content deserves to be prioritized in people’s feeds.

Exactly how frequently you should be posting to Instagram can vary. But, make an effort to post on a somewhat consistent schedule. Randomly popping into your follower’s feeds every couple of weeks or months will make it that much tougher to get high levels of engagement.

Sticking to a schedule can be challenging (it’s just another thing on your to-do list!). That’s why Sked is here to help.

Using Sked’s Instagram scheduler, you can easily plan, create, and schedule your Instagram content. You’ll stick to a consistent posting calendar, without having to panic about what you should post on any given day.

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Ready to Boost Your Engagement?

You don’t just want followers to see your Instagram posts—you want them to actually take action and engage.

But, converting your followers from bystanders to invested participants can be a challenge for most brands.

Put the eight Instagram best practices we outlined here into action, and you’ll notice a significant uptick in your engagement levels. Say goodbye to feeling like you’re sending posts into cyberspace, and get ready for quality interactions from your followers.

If you’re looking to carve out hours in your social media workflow, sign up for Sked’s 7-day trial. Our all-in-one Instagram scheduler allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Stories, videos and more. Tag locations, users and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save 5+ hours every week.

Picture of Kat BoogaardKat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard is a freelance writer, who writes for Sked Social about marketing strategy. She's a compulsive organiser with a penchant for dogs and tacos – in that order.

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