This post was originally published on November 6th 2017, and was last updated on December 7th 2017 Instagram has changed its algorithm, making it much harder to gain engagement on your posts, which is why it’s essential to learn how to increase engagement on Instagram like a pro. Posts have to perform well immediately after they’re posted, to increase the chances of it being shown in other people’s feeds. Otherwise, it won’t be as popular. So, how do you hack the new algorithm and boost engagement? In this article, we’ll cover a couple of winning strategies. How to Increase Engagement on Instagram Host an Instagram contest Add CTAs to Instagram product posts Join an Instagram pod Post live videos Post Instagram ads Instagram for Business 101 Grab our ebook Instagram for Business to take your Instagram game up a notch! 1. Host an Instagram Contest Let’s start by learning how to increase Instagram engagement on Instagram via contest! To get started, try to get influencers, bloggers or businesses with similar audiences—to promote your contest. Next, reward your customers with freebies, giveaways and prizes, in exchange for tagging their friends, posting user-generated content or liking your posts. One example of an effective Instagram contest was hosted by Mint.com, an online personal budgeting company. Their #MyMintContest encouraged users to share the things they were saving their money for, for a chance to win $1,000. By the end of the contest, people started posting photos of their dream destinations, weddings and restaurants. The brand also learned the unique motives and interests of their target market. By getting Instagram users to post photos of things they’re saving up for, they drew more attention to their company and successfully increased their reach. 2. Add CTAs to Instagram Product Posts Often, Instagrammers post irresistible OOTDs (outfit of the day), accessories and products. This is why smart brands have included CTAs in the form of “Shop Now” buttons to direct shoppers to the retailer’s site, and a “tap to view” feature that gets users to view product information. After all, what’s the point of tempting viewers with glamorous product images, if they won’t be able to buy it? Instagram thinks the same way too! After all, users spend hours scrolling down the stylish feeds of their favorite brands like Keds and Burberry. So it’s only natural to allow users to shop straight from their favorite posts. Here’s an example of an Instagram post with a CTA from Kate Spade: Since users can view product information and engage with the products they want to buy, they’ll be more motivated to follow the brand and comment on posts. They may also visit a brand’s feed regularly in order to shop. This way, you can increase engagement and simultaneously boost your sales. 3. Join an Instagram Pod Since Instagram introduced the non-chronological feed, the more likes and comments a post receives immediately after it’s posted, the better it’ll perform on the platform. The platform believes that a high initial engagement is a sign that you’re posting engaging and high-quality content. As a result, you’ll be shown in more people’s feeds. This new algorithm has encouraged Instagrammers to use Instagram pods to increase their initial engagement. For starters, Instagram pods are a private group of 10 to 15 people with similar audiences. They communicate with their members through DMs. Once a member posts on Instagram, they’ll share the post’s link to people in the group. After that, members like the post and leave a genuine comment, which boosts the post and increases its initial engagement. Joining an Instagram pod is easy, if you know where to look. Most people find pods via word-of-mouth, while others join Facebook groups such as Instagram Marketing Mastermind, The Gram Gang, or Later Community to discover new pods. Maintaining membership isn’t completely easy. Some pod members post 3 to 4 times a day, which means you’ll have to clutch your phones 24/7. On the bright side, at least it helps you hack the algorithm and get you genuine comments. 4. Post Live Videos Live videos can be a ton of fun, but they’re also useful for increasing your engagement. What makes these live videos special is that they disappear after you stop streaming. This means that your followers will be encouraged to tune in to the live session, because it won’t be saved for later viewing. Take note that Instagram doesn’t notify all your followers about the livestream. Instead, it chooses the followers you interact with the most and sends them a notification. Once viewers opt to watch the live video, they can comment on the video and tap it repeatedly to add hearts. These live sessions are a great way to boost your engagement with followers who love your brand. Another benefit of posting live videos is a chance to get featured on the Explore page. This page lets users know the live streams happening in the moment. The stories that are visible to you are based on the posts you liked, the accounts you followed or the post’s popularity. 5. Post Instagram ads The final step in learning how to increase engagement on Instagram involves ads. Instagram found that their platform’s sponsored ads generate 2.8x higher recall, compared to other social networks. Consumers were also 120x more likely to engage with branded content on Instagram compared to Twitter, and 58x more likely compared to Facebook. Users also stayed on Instagram on an average of 192 seconds, which is a lot longer compared to other social networks. These statistics prove that paying for sponsored posts on Instagram is bound to generate higher engagement rates. A great example comes from Michael Kors. The brand launched their first Instagram ad for their #MKTimeless campaign. After they released the ad, they gained a whopping 40,000 new followers, which is approximately 16x more followers, than their usual unsponsored posts. Once you decide to post an ad, you can choose the type of engagement you want. This can be in the form of page likes, offer claims and event responses. How Will You Engage With Your Instagram Followers? So, let’s recap how to increase engagement on Instagram! When it comes to increasing engagement on Instagram, the bottom-line is to keep posting. Create product posts with CTAs. Post ads and live videos. Join an Instagram pod to increase initial engagement. When in doubt, you can always start with hosting a contest. Summary: How to Increase Engagement on Instagram Host an Instagram contest Add CTAs to Instagram product posts Join an Instagram pod Post live videos Post Instagram ads Now that you’ve mastered how to increase engagement on Instagram, why not start carving out hours in your social media workflow by signing 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.