Okay. So by this point in time, I’m sure you’ve realized that engagement on Instagram is down across the board. I promise you, it’s really not just you, and this has affected almost everyone on the platform lately – especially those with followings over 10,000.
Between algorithm changes and more users on the platform than ever before (over 700 million!), you’re likely finding that you’re not popping up on as many of your followers’ feeds as you were 6 months ago. And while you shouldn’t panic too much because this simply means that everyone’s average engagement rates are going to be lower, there are definitely a few tactics you can implement to encourage organic engagement.
But before we dive in, I really want to stress that follower and engagement numbers really are just that – numbers. If you’re a business trying to make sales or an individual trying to get clients or brand partnerships, what good is a number unless you actually have the influence to convert? Building a smaller community that is highly-engaged and actually interested in what you’re doing or offering is a much better focus than trying to gain a massive following that mindlessly clicks that pretty little heart icon and keeps scrolling.
Ya feel me?
Building a community, whether it’s online, offline, on Instagram, not on Instagram, is all about two-way conversation. Asking questions in your captions is a great way to make your followers feel engaged, AND to actually learn something about them. There are people on Instagram whom I’ve never met but I feel like I know them well because of everything I’ve learned about them.
When you ask questions though, don’t just leave it there. When people answer, make sure you reply! Make it actually feel like a conversation.
Show Your Face (Or someone else’s)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Showing your face helps to create a connection. Not only are people naturally inclined to look at faces, but it also helps to unite the physical and digital world – reminding people that there is indeed a real person behind the account. And the numbers prove this. Photos that show a face enjoy up to 38% more likes.
Really against showing your face on your Instagram account? Create and post content with other people in it – with their permission of course. There are plenty of outdoors/adventure photography accounts for example who only show other people in their feeds, and they’ve been able to be quite successful.
Tell Your Story & Provide Substance
When you meet someone in real life for the first time, you usually begin making a connection by asking each other questions and exchanging information. So in the digital world, how the heck are you supposed to make a connection with someone if you never tell them anything about yourself?
Sure there are those gorgeous aesthetic accounts or fashion blogger accounts that are so beautifully done that they don’t need to get personal in order to gain lots of attention. But the likelihood is that you are not a Nat Geo photographer with a perfectly themed feed or a smokin’ Victoria’s Secret model. And if you were, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article.
In order to get to know someone, even in the digital world, you need to open up a little bit about yourself. Yes, Instagram is primarily visual, and your number one focus should be on creating beautiful content that makes a flawless feed/grid. But in order to go beyond the aesthetic component and build influence, you must connect, relate, and converse.
Make it Fun
Some of my favourite posts to engage with are those that make it easy and also fun at the same time.
What exactly do I mean by this? For example, a funny photo that asks you to “Caption this”. Or a post that asks you to reply only in emojis. Think “This is pretty much how my week is going. Using emojis only, comment to tell me how yours is going!”.
Why do I and others enjoy these? Because it requires us to think and be creative but doesn’t require that much effort to execute.
Making a real connection on Instagram takes a lot more than it did even one year ago. People are so used to receiving likes and generic “great pic!” “good one!” “nice!” comments now. It takes more effort to stand out and show you actually care about what they’re doing. So make that effort.
Let’s say you’ve got 30 minutes a day to engage. You can either build a deep connection with 20 of your “ideal followers/clients” by liking and commenting in a way that creates a conversation and relationship, or you can mindlessly like 100 photos posted under a hashtag that is relevant to your target audience. Which are you going to do? The choice should be a no-brainer.
These are just a few quick tips to encourage engagement on Instagram in a way that actually matters. If you’ve found them helpful, please let me know in the comments and feel free to share this article!
Of course, there is much, much, much more that goes into building a successful Instagram account. If you’re curious to learn more, I’ve got an entire intensive online course that teaches you how to build a successful personal brand on Instagram. Check it out here.