Engagement is What Counts- Not Followers
When using Instagram for marketing or business purposes, you should be paying attention to several key points. Users tend to be drawn towards numbers- how many likes were received on a post, how many comments, and especially how many followers their accounts have.
While it is nice to see your followers steadily increase on your profile page, this number is not the most important thing you should be worrying about when running an account. What you should be focusing on is your account engagement.
If you are an avid Instagram user, you might have noticed the recent decline in Instagram engagement. Many accounts have reported that they are not getting as many likes, comments, or new followers as they once were.
Two common beliefs of why this is happening to users are due to Instagram’s new algorithm or the “Instagram Shadowban.” Alex Tooby, an Instagram Marketing expert, believes that an official “Shadowban” is Instagram’s way of filtering out accounts that are not applying to its terms and conditions. The Shadowban causes your account to practically become invisible and prevents your images from being displayed under the hashtags you have used in the said image. These photos can still be seen by current followers, but takes a hit when trying to reach a new crowd, in turn, greatly impacting your engagement.
For professionals using Instagram as a marketing tool, this causes serious problems. If you have fallen victim to a downturn in engagement or are simply looking to prevent your account from taking a hit, check out these strategies you can apply to your account.
1. Post When your Audience is Most Active
Whether you schedule your content or post manually, it is important to post at a time when you audience is active. With the new Instagram algorithm, posts with higher engagement are prioritized more. If you are posting at a popular time for your current audience, you are more likely to receive more likes and comments on that post.
With high engagement on the said post, Instagram will bump the post higher on other users’ feeds and even more engagement will be received.
Test out different times to see when your followers interact with you most, or if you have a business account, you will be able to access that data.
This goes hand in hand with the previous tip- keep a consistent time when posting to your account. If your followers know that you post at a certain time, they will be on the lookout for new content to hit their feed around that time and will most likely engage with it.
It is not a rule that you have to post to your account every day, but you want your followers to see your content enough and begin to remember who you are. Find a weekly schedule that works for you and stick with it!
3. Stay Away From Instagram Bots
For many Instagram users, the goal is to have one’s content shown on the ‘Explore Page’ or ‘Top Posts’ section of a particular hashtag. To reach this goal, users have to generate engagement rapidly, and if this cannot be reached organically, some users turn to a bot system.
This is especially appealing to those who do not want to spend time building their Instagram accounts, however, Instagram is cracking down on accounts that use bots. Many who used some form of bot system reported that their content was not showing up under the hashtags they used.
4. Join Instagram Pods
Instead of using an Instagram bot, collaborate with other users to create an Instagram pod. These ‘pods’ are private groups made up of users that share similar audiences. For example, a group of travel bloggers or small business owners could create a pod together.
These groups are created in order to boost post engagement and communicate via Instagram DMs. When a user in the pod makes a new post, he or she will share that with the group. The other members of the pod will then engage on the shared post. This could be by simply liking, commenting on the post, or doing both. Typically the members of the pod will discuss what sort of engagement they would like and rules could vary between pods.
5. Respond to Comments
For bigger accounts, this may be harder to do, but replying back to comments has several benefits. This is another way for you to boost engagement on your post, as replying back to each comment would double the amount you have on that post. Plus, it is courteous. Responding back to your followers shows that you value their opinions and appreciate their support.
6. Include a Call-to-Action
An easy way to get your audience to engage with you is to include a call-to-action in your caption. All you have to do is ask your audience to do something after reading your caption. Easy ways to do this are by asking your audience a question, getting their opinion on something, or having them tag friends in the comments section.
7. Use Hashtags (All 30 of Them!) Strategically
First off, Instagram allows you to attach 30 hashtags to an image. It is important to utilize all 30, as each hashtag can bring in a new set of eyes to your account. This being said, any more than 30 hashtags and Instagram will realize this and render them invalid.
Another great benefit of hashtags is the potential to be included in the ‘Top Posts’ section of a particular one. The ‘Top Posts’ are a group of nine photos that are considered popular for a particular hashtag. To be considered for this, Instagram looks at how much engagement the post receives, the popularity of the hashtag, and how quickly the post receives the said engagement. Getting in the ‘Top Posts’ will enable your image to be seen first and can give more exposure to your account.
8. Actively Use Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are a fun way to reach out to your followers, and also a useful way to boost engagement. A benefit of posting an Instagram story is the chance to get featured on Instagram’s Explore Page. Instagram chooses these stories based on accounts you follow, posts you like, and even stories that were liked by a large amount of people. In order for your story to make it on the Explore Page, you will have to create engaging and specifically targeted content.
Next time when you are planning out your Instagram strategy, utilize one or all of these eight tips. Don’t focus solely on the number of your followers. Instead build your engagement and watch as your Instagram feed is full of activity!