Did you know? 11% of everyone on this planet is now using Instagram.
If you were waiting for a sign to leverage Instagram for your personal brand, this is it!
Brands on Instagram have a 4.21% engagement rate, which is ten times higher than Facebook and a massive 84 times higher than Twitter.
Understanding the fundamentals of how you can leverage your Instagram profile will help you to increase your followers and engagement consistently without looking for the next growth hack or shortcut.
When it comes to sharing content on Instagram it can be confusing trying to calculate how often to post and what type of content will perform the best.
The golden rule to remember is Quality over Quantity always. You want to ensure you crown your content and offer your audience context as to why you shared a particular post. This will help connect your audience to your message.
Don’t forget your profile would have zero traction without your community. That is why you want to try and break the ice with your followers. Ask open-ended questions and don’t be afraid to spotlight your customers. This lets your followers know you value their opinion.
Here’s how Converse have taken their customers feedback and turned it into an Instagram story.
When it comes to negative comments you want to hug your haters. Never stoop to the lower level and argue back but instead take the professional approach and do not let it affect you.
Engage in real time! Instagram offers Live streaming as well as IGTV offering you the opportunity to create long forums as well as real-time content for your followers. This is great when wanting to connect and collaborate with other influencers, especially ones in your own industry.
As you can see there is much more to Instagram than just posting selfies and using hashtags.
That is why we have put together our Ultimate Guide to increase engagement and followers on Instagram, packed with real-life case studies and best practices.
Before we look at the Instagram strategies your brand needs to implement when increasing followers and engagement, it’s important to first understand the fundamentals.
This includes understanding all aspects of your Instagram profile, the platform’s capabilities and how you can leverage these to grow your community.
Here are the main features of your Instagram profile that your business can leverage to start increasing its engagement and followers.
Hashtags and Usernames in your Instagram Bio
Instagram now has the ability for both hashtags and usernames to be searchable via your bio. This means users who visit your Instagram profile can now actively click on the hashtags and usernames in your bio to find out more about your business. Ensure you place your campaign hashtags, special offers and brand hashtags in this area.
Tagged Images in your Instagram Bio
When promoting your campaigns on Instagram, your “Tagged Images” section, shown with a “tagged” icon in your bio, allows you to view all the images your followers and brands have tagged you in. This allows you to engage and build a relationship with all the brands and profiles that have mentioned you. You can also re-share this for added content on your profiles to help increase engagement.
Instagram stories allow your business to feature snapshot images, video or even captions you can share with your followers. These expire in 24 hours, so they’re a great way to share more real-time content without flooding the newsfeed with additional posts.
Instagram Story Highlights
Instagram story highlights are an extended feature of Instagram stories. They allow you to group your stories into key highlight moments, so it’s easier for your followers to find the stories they most enjoy. The best part is you can always remove and add more stories as you go along. Here’s how Instagram Influencer Lewis Howes has chosen to customise his highlights.
There are 2 key types of profile on Instagram. One is a personal profile, and the other is a business profile. Should your brand have a business profile, you will now have access to a new Insights tab that can be viewed by clicking on the chart icon in the top right of your profile. This will give you the opportunity to view:
- Website clicks
- Profile visits
- Follower activity
View the step by step process to access this tab here.
Do you still screenshot images on Instagram to view later? Thanks to the saved posts feature, you can now save all your favorite posts in one place.
The Save feature, which is shown with a ribbon icon, allows you to save photos or videos so you can view them later. By going to your profile and clicking the ribbon icon, you can now view all your saved posts. This is great when you’re looking for content inspiration for your profiles, or simply as a reminder to engage with a new brand or profile.
Here is a great example of an optimized influencer Instagram profile: @GaryVee
It’s important to kick off this post with the most important fact about growing followers on Instagram:
Never buy followers!
The truth is, while buying followers may seem like a good idea, those accounts are usually made up of fake profiles. You can almost guarantee that buying followers will not help you to build loyal customers who want to engage – and more importantly – buy from you.
A quality follower is one who shares the same passions or pain points as your brand. This allows you to build more meaningful connections with your community as you are able to build strong relationships based on common ground.
So how to find and engage with quality followers?
The simple starting point is hashtags. By typing in a keyword in Instagram’s search, you will get a list of relevant hashtags that are being used on the platform. These help you to identify how many people are talking about a particular topic.
Simply type in the hashtag related to your industry and begin selecting a handful of profiles to engage with. Please note that this does not mean sell your products or services, but instead begin to comment and share the common ground you have and open up the conversation.
This activity should be carried out on a daily basis, ensuring you mix up the profiles you engage with so you can reach a broader audience over time.
Ignite your activity feed
By commenting on profiles in your industry, the comments become public in your activity feed. This gives the people following the person you are talking to a chance to see your conversations and also take part.
One of the best ways to learn what’s working on Instagram is to learn from other successful influencers and aim to incorporate the same strategies into your business.
Here are 3 key influencers and how they are achieving high engagement rates on their profiles:
Kaushal Beauty | @Kaushalbeauty
Key action: inject your personality into every post. One of the most common mistakes influencers make is trying to make every post sound perfect. Kaushal experiences great engagement as she shares both the highs and lows of her journey as a beauty influencer in her own voice.
Zach King |@zachking
Key action: create entertaining video content. Zach is a filmmaker who creates entertaining videos online for his community. He has leveraged his skills to insert humor into his videos in his unique style. As a result, he gets a large number of shares and comments on every post. Now you don’t have to share funny content if this doesn’t fit your brand. However, leveraging video content to speak directly to your audience is a great way to develop a more personal connection with your audience compared to images.
Meghan Rienks |@Meghanrienks
Key action: share your journey. Meghan has grown her following over the years to over 1 million followers by sharing her unique story. Meghan embraced Instagram to share the ups and downs of her life over the last 6 years. To build this level of authenticity for your brand, you must not be afraid to share the lows as well as the highs. In fact, it is the negative experiences that help bring other community members together who are going through the same journey as you. This level of support can help to build a loyal, kind and caring community.
The more meaningful your conversations, the more people will engage. In order for your followers to feel a genuine connection to your brand, they must first get to know the real you.
Here are some actionable tips on how to spark this engagement on your profile:
- Asking open-ended questions
- Share thought leadership based on your expertise and experiences
Here’s how female influencer and motivational speaker Mel Robbins engages her audience sharing a mixture of video content, quotes, and images.
- Collaborate (Find other influencers in your industry who share the same passion and reach out to team up with them either on a content piece, campaign or even a special offer)
- Cross post (Re-share your stories on your Facebook page, upload the videos to Youtube, Twitter, Pinterest and even blogging sites such as Tumblr and Medium)
- Simply ask fans who enjoy your content to follow to get the latest posts (Include your bio username in both your Instagram stories and captions when sharing posts).
- Spotlight your fans (Showcase fans who engage with your content by re-sharing their photos, testimonials, videos and more). This shows your community that you care about those who interact and helps to build trust which leads to more engagement.
- Launch a giveaway (There’s nothing your followers love more than a giveaway. To increase engagement, ask your fans to TAG friends, TAG your username or even use your branded hashtag as an entry mechanic). These actions will all help drive quality traffic back to your profile and increase awareness during the process.
Here’s how Influencer Jay Shetty uses this technique to encourage his followers to TAG friends to help increase engagement. He has also tagged all other influencers he has collaborated with.
- Ask your fans to turn on post notifications (This means they will be notified as soon as you share a post – helping to increase your exposure and engagement)
- Create a branded hashtag (This will allow you to identify engagement from your community directly and begin to create a movement around your chosen hashtag. Hashtag content is also evergreen, which allows your community to find your content week, months, or even years after it has been shared.)
Here’s how Fenty Beauty use their branded hashtag #FENTYBEAUTY to identify all their fans who are using their products and often feature them on their page.
- Have fun with your content (Don’t be afraid to showcase your more playful side. Since it’s your personal brand, your followers want to see your personality come to life)
Here’s an example of how @TheRock embraced the humor from his community and shared it with his audience, adding his own personality in the caption.
So how can you deal with your haters?
Firstly, the most important thing to remember is that you can’t make every single follower happy. This means trying to please all your fans all the time isn’t realistic or productive.
One way to ensure this doesn’t get to you is to stay true to your values. Always treat your followers with respect, including the negative members, as you do not want to ruin your brand image due to a conversation that has gotten out of hand with a follower.
You will find there 2 key types of negative comments:
- Negative feedback
- Troll comments
Negative feedback can include comments about the content you put out (e.g., the photo style, music, length of content). Do not view these types of comments as negative, but rather as feedback, giving you a chance to improve or learn from them. This does not mean approve of people who don’t agree with your branding or message but find the comments and conversations where they have stated how you can improve and learn from these.
Troll comments are simply users venting towards your brand without a clear reason. While it’s tempting to call out these members on your page, staying positive and giving neutral feedback helps to protect your brand in the long term – don’t fuel their fire.
If you have built a loyal community, you will find that your community members will often come to the rescue and engage with trolls/haters on your behalf.
Here’s how influencer CT Fletcher’s community came to the rescue of his son after CT shared a video of him performing a workout.
Posting images and videos on your Instagram profile will not help to increase your engagement without one secret ingredient.
Selfies? Hashtags? Filters?
Context helps to connect your story to the image and lets your followers know why you are sharing a particular post, making the post more meaningful and engaging.
The reason these posts work so well is that your audience can now relate to the image due to the back story you have shared.
When looking at the wording of the post, it’s best not to overthink the style. You want to write in a conversational tone. This helps to connect your audience to your message, as it feels like you are having this conversation directly with your audience compared to a generic caption or quote.
Here is how @Selenagomez has achieved this with her community. On its own, this image would not look like much; however, sharing the context of the doorstep she is seated on has helped her to increase her engagement significantly, because her followers appreciate her personal story about the meaning behind the location. As a result, the post was shared and liked a lot more.
There are many underrated features on Instagram that can truly help you increase your influence with your community.
Here are some of the top strategies you can apply to your brand today:
This allows your brand to share large amounts of micro-content on a daily basis without overwhelming your followers.
So how can you increase engagement using Instagram stories?
Unlike a typical Instagram post, your Instagram story allows you to capture conversations in real time based on your location, hashtags, and even through mentioning other brands.
Here’s how you can use it to increase your brand’s exposure:
- Add a location tag to increase awareness of your post in the area from which you are posting
- Add hashtags directly your stories to be found by others sharing stories on the same topic at the same time
- Mention brands you feature: simply by using the “@” button, you are able to begin typing a brand’s name to mention them in the post. This then sends a notification to the brand, letting them know you have mentioned their name, helping to increase your chances of being seen by a huge brand.
- Poll your audience: this will give you the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback in real time, which is a great way to engage your fans directly
Here’s a great example of how influencer Minimalist Baker uses her Instagram stories to engage her followers with her cooking recipes using the Instagram question poll feature.
- Showcase your community: when your followers tag you in a story, it appears in your notifications and allows you to share the post with your followers. (This is a great way to let your community know you appreciate them, and encourages others to take part.)
Instagram Live & IGTV
Do you enjoy queuing?
Your fans don’t enjoy waiting either. To spark engagement with your followers, give them access to you in real time through Instagram Live.
Sharing content LIVE allows you to not only generate engagement in real time but also to speak directly to your community. You can use this to increase awareness of your brand by encouraging users to tag, comment or even share the post with friends.
Best practice is to share an Instagram Live during key moments of your business (e.g., product launch, new service, latest updates or even milestones).
This is also a great opportunity to collaborate with other influencers using Instagram Live, so you can cross-promote the stream on two channels.
Instagram TV (IGTV)
Instagram TV now allows you to share content from 60 seconds all the way up to 60 minutes. The IG TV name refers to the type of content you can share. This allows you to save video content in your very own IG video channel on your page. Users can then choose to watch your long-form video content on their own time.
*It’s important to note that with IGTV, you must create your content beforehand, then upload to your profile, as the video cannot be created in real time using the app.*
If there’s one key takeaway from our Instagram engagement guide, it’s the fact that your followers want to connect with the real you!
- No ghostwriters
- No carefully planned out quotes
- No stock images!
Your community simply wants to engage with an influencer who shares their personal journey and has fun in the process. If you do this as well as acknowledge your community for helping you get there, you will see your engagement and influence skyrocket!
By Ravi Shukle