It’s certainly not a fun feeling to excitedly post content on Instagram and only hear crickets from your audience. If you’ve been wondering how to get people to actually engage with you on Instagram, this blog post (and podcast episode) is for YOU. I’m sharing 5 simple ways to improve your engagement on Instagram and some of the mistakes you might be making that are actually hurting your engagement. Let’s make Instagram fun for you and get your audience responding to what you have to say!
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How to Increase Engagement on Instagram Stories and Posts
1. Ask better questions.
If you want to increase your audiences’ engagement on Instagram, it is important to ask questions that will encourage them to engage. From the way you end your posts, the poll questions you ask on stories, and especially the calls to action you give people after they read something. By better questions, I actually mean easier and less invasive questions.
Simplify things, don’t overcomplicate them.
Most of the time, people don’t want to answer a really robust question on your Instagram post, in a direct message, or on a poll. And it is even less likely on your Instagram story since the question box limits the number of characters the respondent can type.
There have been many times I have seen calls to actions that are very intrusive and asking for a lot of personal information from the reader. I’ve been guilty of this too, so I’m speaking from experience of what doesn’t work! Asking people to share their whole life story in your Instagram post, just isn’t gonna happen, friends.
Here are some “what not to do” examples:
- “Tell me about what you’re struggling with about owning a business!”
- “Tell me your morning routine in the comments!”
- “What are you getting your kids for Christmas?”
Better questions to ask:
- “What’s your favorite dessert?”
- “Which one is your favorite (or do you agree with more) #1 or #2?”
- “Do you agree? Comment below and tell me if you’re with me!”
- “What books are you loving lately?”
Make the questions relevant to the post content, while also making it easy to answer! And make sure you ARE asking questions or including a call to action. One-sided posts are not going to get as much engagement as ones that are encouraging your community to be a part of the conversation.
2. Start out with an engaging hook.
Similar to email marketing, no one is going to open an email (or a social media post) if the subject line is boring! Viewers have to “open your post” on Instagram by expanding to read your post caption. So make sure you say something interesting to catch their attention. When someone is scrolling their feed, they see just the first two lines of whatever your caption is. So, capture them with something that makes them think like “I have to read that!”.
This is also relevant when sharing a static post on your story. What call to action are you giving people to encourage them to click on the actual post? It needs to be something that makes them want to click over, not just simply the image with a “new post” sticker on top. Tell them WHY they should care.
When analyzing your content before posting, ask yourself, “Would I click to read more if I saw someone else doing this? Would this call to action make me want to read this post?”
I love these 3 ways to begin your Instagram post that Jasmine Star discussed at this year’s Showit United conference!
- Qualify an audience: “Calling all designers!” or “Calling all moms!”
- Juicy Shares: “Can I share a secret? Can I share something I haven’t said before? I’ve never done this before…”
- Ask an engaging question to hook them into the conversation
3. Stand for something and be interesting.
My most engaged with post of the whole year was a polarizing one. It got over 115 saves and even more shares and likes. Plus, lots of ENGAGED comments and direct messages came from it. It was polarizing, and some people messaged me to say they did not agree with it while others were messaging and commenting “Preach it, sister!” I was STANDING for something, making a statement and saying something interesting. If you look at what content you’re sharing from others on your Instagram stories, it’s probably something unique and something where someone chose to “stand for something.” I love how Seth Godin puts this in his book Purple Cow he talks about how vanilla is the compromise ice-cream flavor. It’s boring, but it’s safe. Rarely do you find someone who doesn’t like vanilla ice-cream. But, you can find plenty of people who don’t like habanero pecan ice-cream. Maybe they’re allergic to nuts, sensitive to spice, or just uninterested in trying a strange ice-cream flavor. But… vanilla will work.
You can’t build a fast-growing company around vanilla.
In almost every market, the boring slot is filled. I would say this applies to social media too. Plenty of people are sharing boring, unengaging content. It’s been done. The solution? Be “too something.” Growth comes to products and services that are “too something” for some people, but JUST RIGHT for the right people.
Need help figuring out how to make your product or service TOO “something”:
Create products/services that annoy, don’t appeal, are too expensive, too cheap, too heavy, too complicated, and too simple for some people. As someone who is always bored by vanilla ice-cream, this idea really resonated with me. As a kid, the employees at our local frozen custard shop were always grossed out by my seemingly “too strange” custom custard order: chocolate custard with pecans, bananas, and cookie dough. It’s not for everyone, but it definitely appeals to some people.
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“Treat your business like a business and it’ll PAY you like a business. Treat your business like a hobby and it’ll COST you like a hobby.” As a new business owner, we often treat our business like a hobby unintentionally. We desire to be a business owner, but we have bad habits that are keeping us stuck. 😩 To grow your business, you’ve got to ACT like a business owner, which means ditching the freelancer/hobbyist ways of working. 🙅🏽♀️ You can’t run your business like a freelancer and expect results like a CEO. Today on the podcast, I’m sharing 5 ways I commonly see people treating their businesses like hobbies, and how to STOP IT. ✋🏼 You guys are going to LOVE this episode. Tell me below, do you agree?!
4. Watch for what works by looking for patterns in your analytics.
Everyone is different, and I think with all of this, there are no hard and fast rules about what works and what won’t. So it is extremely valuable to look at your analytics to see what works for your business specifically. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa! Don’t overthink things, just look at the data.
Posts that I think will get a lot of engagement are sometimes the ones that get only two comments. Whereas other posts, I may get hundreds of comments. I can always learn from what has worked in the past to determine what I should do more of and less of to encourage high engagements. Plus, always be open to stepping outside of the box to try something new!
Here’s how to get to those precious analytics in your app:
- Go to your profile view in the app, click the hamburger menu in the right corner
- Click on “insights”
- You’ll see 3 types of insights: content, activity, and audience.
- Under content, select “see all” for posts.
- And then you’ll see ways to sort everything.
- I recommend first looking at “all, 30 days, engagement” as the settings
- Then you’ll see in order what posts got the most engagement down to the least in the last 30 days!
I also recommend checking out most comments, most shares, and most saves! Those are other great measurements of how much people like what you shared.
Try to identify similarities between the most engaged posts. Are certain types of photos getting more action?
I recommend looking at your analytics frequently to see how things are going. You can also see under the audience what your growth was like in a week’s time period. There is so much goodness here to explore! And remember, Instagram changes their settings frequently. So, everything I just explained might be different now, but I don’t see them taking away their analytics anytime soon, so something should be there for you to check out no matter when you’re reading!
5. Actually engage with other people.
We can’t complain about engagement when our whole life on Instagram is us NOT engaging with anyone else and just posting constantly. My question when people complain about the algorithm, about the number of comments on their posts, etc. is always “Are you engaging with your audience too? Do you write people back when they comment on your posts?” Because if you’re not, why are you expecting everyone to engage with you? Even companies with 1 million+ followers often have someone running their social media who will reply with a heart emoji if you mention them in your stories. No excuses for us.
But then often we are over here with just a couple thousand or even fewer followers saying we can’t engage or write back. You can. I get it that things fall through the cracks sometimes, especially when you really start to get the engagement thing down. I personally have been guilty many times recently of not responding to people as quickly as I’d like to. Messages tend to get lost in the weeds of everything else. But, that’s no excuse and Instagram actually makes it super easy to even sort your direct messages by the “unread” ones so you can go through and reply to everything.
And that sums it up, friends! Start adding these 5 things to your Instagram rotation, and you’ll see more real engagement from your audience. Remember, there is a podcast version of this episode, so be sure to tune into that for even more tips and a behind the scenes recap of what I’ve been doing lately in my business!