Want more likes and comments on Instagram? Instagram is on everyone’s mind all the time. It’s the hot place to be right now. In this blog post I’ll be talking about how to increase your Instagram engagement. (Engagement is just a corporate word for getting likes and comments.)
You’ve probably heard that how many likes you get on Instagram is just a “vanity metric.” Likes just make your account look good to other people. It’s true that likes aren’t as important as comments. But both comments and likes combined equal “engagement,” and engagement is the name of the game on Instagram.
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Instagram wants to keep people on their platform or app, just like all social media channels do. The more conversation that happens in the comments of your Instagram posts — between you and your followers or just between followers — the more likely Instagram is to show that to more of your followers. If there’s a hot conversation happening, Instagram wants more people to join the conversation, to stay on the platform, because that’s when they make money with advertisers.
Instagram is like one big party. In real life, people gravitate toward the loudest conversation. The same thing is true on Instagram. The more there’s a party going on in those comments, the more Instagram is going to say, hey guys, look at this great party! That’s why engagement is so important.
There are a lot of different ways you can increase engagement. You don’t have to necessarily stare at your comments all day long and wait to reply to someone. You can do other things to increase your engagement.
The main place to get Instagram engagement is in the comments of your Instagram posts. That’s why you should stick around for a little bit after you post. (Don’t post and ghost, so to speak.) Look for the hearts, look for the likes, look to see who is liking your post. Hang out in case they have questions or suggestions, because you always want to keep that conversation going.
If someone does comment on your post reply, don’t just give it a heart. Reply to them with a question. They’ll come back and keep talking to you. This conversation does two things. Yes, it boosts your overall engagement because Instagram will see that conversation going and start showing it to more of your followers, but it’s also going to make a difference with that person, right? Then that person will think, they’re interested in their customers.
You can, and should, leave comments on other people’s posts. This is especially effective if you engage with someone who follows you. Go to your profile and tap on your followers list. These are the people who have raised their hand and said, I want to hear more from you. Now, choose around ten of those followers and visit their accounts. Find a post of theirs that you are genuinely attracted to and leave a sincere comment, not just a bunch of emojis or “great photo.” And no salesy or promo copy. Just a plain ol’, honest-to-goodness comment.
Engagement is a two-way conversation; it’s not just getting people to comment on your stuff. You should be commenting on their stuff. Sometimes you have to initiate that conversation.
If tracking all these comments and replies sounds like a lot of work, it is! But the payoff is worth it. You can also use a third party tool like Tailwind to organize and keep track of comments and replies more easily. (I am an affiliate for Tailwind, but I wouldn’t be an affiliate if I didn’t totally love their service. And I use it every day for all of my clients.) Tailwind has a feature that lets you see and respond to all of your comments in one screen.
Direct Message (DM)
When you hear someone talk about DMs, they’re talking about direct messages. What is a direct message? It’s exactly what it sounds like. They’re like instant messages, for those of you who are old enough to remember those. DMs are also like messages in Messenger on Facebook. DMs can be very, very powerful. Here’s a few ways to use them, because really, the sky’s the limit.
When you get a new follower, send them a DM. Visit their account and tap ‘Message.’ You can thank them for following you or ask them a question about their posts. Let them know you look forward to hanging out with them on Instagram. Don’t sell them; don’t pitch them. Just be genuine.
If they reply to you (and, of course, they will) that DM connection tells Instagram that that user wants to hear from you. Instagram is more likely to show them your posts because you established that connection.
Another powerful way to use DMs is to send someone a link. As you probably know, you can’t put clickable links in your posts. The only places Instagram allows you to add clickable links is one in your bio, and links in stories if you have 10,000 or more followers. But! You can send links in direct messages. For instance, let’s say you’re welcoming a new follower and you have a freebie they can sign up for. You can DM them the link and say, Hey, sign up for my free travel guide with insider tips… etc.
You can also send links in DMs to people who comment in a post. For instance, in one of your Instagram posts, you tell your followers to comment with a specific word or phrase, like “tell me more.” Then, you DM the people who comment with that phrase to send them a link to whatever you were posting about. Not only are they visiting your website or signing up for your email list, they’re also establishing that engagement connection I talked about above. Boom!
You can also use DMs to talk to someone privately. Maybe you have a disgruntled customer who comments as much on a post. Lots of people comment because they think that no one’s really paying attention. However, you can say something politely in the comment, then follow up with a DM. Ask them how to make the situation right (or whatever). That private DM lets them know you care about their business. I guarantee that’s going to make a huge impact.
Instagram stories are also very, very powerful. You should already be posting stories. They’re fun to post, but they’re really fun to watch. Some of your followers will only see your stories, so they become an important part of your Instagram strategy.
Stories can be used in so many ways. And the more often you post engaging stories, the more often your followers will come back to see what else you have going on. The beauty of stories is that they disappear after 24 hours. They can be planned as part of your overall Instagram strategy, or they can be recorded on the fly.
Use stories to run a poll. Show them before and after photos and ask which they like better. Show them color palettes or product demos and ask which they like better. If you’re a local business, ask if they would rather have buy one get one 50% off or just a flat off 50% off discount. Polls are a fantastic way to engage with your followers and get feedback.
Another strategy is to combine stories and DMs. Post a poll asking a question and then follow up with voters in their DMs. For example, you could say, I figured out the quickest way to clean my bathroom. Do you want to know more about it? Yes or no? After the poll runs, look at your insights (swipe up when you see the story to see its insights). Then send a DM with a link or a specific message to whomever says they’re interested.
You can post a quiz in your stories. This is a fun and different way to get your followers to engage. For example, one of my clients is a landscape design company. One of the quiz quizzes we posted in his stories was, How high should you cut your grass? The answers are multiple choice. It was a really fun story because it was informative and the follower gets instant feedback. (If they get it right, they get confetti!)
You can also share your latest post in your stories. Go to your latest post, hit the little paper airplane and share it to your story. Add some text that says something like, Hey, I’ve got a new post! When someone taps on the story, they’re taken to your post. That’s a way to drive traffic to your posts.
Although stories disappear after 24 hours, you can save them to your bio as highlights. Highlights are valuable real estate because they live forever in your bio. Highlights act almost like a mini website. Let’s say you create a story about your team. You interview each one about the company’s mission, or a goal, or their favorite food, or whatever. You can save those stories as a highlight in your bio, then title it something like, “Meet the Team.” Then, when a follower taps that highlight, they get to see that story and meet the team.
You can use highlights for tutorials, a tour of your office or store, behind-the-scenes videos, product demos, product lines, you name it.
Calls to Action
Calls to action should always be included in your posts, your stories and your DMs. It’s is human nature to avoid engaging with someone if we’re not given specific instructions. Tell them to sign up for your email list. Or tell them to DM you. Tell them to comment on your post. You can even tell them to comment on your post in a very specific way, with a specific word or emoji. Giving people instructions helps tremendously, because you won’t get a response unless you ask for it.
I know that might seem pushy, but it’s not. They’ll actually appreciate having a clear call to action so they don’t have to figure out what their next step is. If they’re your followers, they’re going to be happy to help you out.
Mastering Instagram can seem really, really overwhelming. But if you plan out a content calendar, preferably a week or a month at a time, you can stay on top of everything. It’s so much easier to plan posts around content that’s already planned out to have to post on the fly every day.
Once you plan your content and your posts, you can schedule them all at one time, then let the scheduler post everything for you. Like I said, I use Tailwind. I’ve also used, Buffer, Hootsuite, Meet Edgar and Later. I like Tailwind the best because I find it to be the most flexible scheduler, with the most tools right at my fingertips. Everything’s in one place. Tailwind saves hashtag lists for me; it helps me research hashtags; it helps me track and respond to comments; and it shows me the top posts.
Tailwind also figures out a posting schedule for me. It bases the schedule on when your followers are online, then it posts at the optimum time. You can give Tailwind a try free for 30 days. Most social media schedulers offer a free trial and I highly suggest you try them out before you spend any money. Figure out which one is the easiest for you to use and gives you the results you’re looking for. After that, you can lay down some bucks.