7 ways to up your Instagram Engagement

Engagement, algorithms, and influencers, oh my! Anyone else a little overwhelmed by what it really takes to get your business's message out into the world? What time should I post? How often should I? Should I follow the people who follow me? Hashtag or nah? And these questions just scratch the surface. This fun little application #Instagram is stocked with over 800 million sets of eyes ready to see what your business can offer them, so what are you waiting for?

Here's what I believe A LOT of people get wrong: They post all sorts of BUY THIS, sign up now, features-only spam that pushes people away faster than they can click that unfollow button.

-or-

They believe that their gram needs to look like that one with 500K followers and until that happens, feel unsatisfied.

The point of Instagram and any other social platform is to CONNECT and find like minded people to join your tribe, and treat them right.

Tribes like your stuff without you asking them to. They tell their friends about your store/ restaurant/ studio/ hotel/ firm/ networking group. They share your special offers and incentives with their friends and they tend to invest in whatever it is you're selling because you all are aligned and that's what tribe members do! They support the hell out of people and movements they believe in, recommend you to colleagues and shout from the rooftops about why everyone in their network should too.

So where do I get one of these tribes?

Let me ask you something. When you think about your closest friends, how long did it take from the time you first met until you felt like you could trust them and vice versa? Was it instant? And if so, is there a certain commonality amongst these people where you just knew? Just like we're selective with our closest friends, people are just as selective with who they chose to do business with. And real talk, how great is it when customers and clients become friends because you offered them SO MUCH VALUE they couldn't stay away if they tried?

The higher your price point for whatever good, service or idea your selling, the more effective you must be in speaking their language and serving these potential tribe members content they'll feel good about engaging with. "Hey you, buy this" just isn't going to fly. Here are 7 tried and true ways to build your Instagram Engagement and your loyal tribe:

1.) Everyone is not your customer

Let's get really clear on this one because if not you'll be screaming nonsense into a digital black hole for the rest of your insta days. Who is your ideal customer or client? Start with their demographic stuff (age, sex, location, interests, buying behavior etc...) the more specific the better. Then go deeper: what keeps them up at night and how can you help them solve a problem or enrich their life in some way? It's got to be about them.

2.) it's a visual platform

You know those pictures/ videos that make you pump the breaks on your morning scroll? The ones with a pretty product or person where the colors are all contrasting perfectly and the background looks like a postcard and overall, it just makes you feel something? Success? Confidence? Fun? Escape? Joy? You-mean-I-can-look-like-that-if-I-buy-this? A great picture or graphic can do wonders in telling a piece of your story. So do you need professional photos and a graphic designer? If your business can swing it, I'd say absolutely, at least on the photos. It's a small investment in putting your business's best face forward. Just getting started or still in conservation mode? Use apps like vsco and Canva to add some professional touches to your pics and graphics.

3.) Show some Insta-love

Paying for followers is not cool. Follow for follow is just weird. You should not, I repeat should not just go and like a bunch of people's Instagram pages in hopes they'll follow you back. It's mindless and even if they do, the chances of these #fff peeps actually engaging with your content regularly is slim to none. Here's something that will take you 30-45 minutes a day and something that I do regularly to grow mine and my clients lists:

1.) Pick 30 accounts that you like, as in, they could be a member of your tribe, they look like they may enjoy what you're selling, they share cool content that is aligned with your brand etc.

2.) Go to each of their pages and like a few (3-5) of their most recent posts.

3.) Leave a genuine comment on one of these posts that is at least 4 words long. Why 4? Gotta give the algorithm what it likes. An example of genuine is: "Looks like you had a great event! Can't wait to come to your next talk." An example of disingenuous is: "great content!"

4.) Bonus: leave them a quick message that compliments them and/or their business or ask a question to begin a conversation. Just be brief and make it about them, not you!

Does this take a little time/ planning/ thoughtfulness? Yep! But it works and focuses on building new relationships. There are real live people behind that Instagram handle to meet you know!

4.) early bird gets the instaworm

Oh you want to talk about the algorithm more? Cool. It's not meant to be understood but what I can tell you is if you post when the majority of your people are awake and using the platform, the chances of them seeing and engaging with your post will be way higher. And chances are if you're reading this, you already have an Instagram Business account (not just your personal one) and hopefully have noticed the Analytics Button in the top right of your home page. Click that little baby and enter the world of big brother behind the scenes.

Whether you have 25, 2,500 or 250K followers (props!) the goal is to duplicate your target customer/ client over and over again and your #InstagramAnalytics will show you how many people are showing up on what days and how they are interacting with your page. Look for the days/ times that are significantly higher in engagement and plan on posting your best content THEN! Consistency is key.

5.) Hashtag swag

Do:

1.) Pick about 15-20 #'s that describe what's in your post including key brand #'s.

2.) See which hashtags are trending and if you can relate, use that hashtag too.

3.) Ask yourself: What would someone looking to buy what I'm selling search google/ ask siri/ alexa/ hoodini for? Use THAT search term.

4.) Not too big, not too small. Type a potential hashtag into your search bar and pick relevant search terms with around 1,000-100,000 recent tags. Wide range, I know, but the goal here is to 'trend' and that's tough when no one is using that hashtag or EVERYONE is #blessed.

Don't:

1.) Don't use the exact same group of 20 hashtags on every post. It's totally fine to repeat a handful of on brand tags but also add some fresh, descriptive ones to make your post stand out and reach new people.

2.) Don't use: #wornporn #foodporn or #instagood, please just stop.

3.) Don't add a wall of hashtags to your content without a space or break of some sort. It looks messy and don't need to be immediately visible, just searchable.

4.) Don't use #longdrawnouthashtagsthatarefunnybutservenopurpose.

6.) Collab with B&B's you love

Think back to receiving referrals or letters of recommendation for a job or even school back in the day. Someone stuck their neck out for you a little and in return: Instant credibility. If that person was a badass in their field, you were instantly 10x more qualified to work or study in that new place. Instagram is no different, and as the platform gets more saturated with content, the smart businesses are getting more selective with what content they'll share. And unless these said businesses are getting paid a pretty penny or truly align with a brand reaching out to collaborate, the dedicated post isn't happening. We are living in the what's in it for me world and the faster you can provide value, the more you'll win. How do you benefit from this? Think about how you can serve your tribe (or their tribe) best.

Can you feed them? Dress them? Get rid of their wrinkles? Provide motivation? Teach them something valuable?

What common goals do you share? What common people are you trying to reach? Who do you know that they'd like to know?

Have something you can give before you ever ask for something in return. Sometimes this can be an exchange of goods and services, and sometimes (most of the time) money talks.

Pro tip: If you're wanting a boost in followers, choose a brand or business who is a little more known (like 25% more) than you and work towards building an incentive, contest, or promotion with them. The new eyes on your Instagram page will be refreshing and earned!

7.) Plan that ish out

Last, but certainly not least, save yourself the time/ stress/ anxiety/ insert other expletives and plan out your content strategy before posting anything! "Oh, but it won't feel as 'realtime' if I do this." Not true! You can always add some 'bonus posts' if you feel so inclined.

By taking some time to lay out what your next week or two is going to look like, you allow your content to be more fluid, make necessary edits, catch important dates/ events, and avoid the pressure of having to get a perfect shot right before you post it. That ish is STRESSFUL. Spend a few hours one day a week planning and strategizing and whether you choose to post in realtime or use some type of social media scheduler like Hootsuite or Later, you know your roadmap.

One thing I do for my clients before our monthly planning meeting is prepare a report on which posts got the highest engagement and then plan to post content that will perform similarly. By planning ahead and then analyzing how well the strategy played out, we can adjust easily and get it right.

Enjoyed the tips but still have some questions? For info on coaching and accountability while you build a strong social presence for your business, send me a message at amy@thecreativebeach.com.

Cecilia