If you're marketing your business on Instagram, then you've probably come to realize that, at times, the platform can be a tad frustrating - especially, if you're trying to grow your following, engage an audience, generate leads and make some sales.
Don't worry, I know just how you're feeling.
And Instagram aren't necessarily making it any easier, clamping down on automated engagement tools like Instagress and Mass Planner, while the introduction of their feed algorithm has also lessened overall engagement levels on most brand accounts.
But have no fear - here are seven ways you can still make and impact and get the engagement your desire.
1. Research and A/B split test your hashtags
Hashtags are one of the primary ways for your content to be found on Instagram - and the more eyes your content is in front of the more engagement you're likely to get.
Instagram currently allows 30 hashtags per post, and I suggest you use all of them. There are a couple ways you can research hashtags, from checking out what the competition is using, seeing what's trending online with services such as hashtagify.me and even within Instagram's app itself.
To research hashtags within Instagram, simply search for a hashtag and at the top of the page - you'll then be shown suggestions related to the hashtags within that category.
In the above photo I searched for #communityovercompetition and above Instagram shows other related hashtags in that category as well as noting the hashtag's popularity below.
You should also use a mixture of high usage and low usage hashtags, and create a few sets to use so that can you A/B split test and find out which are working best for your content.
2. Be active
Being active on instagram is another way to help boost your engagement levels on the platform - basically, give the same engagement you're looking to get.
Go out there and comment and like posts in your community and let others know that you exist. Take an hour or so out of your day to give some genuine engagement and feedback. Sometimes, you have to be the first to provide what you're seeking.
3. Tie images in with compelling storytelling
It's great to have stand out images in your Instagram feed. Visuals always grab the eye - but equally as important is creating a compelling caption to go along with that image.
You want to create emotion in order to draw your audience in, and the best way to do that is through your words.
Long form captions are shown to have the best proven results. Tell your story, share a problem that you found a solution for, and connect with the struggles your audience is facing by offering them value.
You'll always draw more people to you by providing a solution rather than fixating on a problem.
4. Find the Right Time to Post
Sometimes I wonder if marketing is really a science or an art - and truly it's a little bit of both.
You can't be effective at any type of marketing without delving into the analytics. You need to see how your audience is behaving in order to better reach and serve them. Therefore if you haven't switched over to the Instagram business profile then you should do so now.
You'll get a snap shot of your audience demographics and the days and hours they're most active on the platform. This will give you an idea of when to post, so that you can get the most reach out of your content.
For me, after playing around with timing over the past few weeks, I've found that weekends give me the most engagement, and that could possibly mean that my audience is most active on Saturdays and Sundays, or that there's less posting going on in those times, and therefore less competition. I wouldn't have been able to work this out without analyzing the data.
5. Add a Call to Action
Sometimes getting what you want means simply just asking for it. I'd encourage you to add a call to action on each post - whether it's asking a question in the caption and getting your audience to comment or directing them to a link in your bio.
You want your content to inspire some action that doesn't involve just scrolling past your post.
Bonus Tip: Try to ensure your call to action is seen early on in your caption, as Instagram hides some of the text once the content is shown in the feed.
6. Cross Promoting
A good way to get a little more engagement is by cross-promoting your content on your other social profiles.
For example, I like to share my photos and videos on Twitter along with the instagram link as this can sometimes bring people over who may follow me on Twitter but not on Instagram and give them an opportunity to interact with the content I'm posting.
7. Instagram Ads - Pay to Play
I've seen so many articles citing ways to improve Instagram engagement, and very few mention paying for ads.
As with any company (as I'm sure it is with yours), Instagram's aim is to monetize its product. They've done so by creating Instagram Ads and changing their algorithm to service that product.
I've helped many of my clients grow audiences through the use of Instagram ads and strategic targeting - this is a viable way to ensure that your product gets seen by the right people, and with minimal cost to you.
Before you start creating ads, you need to clearly define who your audience is, where they're located and what interests they're likely to have. This will ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.
While all these tips are well and good, I wouldn't be a good marketer if I didn't encourage you to create your own community - be it an email list or membership on your website.
Social media should be used as a tool to direct your audience to your online community, not simply growing followers to just stay on your social profiles. That way if any of the social platforms shut down, you'll still be able to get your content out to those who need, and want, to see it.