The announcement of the upcoming changes created quite a stir among online business owners in the past couple of weeks. Many questions were raised on how will the changes affect Instagram engagement rates.
Wondering if this is the end to high engagement rates on a platform that’s considered the king of engagement?
The answer is “No” and “Yes”.
If you’re constantly providing your audience high-quality content they can relate to, then you shouldn’t worry too much.
But, if you’re doing things wrong, employing follow-for-follow or other shady tactics, then changes will give you something to think about.
In my opinion, most people will love the changes.
(Most people on Instagram are not business owners.)
The fact is Instagram feed is cluttered. And the clutter just keeps piling up day-by-day.
Same thing happened to Facebook before they introduced algorithm changes back in 2009.
Here’s also a fact you might don’t know about.
Even at this very moment, you can only see the last 150 photos on Instagram. You can’t scroll to infinity. You won’t see more than 150 photos, even if all the people you follow posted around the same time. You’ll always see 150 posts most.
That’s the way it is. And it’s the way it has always been.
Changes are inevitable. The ability to adapt and come out as a winner is what’s important.
Obviously, these changes are also connected to advertising.
Just like you are, Instagram is out there trying to make a business. They will try to push as many businesses as they can to use ads to reach more people.
So, if you find yourself dwelling on the upcoming changes, stop right now!
Instead, think of the ways you can benefit from them. Take action!
I’ve already written a piece on how to get better results on social media. But everything that’s been going on in these past two weeks gave me the incentive to write something exclusively on Instagram engagement.
No matter if you’re just starting out or even if you already have an established following, I bet you’ll find some useful tips on Instagram engagement in this post.
This is key.
Here’s a random Instagram image.
And here’s another one.
See the difference?
Your images need to be high quality. Period.
It doesn’t matter if you post photo-based posts or graphics, your images should always reflect high quality.
You can take or make your images yourself. With the help of tools such as Canva and even your iPhone, this shouldn’t be too hard. You can also use stock photos (there are a ton of free and paid stock photo services).
But if you’re not confident enough that you can produce high-quality images, I suggest you hire a professional photographer or a designer.
Instagram is a visual platform and if you’re not up to the standards, you are not even in the engagement race.
Providing content on a regular basis is key to keeping your Instagram engagement rates high. You need to keep your followers looking forward to something new.
I recommend you post every day or at least 5 or 6 times per week. That’s a bare minimum.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t post too much. Somewhere between 3 and 5 times per day is the maximum.
I suggest you space out the posts for at least a few hours. You don’t want to be too pushy and clog up your followers feed.
Posting multiple images in the space of a few minutes is also a bad idea. Not only will you cannibalize your own posts, but your followers might also find you too intrusive.
At this point, you might be thinking, “OK, I have to post regularly, but at what times should I post?”
There’s no straightforward answer. So don’t expect to get one.
According to study from CoShedule, the best times to post on Instagram are:
Use this as a starting point and then just test things out. Something that works for your friend or your competitor, might not work for you.
PRO TIP: You can also use tools to help you with scheduling and picking the best times to post. Iconosquare and Squarelovin are both great tools for Instagram analytics. I also use an iPhone app called Prime.
When you’re developing your Instagram strategy, try to determine a clear focus.
If you’re in the nutrition business, then the vast majority of your posts should be connected to recipes and food. If you’re a business coach, then you should post some business tips, maybe some motivational quotes etc.
You see what I mean.
Although I do recommend you make your content personal because people will easily relate to your business. It’s also the nature how we use social media.
But try to stay within your focus and the context of your account.
When you have a clear focus in mind, try to connect your posts to a theme.
What I am saying is you don’t only look one photo at a time, but you also check the profiles of the people you’re following.
When you look at a certain profile, you’ll get sucked in if the photos are interconnected. If they are not consistent, the profile won’t be visually appealing and you’ll be more likely to leave that profile sooner.
And add them right away.
In the past, you could hashtag your post anytime and it would appear in the stream under that hashtag as soon you’ve added it.
But now, Instagram also takes time decay into consideration. So if you tag one of your old posts with a certain tag, it won’t appear at the top of the feed of that hashtag.
You only have one chance to get your image noticed in the grid before it quickly gets lost.
Hashtags are a huge part of growing your Instagram engagement, so be sure to use them wisely.
Your hashtags should be specific and related to your business. Don’t choose the hashtags that have millions of posts related to them.
Things happen so fast on Instagram, that you probably won’t be noticed. As soon as you’ll upload your image, a hundred others under the same hashtag will be posted.
And it’s also not likely that you’ll get enough hearts to be among top posts in those hashtag categories.
You can use up to 30 hashtags, so don’t waste them.
You also don’t want to use hashtags that almost no one searches for. However, if you develop your own hashtag, that’s a different story.
PRO TIP: Put your hashtags in the comment and not in the caption of your image to keep your description clean. I keep a note on my phone of different groups of hashtags I use and I just copy-paste them each time I post an image.
Calls-to-actions are crucial to increasing your Instagram engagement. A call-to-action can be anything, but make sure it’s relevant to the content. Ask your followers questions or tell them what you want them to do. Be clear about it.
You can include calls-to-action in the image itself or in the caption.
A shout-out is a post on another Instagram account that encourages that account’s followers to follow you. It’s a great way to broaden your network. In fact, it’s one of the main points of the strategy Foundr used to build almost a 700k following.
Look for pages with a similar target audience and a similar or greater following than your page. Accounts with a similar number of followers are more likely to agree to provide you with a shout-out because it’s a mutually beneficial situation.
After you find appropriate pages, reach out. Send that account a direct message or an email.
When someone comments on your post, always respond. Always write back.
Not responding is the same as saying, “I’m not interested in building a community.”
Responding is showing how much you value your followers and your community.
But interaction shouldn’t stop there. Return the favor and comment on their photos. Like the posts of people that liked your posts. Ask questions.
Be genuine in your communication. Don’t just drop “Awesome” on every post you see.
Search for relevant hashtags and comment or double tap on posts you like. It’s likely they will also return the favor.
Last but not least, promote your account on other social networks. If you’ve already established a decent following on Facebook or on Twitter, why not promote your Instagram account to them?
Be sure to mention your Instagram account on your website, in your blog posts, and even on your printed materials.
Give your followers on other networks a sample of the great content they will only find on the Instagram account.
In the past two or three years, Instagram has grown massively and has become a major player. The changes they’ll be rolling out in the upcoming months will certainly have a major impact on how we use the platform.
It’s not exactly sure what will be the extent of the changes, and they’ll likely make changes as they go, but following these tips will certainly help in keeping your engagements rates high.
What do you think? What types of posts are most successful for you? What tips can you share on Instagram engagement? Please share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments.
And if we haven’t already, let’s connect on Instagram!