One of the biggest challenges with any social media platform is getting your audience to engage with your content.
We all know the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, when you post a picture on Instagram, you should get tons of engagement, right? After all, it’s a platform that’s all about pictures.
It isn’t always that easy though.
Fortunately, we’re about to dive into how you can become an Instagram engagement mastermind.
We’ll run through 15 tactics you can implement right now.
Plus, have you heard you can schedule to Instagram with CoSchedule? Now you can plan these tactics in advance to go from spontaneous to strategic!
Here we go!
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1. Use Hashtags For 12.6% More Engagement
You didn't think hashtags were just for Twitter, did you? Hashtags allow users to stumble across your Instagram page by searching for hashtags. If a user is interested in marketing, they can type #Marketing into the Instagram search bar and find posts related to marketing.
Posts with at least one relative Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. So, if you want to get more likes on Instagram, hashtags are a great place to start!
Although Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, try to keep it around 5-10 so you don't come across as spammy. Or else you can hide your hashtags, so they can’t look spammy! Make them invisible by preceding them with four or five periods, each one on a line by itself.
Sprout Social's Dominque Jackson offers two good tips to keep in mind when using hashtags:
- "Look at how many hashtags influencers in your industry and your competitors use in their posts."
- "Track the engagement of your posts when you use different amounts of hashtags."
70% of the most used hashtags are branded. Consider creating a branded hashtag that you use on each image post for more engagement. This way users can easily recognize who the image is from.
2. Use Correct Size Images To Stand Out In A Feed
There's nothing worse than uploading an awesome photo that gets cutoff or doesn't upload the way you envisioned. Instagram image size used to be 612px by 612px, but then switched to 1080px by 1080px to keep up with Retina and other high-resolution displays available on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
That's a huge improvement! Instagram still scales these photos down to 612 x 612 pixels, but you don't have to worry about your image getting cutoff.
You can edit your photos or create awesome collages with these 7 tools mentioned by Post Planner:
- Snapseed - A complete and professional photo editor developed by Google.
- VSCO Cam - Shoot and edit your images in one app.
- Camera+ - Set exposure separately from focus. Easily control how light or dark your shots come out.
- Overgram - Choose from 16 carefully curated and dramatically different fonts. Find fonts that are useful, fun, and beautiful, perfect for any occasion.
- Pic Stitch - #1 photo and video collage maker.
- Squaready - Allows you to post entire photos on Instagram without cropping.
- Hipstamatic - The original photo filter app. Choose the overall mood of your image with Hipstamatic's signature Lenses, Films, and Flashes, then fine tune with extensive editing tools
Make sure that your photos are not only sized correctly, but are also appealing. Studies show that brighter pictures get 592% more likes than the darker ones. Muted pallettes also get the most likes. So, give priority to grays, blues, and greens. Be cool on Instagram—at least when it comes to colors!
3. Include A Call-To-Action
Instagram is a photo sharing app. But, you can use it as a platform to leverage the written word too. Take your audience a step further by adding a call-to-action to your Instagram photos. That call-to-action tells your followers exactly what you want them to do.
With Instagram you can either put the call-to-action in the caption of the image or creating images with the text built right in. The goal of a call-to-action is to increase the number of likes and comments a photo receives.
You can ask your audience to:
- Double tap photos
- Tag 2 friends
- Share a comment
4. Include Witty Captions On Photos
Not every description has to include a call-to-action. You can win your audience over with a witty caption on your Instagram image.
You can spice up your Instagram captions by:
- Dusting in a question:
- Whipping up a quick tip:
- Sprinkling in a benefit:
- Adding a dash of humor:
To achieve maximum engagement on captions, include a few emojis. Post Planner shared how they earned 3x Instagram growth by using emojis to ignite engagement in both posts and comments.
5. Post At The Right Times
Instagram audiences are more engaged throughout the week. Quick Sprout found that Instagram engagement is fairly steady, with slight increases on Monday and decreases on Sunday. So, Mondays should get a little more attention since it's the beginning of the week. Here are the best times to post on Instagram:
- Monday and Thursday at any time other than 3–4 p.m.
- Videos any day at 9 p.m.–8 a.m.
- Experiment with 2 a.m., 5 p.m., and Wednesday at 7 p.m.
General best times to post on Instagram:
- 8–9 a.m.
- 2 a.m.
- 5 p.m.
Find out what times work best for you! Figuring out what drives the most engagement is all about trial and error.
6. Host Instagram Contests
Drive the engagement your way by hosting an Instagram contest. People are motivated by free giveaways. Hosting a contest is one of the easiest way to gain exposure and get more followers on Instagram, which will help you increase your engagement.
Be clear about your objectives and exactly how you want your audience to participate for the best outcome. Define easy, simple rules before you launch your contest.
Here are some tips for hosting contests:
- Like to win contests. Users can be qualified for the contest by simply liking the Instagram contest photo.
- Hashtag user-generated content contests. Users can share their own photo by including a contest-centered hashtag to the photo to be qualified.
- Tag 2-3 friends to win contests. Users can be qualified by tagging two or three of their Instagram friends into the comment section of the contest photo.
- Make your product the prize. If your aim is to promote your brand, make sure your product is the prize.
- Use a contest specific hashtag. Always use a hashtag when hosting a contest so that your users are aware that a specific hashtag is related to your contest.
7. Create Instagram Stories To Drive Engagement
Instagram Stories are fairly new, bringing Snapchat-like functionality to the platform. This function allows users to upload and write over unfiltered pictures and videos that disappear after 24 hours. What does this mean for marketers? Instagram stories will help boost your Instagram strategy.
Instagram stories are located at the top of the news feed as circles. You can click on these circles and view the story. Users can draw on photos and videos, add text and even filters to jazz them up before posting too. It allows you too share content, without clogging up your news feed.
To create your own Instagram story:
1. Tap on the plus button found on the top-left side of your newsfeed or swipe left in your Feed. You can also quickly launch Stories by swiping right from the main screen:
2. Tap the circle button at the bottom of the screen to take photos or tap and hold to record a video.
3. Edit the photos or videos with text or add a drawing as you normally would. If you hit the pen icon, there are three types of pens. The third one makes your sketch look like a neon sign:
4. Tap Done to save your Story.
5. Tap the check-mark button to share to your Story.
Here are ways you can leverage Instagram stories to your benefit:
- Show your brands personality. Upload a fun picture or video of your office shenanigans.
- Share a quick tip or tutorial. Try doing a 'Tip Tuesday' or other form of tip sharing story.
- Advertise limited sales. Promote a sale you're having directly on your Instagram story.
- Vote on next post. Let your audience decide what your next Instagram post will be! Users can comment their answer on your most recent post.
- Host a Q&A. Answer your audience's burning questions through Instagram stories.
8. Include A Link In Profile
Do you want your audience to view your website, sign up for a newsletter, or read you blog? Well, you can send them in the right direction by including a link in your Instagram profile description. Instagram prohibits the use of clickable links within your captions but you can change your bio link at any time and use a call to action to drive traffic to that link.
To change your Instagram bio:
- Click Edit Profile on your Instagram profile page.
- Click on Bio.
- Type out your new bio and include the URL link you want.
- Select Done.
Make sure to tell your users what the link is for and where they can find it in your Instagram post.
9. Share Videos To Attract Attention
Although there have been studies that photos see more engagement than videos on Instagram, videos are still a great for engagement if executed correctly. Earlier this year, Instagram videos went from being 15 seconds long to 60 seconds long.
Instagram videos are similar to Instagram stories, except they last forever rather than 24 hours. So make sure your video is creative and entertaining.
Nike has taken advantage of the video trend:
Here's how to shoot a video directly in the app:
10. Create Banner Images
A tactic that's often overlooked is using banner images. Banner images are multiple images posted that form together to create on big picture on your Instagram profile.
It's a trendy way to catch people's attention, but it could be annoying if it's overdone. Use this tactic only when you have a big announcement or feature to promote.
You can even take this a step further by making your audience guess what it is you're introducing. Build suspense by only posting one part of the picture every week. That way you're audience won't know what you're announcing until all pieces of the picture have been posted.
To create banner images you can use mobile apps such as Giant Square or Banner Pic. These apps allow you to easily upload the photo you wish to post as a grid, divide it up into several segments and upload them to your Instagram gallery.
11. Choose The Best Complementary Filter
The key to having a clean Instagram page is to have all your images look similar, or branded. Brand image is how people perceive your brand and it sets you aside from others. It's important so customers can identify themselves with your product based on an image they see.
Take our Instagram page for example, all of our images have the same style so it's easily recognizable that it's a post from CoSchedule.
According to Refinery29, using the right filter can increase the odds your image will be seen by 21% and increase comments by 45%.
When it comes to brand image:
- Choose a similar style of filter every time so that your Instagram page looks uniform.
- Don't use too many different filters.
- Avoid black and white photos because they don't stand out in a feed.
- Filters that increase saturation (intensity of color in the image) don't increase engagement.
12. Cross Promote On Other Social Channels
Is your business on Facebook? How about Twitter? Maybe even LinkedIn?
Chances are, your business is on more than one social channel. Use these sites as a gateway to bring your audience to your Instagram company page. For example, when your Twitter followers mention your company, you can occasionally respond back by encouraging them to check out your Instagram page.
Cross promotion can boost your presence from nothing to something. Remember not to respond to every mention this way so you don’t come across as spammy. Only encourage your followers to check out your Instagram page if you truly think they would.
13. Follow And Like Similar Accounts
To get your business name out there, you'll have to see what other's in your industry are posting on Instagram. You can follow similar accounts by searching for hashtags to find likeminded friends.
Once you find an account you like, follow them and like 3 of their photos. This shows the user that not only did someone who is kind of like them follow them, but they also dug a little bit and really liked what they found.
14. Create Instagram Ads
One of the best ways to reach new audiences is through Instagram ads. You have to spend money in order to make money. Instagram ads are a guaranteed way to reach more people and bring engagement to your page.
Facebook is the parent company of Instagram, so in order to create an Instagram ad, you will need to use the Power Editor feature through Facebook. Here's a great video on exactly how to set up your Instagram ad.
To create an Instagram ad in Power Editor:
- Click the Manage Ads tab at the top of the page.
- Click on the left side of the page and then click Create Ad.
- On the Create Ad page, choose whether to use an existing campaign or create a new campaign.
- Enter a name for the ad and click Create.
15. Respond To Comments
Just like with any social media platform, it's important to respond to comments so that your audience knows your human and you care what others have to say. Let your audience know that you aren’t a social media robot — you’re a real person.
When users comment on your Instagram posts, respond quickly. If you don’t, then it’s going to seem like you’re not very active on your own Instagram page—or you simply don’t care.
- Your followers will be much more likely to post comments if they know that you are reading them and that you will respond to them in a helpful manner.
- Use first names when you are responding. Addressing your followers in this way makes them feel more appreciated—not to mention that people love to be acknowledged. Small gestures like these help to build loyalty.
- If you respond right away, there’s a chance that the conversation will continue since they may still be on your page.
What Instagram Engagement Tactics Work For You?
Take a step back from the typical selfie and use the power of visuals to your advantage! Instagram engagement is 10x higher than Facebook and 54x higher than Pinterest, so what do you have to lose? Get in there and engage with your audience!
Implement these tactics the next time you post on Instagram and watch your engagement rate skyrocket.
This post was originally published on Dec. 6, 2016. It was republished with new information on May 10, 2018.