Hi again! I want to address a topic that comes up regularly: how to build an engaged Instagram following. It’s something I struggled with when I first started blogging, and it led to me being in fruitless engagement pods with other Instagram influencers for years, where you like everyone’s post and they like yours in return. Today, I have a steady audience that enjoys interacting with my content, but it definitely didn’t happen overnight. I had to shift the way I approached Instagram content and figure out a few things, like who my target audience is and how to reach them.
What does it mean to have an engaged Instagram following? Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting thousands of likes on every post. Some of the most successful influencers I know don’t get many likes on their social media posts. It comes down to whether your followers trust your opinion and find value in the content that you create. Engagement goes way deeper than likes, which is why it’s important to look at metrics other than double taps.
How To Build An Engaged Instagram Following
We’ll get to why it’s great to have an Instagram following that values your content, but it’s time for the most important part: How do you get there? Let’s look at some ways to increase your engagement on Instagram without stressing every time you post.
Provide Value To Your Audience
There are six easy ways to provide value to your audience, according to marketing expert Louise Myers. Make sure the answer is “yes” to at least one of these questions before sharing on social media:
Is it educational? Think infographics or an IGTV that teaches you something. As many of you know, I gained over 30,000 followers from providing educational content last year when the #BlackLivesMatter movement resurged.
Is it entertaining? Memes, screenshots of funny tweets, a fun contest — you get the idea.
Is it inspirational? Sharing a story about how you overcame an obstacle will leave people feeling inspired and ready to face their own problems.
Will it spark conversation? Some of my most successful posts have come from me asking for advice. You can tailor questions to your niche, but some of my favorites are, “What’s the best thing that happened to you this week?” and “Compliment the person who commented above you.”
Will it help your audience feel connected to you? Not every Instagram post has to be super professional if you don’t want it to be. At the end of the day, my Instagram feed still largely revolves around my personal life. Family pictures and honest shares provide a huge connection point.
Is it promotional? If you’re trying to increase product sales, email sign-ups, course membership or anything else — it’s totally okay to talk yourself up on Instagram. Don’t be afraid to sell something if that’s your primary objective.
Include a call-to-action
In my work as a social media manager and blogger, I can confidently say that writing captions can be one of the most challenging parts of content creation. If you’re struggling with the same thing, I’ve got great news! Formatting your caption around the call-to-action makes it much easier to create one. Here are some example CTAs:
- “Click the link in my bio to read my newest blog post!”
- “Tag a friend in the comments.”
- “What’s your favorite way to unwind?”
Voila! Your followers now have a reason to engage.
Use relevant hashtags
If you ask Google for the best Instagram hashtag strategy, you’ll get a lot of results with conflicting opinions. My take? No one has all of the answers on hashtags. It’s why some recommend not using any at all while other marketers tell you to use all 30. My best hashtag advice? If you want to use them, pick a few that are relevant to your type of content. I’d avoid major ones like #ootd or #fashion where no one will ever see your post and instead hone in on your niche.
Consider the length of your caption
It’s okay to share short captions, and I’m a fan myself. But if your photo isn’t captivating and your caption is a string of emojis, you may lose people along the way. Remember the tips for providing value to your audience when you’re drafting content and strategizing about how to build an engaged Instagram following.
Interact with other people’s content
Have you heard the expression, “You get in what you put out?” It definitely applies. If you dedicate time to liking, commenting and sharing other people’s posts, they may decide to return the favor. Anecdotally, I’ve had close friendships form after engaging with a stranger’s Instagram content.
Know which metrics to focus on
If you get caught up in how many likes your post is getting, you’ll disappointed for no reason. Some of my least-liked posts have brought me followers and email subscribers. In 2021, social networks are evolving, and liking just isn’t the only way people show they’re digging what you’re sharing. At this point, it’s more of a vanity metric than anything. Worrying about my like count is also the reason I joined the engagement pods that were hard for me to leave. When I’m working with brands, I promote statistics like story views, post reach and impressions, saves and shares, and link clicks. It feels great to get a ton of likes, but it doesn’t provide much value in the long run.
Instagram Engagement Metrics
- How many people shared your post? Instagram users can share your post to their own Instagram Stories or send them to another person via direct message.
- How many people saved it? If someone wants to reference your post later, they might tap the “save” button, which the Instagram algorithm definitely takes note of.
- How many meaningful comments were left on your post? Likes can be bought and therefore faked. But if real people are taking the time to leave thoughtful comments on your posts, that’s valuable to brands with a stake in influencer marketing.
Your posts may have a low engagement rate, which is calculated by dividing your average amount of likes by your followers (so if you have 500 average likes and 50,000 followers, your engagement rate is 1 percent). But brands are starting to value some of the metrics mentioned above more than simply looking at your like count. Additionally, Instagram prioritizes creators who are getting a lot of comments, re-shares and video views, along with likes.
Benefits of an Engaged Instagram Following
If you’re new to the world of social media marketing, you may be wondering how this affects you and why it matters. Even if you aren’t an influencer or interested in brand partnerships, an engaged audience is still a huge benefit to your Instagram account, especially if you have a product or service-based business.
The Instagram algorithm rewards those with engaged followers. Your target audience is more likely to see your posts if your existing following already interacts with your content. This is great news if you’re selling something — you have a chance to reach people without spending a ton on Instagram marketing.
Thank you, as always, for reading! Feel free to share your own Instagram engagement tips in the comments.