Optimizing Instagram Through Methods of Engagement


As you are already quite aware, engagement is everything on Instagram.  The amount of engagement you get determines where your posts show up, how long they stay in feeds, the percentage of sales you make from exposure on the platform, and so much more.  

Though it is important to note that rates of engagement with your content play a huge role in your growth and marketing strategy, it’s also just as important to be sure your engagement with others is regular and consistent.  Remember that law of reciprocity thing we mentioned earlier?


Raise your rates of engagement through ‘Like’ campaigns


A great initial way to go about getting followers quickly is to run a series of ‘Like’ campaigns.  Like campaigns are planned bursts of self-initiated engagement via liking posts and/or comments that align with your content or overall brand theme.

Start by going through your list of relevant hashtags and searching them one by one on the explore page for photos that capture your attention.  Select hashtags that have been used many times for quantity or those that have been posted by users with a large following for quality. Go through several posts liking as many as you feel inclined.  Once you start liking other people’s photos, many of them will visit and start following your account. Of course this helps you get more likes on many of your own posts as well.

While browsing through and liking these posts, spend a little extra time looking through the comments left by different users.  Some may stand out to you as a good response or may call you to respond in some way. Liking comments is a good way to acknowledge and show appreciation for someone’s input and can also lead to conversation and new followers based on authentic connection.



Take the dive into Instagram ‘Stories’


Instagram Stories is a feature on the app that allows you to share interesting or highlighted moments throughout your day without having to save them permanently on your profile.  Very similarly to Snapchat, photo and/or video stories are displayed on the ‘Home’ screen in a slideshow format known as a “reel”. Each story reel stays viewable for 24 hours from the time they are posted and then disappears, making them perfect for sneak peeks, short updates, or just a look inside your day to day.

Instagram will also let you see who all has viewed your story for the duration you have it posted.  Being able to see a list of your viewers is both encouraging and helpful in determining who your closest followers are as well as how you can better cater your content to that audience in the future.  Likewise, showing up as a viewer on someone else’s story let’s them know you’re extra interested in what they’re doing and appreciate the content they’re putting out. Another great way of showing some love and calling in more engagement to your own channels.

Viewing stories on Instagram is simple and can be done from either your phone or the Instagram website on your computer’s browser.  From your phone, all you have to do is open the app to your ‘Home’ tab and look at the top above your feed. Stories from followers you haven’t seen will show up as small circle icons with a colorful pink-orange ring around them.  Once you start viewing people’s stories Instagram will automatically scroll through slides and on from one story to the next. You can swipe back to replay a previous slide or simply tap on the screen to skip forward to the next one.  To exit story viewing mode tap on the X in the top right hand corner of your screen and you will taken back to your Home tab and regular post feed.

Another thing to consider when viewing other user’s stories is commenting and leaving some feedback on what they’ve posted.  Even though your name will be displayed as someone who viewed the story leaving a personal note can speak volumes, and much like ‘liking’ comments is a great way to initiate new connections and nurture lasting follower relationships.


Photo by Gyorgy Bakos


Sit back, relax, and turn on Instagram TV


Due to factors like the short time cap put on video slides recorded with ‘Stories’, Instagram has now decided to release what they’re calling their most exciting feature to date, IGTV.  A new app for watching longer (up to an hour long), vertical video from your favorite content creators across the platform. Videos uploaded onto Instagram TV also stay up for as long as you want unlike stories where content disappears 24 hours after posting.  

Although IGTV is it’s own stand-alone app, Instagram’s massive user base can still view what’s being shared there through the original app as well.  On the standard Instagram app, IGTV appears as a small TV icon in the top right corner of the ‘Home’ screen and will be highlighted with the same pink-orange color if there is new content for you to see.

As with any Instagram strategy, promotion is key and if you want your content to appear in front of your audience you’ll want to put together a promo plan before you hit the “record” button.  Promotion can take on several forms such as including a link to your IGTV in a ‘preview’ story or cross promoting your link across all of your other social channels.

Users can still like and comment on videos posted on IGTV and can send the ones they really like to friends or influencers via Direct Messaging.  So don’t be shy, let the followers you watch know what you think and continue building strong rapport with others in your community through this cool new feature.


Make an impression on your followers with ‘Direct Messaging’


The brands seeing the most success on Instagram are the ones doing a good job at consistently keeping up with new followers to their page. Sending a message to users after they have followed your Instagram stream shows them you truly value your social network and the association they have with your brand.

Direct messaging is also a good way to start conversations with other users whose accounts you really resonate with along with any people of influence you might want to sponsor in order to boost exposure and engagement with your branded content.


BE a follower

Incorporating regular follow and unfollow campaigns into your Instagram strategy is one of the best things you can do to grow your account.  Not just to gain followers but to some people’s surprise, to significantly raise your levels of engagement as well. This commonly used best practice is a bit frowned upon by some based on the notion that the followers you gain arrive to your channel through inauthentic methods and therefore actually stunt your growth as a social media influencer.  

The reality however is that when done properly, not only is this best practice effective but it’s also very helpful for those you wind up networking with in the process.  The key to doing this though is to only use tools and services that abide by Instagram’s terms of service paired with your best discernment in targeting specifically who it is you want to be following.  Branching out and following similar businesses and other users aligned with your brand can lead to amazing opportunities for collaboration, resource sharing, and much greater exposure.

Follow users based on different criteria in order to increase your reach and explore where you might see more reciprocity of quality followers in the future.  A good set to start from are relevant hashtags, locations, and followers of competitors. This is another very useful place to apply the data you gathered from your audience, hashtag, and username research (see our blogs on defining your target audience and targeting through hashtags).

One could certainly take the time to follow and unfollow hundreds of accounts manually but it’s a bit of a pain and they might actually go mad in the process.  For that reason there are a number of different tools and services you can find online that will automate the follow and unfollow process for you. Most charge a premium to use but also offer a free trial period you can take advantage of to see what the results look like.  Again, make sure you only go with an option that fully abides by Instagram’s terms of service and ideally has at least some correspondence with you regarding your account and growth goals.

Whether you’re using a service or doing it manually, be sure to take it slow when you’re following and unfollowing other accounts.  Massive actions within a short period of time on Instagram send up red flags to the platform’s algorithm as more often than not they are the results of hacked/fake accounts, bots, or spammy sales blasts.  Having your account flagged could mean losing much of the apps functionality for a minimum of 24 hours. So stick to less than 250 follows and/or unfollows per day during the length of any campaign you run to be safe.  


Don’t forget to include ‘tags’ in your posts


Consistently using tags on your Instagram posts is another great practice to include as a key part of your social media strategy.  This feature allows you to tag locations and other users in your posts whether it’s them, their brand, or their product in the photo you’re posting.  Because tagging is such a simple part of the app’s functionality however, a lot of people are missing the boat on the ways doing so can benefit your account.

Tagging a location or “geotagging” on Instagram is essentially the same as the option to “check in” somewhere that you’ve probably seen on Facebook.  This is useful for directing other local users to your posts and can be rather beneficial for businesses looking to grow awareness in their physical communities.  Geotagging your posts can also be useful to specify a particular area you want to generate interest for a particular topic in. An example of that would be that perhaps you’re opening a business or releasing a product there and want to give people a heads up.

When you tag someone on Instagram be it a business or an individual, the user(s) you tagged receive a notification and your post becomes a part of their profile as well.  This is beneficial for several reasons, one of the main ones being providing user generated content to aligned brands and influencers in a way that’s quick and easy to repost.  Having your content re-posted by other popular accounts means gaining amplified exposure with their audience and new followers for your brand in the process.

The practice of tagging other users is also a great way of showing interest in their offering, brand, or product and allows for them to reach out to you.  You never know what multitude of opportunities could come from a good connection with an influencer or brand you really align with.


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