Building a formidable presence on Instagram these days requires much planning and patience. With over a billion active users, the site is rocketing in popularity for both personal and professional networking purposes. The frequent upgrades in recent times have made Instagram a very versatile space for communication and commercial engagement. Those who want to monetize their Instagram presence have several avenues to do so. At the same time, those who want a relaxed, less competitive socializing experience can also find a space here. Whether you are on the platform for business or relaxation, having your account noticed and engaged is undoubtedly a welcome experience.
Great engagement rates give you a sense of being somebody that matters more than your peers, and it is also a sure-shot means of gaining visibility, reach, and ROI. For the longest time, engagement on Instagram was synonymous with likes, comments, and shares. Getting likes has always been a prime focus of many professionals active on the site. While generating a constant stream of hearts is still an excellent strategy for social growth, the algorithms that keep Instagram functional have undergone many changes and now have grown far more complex. To beat the algorithms and ace the brand-building game on Instagram, you must first understand what goes on behind the dynamic under interface you are so accustomed to working with.
Understanding Instagram Algorithms: A Quick Overview
Yes. It is not a singular entity. Many algorithms work in synchronization to provide you with the end experience of browsing the social media site as a user. This is why every user has an individualized home feed and Story feed, and they also get individualized search results on the Explore tab. To be able to generate a unique user experience for every one of the billion (and growing) active users, Instagram relies on algorithms that are affected mainly by the following social signals and engagement parameters:
- Engagement per follower;
- Follower count growth;
- Keywords used frequently;
- Keywords looked up often;
- Recent engagement circles;
- Hashtag performance;
- Referral traffic from other social sites.
Further, each of the following has their complex permutation of the above (and sometimes other additional) parameters:
Confused? If you have a business account, you only have to check the Instagram insights and analytics for any post to glimpse all the different kinds of statistics the site has recorded against that post to measure its ranking and success on the platform. You will not be able to view the full breakdown if you have a personal account, but you can easily convert your account into a business one for free to have access to this and other important features of Instagram.
What Can You Do to Beat these Algorithms and Build a Successful Instagram Engagement Strategy?
Well, you have a range of options at hand if you want to beat Instagram algorithms, and you can approach the bull by its horns or use indirect tactics. Either way, the trick is to have clear time-bound micro-goals in place and work towards achieving these without getting distracted.
Here are some tips you definitely must try to incorporate while endeavoring to build your IG brand presence:
- Pay attention to your active follower count
Yes, growing yourself on social media involves developing an impressive follower count, but having an increase in followers with no corresponding increase in engagement can do your profile more harm than good. Consider this: A has 10 followers, and 8 of them regularly comment, share, like, or leave other forms of engagement on his posts. On the other hand, B has 100 followers, and 40 of them periodically engage with his publication, around 10 of them engage with his content once in a blue moon, and 5 have just followed him back because he follows their account but has not once interacted with his account. Who do you think has a better engagement rate? Now think of this scenario with larger follower counts. Followers can be mere vanity metrics addition or a stepping stone to winking over the platform’s algorithms. It all depends on how they behave for your account.
Focus on growing active followers. You can consider paid signals, but it’s even better if you gain them organically. Spring your follower list clean periodically to drop off those who have little or no engagement contribution to your account.
- Optimize the utility value of IG Stories
It may be one of the most temporary Instagram posts with a platform life of 24 hours (unless you mark them as Highlights), but it is one of the most popular means of attracting organic engagement. First off, your Stories appear only to followers in a horizontal feed exclusively marked for the purpose. Secondly, your Stories appear among the top ones for the followers who recently interacted with you. It means IG Stories have a high visibility rate among active followers and hence also have a high rate of attracting further engagement. Even more importantly, Stories are the only place apart from your bio where you can put a swipeable link-be it to a page outside the platform or a link to your Instagram shop. IG Stories not only bring more engagement to themselves, but they are also a great channel to direct traffic and engagement to your profile, homepage, or any other URL you need to increase your reach and impression percentages on.
You can use several Story features to increase your rate of engagement further. For instance:
- Catch your audience’s attention with stickers:
Try adding a Question sticker to get your audience to respond to your post in a fun and informative manner. Use a Poll or a Rating Scale to get the audience’s opinion. Create a Quiz with multiple choice options to gain insight and survey results playfully. Ask for Votes, create Trivia for icebreakers or do a countdown to an event. Add music, memes, or both – you can be as versatile as you wish here.
- Go Live:
Not only does this allow you to interact with your audience in real-time, but it also gives you an excellent opportunity to showcase your strengths as a brand. Since you have no chance to retake, you must be spontaneous, react, and take control of the narrative as per the situation, yet be prepared with the topic you have chosen to go live with. You could go live to do a product demonstration, introduce your brand, get interviews and reviews or go live as a part of a social awareness-raising campaign. Regardless of the session’s topic, live broadcasts are a vital channel for building credibility and brand awareness and raising engagement rates. Be sure to make room for conversation with your audience when you go live to maximize the engagement possibilities. Respond to all comments and DMs. Sometimes you may not have enough time to get back to everyone, but it is a good idea to reach out to everyone, even if it means responding to them after your session has ended. Further, you have the option to save your broadcast as an IGTV video so you can continue to bring in engagement through the same post even later!
- Respond to everyone as soon as possible
Speaking of responding to IG Live engagement, it goes without saying that being prompt and responsive to all attention left on your profile is necessary for building impressive visibility and reach for your brand. Being able to get back to comments and queries as quickly as you can matters. It humanizes your brand and helps you build customer relationships in addition to increasing your engagement rates. Here is what you should ideally be doing:
- Use a polite, professional yet friendly, and approachable tone of communication when responding to anyone-even if a bot has left you a comment.
- Be attentive to not just comments and DMs but also tags and mentions. If someone appreciates you, leaves you a review on their feeds, or brings something to your attention with a tag, acknowledge it and address the issue accordingly.
If being quick in your responses is not possible all the time, make use of a personalized autoreply that lets the other party know that you will be getting back to them shortly. Follow up accordingly.
- Think of creating content that your target audience will consider saving and sharing
If you can get your audience to revisit your content repeatedly, you save time on content creation besides getting more engagement. Hence focus on making posts that are saveable and shareable. Not only will you draw your IG audience to consider revisiting your content, but you will also likely find your post cross-promoted on other sites by your audience. It will broaden your audience range and increase your engagement potential. To create content with saving and sharing, you must know your audience well. Use Instagram Insights to understand what your audience wants and frequently visits. Create information, infographics, or videos that speak to them, and you will soon have excellent quality content with high engagement on your hands.
- Advertise smart
Use Instagram advertising to boost your visibility, impressions periodically, and reach significantly. Sure, you need to pay for it, but the gains of innovative advertising are several folds, so if you have the budget, this is one investment you should consider. You can create full advertisements or choose to promote one or more of your top-performing posts. The great thing here is to define your target audience, time frame, and budget to know you are reaching the correct type of Instagram users with your ads. After all, you do not just want engagement, and you would ideally like your audience to convert into clients, customers, and collaborators. You can also use product tags and make your ad a clickable doorway to a direct shopping experience for your viewers, so you tend to gain much more than engagement when you publish a successful ad. You actually can earn through them!
An intelligent marketing strategy that combines great content with people skills will significantly increase your engagement rates on Instagram. Try the ideas mentioned above and see yourself gain a successful IG presence that will make your competitors envious of you!