You know those Instagram accounts you follow that have like 3,475 comments RIGHT after they post? It looks like they’ve got it goin’ on, and everyone that follows them just adores them and soaks up everything they say or post? Well it isn’t by accident, and it isn’t because they have some magic thing that you don’t. It’s because they regularly engage with the Instagram community. More than just their own followers, they connect with others in their niche, influencers, and potential customers… constantly.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is when people put too much emphasis on content – what to post and how often. That is only half of the picture. The other half… and the real fuel on your social media growth fire… is engagement. You can have the best content in the world with the most beautiful visuals, but if you aren’t reaching out and engaging, your growth rate will be much slower.
So now I shall step off my soapbox and actually tell you HOW to be highly engaging:
1. Say “Hi” to New Followers
When you get a notification that someone has followed you, click over to their account and comment on a picture or two. You don’t need to be a cheese ball and say, “Thanks for following me!” (that just makes it about YOU and not THEM… although, confession: I totally did that when I started my social media career until someone more experienced than me told me to stop it. Now I’m just passing the wisdom on to you). Just leave genuine comments about what THEY are posting about on their feed. This subtly lets that person know that you see them and value them as part of your community.
When you are starting out, this is fairly easy to do, but when you start to get 20+ new followers a day, it may not be possible anymore. That’s ok… but at your humble beginning, it goes a long way to signal to people that you are here to connect and engage, not just shout out your message.
2. Like a Lot of Photos (aka Show Up)
I hope you are using 30 relevant hashtags on each of your Instagram posts, placed in your first comment. However, this only casts your net out to people that are already actively searching for you. What about those folks that need you, but don’t even know it yet? That’s why it’s important to be “out and about” in the Instagram community. Think about your ideal customer. What do THEY post about each day? What hashtags might they use when they post that material? Search those hashtags and get busy liking photos (and commenting if you are good at being genuine). A number of people will click over to your profile, and if they find you interesting, they will follow you.
3. Connect People
This is kind of like a “shout out,” but I secretly (I guess not-so-secretly now?) hate that terminology because it doesn’t sound genuine. Connecting people isn’t the “I’ll promote you on my account, and you can promote me on yours” thing. This is directing people to another account because you truly think they have something to offer your audience. For instance, I offer actionable social media tips every single day on my Instagram feed, but there is so much more to business growth and branding than just using social media. So from time to time, I like to share other accounts that share the type of information that I don’t feel qualified to talk about. The other day someone left me a question about Twitter that I didn’t know the answer to, so I directed them to Kim Garst, the Twitter queen. Spread the love!
4. Ask a Question
If you want 3,475 comments on each post, you have to ask for it. Even with a small audience, ask a question within your post without fear of getting no response. I remember the first time I asked a question… I thought NO ONE will answer me. But someone did (yay!). It felt like I had won the lottery! In fact, in the early days, unless I asked a question, I generally got NO comments, just likes. It’s not that way for me anymore because my audience has grown substantially, but I had to “train” my audience to engage with me.
Start today… and never post without asking a question again! Best practice is to make it something people can answer in one or two words (you are more likely to get a response!).
5. Respond to All Comments
This is a biggie. It never fails to flabbergast me when people don’t respond to their comments. Recently I saw a major brand that had something a little controversial in a post. People were asking questions and desiring clarification and you know what that brand did? NOTHING. They responded to ZERO comments. Seriously, seriously bad business. Don’t look like a jerk.
When your audience is massive, you won’t be able to do this… but if you want an awesome, authentic Instagram community, you HAVE to do this. Bonus: if you can see someone’s name in their profile, use it in your response! People love to hear (in this case: read) their name.
6. Leave Meaningful Feedback
When you are out and about doing #2 (above), be genuine in your feedback. It is SO obvious when someone is trolling through, using a generic comment. There is one account that constantly comments “you are great at taking pictures” on my posts… which is hilarious and annoying at the same time because I post graphics that I create in Canva every day. No photos there! So don’t be “that guy” (or gal), be genuine, or skip the comment altogether!
7. Include a Call to Action
Or CTA as we like to abbreviate it. Similar to #4, Ask a Question… but this is more like, “tell me what to do.” Everything we do in social media should inspire someone to take action… so what is it? Is it click a link to read an article, download an item, sign up for something, pass on the message, tag a friend? The list is endless, but get in the habit of being bossy and telling people what they are supposed to do. The alternative is that they won’t know, and they won’t do anything. Not good.
So there you have it. 7 habits of highly engaging Instagram accounts! With a basic strategy in place (need one? For help, download my social media quick start guide), you’ll be able to gain tons of momentum with these engagement activities.