Instagram has become a social media giant.
If your business engages in social media marketing, your teams have probably spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to improve your Instagram marketing strategy. While it’s true that a social media presence across all platforms is critical, there’s no denying that Instagram is an engagement-rich environment.
Recent studies of user behavior have shown that Instagram has an average interaction rate between two and five percent. Compare that to the 0.5 percent average interaction rate you might see on Facebook or the 0.18 percent engagement rate your campaigns might see on Twitter.
It’s easy to see why businesses are dedicating so many resources to increasing engagement on Instagram. Reorienting your marketing team to take advantage of Instagram’s high engagement rate takes a considered and thoughtful approach, but it’s an approach that yields significant rewards.
The importance of Instagram engagement
If your business is engaged in a concerted social media campaign, then it’s likely that you are already tracking detailed engagement metrics. Every like, comment, reply, or message means that someone is interacting with your brand. Sophisticated social media analytics software can even track whether this engagement shows a positive or negative disposition towards your brand.
If you collect and analyze that data on a regular basis, it’s likely that you have already noticed a higher engagement rate on Instagram than on your other social media platforms. Third-party studies have confirmed these findings: Instagram engagement really is that good.
The average engagement rate for businesses on Instagram is 4.21 percent. To put that into perspective, that’s 10 times higher than Facebook and 84 times higher than Twitter. This means that increasing engagement on Instagram is going to be much more fruitful than on other platforms.
Why is engagement higher on Instagram?
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter each have hundreds of millions of users. And most people will use multiple platforms in one day. So what makes the users on Instagram more likely to engage with posts from businesses?
There are several possible explanations behind Instagram’s higher engagement rate:
- Most Instagram accounts post only once a day. This means that each individual post will be seen by more users Therefore, more users will feel compelled to interact with that single, daily post.
- You must use images on Instagram. The old cliché is that a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s certainly true on social media, as any post with an image is likely to generate more engagement. On Instagram, every post is an image.
- Instagram is growing. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are all very successful social media platforms. But Instagram is the only one reliably growing year after year.
- The relationship between Instagram and community. Before it was purchased by Facebook, Instagram was a social media platform that fostered a sense of community. While there have certainly been challenges in maintaining that feeling, that founding sense of community could certainly contribute to an overall culture of engagement.
How can you keep Instagram engagement high?
For most brands, growth presents a frustrating paradox: the more followers you have, the less reliably those followers engage with your posts. This is true even on Instagram, despite its higher levels of interactivity.
Continued success on Instagram takes a concerted, thoughtful, and intentional strategy.
Take a look at what works and what doesn’t
If your brand or business has already been active on Instagram, it’s likely that you have already compiled some analytics data to examine. One of the first steps of your Instagram marketing campaign should be to audit that data for actionable insights.
- Pay special attention to posts that present especially high or low engagement rates.
- Search for hashtags that seemed to have an especially high reach.
- Look for similarities between posts that performed well overall.
The trick here is to collect as much data as possible. If you’re running a high-level Instagram campaign, you will also want to invest in a robust reporting and analytics solution. The more data you’re tracking, the more valuable your insights will be.
Image courtesy of Medium
Determine the optimal frequency of posts to increase engagement
When it comes to any kind of social media engagement campaign, you want to ensure that you don’t post too often — or too infrequently. When you post too often, you can dilute your engagement metrics or even alienate your loyal followers. Keeping users up to date is great; spam is annoying. Not posting enough can make followers forget your brand exists at all.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference, but there a few rules of thumb:
- Most brand accounts will typically post once a day. The goal is to post often enough to keep your users engaged and your brand top-of-mind.
- In some cases, two posts on a single day are acceptable. But those posts should be sufficiently spaced out unless there’s a good reason not to.
- Take note of what other businesses within the same vertical are doing and assess whether or not what they’re doing is working (broadly).
- Pay special attention to the time of day you post. There is such a thing as the best time to post on Instagram; there are points in the day in which users tend to be more active — and more likely to engage. Other times can be dead zones for activity. Choose the time of day that you post with care, and use a social media management software to ensure your posts go out at that time every day.
Invest in your visuals
Instagram is an incredibly visual medium. This means that your brand or business is going to be judged, above all else, on the images you produce. That makes investing in your images a vital and worthwhile endeavor and is a good way to increase engagement. If you skimp on your images, you will likely bore or turn away your followers, and that can be difficult to recover from in the long run.
There are a few strategies your business can take to ensure your Instagram account’s visuals are top notch:
- Hire a professional photographer: Custom professional images can be expensive. But if you have the budget to hire a professional photographer, the investment is worthwhile because the quality of the images you receive will help you stand out from your competitors. This is especially true if your brand has a built-in visual appeal (for example, a restaurant would want to showcase its food in the best possible light).
- Use high-end stock photos: Taking the time to curate a stock photo library is another way you can help your brand’s Instagram feed stand out. But because social media engagement relies so heavily on authenticity, your social media marketers will want to be very careful with how they present those stock photos.
- Create custom graphics: If high-end images are hard to come by, consider passing some of your Instagram-bound visuals through your design team. Designers on staff can add inspirational quotes, branding, or other visual elements that can help add a layer of polish to images that might otherwise lack panache. If your business has the resources, this is a nice layer to add to your Instagram images anyway.
The most enduring way to stand out on Instagram is to have a feed full of outstanding, relevant, impressive imagery.
Create substantial captions
Instagram isn’t only about the visuals. You can help increase engagement by creating substantial and interesting captions for all of the images that you post. In theory, this work should be performed by your copywriting or marketing team well before the posts are published, in order to allow for a robust (and effective) review process. These captions can be prepared in advance on a social media calendar.
Captions on Instagram can be up to 2,200 words long, so your team will have a lot of maneuvering room. These longer captions should:
- Be interesting and moving. Avoid boring captions at all costs.
- Tell a story. Many of the most effective modern copywriting techniques focus on storytelling as marketing. Your Instagram feed should be no different.
- Be open ended. You want your users to engage, after all. That’s why many brands and businesses will end their posts with a thought-provoking question or with an invitation to discuss a topic.
- Be useful. Your Instagram posts are an excellent opportunity to keep your audience and users in the loop about what’s happening at your business.
Image courtesy of usinterior
Use Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are not to be ignored; they’re an incredibly powerful engagement tool. But there’s also something about them that can be difficult for a brand to grasp and leverage properly. The challenge is learning to use Instagram Stories in a way that fosters engagement and guides your followers back to your Instagram feed or to your website.
Most brands that successfully leverage Instagram Stories are able to improve overall engagement both in social media and on web-based platforms. Some relatively easy ways to do this include:
- Using new features on Instagram Stories: More and more features are rolled out for Instagram stories every month, it seems. These features are usually designed to make interaction easier through Stories channels. Examples are Stories that use interactive question stickers, polls, and vote stickers. All of these help improve engagement.
- Curate your best Stories for your Stories Highlights: Many brands and businesses neglect the Highlights element on your profile page. This is a real lost opportunity. Selecting quality stories for your Highlights can direct continued engagement and illustrate some of your brand’s stand out qualities. These highlights are a fantastic way to tell your brand’s story to anyone who visits your Instagram profile page.
Instagram WordPress plugins
It might sound as though you will need to devote monumental resources to your Instagram page in order to generate and maintain high levels of engagement. Luckily, there are some tools designed to help your marketing team control your Instagram account efficiently and easily.
If your website operates on WordPress, you can easily install WordPress plugins that integrate your Instagram account with your WordPress website, ensuring that content is easily shared between the two and that you are able to conveniently schedule your website and social media updates all in one place.
Image courtesy of WordPress
Each plugin has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you will need to find the one that works best for your brand’s needs. Once your WordPress Instagram plugin is installed, you may even be able to schedule posts and display content right from your WordPress admin panel.
However, if you wish to take a more decentralized approach, there are many Instagram scheduling apps that can help you manage your brand’s Instagram presence.
It’s not too late
With social media marketing, it can feel as though early adopters have an unfair advantage. You might feel as though it’s too late to make Instagram engagement work for your brand or business. But Instagram has shown continued longevity and engagement from users, which means that it’s not too late for your brand to make Instagram work for you.
Instagram engagement has never been stronger. If your brand enacts a concerted and thoughtful strategy, it’s not too late for your business to capitalize on strong social media engagement.
Need more proof on how effective social media is in a marketing strategy? Check out some of these social media statistics.