As the fastest growing social network, Instagram now has over 300 million active monthly users. Over 70 million photos per day are shared, with likes totalling a staggering 2.5 billion photos daily.
That’s not all.
Instagram is also the social platform of choice for teenagers, youths and young adults and has been touted by social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk as the most exciting social network.
As a visual storytelling platform, Instagram also works extremely well for consumer brands with a strong image-based brand identity.
The challenge is this: how can you deepen engagement on Instagram? In other words, what can you do to increase the number of likes, comments and reposts for each photo or video which you post?
Make Your Photos and Text Interesting
Often, the Instagram photos or videos with the highest levels of engagement are interesting and unique. Experiment with how you compose the pictures, and look for different angles.
You may also wish to play with different lighting effects or filters to make your pictures stand out.
Couple your photos with interesting captions and little factoids that would interest your audience.
Focus on Your Whole Brand
Where possible, use Instagram to project your entire brand. In other words, do not just show lots of product shots or endless photos of your shopfront.
Rather, try to tell a story using the photos on Instagram. This could include photos of your staff, your pantry, the CEO giving a speech, your favourite hangout, and so on. The key here is to portray the humanity and personality of your brand.
Use Appropriate Hashtags
When you choose hashtags for your posts, do not just go for the most popular ones. The problem with popular hashtags is that everybody is also using them. Thus, your posts may not have a very long “staying power” as they could be pushed downwards by an avalanche of other photos and videos.
A good strategy is to choose more general hashtags (eg #foodporn or #ootd) balanced with more specific hashtags (eg #Singaporecafes or #fashionSG) that zoom in to product category. Also, try not to inundate your posts with too many hashtags – between 5 to 10 should suffice.
Post Regularly on Instagram
To keep your followers warm, you need to have regular schedule of posting on Instagram. Typically, the lifespan of a post is about 18 hours or so, with engagement decreasing significantly thereafter.
If possible, try to post at least once or twice a day if possible. Occasionally, you may wish to increase your frequency to a maximum of three posts. However avoid spamming your followers with a deluge of posts.
Engage with other Instagrammers
Like other social media platforms, Instagram works on the principle of reciprocity. In other words, you need to spend time engaging with your followers as well as other accounts in order to attract their attention and love.
Spend some time each day liking the posts of targeted Instagram accounts and commenting on them. Try to be sincere in your engagement rather than use a generic message like “Nice pic!” or “You rock!”
Shine the Spotlight on Followers
Another great way to improve engagement on your Instagram account is to focus the attention on your followers. You can choose your most ardent and devoted followers for this purpose by highlighting their account or their posts, and include a shoutout (ie @followernick) encouraging your followers to follow them.
Build a Friendly Community
Where possible, try to encourage interaction and comments on your Instagram account by asking questions or tagging followers. Should there be comments by your followers or others, do make it a point to respond to them. Friendly interactions are a great way to build relationships and strengthen camaraderie in your community.
Organise Campaigns and Giveaways
Once in a while, you may wish to active your followers by incorporating a giveaway or a campaign. During these occasions, make use of campaign specific hashtags and encourage your followers to spread the word to their followers in turn. You may also wish to incorporate some element of engagement (eg like and comment to win) in your campaign.
However, do be mindful not to overdo on campaigns or contests. Ultimately, Instagram is a visual storytelling platform and should not be turned too commercial.