Instagram has changed quite a lot over the years and Instagram Engagement is becoming more and more important (& engagement secrets are becoming more and more difficult to find).
Whilst it used to be quite easy to grow an account, it’s becoming ever more difficult with more intricate algorithms and an ever-growing user base. A user base that passed a billion monthly users just last year and there are no signs of Instagram running out of steam. If anything, they seem to be gaining even more momentum!
With more users comes more high-quality content, more competition & more difficulties in reaching your ideal audience.
It’s not all bad news though, more users also mean there are more people to discover your profile, engage with your posts & visit your website.
In this article, I’m going to share with you 5 Instagram engagement secrets that you’re not going to find anywhere else. You can implement these secret techniques today and your engagement is GUARANTEED to increase.
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Be warned though, this isn’t going to be a follow-unfollow, like a million pics or set & forget a bot to grow your account. Instagram is cracking down HARD on bots & they do know if you’re using them. Your account will be punished, whether that’s through a suspension or a shadowban, why risk either?
Now, are you ready to put in the work for great growth? Let’s get started!
All of these techniques can be used on your account regardless of what content you create, but you will yield the best results if you are posting high-quality content that’s relevant to your niche.
Message new followers
When you’re starting out, messaging your new followers is something that can bring a massive boost to your account.
You see, Instagram doesn’t actually show your posts to all of your followers. Only a percentage of your followers will see the post at first (the more engaged your followers are, the higher the percentage).
If those followers then engage positively with the post then it will be pushed to more followers and may land on the explore page or rank for hashtags you’ve included.
How does engaging with new followers help in this regard? By engaging with people that have followed you, you’re showing Instagram that you have a strong relationship with that person and that they may have a higher interest in seeing your content in their feed.
You’re also building a personal connection with this user, which will naturally pique their curiosity to look at any new content you post.
Make sure your messages are unique to the person though. This won’t work if you just copy and paste hello with some autoresponder. Instagram will mark your messages as spam and your engagement will suffer.
Instead, have a look at their profile first & look for something to compliment, ask a question, or offer some help if you can see an obvious problem they may be having.
This could be something as simple as saying,
Hi David, thanks for the follow, really appreciate it! I love that pic you took from the Eiffel tower, beautiful lighting, which platform were you on?
This can spark a conversation that will let Instagram know that you value each other’s content. The goal of messaging new followers is to get them to reply to your messages and not to mark you as spam.
When you’re in the early stages of growing your account, I.e. less than 5000 followers, you should be welcoming every single new follower individually.
Obviously, as your account grows, it will be a lot harder to manage, but if you can still connect with some of your new followers, you may even make connections and friends with other people in your niche & create opportunities for collaborations, assistance, etc.
Like and comment on your follower’s posts
This is another way of reminding your followers of your account.
When you like and comment on their posts and they see your notification, as they’re already following you, they will be more inclined to return the favor.
Instagram will, of course, take note & your future content will then also be pushed higher up on their feed increasing your engagement.
The easiest way to do this is to head to your followers’ tab and then scroll through, commenting on and liking one or two of your followers’ images as you go.
Remember, only leave thoughtful comments. If you can’t think of something to say, then just move on to the next profile. By just saying nice pic or something like that, they’ll just think you’ve set up a spam bot & unfollow you.
Keep it real for real engagement.
Use Instagram Stories to build up your engagement
Instagram Stories are a great way of engaging your followers and building up some hype around your next post.
When followers watch your Instagram Stories, that relationship status I mentioned earlier comes into play once again. Instagram’s seeing that they’re watching your Stories & will take note by increasing what is perceived as your relationship with the user.
The better your relationship, the higher your posts will appear in their feed.
If they continue to engage with your posts, the relationship will grow. Once they start ignoring your posts, the relationship suffers.
If you reach out every now and then, there’s a higher chance that your followers will stay interested in your posts & keep on engaging. After all, who likes talking to a brick wall. 😉
P.s. Another way of building these relationships, or nurturing them, is to reply to all of your comments. This one is far less of a secret though. 😉
Link new posts in your Story
Hype! The hype around a new post, it doesn’t have to end even once you’ve posted it.
Instagram allows you to do quite a lot with your Stories and you can even upload posts to your Stories. It could be some awesome posts from your followers that fit well with your audience, another way of building a relationship, or by sharing your own recent post.
By sharing your recent posts, you’re covering your bases.
Someone may have accidentally skipped past your post without notice or it hasn’t shown up in their feed yet, this serves as a gentle reminder with a direct link to the post.
There’s a whole host of useful functions with Instagram’s Story feature, have a look at my Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories to get a better grasp on it & make more engaging Stories.
P.s. Don’t upload too many of your follower’s posts to your Instagram Story. The rest of your followers may not be that interested & they won’t watch through your Stories as much as they would otherwise.
This is dependent mainly on your individual account though, as you may actually benefit more by sharing posts of people using your products (if you’re a brand).
Use lower competition hashtags
Hashtags are still one of the most important aspects of getting found on Instagram.
I know, it’s 2021 and we’re still talking hashtags on Instagram. They are that important still though.
You can use up to 30 hashtags in your posts (use all 30!) and it doesn’t matter whether they’re in your caption or the first comment. I personally prefer to include them in the caption as they can take effect immediately.
If you want to include them rather in the comments for a neater appearance, go ahead. Just make sure you’ve copied the hashtags to your clipboard before you upload the post so that you can paste it into the comments immediately.
Hashtag performance is most important within the first 30 minutes of posting. If you take 5 minutes to write out the hashtags once you’ve uploaded your post, that’s 5 valuable minutes your post has lost in order to rank for the hashtags.
Those few tips though are not what I actually want to talk about when it comes to hashtags.
Ranking for popular hashtags can be very difficult if you don’t have an account with hundreds of thousands of followers. Ranking for a hashtag with over a million posts is basically impossible with a new account.
On the other end of the spectrum, using hashtags that have less than 1000 posts will give you absolutely no return.
The key is to find the ideal midpoint. Look for hashtags with low competition but enough posts that your account may still be found by relevant people. This can vary depending on your account size, but a good rule of thumb is to use a majority of hashtags between the range of 10k – 500k posts.
If you get good engagement within the first 30 minutes, your post should start ranking for some of the smaller hashtags and you could even start ranking for some of the 500k hashtags.
As your account grows you can then scale it up.
Instagram is paying far more attention to the relationships between accounts and by engaging within your own community you’ll nurture those bonds and your engagement will, as a result, also increase. This will then increase your reach and visibility across the platform.
To grow on Instagram in 2021, focus on what you already have. Build a great foundation & let your followers help you put the bricks in place of a beautiful building. Maybe a tad bit too poetic, but you get the point. 😉
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Have you started implementing these Instagram engagement secrets yet?
If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.