Remember a while ago I wrote a post about the Instagram promotion service? I trialled it out around this time last year and went through the process of paying for my own ‘post’ to be shared around Instagram to users that don’t follow me. I went through the results in the blog post, and although perhaps a little outdated, I still stick by the fact that paying to promote your Instagram posts isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and that there are much better ways of gaining engagement from your readers.
Somehow, the post I wrote last year has been my most ever read post. I worked out that if you add together my 2nd, 3rd and 4th most read posts of all time, it’s still had more reads. This is SO astonishing for me! But with that comes a lot of feedback, and many people have questioned that if you’re not paying to promote your posts, what on EARTH do you do to get seen, and to organically create reach.
For the last two months or so I’ve been testing and devising a full proof list of out-of-the-box and new ways to get the engagement that we all want. Notice how I’m using the word engagement, which means a combination of likes, comments, messages, the works!
P.s. Everything I’m doing is for FREE!
Utilise your 30 hashtags
Using as many hashtags as you can is obviously important, but I think some of us are afraid to do so in case it looks needy or ‘they won’t work’. They will work, but only if you use them in the right way. I posted 3 photos over 3 days and did a little test – on the first picture I used general hashtags like #style #fashion #streetstyle, on the second picture I used slightly more detailed hashtags such as #lightbluedenim or #denimdress or #topshopshoes, then on the third picture I used a mixture of the two. It seems like doing a mixture of the two is a much better way of doing it, but avoid big hashtags because it’s very unlikely that you’ll get seen on them.
Use hashtags on your Instagram stories
A new one that I’ve been doing recently is using hashtags on any Instagram stories that relate either to a brand, an item you’re wearing or anything that people often search. When you search a hashtag, say #streetstyle, you can flick through anyone with that hashtag in their story – it’s a great way for new people to find you as it’s a lot less saturated than people using the hashtag in their main feed post.
Ask questions in your captions
Leaving something for someone to actually answer in your Instagram caption is a great way for people to engage as they have something to relate and respond to. It’s ideal to put some form of question in the first 3 lines so people see it as they’re scrolling!
Use Instagram stories MORE
I notice a huge surge in my Instagram engagement when I’m active on my Instagram stories. If, like me, you’re a little shy with it, just post pictures and text. Instagram stories is great for asking questions and doing polls, and any time you have a new post you can always pop a story up to say you have something new on your feed. If you have the swipe-up feature, USE IT! This is so good for sharing items online using your affiliate links if you have them, and I often get great clicks when I do a series of ‘sale bargains’ or something on my story. The more people feel your vibe on your story, the more they will engage on your feed.
Comment, comment, comment!
You may think that liking a lot of photos on your feed is ‘engaging’ but in reality nobody is going to see your like and all you may get in return is a like back. That’s good I guess, but commenting on other posts is what gets real engagement and relationships flowing. Comment on posts, but comment REAL things. Pick out little details of the photo, and say why you like them. Make your comment stand out so that anybody else that goes to comment sees YOUR comment out of the rest, then clicks on YOUR page. You can even create conversations by replying to other comments in the comment section – if you agree with a comment, say you do!
Don’t wait for everyone to come to you
I think for a while I sat back and waited for all of the follows, likes and comments to just fall onto my Instagram. It’s not going to happen. You have to follow new accounts, and don’t do it because you HAVE to, do it because you WANT to. The whole idea of Instagram isn’t about follower count, it’s about curating your feed to see beautiful things that inspire you. Get rid of any negative energy – don’t be afraid to unfollow.
Instagram takes longer now, lets accept it
The algorithm has made things shit for all of us, especially those of us that try and use it as some form of business. However, when you put together all of the comments, likes, follows, detailed hashtags and stories, you’re in a much more searchable place. It takes a little longer for people to find you, and let’s face it, there are A LOT of accounts out there, but you’ll find you will get good engagement on your new post eventually, even if it takes 2 days and not 2 hours. Be patient with it. I think brands need to be aware of this too!
Reply to all of your comments!
Ok so it’s taking a little longer to get the engagement, but try and keep up with replying to the comments if you can. The new ability to ‘like’ a comment is a good one if you get tons and tons of comments, but in general someone will be more aware of your presence if you reply to their comment, and it shows appreciation when you do respond. Hey, you may find yourself a new buddy!
Anyone else notice a dip in engagement when they don’t post? Who knows if this is an algorithm thing, but a few months ago when I went 3 days without posting, I posted on my feed and it amounted to such a pathetic amount of views and comments. I was SO disappointed! At the moment I try to post at least once a day, and twice if I can. We all need breaks from Instagram, but if you don’t want that dip in engagement then think about scheduling a post, or just be aware and don’t get bummed down that if you do miss a few days then your engagement might drop off a little. When it comes to posting times I use the app Unum for my top 3 posting times in a week, and it’s also good for knowing what your best hashtags are!
Have a business account? Use it!
A lot of people argue whether having a business Instagram account affects your engagement, however I can’t cope without having the insights that it brings me. It’s easy to switch to a business account, you can do this via your settings, but you do need a Facebook page in order to be able to do so. For every post I check the reach, comments and likes and I can work out which types of photos are doing best. Usually iPhone photos do best on my feed engagement-wise, so recently I’ve been doing a mix of candid, quick iPhone shots mixed in with my camera blog outfit shots. It’s all about finding out what works for you.
What do you think of my tips? Let me know if you have any others and pop them in the comments below!