Have you ever wondered why it feels increasingly difficult to keep your engagement ratio high while growing your brand on Instagram? While some blame ever-evolving algorithms, others attribute the decline to shadow bans, penalisation of business accounts and changes in consumer behaviour.
With social media platforms continually developing to suit the growing demands and trends of the digital landscape, it can be difficult to keep your finger on the pulse. Never-the-less, when we look at Instagram as a platform and the features it has to offer, we can learn through analytics, research and data analysis to develop an adaptable strategy to grow with the platform.
What is Instagram engagement and why is it important?
Instagram engagement is, quite simply, interactions undertaken by users on published content. On Instagram this is done by liking or commenting on a post. We can determine how well a piece of content is performing by seeing how much engagement (likes and comments) it gets and how high the ratio of engagement to profile followers is.
Engagement is one of the metrics that Instagram uses to determine the reach of your posts. When you publish a piece of content to the platform, Instagram shows your content to a section of your audience. When this content is engaged with, Instagram rewards you (the creator) by showing your content to more users, making it more likely for your content to be seen and interacted with by other users. This is why engagement and engagement rates are important metrics to track and grow.
Below is the post engagement rate for the Instagram profile @ferrari. We can see that the engagement rate is relatively steady and generally increasing over time.
Here are 3 things to consider when you are seeking to grow your Instagram engagement:
- Content Is King.
It may seem obvious but increasing content engagement always starts with creating content that is easy to engage with. If you’re publishing content which isn’t of a high quality, isn’t encouraging reactions and conversation, or isn’t relevant to your audience, your viewers just aren’t going to engage with your posts.
Think of the Instagram accounts that you look forward to seeing on your feed and think about what it is that makes you want to engage with their content.
This will include:
- content quality
- type of content (photo/video/carousel)
- varied/consistent content
- description use
- frequency of posting
- relevancy to the brand
There is no hard and fast rule as to what will work for every single brand because there are a number of variable factors which influence engagement, but the brands that optimise for engagement will be posting quality content, at a consistent frequency, which is highly relevant to their brand and their audience’s expectations.
Look at the content that you’re currently sharing on your feed and ask yourself:
- Is the content high quality?
- Are you being creative and consistent with your content?
- Does the type of content work for your brand?
And, quite possibly the most important question:
- Is your content relevant to your audience?
You can tick all the right boxes when it comes to creating brilliant Instagram content, but if your posts aren’t relevant to your audience, you probably won’t be getting the amount of engagement that you want. Creating relevant content for your audience all boils down to knowing your audience. What is their age, gender, location, language and activity like? You can find this information in the insights section of your Instagram business account or through an analytics tool such as Minter.io. The more information you have to hand, the more of an informed decision you can make about the content you publish.
Here are some examples of brands that post highly relevant, high quality, creative content.
2. If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen.
Once you have increased the quality of your content and made sure that it is relevant to your current audience, you should look at optimising your content. This means actively taking steps towards making it more likely for your current audience to engage with your content, whilst making your posts more visible on the platform.
Make the most of Instagram’s features.
Instagram provides a lot of great features that allow your posts and stories to show up in other corners of the platform. These features include: hashtags, location tags, mentions, and the explore page. According to a study by Get Measured and echoed by Brand Watch, posts which include another handle (mention) gain 56% more engagement, posts with at least one hashtag gain 12.6% more engagement, and posts with a location receive 79% more engagement. Instagram also allows users to follow their favourite hashtags, making it even easier for users to find fresh content from brands they don’t currently follow.
Whilst using these features puts you at an advantage to reach more users on the platform, and therefore provides more opportunity for engagement, you can further optimise by choosing your mentions, hashtags and locations wisely. You can do this by studying your competitors, keeping up with current trends and researching evergreen hashtags.
Use insights to your advantage.
Instagram offers insights about your audience if you are using a business account. If you currently have a personal account, you can easily switch from a personal account to a business account in the settings directly in-app. However, the more you research your brand’s field of choice, and the more data you have to hand on your current audience, the better the experience you can create for your audience.
When is your audience online? When does your audience engage with your content? Being able to answer these questions makes it easier for you to fit your content to your audience and its preferences. This should, in turn, improve your engagement rate.
Influencers, collaborations and thinking outside the box.
Once you have mastered the art of optimising your posts, look into other forms of distribution, such as influencer marketing and collaborations. This can set to grow your audience and create more brand awareness.
3. Change Is Inevitable, But Data Doesn’t Lie.
Whatever the field of business you are in, there is a distinct possibility that at some point you will need to adapt your strategy. As your audience grows, trends develop and social media platforms evolve, so will your approach — if you wish to remain relevant. At the end of the day, Instagram is a business that wants to keep its users happy, its community thriving and the longevity of its place in our attention. This is why Instagram adds new features and further develops its algorithm; it needs to remain engaging as a platform. Keep this in mind when you are developing a content strategy and be willing to adapt your approach as you find what works for your brand.
With this being said, if you can use change to your advantage, embracing it and learning from the information available, you should be able to stay ahead of the curve. Through learning as much as you can about new features and collating information about what works for your audience, you can create brilliant content that works for your brand, no matter where the evolution of social media takes us.