Ahh Instagram, the social media platform we all love to hate.
With the rise of follow/unfollow, bots, the ever-changing algorithm, and the obsession over vanity metrics, most business owners ax Instagram from their marketing plan entirely. While Instagram may not be the ideal social platform to include in every business' marketing arsenal, it can be a game-changer for those it is.
Here are 6 (organic) ways to boost your engagement on Instagram.
1. Measure and MIX your (30) #hashtags
Vanessa Lau recommends finding niche hashtags, relevant to your business goals, that have been used anywhere between 1,000 to 500,000 times. During your research, note hashtags #s.
Once your hashtag research is complete, divide the list into groups. Each group should have a range of hashtag sizes. While you can use larger hashtags (500,000+ times), Vanessa advises to bank on smaller hashtags (used between 1,000 to 10,000 times). Doing so increases the likelihood of tapping into a close-knit community of people who actively follow the hashtag.
Pro Tip: Have your hashtag groups saved in a note on your phone, so they are ready to copy and paste into the comments of your posts. However, be wary of using the same hashtag group for months on end. Doing so may lead Instagram to believe you are a spam account, and you may be shadowbanned.
2. Utilize Instagram stories
To date, Instagram has over 1 billion daily users. When the platform changed its algorithm (yet again), back in 2016, it did away with displaying posts in chronological order. Now, only Instagram stories display in chronological order.
Since Instagram stories are a more recent installment to the platform, many have foregone utilizing this feature. This leaves optimal room to leverage Instagram stories to grow 'know, like, and trust' with your audience and increase engagement. To hone the power of your stories, update it consistently, preferably with videos of yourself, so people can see the human behind the screen. Also, be sure to include your location and a well-researched #hashtag.
3. Engagement over vanity metrics
You know the phrase, "content is king"? Well on Instagram, "engagement is king." While it may be time-consuming, make a point to engage with your followers. Especially when they comment on your posts, responding shows Instagram it's a popular post and thus increases your reach potential.
4. Using the Alt Text on your Instagram posts helps boost SEO
While the Alt Text feature is for those with visual impairments, it also remains a highly untapped source for SEO, or search engine optimization, on the gram. Identify long-tail keywords that explain your post (such as 'Instagram hacks for women creative entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan'). Don't succumb to keyword stuffing, or throwing in a bunch of related terms to artificially increase vanity metrics.
Using Alt Text to explain what your photo is, in a conversational way with long-tailed keywords, is an excellent opportunity to build SEO.
5.Linktree is overrated
While it is irritating Instagram only allocates 1 link-in-bio per account, there are ways around this limitation.
That's where Linktree comes into play.
I used the third-party app for a bit, until I watched a video by Vanessa Lau, where she explains why using Linktree may not be the most ideal business move. In essence, by using Linktree you forfeit crucial data about your audience because you don't have access to the analytics of who clicks those links. Then, during a Tuesday Together meeting, the facilitator brought home the point again.
You can get around the one link limitation by creating a landing page on your website. The landing page could link to your other social platforms, as well as any other opt-ins, freebies, or credentials you want to highlight.
6. On average, pictures of yourself perform 3x better
On one of Jenna Kutcher's podcast episodes (#155), she reveals how she doubled her Instagram growth in one month: by posting pictures of herself. Per this discovery, Jenna suggests including at least 1 photo of yourself per every 9 you post on the 'gram. While Jenna confesses she felt narcissistic at first, the numbers don't lie; And neither does the vulnerability in showing who is behind the screen -- it builds trust between you and your audience.
"We don't always prefer perfection, okay? We don't feel drawn to flawless reflections of life. We are captivated by humility and creativity and rawness and vulnerability and the beauty that comes with it," Jenna Kutcher, episode #269 (Take Better Photos) of the Goal Digger Podcast.
I tried posting pictures of myself as well, and Jenna is right. On average, I received about 40% more engagement.
Social media marketing doesn't have to be complicated. Showing up as your most authentic self while searching for opportunities to connect with your audience work wonders.
Have questions about digital marketing or Instagram? Please feel free to reach out!
A few of my favorite leading ladies in the social media strategy field: