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How to Increase Engagement on Instagram

“How can I increase engagement on Instagram?” is a question we receive frequently from our clients.

There was a time (long, long ago) when all you had to do on Instagram was post a half-decent photo with a short, preferably funny caption and that was it. Nowadays, if you want to generate engagement and be classed as an “influencer,” you’ve got to sharpen your game and make sure every post provides value to someone, somehow.

Recently, David “Rev” Ciano joined the Social Pros podcast to chat about increasing engagement on Instagram with a fine-tuned social media strategy. Here’s a recap of what he shared, and the 5 things you can do this week to increase engagement on Instagram:

1. Test to Determine the Best Frequency and Time of Day

Thanks to testing and social media analytics, you can determine the best time of day and posting frequency to post on your Instagram account. For the Instagram accounts Rev manages, he was able to determine the time of day and post frequency that resulted in the highest engagement. For one account, it’s posting at 6:30am once a day. For another account, it’s posting at 6:30am, 2pm, and 11pm everday of the week.

As a marketer, you can use a tool like SproutSocial to measure and test the best time of day and posting frequency for audience engagement on Instagram. Before you start testing, think about audience: what they want to see, when they want to see it, and why they would want to interact with your content. Come up with a few hypotheses, test them, and start to figure out what works (and what doesn’t).

2. Vary Your Content Mix and Make Sure Your Content Matches the Experience

Our heatlhcare social media marketing research found that the social media accounts with the highest engagement varied their content mix (video, links, and photos), and Rev’s experience proves the same.

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Rev recommends posting content that communicates what is unique about your business through photos and/or video. Is it photos of food, parties, or your team? If you want to drive engagement, make sure your posts are unique and varied, and don’t rely on one type of update.

3. Test Carousels vs. Video vs. Photos

For the Instagram accounts Rev manages, carousel posts get the highest engagement. But a study by AgoraPulse found that carousels actually get LESS engagement than regular photo posts. And then our very own Convince & Convert study of Instagram Tourism accounts found that carousels get more engagement than regular photo posts.

The lesson here? If you want to increase engagement, you must test and see what content type (video, carousel, or photo) performs best with your audience. What works for one brand may not work for another and vice versa.

4. Re-share Customer Content (User-Generated Content)

Reposting your customers’ Instagram content is key to increasing engagement. Numerous studies have found that social media posts with user-generated content (UGC) get the highest engagement. In fact, one study mentioned by AgoraPulse found that Instgram posts with UGC get 6.9X more engagement than other posts.

Also, make sure to include attribution to the account and give them a shout out— this recognition encourages users to share photos about your business again by essentially thanking them for the original post. It’s also required by Instagram and in their own terms and conditions. Brands must have explicit permission from the original content publisher to republish into their own social media channels. Properly crediting the original content creator should be done in the photo caption with a tag to the original source.

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Instgram posts with UGC get 6.9X more engagement than posts without UGC. Click To Tweet

5. Optimize Your Photos with a Photo-Editing Tool

If you’re going to go through the effort of posting photos on Instagram, make sure the quality of the photos is in sync with your brand and looks great. While there are a plethora of photo-editing tools available, Rev really likes Snapseed for ease of use and quality. I tried it — and I’m a fan too.

Bonus Tip: Keep Your Instagram Bio Fresh and Up to Date

This seems obvious, but if your business is on Instagram, you need to make sure your bio has your contact info, address, website, and a few other useful tidbits. Rev says he sees a lot of SMBs and even a few enterprises that leave their Instagram bio blank.

Instagram bios are one of those nuances that keep Instagram unique and force accounts to be creative in how they present themselves. Bios must be 150 characters or less. Emojis can be used, and Instagram recently allowed for hashtags and @mentions to be linked from a bio as well. One thing Instagram hasn’t relaxed is space for one clickable link in the bio.

The bio space, though only 150 characters, is an opportunity to draw attention to a current campaign, important dates and events, or even partner accounts.

Instagram Bio Examples

Instagram Bio Examples from State Tourism Accounts

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