We’ve all seen those brands on Instagram that have such high engagement, they could rival the influence of Greta Thunberg’s climate change speech. They’re not even necessarily the accounts that have the most followers, or that get the most likes on their photos. But their audience seems to be holding onto their every word, commenting on their every post and buying their every product or service. 

So, what’s their secret? Are they using sneaky bots or a team of 20 to follow thousands of Instagram accounts per day? Maybe — but more likely, they’ve just figured out the key, daily tasks that yield maximum genuine engagement.

The good news is, by following these 10 simple tips, you too can maximize your Instagram engagement and build a strong sense of loyalty and community around your brand. Let’s jump in!

Tips for increasing your engagement on Instagram

1. Maximize your time online

Let’s be honest, we’ve all spent half an hour crafting the perfect caption or choosing the perfect Instagram filter. But while those things are undoubtedly important for your brand image, obsessing over them isn’t the most effective use of your time. Ultimately, engaging with your community is what is going to help your following and engagement grow. 

So, it’s a good rule of thumb to spend 80% of your time on Instagram engaging (ie. commenting, liking, following and responding) and 20% posting. By using a tool like Plann to curate, plan, and schedule ahead of your posts, you can free up your time for that important engagement goodness.

2. Start conversations by asking questions

It’s no secret that us humans love to talk about ourselves. Research shows that doing so actually releases the same feel-good chemicals as when we do things like eat delicious chocolate or work out! As your followers are only human (albeit, particularly amazing ones!), you can use this little scientific fact to your advantage to boost your engagement. How? By asking lots and lots of questions!

When you’re writing a caption for a post, make sure you always throw it back to the audience and ask how they feel about the subject. Or, you can ask if they have any similar experiences or tips to share. Then, when they reply in your comments, ask even more questions to keep the convo going and your engagement rate soaring.

You can — and should! — also ask questions in your Instagram stories. The poll, quiz and question stickers make this really easy to do. Pose a question to your audience and watch their responses flow straight into your DMs. Not only is this great for your engagement rate, but it’s an awesome way for businesses to create a feedback loop with their customers. It helps them feel more connected to and trusting of your brand, and it gives you more insight into the content and products your audience wants to see from you. Win-win!

3. Become a DM demon

Leaving your beloved followers on ‘read’ is not only poor customer service, but it’s also bad news for your engagement. It’s believed that the ‘gram gods look favorably upon users who take the time to respond to their DMs.

But on an even more fundamental level, responding thoughtfully to your followers shows them you actually care about them — which means they’re going to be far more likely to comment and respond to your content later. This means more engagement for you! 

Of course, you don’t have to reply to every creepy comment or bot that slides into your DMs. That’s what the ‘reject message request’ button is for! But monitoring your messages and replying to actual followers and customers goes a long way in boosting your engagement!

4. Don’t ‘post and ghost’

Just like you wouldn’t dine and dash at a restaurant, posting and ghosting on Instagram is a serious ‘no-no.’ This is when you post your content, then you immediately close the app and essentially vanish into thin air. 

To lift your engagement, it’s really important to be active on the app both before and after your post. About 15-20 minutes before your post or story goes live, spend some time liking, following and commenting on your audience or other accounts in your niche. 

Then, after you post, make sure you hang around to reply to comments on your post. Not only can this help increase your reach (how people see your comments), but it can also help boost your engagement. Even in the hours or days after you post, you can use Plann’s handy comments and mentions the dashboard to stay on top of new comments and reply speedily.

5. Create a content plan formula

If you want to save time and get better results from your Instagram marketing efforts, now is the perfect time to discover your Instagram content formula.

Rather than just posting content willy nilly that you’re not 100% sure will get your audience’s attention, following a clearly-defined content formula you will be able to rest easy knowing that you are sharing content that your audience will love to engage with.

If it’s your first time using the Plann app, you’ll notice that we’ve pre-filled your strategy with content ideas we think everyone should be sharing on rotation!

 Content like:

✔ Testimonials

✔ Product photos

✔ Education posts

✔ Behind the scenes snaps

6. Show up in stories

Not using the story’s feature on Instagram is like going surfing without a surfboard. That is, you’re likely making life way more difficult for yourself, and likely missing out on valuable opportunities for engagement (or, epic waves!). According to Instagram, over 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories every day. Plus, Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri, has confirmed that posts on stories get more reach than those on your feed. More reach means more eyeballs on your content, and more potential people to engage with it!

That said, just posting is only half the equation. You also need to give your audience a reason to engage. Interactive elements like polls, questions and even the new ‘chat’ feature (which starts a private, group chat with your audience) are all awesome ways to turn a post into a conversation and boost your engagement.

7. Be authentic

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a move away from perfectly filtered and curated Instagram content, and into more real and raw content. Your audience wants to see the person behind the brand — and that often means the good, the bad and the ugly of running a business. Research shows photos with faces in them get 40% more engagement than those that don’t. So, make sure you’re showing up for your brand on both your good and bad days (and yes, that means showing your face!) and giving them a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the story and purpose behind your brand.

8. Get on the video bandwagon

Another great way to show your face on Instagram and boost your engagement? Incorporate video. Yep, video isn’t the next big thing on Instagram — it’s here right now, and it’s here to stay. Research shows that video gets 38% more engagement than static photos, so it’s a must. Luckily, there’s no shortage of easy ways to use video on Instagram. You can post it on your feeds, on your stories and even start your own video series on IGTV. 

There are loads of amazing opportunities for brands to create great video content and you don’t need to have professional equipment to do it. It could be a ‘live’ video of you chatting about a particular topic in your industry, a video testimonial from a client or a reshare of some user-generated content of an influencer unboxing your product. 

To ensure this actually boosts your engagement, it’s important to always end your video on a ‘next step’ for your audience, whether it’s asking your audience a question or requesting that they suggest a topic for your next video.

9. Create shareable content

On the topic of sharing, this is another super important metric for engagement (not just how many likes or comments you get!). If you click on the ‘insights’ for your post, you’ll see two little icons — the arrow (how many people have sent your post to others) and the little bookmark (how many people have saved your post for later). These are gold because they indicate how many people found your content so valuable they just HAD to pass it on. This tells the Instagram algorithm that your content is good, and therefore they’re far more likely to show it to other people. 

So, by focusing on creating content that other people want to share, you can, in turn, boost both your reach and engagement. Another great strategy is to literally ask in your caption that they share it with someone who would like it or find it useful. Sometimes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

10. Time it right

Just like getting into the Australian property market or finding a ripe avo at the supermarket (which one is more impossible!?) timing is everything on Instagram. Posting your content at a time where your audience is actually active on the app can make or break your engagement. Now, there’s no one correct answer to “when is the best time to post on Instagram” It depends largely on your industry, audience and geographic location. Across the board, we’ve found that the best times to post on Instagram are generally:

6:00am –  7:00am

2:00pm – 3:00pm

7:00pm – 9:00 pm

But thankfully,  you don’t have to guess! On Plann, we tell you the best daily time to post, based on your last 30 days of activity. So, by trying a few different times and posting consistently for a month, you can determine the best time to post for your specific audience. 

Engagement is king on Instagram, for brands and influencers alike! It’s what tells the Instagram algorithm that your content is worth showing on people’s feeds and creates an emotional connection with your followers — which ultimately, helps entice them to buy from you. By using the tips in this article alongside valuable and strategic content, you’ll be well on your way to skyrocketing your engagement.

Ready to uplevel your Instagram presence? Check out Plann to start planning and scheduling your content today. Getting started is free and easy and you can create your first post in just minutes. 

(Psst….get 20% off with this promo code GETSEEN20 when purchasing a subscription via www.plannthat.com )

About the Author:

Christy Laurence is the multi-award-winning Founder of Plann, an app she created after watching hugely talented people around the world give up on making an income from their passion due to lack of marketing help.

After winning ‘Australasian Startup Founder of The Year’ for her achievements helping businesses grow using Instagram, she now splits her time between Silicon Valley and Sydney to grow her own software business, and help others grow their businesses too.