I’m sure you’ve seen the uproar caused by Instagram making a few changes to it’s algorithm. While I’m sure this isn’t news to you, the algorithm change has affected engagement rates and visibility on Instagram. Gone are the days of relying on likes and posting and running while still raking in tons of engagement. Instead of sitting around and wasting time bashing the algorithm (yes, you are wasting time!), I’m going to tell you 5 Things you should be doing with each Instagram post to maximize your engagement.
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House Keeping Items
If you’ve decided to pursue a career blogging through Instagram, or using Instagram in addition to your blog, profile setup is key. Setting up your profile correctly can directly affect your performance, as well as the type of following you attract. Take a look at a few key points below to maximize the effectiveness of your Instagram profile
1. Switch your profile to a business account: allows you access to valuable insights on your posts and audience (+ if you plan on monetizing, brands look to see if you’re on a business account)
2. When editing your profile, use the name option to put more than just your name. For example, mine is Cynspo Ottawa + lifestyle. By putting keywords in your name, you’re more likely to pop up in the search bar when someone types in those keywords.
3. If you can, niche down. While I take the exact opposite approach with my blog, niching down on Instagram can help you out a bit. Instagram is a vast social media platform with a lot going on. Niching down allows you to stand out in a smaller pool. For example, I chose Ottawa + lifestyle, meaning I focus on all things Ottawa + sharing my lifestyle.
4. Make sure your bio accurately reflects who you are. If your blog is about beauty, put relevant points in your bio. If it’s a food Instagram, put relevant points about food in there. Make sense? Your bio is only a finite number of characters. Be direct and to the point in that small space to give a description of who you are.
5. Include contact information. Can people DM to get in touch with you? Have you provided an email address? How can people get in touch for collaborations? Make this clear and provide the necessary information.
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5 Things You Should be Doing With Each Instagram Post
Once the basics of your account is set up, you’re ready to begin changing the way you post. Remember, engagement is a two way street. To receive engagement, you must be willing to give (and I promise it’s better to give way more than you receive). Alright, without further suspense, let’s get into the 5 things you should be doing with each Instagram post.
1. Checking Your Audience Insights
While this isn’t a 100% fool proof method of determining the best time to post, it can show you when a majority of your followers are active. This is important because you want to post at times your audience is on! You want people to see your post as soon as it happens!
Research suggests that engagement you receive in the first hour of posting is the most valuable from an algorithm stand point. By posting at a time your audience is active, you will increase the likelihood of your post being seen.
2. Engage Before (and After!) Each Post
Spend anywhere from 15-30 mins before each post going through and engaging with others. Like, comment and respond to people’s stories before you intend on posting. Most people are likely to reciprocate the favour back, and will comment on your post after. This is also important because the more you engage with others, the more you appear on their timelines!
Engaging with your audience prior to posting sets the foundation for your post’s success!
3. It’s all About the Details
Each time you post you should be doing these three things:
1. add a location (by tagging a location you increase your chances of being found when someone searches that location)
2. tag other accounts (tag the clothes you’re wearing, items you have, restaurants you visit, accounts that will re-gram you, and other friends! The more you tag, the greater chance people will see you!)
3. use up to 30 unique, quality hashtags. (see point 4 for how to find those)
4. Do Your Hashtag Research
To be honest, I could sit here and throw up a bunch of hashtags that you could just plug into your comment. However, that isn’t going to get you very far. Instagram prefers when you use unique hashtags each time you post (meaning if you have a note of 30 hashtags saved that you copy and paste each time, ditch it now!)
You’re better off doing hashtag research on your own because you will find your own unique hashtags related to your niche, be able to capitalize on the local aspect of your location (ex. I use a lot of Ottawa based hashtags, which won’t help you if you don’t live there) and switch it up depending on your post. I will however tell you how to conduct hashtag research! Spend some time (before you post) typing in different hashtags into the search bar and see if they meet the following criteria:
1. [Updated] choose hashtags with 20k- up to 600k uses. Anything higher and you risk your post getting lost, anything lower and you don’t have a big enough audience! Check to make sure the hashtag is in use (see when the last time people used the hashtags). This can be done through clicking on said hashtags > recent > click on the most recent post and see who last posted!)
2. They contain more than one word (Instagram prefers these over one-worded hashtags). Struggling to think of these? Do what I do. Take ‘summer’ for example and turn it into #summervibes, #summerday, #summermood etc. instantly you’ve populated better hashtags.
3. They’re relevant to your post. While a hashtag that’s popular may drive more likes to your photo just by using a hashtag, you’re not attracting the right audience (so they’ll be less inclined to follow your account). You’re better off having less likes that are of quality (meaning by accounts that truly want to follow you!). Careful as well: people can actually report your photos if they aren’t in line with the hashtag!
Remember, you have 30 hashtags you can use, so use them! Make sure you’re switching up which hashtags you use each time. Avoid using irrelevant hashtags!
5. Actually Get to Know Your Audience
This one is the hardest but most rewarding point. While it’s nice to dream of being an Instagram star, if you don’t know anything about your audience, you’ll never gain their trust. Take time to truly get to know them, talk to them and respond to them. Following people on their own journeys to success is equally rewarding to watch!
Gaining trust is super important if you eventually want to monetize your Instagram or blog. You want your followers to trust your opinions and that you’ll truly share with them your honest opinions, thoughts and reviews. Ignoring your audience is the biggest mistake you can make as an Instagrammer. To avoid this, I have a few tips:
1. Reply to comments. Even if it’s just a simple ‘thank you!’ someone took time out of their day to comment on your post, the least you can do is acknowledge this
2. Respond to your messages (within reason, I don’t respond to spam, creepy or abusive messages – they get deleted and the individual is blocked). What I mean by this is that if someone takes time to message you to appreciate your work, take the time to respond! Or answer a question! Remember there’s room for all of us under the blogging sun!
3. Share a piece of yourself with others. This can be so scary to do at first, but your audience wants to see a real person. They want a face they can connect with. They want to hear you on your stories! Be real and share things with them. The more of a personal connection they feel to you, the more they will connect and resonate with what you’re saying!
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At the end of the day, don’t let Instagram make or break you. Follow this advice to boost your engagement organically and build a trusting audience. For me, Instagram is fun and has become a way to share my story and blog with others (and for that I love it). The more fun you have with Instagram, the more enjoyable it becomes!
Want to be friends? Find me here!
Check out my Resource Page for some of my favourite Instagram Resources!