Standing out on Instagram just got a whole lot more difficult

Increasing Instagram engagement is a bit of a nightmare. With around 500 million users active each day, its numbers are growing. The rise of the new ‘IGTV’ app is a crucial move. We’ll talk about that next post.

How do we all get noticed?

Although all this is great for the platform, it is more difficult for businesses or brands to get noticed. The biggest issue of all is engagement with followers and other profiles. OK, so you have developed the most stunning and unique page on the whole of Instagram. Yet, if your Instagram engagement is low, then you’re not going to stand out from the crowd. Is there a successful formula for this? Not exactly. Engagement on Instagram isn’t set in stone. Your account’s key to Instagram engagement isn’t the same as any other. Each account is unique. So how can you manage it? Basically it comes down to test and experiment with a splash of patience, sorry!

Another newbie who deserves some publicity is Tim Smalley (@timsmalley.photo)

Tim Smalley publicises his photography on Instagram

Tim Smalley publicises his photography on Instagram

Tim Smalley on Instagram

Don’t expect a shed load of likes when you only have a few followers

Although Instagram engagement is affected by a number of factors, they are regularly measured by how many comments, shares and likes you receive on a post. Typically, if you have lots of likes and comments on a photo, the chances are you will also have a decent number of followers running alongside. You probably won’t see an account with a hundred followers receive thousands of likes every time they post. It’s obvious;  that’s not how engagement works.

“Likes” do make your Instagram account look good (and probably make you feel good too)

However they don’t do anything to further your Instagram engagement. They are a vanity metric, nice to have but pretty meaningless in one sense. Comments, although still a vanity metric, help when it comes to discussion. If you keep up an interesting and provocative conversation, people will be curious. What happens when your curiosity is piqued?  Others will want to check out your profile. This is what increases your engagement. Remember, comments, shares and likes do help when it comes to your posts’ visibility in other account feeds.

Increasing Instagram engagement through visibility

How does that happen? The long story short is whenever you upload a photo or a video to Instagram, the algorithm will only show your post to a minimal number of followers. It then decides if  your post is “valuable” enough to have visibility in the feeds of your followers. This is based on the engagement among your followers and past Instagram engagement on your previous posts. What you do need to know is the more likes/comments you get when you first post can determine the overall engagement. Therefore timing, quality and understanding your target audience are all key to doing well.

Don’t expect to be raking in the likes and numbers as soon as you first start an account, they should increase steadily over the course of the months.

OK, this all might sound a little tiresome and difficult but the rewards are great.

Increase Instagram Engagement 2018

Focus on how to Increase Instagram Engagement in 2018

People are now spending more time on the platform. This behaviour has increased by 80% year on year. That’s impressive and something every marketer wants a slice of, for sure. The problem is the more people, the more competition. That means everyone needs to up their game. You can’t simply upload a photo and shove a filter on it. Doing something  and unique like @davenealedop proves that engagement is there for the taking if you are capable of inspiring people. With interaction rates falling by almost 50% from 2014 to 2015 you can see the problem.

What can be done to improve Instagram engagement?

VKN Digital's Instagram pictures

Really understanding what your brand stands for is important before you do anything. Consider your style, approach, vibe, aesthetic at the outset. We are newbies to the platform and this has been uppermost in our minds. Colour has always been an important part of our look, we decided that from the start. Being perceived as slightly left-field creative types was also part of our DNA. We like working with other creatives and have done a lot of work promoting artists, writers and what we’d term “creative consultants.” Therefore our decision to look like this was informed by the work we have done and the type of projects we’d like to do in the future. This informs the way we develop our content perspective. We undertake a lot of web dev work, SEO, writing, lead generation stuff too, not sexy but essential nevertheless so our images have to demonstrate our creativity.

Thinking about our audience profile was important. We want to attract a like-minded tribe who will “get us”

We decided to concentrate on the most appropriate metric. At the beginning of this journey it has to be the interaction rate we gain per follower. After all, with just a few followers to kick off with, we can never compete with someone who has a 50K following. Likes, as we mentioned earlier, are all about vanity. Yes, they are nice to have, and it’s good to know that someone is noticing you, but what do they actually mean? They can give an indication if your tribe is attracted to your post that day and this is valuable. But do they move on your relationship? No. It’s the comments that make the difference and build relationships and conversations. However, likes, shares and comments are all counted when it comes to visibility, from Instagram’s perspective, so keep working on all three.

Instagram engagement is hard to grab

Instagram engagement is hard to grab but this is our favourite post so far

So what happens when you post on Instagram?

The process runs as follows:

  • You post
  • The Instagram algorithm notes it and then shows it to a small group of your followers.
  • It then does a few sums.  and decides whether people are engaging with it in the same way as they did before. If it’s doing well the post is pushed further up or down your followers’ feeds.

This means what happens in the first few minutes, or say, quarter of an hour will affect what happens to the post in the long term. This is where follower numbers will affect your success. Yes, we know, chicken and egg comes to mind. However, that does mean all of us have to think about how to increase engagement amongst the followers we have. If we nail this then success could follow.

What next?

  1. Keep an eye on how many shares, likes and comments each post receives.
  2. Evaluate trends, colours, subjects etc and evaluate trends.
  3. See if interactions increase in the first 15 minutes of posting.
  4. Watch your Instagram account at different times of the day and see what happens.
  5. Least of all you should be watching a steady increase week on week.

Why not join us on Instagram and watch our journey. Feel free to comment. In fact we’d love that! See you on the dark side.

Further Reading

Here are fab Instagram tips for beginners from the experts – great article!

Getting started on Instagram for small businesses

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