I love Instagram.
No, I really mean it. I love Instagram.
I’m currently managing four Instagram accounts for four companies as well as my personal Instagram account in which I feature my beach photography.
So when I see companies/individuals doing an Instagram faux-pas, I can’t help but cringe a little. Here are some some common mistakes I see all the time, and some suggestions I have for what you can do instead to increase engagement and gain more followers.
#1 Don’t include links in your posts; instead put the link in your bio
If you want someone to click on a link to your blog article, your online store, etc. do not put the link in the post. Why? Because a follower can’t click on the link, nor can the follower copy and paste it. Literally, the follower will have to type out the entire URL and ain’t nobody got time for that!
Instead, put the link in the bio and instruct the follower to “click on the link in the bio to read more” or something along those lines. See the examples below:
If you want your followers to do something, make it as easy as possible for them to do it. Keep it simple!
#2 Don’t be too salesy; instead, be genuine & authentic
You can be salesy without being too salesy. You can share promotions, discounts, and deals without turning off your followers. In the first example below, the first post is cold and impersonal. I imagine someone shouting these things at me. And no one likes to be sold to or shouted at.
Versus the 2nd example below accomplishes a few things at once. Instead of using a stock photo image, the post features an actual father & son who are members of the club (and are identified by name!). The salesy part of the post (family discounts) is softened by the photo and the caption. The ad doesn’t SHOUT out at you like in the first example. It’s more subtle and genuine, which paid off with the higher engagement!
#3 Don’t focus just on gaining followers; instead, focus on creating an engaged audience
Would you rather have 1,000 followers but only 20 of them engage with your content? Or would you rather have 500 followers but 100 of them engage with your content? The answer should be the latter not the former! There’s no use having a large following if none of them actually care about your content or care to engage with it!
Take these two examples below of two beach photographers. At first glance, Tony’s post seems to have more engagement (76 likes + 10 comments) while Michelle’s post has less engagement (42 likes and 2 comments); however, if you calculate the engagement rates, Tony’s rate is 7% while Michelle’s is 20%! Michelle has a more engaged audience despite her number of likes and comments being less than Tony’s.
Likes & comments alone are only half the picture! What you should also look at is engagement rate.
A more engaged audience means a stronger relationship between the company/individual and the follower/consumer. It builds trust, loyalty, credibility, higher search rankings, and more. So don’t just focus on gaining a strong following; instead, focus on creating a more engaged following.
#4 Don’t ask for follows; instead, make authentic connections with new potential followers
I cannot tell you how many times I get comments that say “Check out my page!” or “Cool page. Follow mine!” What’s the first thing I do? I delete the comment. No one likes to get spammed or solicited. Doing this will be a surefire way of turning people OFF.
Instead, engage in genuine interactions with people who would benefit from following your account.
I’ll share an example of another beach photographer who got me to follow him organically. I posted a photo of my motorcycle at the beach and he made a comment about the location of the photo. We then started talking about our shared passion for riding and for beach photography.
Long story short, I followed him and I saw he had 5,000+ followers! Not only does he create great content, but he also takes the time to talk to folks who have similar interests to him. THAT my friends is how you gain new followers: find a common interest and engage in meaningful, genuine, and authentic conversations with them.
#5 Don’t ignore your current followers; instead, continuously engage with them
So once you get a new follower that’s it your job is done right? Nope! Continue to engage with your followers, especially if they comment on your posts! Social media is a two-way street. To build a more engaged following, then you need to do just that – engage with them!
If your followers took the time to look at your content and comment, you should acknowledge them. Asking questions in your posts, replying to comments, or even just liking a comment are all examples of ways to engage your followers.
So there you have it! Five do’s and don’ts for Instagram to help grow your audience and increase engagement. I hope you have found these to be helpful! Good luck!