How to Grow your Instagram Engagement in 2019

If you are looking to grow your business through digital marketing this year, it’s important to consider a few statistics:

  • Over 50% of the world population in 2019 is under 30 years of age.
  • Over 99% of adults aged 18-49 have a cell phone that is connected to the internet.
  • Instagram had the highest use and engagement for 2018 at 35% of the population using it.

What does this mean for your business?

That marketing in 2019 should be very focused on the platforms that have the most attention and engagement. Instagram is by far the most influential player in the market today, and if you aren’t using it to your advantage, then you are falling behind.

Of course, growing engagement is a broad term and not easy to do with one strategy. It requires using all the tools available and making the most of the platform as it evolves.

Here are nine ways to grow your Instagram engagement in 2019:

1) Optimize

If you run a business or a personal brand, it is crucial that you switch to an Instagram business Account. This will give you way more control and a ton of insights to use to tweak your strategy.

As a part of switching over to a business account, make sure that you are findable and all your details are accurate. Here are some of the key aspects to have on your Instagram profile.

  • Address and contact info (this is important for Geotagging)
  • Details of what you do (your value proposition)
  • An offer or a compelling reason to stay in touch
  • A way to reach you outside of Instagram (usually your website)

2) Hashtags

You’ve probably heard that hashtags are important, but the chances are you likely don’t use them effectively.

You might have heard that 9 or 11 hashtags are the ideal amount. Or that too many Instagram hashtags can feel spammy. The truth is that if you aren’t using the maximum amount of hashtags that link to your ideal audience, you are missing a chance to grow engagement.

A hashtag on Instagram is an identifier for the algorithm. It gives context to your posts and helps the algorithm understand who to show your posts to. Take some time to think through the type of post you are sharing and who the ideal audience is. Also, consider what hashtags link to your audience’s interests and try to shape your content to match. This might seem like a lot of work, but an hour spent on hashtag strategy can help target your audience much more directly.

When it comes to hashtags on Instagram, remember:

  • Use all 30 hashtags – engagement grows the more you use
  • If you don’t want them displayed, you can hide them with five dots at the bottom
  • Add them to the post (not the first comment) as this increases the chances of immediate engagement
  • Use industry and follower relevant hashtags, take time to research them first
  • Follow hashtags to see what is most relevant and valuable for that audience

3) Geotagging

If you run a business that operates in a specific area, then make sure you are taking advantage of the Geotagging abilities of Instagram. Most businesses will operate within a specific location, so if you want to be findable in that area, it is crucial to use geotags.

To do this, simply click Add Location when creating a post. Your post then becomes searchable for that location. This is true for both Instagram Stories and posts, so geotagging both can be very valuable.

4) Learn from your Competition

Do you have a rival company that seems to be dominating in engagement on Instagram? This is a good thing! Rather than being jealous, you can use this to your advantage.

Begin by looking at what they are doing well and how you can adopt similar strategies. You don’t want to copy them directly, but you can align with their approach to content, and how they engage with their audience.

Over time, you can begin to create your own engagement strategies that will make you unique to your audience. However, in the beginning, it can pay to learn as much as you can from the best practices of your competitors.

5) Pay for Sponsored Posts or Influencer Features

Many businesses will avoid paying for social media attention because it may not seem to get immediate sales or results. However, sponsored posts can increase the attention and engagement you get from an ideal audience. Often people won’t visit a link the first time they see an Instagram Ad, but they will visit the profile. They will check if you are a legitimate business.

Once they have visited your profile, they are more likely to see more of your ads the next time you run a campaign. Over time, this grows brand recognition and leads to sales.

Promoted posts are becoming the norm on Instagram, and are receiving a lot of engagement. People will like an Instagram sponsored post the same as they will like a post in their feed. This means the opportunity for exposure is enormous in the current climate.

The same is true for paying for features with an Instagram influencer. By tapping into the audience of somebody else on Instagram, you can align with their branding and grow your trust. Instagram Influencers are an often overlooked way to grow an audience, and will often give you the exposure that is otherwise hard to get.

6) Like, Comment and Respond

If you want more brand engagement, then the simplest way is to engage! This might seem overly obvious, but it’s amazing how little most businesses will do it.

A brand is a group personality; it is the amalgamation of the personalities in your company. Don’t be afraid to act like a human when you respond with your brand account.

Take the time to like people’s posts, follow back your followers, and comment. If you receive a comment on your posts, be quick to respond in a human way. Add emojis and use real language. Be generous and grateful for the interactions you receive.

To grow engagement, be engaging. It’s a simple formula, but it works wonders.

7) Insta Stories

Instagram Stories (usually called Insta Stories by users) is by far the biggest success of the Instagram platform over the past year a half. What was originally a clone of Snapchat stories, they have taken over the marketplace.

In 2019, there are over 400 Million Instagram stories posted per day, with over 2 million brands using Instagram Stories. The benefit of Insta Stories is immediately clear: they sit at the top of the main screen of the app and also are displayed with a colored ring that surrounds the Instagram profile photo. They pique immediate interest for most users and only take a few seconds to watch.

More than posts, Instagram Stories have a chance to create interest and engagement quickly. Because they are ephemeral in nature (meaning they disappear within 24 hours), they have an immediacy about them that drives engagement. People can’t help but take a look.

They are also an excellent way to show how your brand works behind the scenes. You can share funny, genuine moments from your company during the day that helps to build personality. Investing in a few simple Instagram stories per day can have a massive impact on the engagement you see from your audience.


Instagram TV (shortened to IGTV) is the less popular step-child of Instagram Stories and has had mixed success so far on the platform. However, it is worth considering as a way to grow your video content.

Think of IGTV as a youtube built into Instagram. It uses vertical video to compliment the functionality of the phone and is given extra press whenever an IGTV episode is published.

If you are creating video content, then consider cutting or repurposing content for the IGTV platform as it will become more relevant in 2019 and beyond. Instagram has invested heavily in the platform (IGTV even has its own individual app), so we are likely to see growing engagement in 2019 and beyond.

Another tip: be sure to promote your own IGTV videos with Insta Stories (Instagram actually allows you a link to do this). This is a great way to grow interest in the videos by showing small snippets of them through your stories.

9) The power of DM’s

This final tip might still be the best-kept secret of Instagram. The ability to DM (direct message) any user on the Instagram platform is how true engagement happens. People read their DMs. Even if they don’t respond, they still see them and remember the interaction.

As a brand or business, Direct Messages on Instagram can be incredibly useful to interact with your customers in a personalized way. The conversations that happen in private on Instagram are much more likely to lead to sales and brand trust.

Use direct messaging to answer questions, and to reward strong engagement. A simple hello message that is polite and professional to a fan can be a great way to make a strong impression.

One caveat: don’t spam your followers via DM. Use it mostly as a way to reply and interact with Insta Stories, and you will avoid being invasive or spammy.

Any brand that takes the time to reply and follow up via DM is a brand that understands engagement.

In 2019, your Instagram profile acts a second website for your business. In some cases, it may actually do more than a static site can do. It is the creator of brand trust, social proof and real engagement with your prospects and customers. It is the ultimate business tool for 2019, and the smartest businesses will take full advantage of it.


Brandastic is a social media marketing agency in Orange County. We work with businesses based in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach to supercharge their branding and grow their customer reach. Reach out to us today, and we’ll help you boost your online marketing attention and engagement.

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