How to Grow your Instagram Engagement in 2021
By Justin | Jan 12, 2021 (7 min read)
In the social media world, engagement is a form of currency. The more engagement your Instagram profile has, the more Instagram followers, the higher your online worth is.
In 2021, businesses are all vying for higher engagement because the more users that interact with content, the higher the chance of it being shown to other users. More eyes looking at your business means (you guessed it) more customers.
Understanding the landscape of digital marketing is your first step in knowing what’s out there and how people are interacting. Knowing the current social media trends and landscape will give you clues on how to grow your Instagram.
Consider some recent social media and Instagram engagement statistics:
- Over 50% of the world population in 2021 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.
- Over 1 billion active users are using the app each month.
- 8 in 10 users on Instagram follow at least one business.
What Does ‘Engagement’ Mean for your Business?
That marketing in 2021 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 Instagram 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.
With this in mind, here are 11 proven ways to get more Instagram growth with your target audience and grow your business in 2021.
If you run a business or a personal brand, you must switch to an Instagram business Account. This will give you a lot more control of your Instagram account, and a ton of Instagram analytics to use to tweak your strategy.
Some significant advantages come with having a business account.
One advantage is the ability to add a contact button for easier communication from users. Secondly, being able to run ads. Ads = more visits and more conversions. And although not guaranteed, another advantage is early beta testing for new features.
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 bio and 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)
You’ve probably heard that hashtags are important, but the chances are you likely don’t use them effectively. The Instagram algorithm is driven by data, and follower growth can be driven by using the hashtag strategy.
You might have heard that 9 or 11 hashtags are the ideal amount. Or that too many Instagram hashtags can feel spammy. The key here is to select a relevant hashtag that relates to the Instagram content you’re sharing.
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.
The rule of thumb is to keep it at 30 hashtags. Any more than that won’t show up in search.
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 Instagram 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. A branded hashtag may also work if your company has enough brand recognition in your niche.
This might seem like a lot of work, but an hour spent on a 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)
- 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
- Utilize the power of less popular, long-tail hashtags.
- Remember: if you only aim for the more popular hashtags, you can get lost in the millions of other posts quickly. You likely won’t make the Top Posts unless you’re a large brand.
Alongside increase your visibility and your reach, hashtags help you generate more likes. Instagram likes are essentially a vote, showing the content resonated with the user in some way.
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 companies will operate within a specific location, so if you want to be found by new followers in that area, it is crucial to use geotags.
Geotagging shows each Instagram user your business address, category of the business, hours of operation, website, and phone number.
Pictures of the business and videos that other users have tagged in their images are also readily available to see.
Providing the most information to users will increase the chances that they’ll want to visit you! It’s a part of any intelligent Instagram growth strategy and will expand your Instagram audience.
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 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 Instagram content, and how they engage with their audience.
Over time, you can begin to create Instagram 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.
Another strategy you can add to your arsenal is to first see which accounts your competitors are following, liking, and commenting on. Influencer marketing is all about adapting to current trends, and using tools such as Instagram Reels, Instagram Live, and IGTV. All the tools are part of a well-balanced Instagram growth strategy.
While you shouldn’t spam these accounts by any means, you can like and comment on their posts to show them you’re there.
Be polite, be courteous, and you might even gain a new customer in the process.
5) Use Sponsored Posts or Influencer Features
Many businesses will avoid paying for social media attention because they may not seem to get immediate sales or results. However, sponsored posts increase the awareness 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 Instagram 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 build 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. Users gravitate toward brands that showcase a genuine, more real side to them. They’re not just a brand that wants to make a buck; they are real people living in the world.
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) have become a massive part of the way the Instagram platform has evolved. What was originally a clone of Snapchat stories, they have taken over the marketplace.
In 2021, 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, and Instagram Story has a chance to create interest and engagement quickly. Because they are ephemeral (meaning they disappear within 24 hours), they have an urgency 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.
8) IGTV Videos
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. It’s shown that video posts receive nearly 40% more engagement than images alone.
Think of IGTV as a youtube built into Instagram. It uses 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 2021 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 2021 and beyond.
Another tip: be sure to promote your IGTV videos with Insta Stories (Instagram 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.
Being consistent with your posting is one of the more important elements to be mindful of. Multiple studies have shown that posting on Instagram once or twice a day will add to your growth. This will do more than hiring an Instagram growth service, or paying for fake followers (never a good idea).
When frequent posting occurs, the audience sees that you’re committed to providing them with great content regularly. They get used to you being in their feed, and you become the ‘go-to’ content creator for the types of entertainment, products or services you promote.
To grow your Instagram following takes time, and to create engaged followers you must be consistent and persistent in your efforts.
10) 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 2021, your Instagram profile acts as a second website for your business. In some cases, it may 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. Instagram marketing is the ultimate business tool for 2021, and the smartest businesses will take full advantage of it.