Instagram continued its expansion in 2018, with over 13% of all people on earth using the platform. It has continued to prove to be a huge source of advertising revenue, with Instagram ads expected to generate nearly $ 11 billion in 2019. With impressive numbers like these, it’s no wonder that many analysts are starting to see Instagram as a new engine for Facebook’s growth.

For the time being, Instagram remains the heart of the social media scene for marketers. And it’s not hard to understand why, considering that it has over 1 billion active users per month, of which 50% follow brands.

According to Forrester, the engagement – measured in terms of likes, shares, and comments from consumers – is extremely high with a rate of 4.21%.

But apart from the impressive sales figures, challenges are emerging that point to the dampening of Instagram’s marketing potential due to reduced engagement rates.

With that in mind, smart marketers are looking for ways to increase Instagram engagement despite such setbacks.

1. Know how often you have to post

Brands have to be active to gain followers and increase the engagement rate – but how active?

According to studies, the sweet spot is 1-2 posts per day.

The recommended post times can vary widely according to expert opinions. Some advocate 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. for your first post until 2 a.m. for your second. This inconsistency can create real confusion for content planners.

Instead, discover the Instagram habits of your own followers by using the Insights feature in your Instagram business account. This helps you identify when your followers are most active and allows you to plan accordingly to ensure that your posts continue to appear at the top of their feeds.

2. Don’t preach, but tell a story

Instagram is flooded with mediocre brand messages that have forgotten that the social network should be a “visual inspiration platform”. You should captivate the audience with pictures and videos and not just preach marketing statements.

To increase engagement rates, you should instead become a storyteller and spread “micro-stories” through your captions, videos, Instagram stories, and profile. Or try to share user-generated content that matches your brand (see point 15).

Innovative Instagram stories such as Airbnb, Red Bull, Lego, and Nike serve as inspiration. You can also look at these examples to encourage your creativity

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3. Prioritize your Instagram branding

Clarity, creativity, and consistency are key for companies that want to build brand awareness on Instagram. An unpredictable, random approach just doesn’t work.

Try to focus on core areas like presenting your profile, creating style patterns that make your images look fresh, and mastering the use of hashtags (see our ultimate Instagram Hashtag Guide 2019). You should also regularly interact with your followers to build engagement and loyalty.

By creating a road-map for your processes and brand strategy for Instagram, you can present your target group with a positive and consistent brand.

4. Utilize the full scope of Instagram video positions

A picture may say a thousand words, but a video is worth 1.8 million. While Shakespeare lovers are vehemently at odds with such statistics, there is no doubt about the effectiveness and popularity of online video content. Instagram recognizes this and offers a number of video options that marketers can use.

From Instagram Stories, which can combine videos and still images into a single display ( click here for our Instagram Stories Guide 2019), to stand-alone 60-second videos that are ideal for long format functions, you should consider the strengths of the individual video formats use.

5. Use video subtitles and closed captions

With video increasingly dominating online space, audio has become a by-product as the majority of users prefer not to activate sound when watching a video. For this reason, subtitles have become so important for marketers that key messages can be spread on the screen in addition to images.

Facebook research shows that the average duration of video recording by subtitling videos increases by 12%

Facebook offers automatic subtitling (but make sure that every subtitling is checked for errors) or alternatively you can create your own subtitling file. To learn more about how you can add closed captions, you can here click.

6. Take advantage of Instagram video ad formats 

Since 75% of Instagrammers stated that they take measures “like visiting websites, searching or telling a friend” after the influence of a post, it is essential to master the range of advertising formats on the platform. While photo ads are still an integral part of the platform, Instagram video formats are an increasingly valuable tool to address a selected target group.

The platform offers three major video formats for creating Instagram ads: single video ads offer the ability to create up to 60 seconds of advertising, carousels provide more advertising space by allowing followers to search for additional images or videos, and Instagram Stories offers a vertical full-screen format in which images and videos can be combined into visually appealing advertisements.

7. Give GIFs a chance

Research shows that more people watch videos to the end if they last 15 seconds or less. Learning how to create a GIF and how to publish it should be mandatory for marketing departments in 2019.

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The GIF format, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2017, is more attractive than photos – GIFs are shared more than JPEG or PNG formats – and are cheaper and time-saving than producing videos.

It is also the medium that has clearly inspired Instagram the boomerang – who records a short sequence of still images before combining them and then going back and forth to upload them to Instagram.

8. Choose the right hashtags

Choosing the best hashtags for your Instagram post can mean the difference whether you appear as a top post or sink to the bottom of the feed without a trace.

If you make your hashtags too generic – e.g. #Christmas or #Fashion – then Post will potentially face competition from millions of others. Instead, use a mix of trend-specific and industry-specific hashtags to find the best hashtag that connects to your target audience.

While Instagram allows up to 30 tags, there is a risk that a variety of tags under your caption will look both undirected and unprofessional. That’s why 91% of top brand posts use seven or fewer hashtags to get lots of likes.

9. Use Instagram to increase your website traffic

Instagram traffic can help increase your website visit by providing the platform with a single clickable link in your bio. Maximize the potential of your link with special offers and promotions to get followers to click through. 

If you have worked with an influencer (see point 12), work with him to also promote your URL in their own content.

To ensure you see relevant traffic statistics, use analytics software to understand what Instagram content is driving traffic to your website so you can continue to build your campaign.

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10. Use SEO to dominate Instagram

Instagram and SEO (find out here more generally about SEO) may not seem like the most obvious partners – but creating an SEO strategy for your Instagram account is essential in the increasingly competitive platform.

The two key areas that affect search engine optimization are your account management and your account name. The first is the name “@” with which you register, which should clearly reflect the industry in which your company operates.

Keep in mind that Instagram can identify the content of your posts. If it doesn’t fit your handle, expect your posts to not appear in Discover.

Then there is your account name, which appears under your profile picture and should reflect your brand and your industry. When people search Instagram with words or emoji’s, it is your account name that Instagram uses to check the search.

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11. Use Instagram filters and third-party applications

Because the platform is visually controlled, Instagram’s most popular feature among marketers is the filter option that gives your images and videos a distinctive look and identity when used consistently

12. Partnership with an influencer to create brand authenticity

Instagram influencer marketing has become increasingly important these days so that marketers can work with key opinion leaders in their sector and share the brand message with a wider audience.

But how to choose the right influencer can be a challenge. Marketers can fall for the glamor of working with a celebrity instead of focusing on what the influencer can actually do.

You also need to make sure that your influencer receives the right tools, resources, and guidance that he needs to effectively perform his role and work for hand in hand with you as a real partner on the campaign.

You can find more information on how to create a successful influencer campaign here.

13. Host an Instagram contest

Competitions are a powerful interaction tool on Instagram that generates 3.5 times more likes and 64 times more comments than regular posts.

However, they are regularly overlooked by brands, with only 2% of accounts holding competitions and only 0.6% of entries offering them at all. That means there is a huge, relatively untapped resource that marketers can use.

How to run an Instagram contest requires planning, partnering with another brand to increase reach and identifying contest rules and objectives – for example, “enter to win”, “like to win” or “follow to win” – up to the creation of the attention-grabbing competition entry.

Once you’re ready, strategize the promotion of the contest; along with Instagram ads, think of email marketing, website banners, social network views and more.

Monitoring the competition when it is life is also essential. Use hashtags, Google Alerts, and social media management platforms to track the activity of your competition. Once it’s over, promote the results on your social networks.

14. Promote your Instagram channel on other social platforms

Spread the message through your Instagram channel as much as possible. Promote your Instagram account on Facebook, for example, by making an announcement on FB with a clickable link to your Instagram page.

You can also use Instagram’s auto-post and cross-promotion tools. These promotional tools allow you to instantly post from Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more, and bring followers from your social networks together.

Remember not to transfer all of your Instagram posts to other social channels, otherwise, you risk having your content “cannibalized”, eliminating the need for buying Instagram followers UK to visit your Instagram channel at all.

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