Instagram is a bit of a tricky game and there are lots of things to consider when trying to achieve ‘success’ on the platform. I’m putting success in quotations because what does that even mean?! If you’re a business, success might mean client conversions, if you’re an Influencer it might mean engagement rate or brand deals.
So as far as Instagram goes you have to consider your content, your audience, your frequency of posting, your brand, your growth, your cohesiveness, your message. There is a LOT to focus on! What I’ve been seeing lately is people spending way too much time on one very specific area - growth! Don’t get me wrong, growth is important (in every aspect of life!) and of course, we are going to concern ourselves with follower growth to some degree. However, we do not want to be putting all of our energy here. If we are only focusing on the new (and somewhat imaginary) people that we want to come to our page and hit the follow button, then we aren’t thinking about all of those people we already have hanging out alongside us.
Since the beginning of Instagram, the app itself has always been focused on sharing and community. If you read Instagram press releases or keep up with the company as a business you’ll know that these are still their core values. This means it’s important for us as creators, businesses, and users to continue to establish community with our audiences. And how do we do that? By focusing on the people that have already pressed that magical follow button and making them feel loved, heard, and seen!
Since our follower number is a bit of a vague metric aka it can be fake due to huge loop giveaways and buying bots, the number that is even more important is engagement rate. Engagement rate is the number of likes + comments / total number of followers. In the Influencer world, a 1-3% engagement rate is considered pretty dang good for anyone over 50K-100K followers. 3-6% is amazing and 10% or higher is LITERAL GOALS. In general, those with smaller follower numbers will have a higher engagement rate. That being said, it’s more important, in my books, to focus on showing up in a way that makes people want to engage with me. I find that happens best when there is a real connection.
So, how do we create that connection?
5 Ways to Jump-start Connection on Instagram
1. Send a Voice DM
These little messages can go such a long way! We’re are pretty used to connecting over text message but hearing someone’s voice just makes everything more real. Plus, then your audience knows the message is coming from YOU. I use voice DMs to:
I. Reply to messages with both people I’ve been in conversation with before and brand new ones
II. Reply to longer messages (cause maybe I just don’t wanna type that all out!! So win-win)
III. Randomly connect with people on my follower list, reach out, ask them how they are and hopefully start a little convo and make a new friend.
2. Share a Vulnerable Story
Storytelling is HUGE and is something I’ve really noticed the importance of in the last few years. It’s how we learn about each other, how we relate to each other, and how we share important messages. In general, stories that are more on the personal side will likely create connections because they are both relatable and humanizing. Things like relationships, body image, or mental health are topics we don’t always dive deep into with strangers so vulnerability is always appreciated by our audiences. Opening up can be hard, but I promise there is magic in it. It’s therapeutic for the person sharing and I like to think it’s valuable for those reading or listening. That being said, definitely create boundaries for yourself. It’s up to you what you choose to share.
3. Share Your Behind The Scenes
If you follow along on Instagram, you’ll know this has been one of my favourite things to do recently! I’ve started to post a photo, and then also share a clip of behind the scenes (aka BTS) footage to demonstrate HOW I got to the end result. I’ve always thought these were so fun to watch and the feedback from my community has been awesome as well! I think the value in sharing BTS is that it makes the content seem more real and of course doable. We see these amazing images and it seems hard to imagine how we could actually create them but when you actually see what goes into it it’s usually just a small camera (or iPhone!), a lot of takes, patience, and some good colour editing. Nothing to be intimidated by! Plus I think it takes some of the pressure out of the highlight reel so show outtakes, BTS, and funny bloopers!
4. Respond to All Comments
If you’ve ever listened to Gary Vaynerchuck, you’ll have heard him say that we can’t expect anyone to pay attention to us or buy from us if we can’t even take the time to respond to their comments. It’s true! Responding to comments is a huge part of engagement, and conversation-starting. You never know who you might impact through a simple comment. I try and answer as many comments as I can, especially when a post is first live, then follow up a few hours or the next day before I post again.
5. Remember This is SOCIAL Media
We have to be socializing y’allz! One of the best parts about it is that social media is like a huge networking event but you don’t have to be an extrovert to make connections! All you have to do is have a lot of fun and friendly conversations in the comments and DMs. Another part about being social is that it’s not a one-way street. If someone is taking 30 seconds out of their day to connect with us, we better be showing them that same kind of love back! That means engaging on your feed and also clicking into the accounts that comment on your photos and engaging in their content as well. This is how we build relationships!
Remember all these tips are about establishing community and building connections which will ultimately help with your Instagram ‘success’ and probably stimulate growth as well. At the end of the day please please please focus on the people you already have. They have already been supporting and following along and they are your biggest asset!