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Five Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement

February 20, 2017

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Hi I’m Morgan! I’m a photography educator and Raleigh, NC newborn photographer and family photographer.

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After the Instagram grid, I’m convinced that figuring out the engagement piece is the next biggest Instagram mystery.

You put in all of this work to make your top six to nine photos beautiful and cohesive. You write the most thoughtful captions, and you really open up and let your followers get to know you.

And then…crickets.

And you’re screaming, “WHY DOESN’T ANYONE LIKE MY POSTS?!”

I feel you. I do. Instagram followed suit with Facebook’s algorithm tricks not too long ago, and since then we’ve all been like WHAT IS HAPPENING.

I’ll tell you what’s happening. There’s no more chronological viewing, y’all. 

And if you don’t get engagement right off the bat, Instagram decides that your post is actually not all that important and therefore doesn’t show it first in your follower’s feeds.

So how do you combat this? Here are a few ways:

Five Tips for Increasing Instagram Engagement

1. Jump on the pod train. Pods will be your best engagement friend. What is a pod? A pod is a group of people on Instagram who collectively cheer one another on on their journeys through liking and commenting on their posts.

Basically, you’re all in one Instagram message together. When you post to Instagram, you notify your pod by posting an emoji or saying “New post!”. Your pod friends then go to your post, like it and leave a meaningful comment.

This communicates to Instagram, that hey! this post is important, and you should put it at the top of people’s feeds! The Rising Tide Society has an awesome post on Instagram Pods that you can find [here].

2. Comment like you mean it. Part of gaining engagement means that you have to engage first sometimes. Set aside five or ten minutes of your day to find some new friends on Instagram, and leave meaningful comments on their posts.

I emphasized meaningful for a reason. Anyone can hop around the platform saying “Beautiful photo!” or “GORGEOUS [heart eye emoji] [heart eye emoji]” or “This is great!”. Or my personal favorite: just leaving an emoji as the comment.

Tell them what you love about the photo they posted or the story they told in their caption. Show them that you’re invested in them, and they’ll be more likely to invest back in you.

3. Utilize hashtags. Another good friend in the Instagram engagement game? Hashtags. You’re allowed to use thirty of them in each post, and I say you should totally max out on that.

Choose them wisely though. Don’t post a picture of a family or a baby and use #weddingphotographer or #stylemepretty, because people searching those hashtags are looking for wedding related content; not babies and families.

In that same vein, use location based hashtags when appropriate. For instance, I’m much more likely to reach my audience by using the hashtag #evansvilleweddingphotographer than by using #weddingphotographer.

If you’re craving more hashtag goodness, I have a whole guide you can download absolutely free right [here]!

4. Ask questions or give a prompt for commenting. One of the best ways to encourage people to engage with your post is to make it easy for them. What’s easier than answering a question? Well, probably a few things, but I digress.

Think of what you’re posting as a conversation. If you were sitting face to face with someone talking about what you’re posting, what would you ask them?

Ask people what their plans are for the day, night or weekend. Ask people to comment if they’re recently engaged. Ask for people’s proposals stories. Ask for people’s opinions on something. The simple truth is that people love to talk about themselves, so give them a reason to!

5. Post at optimal times. If you’re trying to reach a bride-to-be, posting in the middle of the day during the week probably isn’t going to work all that well for you. Your bride-to-be is likely at work and not on Instagram. Try posting for her early in the morning or in the evening instead.

Unfortunately, there’s not one magic time that will work for everyone. It’s going to vary depending on your geographic location and who you’re trying to reach. So have patience, and know that this takes some trial and error.

Keep track of what you’re posting, who you’re posting for and when you’re posting it. Then look back over the course of a week or a month and determine what the optimal days and times were for you and act accordingly.

Like all things with social media, Instagram will continue to evolve, and consequently our strategies for engagement will also have to evolve. 

If your engagement suddenly spikes or drops, look back at what you posted and try to determine if it had something to do with the content within your post. Sometimes it’s that simple, and sometimes it’s not. 

And know that like all things, this takes time! So figure out what works best for you, have patience, and most importantly, enjoy the process!

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  1. Melissa McGee says:

    This was a super helpful post! As a busy photographer, I appreciate it’s "to the point"-ness! Thank you for the great tips! I’m excited to start using them! #evansvilleweddingphotographer

  2. Shelby says:

    This is fantastic!!! I needed all of these tips!!

  3. Grace says:

    I have been trying to learn more about instagram as a platform for my blog and website! Definitely saving these tips!

  4. Johnna says:

    Thanks so much for posting these instagram tips. I’ve been looking for some pointers.

  5. Such good advice! I’ll admit… I don’t understand the Instagram game yet.. but I am forcing myself to get educated! Thank you for the hashtag download!! <3

  6. Leslie Davis says:

    Thank you for sharing all of these helpful tips, Morgan! You are a wealth of knowledge! 🙂

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