Invest in a conversation and watch your following improve.
So your hard work is starting to pay off: you now have established a brand identity, and your business is starting to gain momentum. With your Instagram account set-up, your mission is now to reach out and engage with as many people as possible. The question is, ‘how?’
The key word here is to engage. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram not only provide you with a platform to promote your business, but also to directly connect, converse and better even, exchange ideas with your customers. If you’re just relying on your posts to do the work, your current and future followers aren’t going to interact. From their point of view, your potential customers are trying to find their friends’ photos — and you’re just an ad in the way.
Reply to Every Single Comment
Let’s say you have been posting everyday consistently, and your audience is starting to pay attention to them. You’re getting more ‘likes’ on each post, with more reaction. Let’s say five people have replied to your post. Your mission now is to respond to every single one of them, and by the end, the number of comments would have doubled. You do not have to do anything other than to reply, and you would have already doubled the amount of engagements by the end. This will not only help the mighty algorithm, but it will also make your photo look like it’s getting more action, before anyone even clicks to “load more comments”.
Call To Action
Engagement is vital, as it is your key indicator for knowing if anyone is paying attention. You’ll hear the phrase “call to action” thrown around a lot. Most support blogs will tell you that you shouldn’t use a call to action in your Instagram post. I contend that you MUST used a call to action. Every single post must evoke an emotional response that can provoke action, as — don’t forget — 400 million users are watching. We’d love viewers to buy a product every single, time but that’s not realistic. Every post we make doesn’t need a call to action to literally “buy this right now.” They do, however, need to lead Instagrammers through a chain of actions that will ultimately lead to the buying phase.
Sounds simple enough, right? To make this work, all it takes is a little bit of dedication and creativity. Sometimes our call to action should simply be a question that we can converse on. With that in mind, here are examples of creative calls to action:
What’s Your 2nd Favorite Movie?
Where should I go?
Who wore it better?
What’s your favorite yoga pose to do after lunch?
What should I read?
What you also have to keep in mind is that you’re not just trying to broadcast your brand image to the audience on every post; you are trying to have conversation with them.
To put this into perspective, let’s take a look at Nike. On Twitter, 98% of Nike’s tweets are one-on-one replies to each user. By having a conversation and answering every inquiry and feedback, the level of engagement increases. This is arguably one of the factors that distinguish Nike from its competitors in digital marketing as the most innovative sports brand.
Calculate Your Engagement Percentage
Take the number of likes, the number of comments, add them together and divide them by the number of followers.
(# of Likes + # of Comments)/# of Followers = Engagement
If you have 3 % or more engagement per post, that would be a good place to start. If it’s 1% or 2%, you just need to think of different ways to connect with each and every audience.
Mentions in Other Posts
When someone comments and you respond to them it doesn’t have to be the last time you think of them. Remember what they said and use it for inspiration of a later post. A few days later when you post that, mention them as the inspiration. It drive conversations to the next level and closes a loop that you can repeat again and again.
Use stories to react to your comments. This gives people another chance to see your social proof. It will engage people and you can mention them there. Relentlessly obsess over creating conversations.
The key here is to make sure that you’re not just responding “thanks” and “great”. You can gauge your engagement levels by seeing if two or more users have started a conversation without your involvement. It helps here to brainstorm ways and experiment how to cause this to happen.
Respond to Conversations
When you hit upon a juicy topic of conversation, expand it. Don’t just respond in that post. Use that as inspiration to post later. And make sure to mention them when you do.
Here are a few brief examples of conversation starters:
- An theatre actor can ask for any great monologues to read. Respond days later with posts showing those monologues.
- A traveler can go either north or south asks which way to go. Responds days later with a post from the city they went.
- A shoe brand asks which shade of red goes better with khakis. Responds later with a week of that shade of red.
Thank you for reading!
Any and all edits, suggestions, critiques are welcome.
Final draft of this essay, along with 11 more are to be published as “No Bots About It!”. Each essay hyper focuses on a single aspect of Instagram. Learn what it takes to build and grow an audience on Instagram.
Originally meant to teach e-commerce stores how to Instagram, topics covered have been a huge help to my private clients who include: Actors, Models, Pro Athletes, TV Hosts, Moms, and more. If you have passion, Instagram has your audience.