How to Increase Instagram Engagement | Helpful Tips and Tactics

instagram logo on a smartphone

Getting my audience to engage with the content that I post on social media is one of the most common problems that I run into.

On some platforms, such as Twitter, I find that engagement comes a lot easier than it does with others.

On Instagram, once you’ve built up a solid following you would expect that if you’re posting high-quality photos that you would be getting quite a bit of engagement from your followers (likes, comments, etc).

Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and sometimes it’s not just as easy as sharing a photo and hoping for the best.

Today, I want to talk to you about some different tactics that you can take advantage of if you’re wondering how to increase engagement on Instagram and hopefully get your followers to interact more with the photos that you’re putting out.

With all the different tactics that I recommend it’s a good idea to try them all out and see which ones work best for you.

Techniques and Tactics for Increasing Instagram Engagement

Use Hashtags

using instagram hashtags

One of the biggest mistakes that I see people doing on Instagram is that they don’t use hashtags.

Using relevant hashtags on the photos that you upload are going to allow users to more easily come across your photos and potentially interact with your content and follow your account.

It’s possible to use up to 30 different tags per photo and there are seemingly hundreds of different options that you can use depending on what your content is about.

There are even online tools available that will help you find the best hashtags to use for Instagram or you can just use the search feature in the app itself and see what comes up when you’re searching for keywords relevant to your photos.

Some of the different tools I use for finding Instagram hashtags include:

Using hashtags definitely helps to improve engagement and will also allow your photos to be discovered by a wider range of people.

I know that some people recommend only using 5 or 10 different hashtags but if you can I think it’s a good idea to use all 30 so that you can expose your photos to as many people as possible searching for the hashtag that you’re using.

To make it not look so obvious it’s a good idea to post your photo first and then add your hashtags as a comment right away after posting.

If you’re wondering more about how to use hashtags effectively and which ones to use you can actually head over to the accounts of any of your competitors or influencers and see what they’re doing.

You should also make an effort to track how much your photos are engaged with when you’re using hashtags compared to when you’re not using them to see if it’s effective for you.

One more thing I want to recommend is that you use a hashtag related to your brand if you’re working on building a brand although if not then this isn’t something you should worry about.

Post at the Best Times

a chart showing the best time to post a photo on instagram

Believe it or not, there really is a few times throughout the day that are better for posting to Instagram than others.

I actually wrote a post on the best times to post to Instagram so you can check that out for a more detailed look at when you should be posting your photos.

Apart from posting every day, even on weekends, there are certain times of the day that will get you more engagement than others.

Basically, here are the time frames when you’re going to want to post photos to Instagram:

  • In the morning around 8AM to 10AM (people waking up and jumping on their phones for the first time)
  • Around 12PM during the week (noon lunch-hour)
  • In the early evening around 6PM (people getting home from work, relaxing, etc)
  • At night between 11PM and 2AM (people in bed browsing their phones)

Of course it’s a good idea to track which of these times give you the most engagement but generally these are good times to post photos where you’ll be able to reach the greatest amount of people online using the app.

Some of the times might be better for posting than others so if you find that photos posted earlier or later in the day get more engagement then that’s the time that you’re going to want to focus on.

Upload High Quality Photos

high quality photos

One of the reasons why you might not be getting as much engagement on Instagram as you would want is that you might not be uploading high-quality photos.

With so many people uploading content on a regular basis you can’t get away with using poor quality or low-resolution photos as well as anything as boring or uninteresting.

Depending on the niche you’re in you could always take your own photos and use those or alternatively you could check out the many different copyright free image websites online to find photos.

This is another area of Instagram where you’re going to want to check out your competitors and any popular influencers to get a better idea of the quality of photos that you should be uploading and to see whether or not your content is on par with what’s well-liked and popular.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that anything you’re uploading is relevant to your account and that you avoid uploading something random in place of using a higher quality photo.

Use the Right Image Sizing

using the right dimensions

Along with using high-quality photos you also want to make sure that whatever you’re uploading fits into the ideal Instagram sizing requirements.

It’s not very professional to come across photos where the edges are cut off or are full of pixels because they weren’t uploaded using the right dimensions.

The best Instagram dimensions for photos to use are a square photo so anything 1080-pixels by 1080-pixels is going to come out looking pretty nice.

In this case it’s much better to use a bigger photo that’s sized down rather than stretching out a smaller photo because on the high-resolution displays that people are using today it’s really easy to spot poor quality photos.

These days there are plenty of free online tools to use for photo editing or making collages for Instagram so there’s no excuse to not be able to upload high-quality, properly sized photos to the app.

You should also make an effort to upload photos that are bright and well edited rather than dark, unedited ones.

Bright colors are going to make people happier and more likely to engage while dark colors are going to more likely get passed over and got engaged with.

Add a Link to Your Bio

link to site in the bio

If one of your main goals with Instagram is to get people to click through to your website then you’re going to want to make sure that you’re adding a link in your bio.

At the moment it’s not actually possible to add a link into the photo description or photo comments but you can have a link to your site in the bio on your main profile page.

It’s possible to change this link at any time so that you can direct people to a specific place online depending on what it is you’re promoting.

To actually get people to click through to your link you’re going to want to make sure to include a call to action in your caption so that users are aware that they can click through and learn more about wherever you’re directing them to.

Adding a link to your Instagram bio is simple:

  • Visit your profile home page and tap on “Edit Profile”
  • Tap on the “Bio” option
  • Write out a new bio description and add your link
  • Tap on “Done” and you’re good to go

Don’t forget to include the call to action in your photo caption as well as letting users know where the link is going to take them.

Use a Call-to-Action

instagram call to action

As I just mentioned you want to make sure that you’re using a call to action, especially if the goal of using Instagram for your business or website is to drive traffic to a specific place online.

Although Instagram is designed to be used to share photos you can also use it for driving targeted traffic that’s interested in whatever it is you’re promoting.

Using a call to action in the caption of your photos is going to let everyone engaging with the photo know that there’s something else online that you want them to check out and if they’re interested then it’s very likely that they’ll click through.

You can create a call to action two different ways:

  • Adding text to the caption that encourages users to click through the link in your bio description
  • Uploading photos that include a call to action in the photo content itself

You can use this call to action to drive traffic through to a link but you can also ask for more comments, likes, or user tags if you want more photo engagement and aren’t worried so much about promoting a website or product online.

Have a Contest or Giveaway

hosting a contest

Depending on the current following that you have you might be able to see a huge increase in engagement if you promote a giveaway or a contest.

For accounts that are selling products or services then it might be a good idea to consider having a giveaway or a contest as a way to not only gain more followers and increase engagement but also to increase awareness about whatever your service or product is.

Make sure to clearly outlined what it is you’re looking for in the contest or giveaway so that your followers aren’t confused in what the benefits are for them.

Some of the different things that you can do to increase engagement during the contest or giveaway include:

  • Having your followers and users like the photo to be considered as a winner
  • Upload their own photo using a unique brand related hashtag
  • Tagging friends as a qualification method

These are just some of the more popular techniques that you can use but you can really get creative and what it is you want from your followers if they’re interested in winning the contest or giveaway.

As for the prizes, if you’re promoting a product then your product should be used as a prize and the same goes if you are promoting a service.

If you’re looking to just gain followers and increase engagement then you could host a giveaway using a reasonably priced item related to your niche.

Use Instagram Stories

using instagram stories

Instagram Stories are a relatively new addition to the app and they work by allowing you to upload a short video or a photo similar to the way that Snapchat works.

The content that’s uploaded to Stories only stays visible for 24 hours.

This allows you to upload visually appealing photos and interesting videos without having to post them to your feed while still being able to take advantage of anyone viewing.

You can have an auditory call-to-action in the videos as well as add a text one if you’re uploading photos.

This helps to spread out your marketing between two different parts of the app without seeming too pushy or in your face if you’re just using the normal photos.

These Stories help to improve Instagram engagement by allowing you to share the personality of your brand or product/service with everybody watching so that they can get a better look at who you are and what you’re trying to promote.

You can also use these short videos to provide helpful content that otherwise wouldn’t to be applicable in just a permanent photo on your feed.

Depending on your service or product you can spend some time promoting whatever you’re trying to get a sale on in this part of the app without coming across as too pushy.

Finally, when your audience is able to get a better look at who you are they are more likely to encourage other people to check out your Instagram account if they’re interested in what you’re about.

Creating an Instagram Story is rather straightforward and doesn’t take that much time at all:

  • On your homepage click on the small plus sign you see at the top left of the page
  • If you want to record a video or capture a photo then tap on the small circle button that you see at the bottom to start capturing
  • To upload a photo or video that you’ve already taken just swipe up from the bottom and then make your selection
  • Once you’re ready to upload there are a few options that you can choose from such as adding text, small images, and even a drawing to the content to make it more captivating and engaging
  • When you’re finished just click on “Done” and then share the Story with your followers

Write Interesting Captions

interesting photo captions

Another thing that I see a lot of people doing is a writing the most boring and uninteresting caption that you could think of for the content that they’re uploading.

Boring captions aren’t going to help increase engagement at all and it’s a good idea to take some time to come up with an interesting, engaging, and witty caption for your photos.

You don’t need to use a call to action every single time you upload something but you do want to make sure that your captions are on point.

With the captions you can choose to be funny, insightful, questioning, or really just anything that will get your followers to think, laugh, or react in some way.

You should also consider using emojis if they’re applicable in your captions because these help to increase engagement and should result in you getting you more likes and comments.

Pick the Right Filter

With so many different Instagram filters to choose from it’s easy to just go nuts and try a different one each time that you post something.

This is a bad idea and if you’re not editing your own photos or using the included editing options then you’re going to want to use filters that enhance your images and make them more interesting without taking away from the content itself.

For brand building and recognition I recommend going with similar filters every time that you post so that when your followers see your photos they’re more likely to know that it’s coming from your account rather than just somebody random.

There’s a lot of evidence online that shows that using filters can help to increase engagement when it comes to comments as well as viewership depending on your niche.

This means that when you’re using filters properly you’ll see more comment on your photos as well as more views which will lead to more likes.

I would also recommend avoiding using any filters that turn the images black and white because of these aren’t going to stand out so much and people these days generally don’t tend to be so interested in black and white photos.

Share Your Instagram Photos on Other Social Media

different social media channels

I didn’t actually start doing this until quite recently but sharing your Instagram photos on other social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter is a great idea at gaining more followers and encouraging more engagement overall.

You should already be using more than just one social media channel and it’s very likely that each of the channels has a different amount of followers.

By sharing your photos on Facebook, Twitter, and any other apps that you’re using you’re able to reach a greater number of people as well as promote discussion regarding the content that you’re posting.

On these social media accounts you can also include some call to action to check out your Instagram account.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to be annoying with the cross promotion and you should avoid doing it every single time you post.

Take Time to Grow Your Own Account

growing your account

If all you’re doing is posting photos and hoping for the best then you’re not going to experience much engagement at all.

Uploading quality photos is just one part of the Instagram puzzle and at the same time you also want to work on growing your following as well as engaging with other accounts and people.

This can be done by following similar accounts as well as searching for the hashtags that you are using and checking out some of the accounts that you find there.

Not only is this going to help get your name out there and grow your own account but you can also use this as motivation or inspiration for your own Instagram as you see what others are doing and how well they’re doing at it.

Engage With Your Followers

replying to comments and engaging with followers

This tactic is quite obvious but I still see a lot of people not taking advantage of the engagement that they already have.

What I mean by engaging with your own followers is basically that you should respond to comments as well as comment on other photos and videos that you come across while you are browsing Instagram.

I think that it’s a good idea to respond to your comments because it shows your followers and anybody else checking out your Instagram that you’re actually a real human being and that you truly care about what people commenting have to say.

Gary Vaynerchuk talks a lot about this when it comes to reciprocating the love on social media and not only is this going to help increase engagement but it will also help you gain more legitimate followers in the long run.

Another benefit is that when people see that you’re leaving replies they’re going to be more likely to post their own comments in hopes that they’re going to hear back from you.

When you’re replying you should try to do so as soon as you notice the comment has been posted so that maybe you can continue the conversation and possibly get other people involved.

One more tip I want to share when it comes to replying to Instagram comments is that you should use the person’s first name to make them feel more welcome and to make it a more personal experience for the both of you.

Do You Find These Instagram Engagement Tactics Helpful?

After checking out all of my different tactics and techniques there should be quite a bit of things here that you can start to apply to your own account and hopefully improve engagement on your Instagram page.

Compared to other social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, Instagram actually offers the highest levels of engagement overall.

This gives you the best chance to interact with your audience and learn more about what people want from you.

There aren’t any shortcuts or hidden tricks that will allow you to find more engagement and as long as you practice the techniques that I’ve mentioned up above you’ll start to see results almost immediately.


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