But to start engaging with Instagram users in the first place, you have to know who they are and what they’re like. While you might think that most of the Stories they share look like professional models, the reality is that they’re all user submitted. That means they’re not only sharing their audience’s content, but they’re also getting free, high-quality content at the same time. But does a professional photographer actually make a difference? It’s about creating a photo strategy. Solution #5: Post at the right time If you’ve been around social media for a while, you’ve likely seen study after study that seeks to find the perfect time to post. Posting for off-work hours seems to be the solution favored by brands that use Instagram, which means you may be sharing your content at the wrong time. The visual, product-driven nature of the platform makes it the perfect place to create and share content that followers want to engage with. You can find influencers with thousands of followers who would be willing to help share your brand. Utilizing Stories can help you create a brand that’s always on and sharing.
Social media platforms change with alarming frequency these days.
For years, Instagram was a haven of chronological posts that almost guaranteed engagement as long as you timed your post correctly and shared something interesting.
But that reality is no more.
Recent changes offer users more control over their feeds, which means it may be getting more difficult to engage with your audience.
Instagram’s users may be able to see fresher posts, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll ever see your content.
That means you’ll need to change your approach if you want to stay at the top of the Instagram pile.
And to do that, you have to know what actually works for other brands who have cracked the code.
This post will give you nine ways to do just that.
But first, you have to understand Instagram’s current landscape and how it affects your brand.
Breaking down the Instagram landscape
In 2016, Instagram announced their efforts to favor the moments you “care about the most” in your feed.
Since then, marketers have been looking for ways to optimize their content and stay ahead of the Instagram algorithm to keep engagement levels high.
As you’re no longer guaranteed to show up in a chronological feed, you have to find a creative way to stay in front of your online audience.
And as the press release indicates, Instagram’s current algorithm filters content based on your user’s previous behavior.
So in theory, the more your audience interacts with your brand, the more they’ll see your posts.
That isn’t exactly great news for most marketers though.
The overwhelming tendency is to treat engagement as the number one metric on Instagram, and all of these changes have caused engagement to go down.
So success on Instagram requires brands to find new ways to continue building engagement and follower count.
But to start engaging with Instagram users in the first place, you have to know who they are and what they’re like.
First and foremost, Instagram users are predominately young.
Your audience is primarily millennials for now, and they have different shopping patterns than previous generations.
And perhaps even worse, the average user misses over 70% of their feed.
That means even your best content isn’t guaranteed to be in front of your audience no matter what you do.
So if it’s so hard to get views and engagement, why focus on Instagram at all?
To understand that, you have to understand the raw marketing power of visual engagement.
According to research, visuals are a more retainable form of sharing information and news.
We retain vastly more information from things we see, which means visuals are important.
That makes Instagram, which is a primarily visual channel, an essential part of many brands’ digital presence.
Brands that create visually-appealing or artisan items often rely on Instagram to engage with their audience when blogging.
They use Instagram as an essential piece of their social media sales funnel, so success on this platform is life or death.
And studies have shown that people buy items they see on social media all the time.
More than 42% of social media users have made a purchase simply because they saw it in their feed.
So finding a way to break the algorithm in your favor and increase your engagement can help your brand push sales through Instagram.
And to do that, you have to create content that resonates with your audience and fosters interaction between your followers and your brand.
Thankfully, there are plenty of proven methods that will let you accomplish that on a regular basis.
The nine solutions in this post are data-backed and brand-approved methods for boosting engagement.
And the first one you can start using right now.
Solution #1: Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is the Snapchat-esque element of Instagram that allows users to create and share content that disappears after 24 hours.
Launched in late 2016, it’s quickly become a favorite of brands and users alike to share their days with their followers.
By October 2017, more than 300 million users were creating Stories on a daily basis.
Plus, more and more marketers are using Stories to help drive engagement with their brand.
But are Stories actually an effective way for brands to engage with their audience?
According to this case study, the answer is yes.
The designer brand Revolve has used Instagram Stories to create and share powerful campaigns on their profile.
In the case study linked above, they launched their #Revolveme campaign.
The point of this effort was to find and share user-generated content that centered around their brand.
Customers could purchase clothes and then upload their own photos with the hashtag #revolveme in hopes of being featured in the brand’s Stories.
While you might think that most of the Stories they share look like professional models, the reality is that they’re all user submitted.
That means they’re not only sharing their audience’s content, but they’re also getting free, high-quality content at the same time.
And the results speak for themselves.
According to the study, the brand started having an average of more than 66,000 impressions on each Story.
With an exit rate of only 6.27%, it’s clear that their efforts were successful.
And since the brand is still sharing the #revolveme Stories, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll drop the campaign anytime soon.
So if you’re struggling to boost your engagement, start sharing your own Stories.
Solution #2: Hire a professional
Not everyone is destined to be a photographer, and that’s okay.
But Instagram is a visual platform.
Therefore, visuals are the heart of your work.
So if you’re not the best photographer, you may actually be hurting your brand’s performance in the long run.
And to make matters worse, you may not even have a camera that shoots a good picture according to today’s standards.
Just look at the quality difference in these two images from an iPhone 6s and an iPhone 8.
This iPhone 6s image might look good at first glance.
But when you post it next to its successor from the iPhone 8, the differences really stand out.
The newer phone offers brighter colors and much better focus.
But if you’re stuck with an older model phone, chances are your audience will notice in your image quality.
So you have a few options when it comes to hiring a professional photographer.
You can certainly find someone local or even see if someone already in your organization has a talent for photography.
Or, you can turn to the online gig economy using a site like Upwork.
These freelance Instagram marketers can help guide the imagery that your brand uses to help you engage with your followers.
And since they all offer something a little different, you can probably find someone who matches both your needs and your budget.
But does a professional photographer actually make a difference?
According to Vulpine Interactive, it certainly seems so.
Vulpine Interactive was working on the digital presence of one of their clients called Sixthreezero Bicycle Company.
When they first started working with them, they noticed that the photography on their Instagram wasn’t quite on-brand.
One of the first recommendations they made was to change the photography and optimize their Instagram, which involved hiring a professional.
By combining their new Instagram approach with some other website initiatives, Sixthreezero saw a 300% growth in website traffic over seven months.
So if it helped this brand to hire a photographer, it’s worth looking into for your own business.
Solution #3: Stay true to trends
If you’re in an industry that changes a lot, you know how hard it is to stay current with just those trends.
So when you start exploring new trends in an unknown arena, it can get overwhelming very quickly.
And every year sees plenty of visual trends change and evolve as they go.
Just check out some of these images that are considered a part of…