How To Drive Engagement On Instagram

By @TheMarkDalton

Instagram is getting serious about business. Recently they announced that they are developing business profiles where you will gain access to a ‘contact’ button , maps and directions as well as analytics. Instagram is also starting to get serious about their ad game in a bid to help drive engagement. They are increasing their focus on advertising and in particular video ads.

Instagram’s new business profiles have not launched across the board yet, they are still only being tested with a small number of users. However, they are coming so it is important to know how to leverage Instagram for business. So, should your business be on Instagram?

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Let’s start by looking at whats hot on Instagram right now. Photographers, Publishers, Fitness and Food are some of the categories that are absolutely killing it on Instagram at the moment. Then you have user attention which is something I have been talking about a lot recently.

Impressions are great and they are a nice marketing metric to look at, but personally I am much more interested in the actual content consumption. Where is the actual attention of the user right now? That is what I ask myself and then try to deploy a social strategy on that platform.

Right now, users are spending 20+ minutes per day on Instagram and when you consider that the app is photo based that is a pretty staggering amount of time to spend there. Instagram also has impressively high engagement rates with many brands having around 300% higher engagement on Instagram then they do on Twitter (providing they get it right on Instagram of course).

So, what can you do to drive engagement on Instagram for business?

Be Consistent

Post fresh new content on a regular basis. You don’t want to go wild on Instagram but I would recommend posting at least once per day, 2-3 if you can. This is something I am working on myself at the moment. I am very happy with the strategy I currently have being deployed across all of my social channels apart from one – Instagram.

However it is a platform I am constantly on every day so uploading more is definitely something I am going to be doing from now into the future. Establish consistency and stick to it.

Make Use Of Your Profile Link

The link in your Instagram profile is the only chance you have of a live link on the platform. When you post a link in the caption of a new post it is not live. So basically you can’t just click on it and be taken to where the content creator wants you to go.

However, what does work to great effect is creating a post on Instagram and at the end of your caption put, “link in profile” then simply change the profile link to what you want so that users can click on it and be redirected to your content from the app.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Long Form Content

A lot of people will tell you to keep the caption short when posting new content on Instagram. While it makes sense, it is also the wrong piece of advice to give. Through testing on Instagram I can tell you that long form content is being over indexed on Instagram. I don’t know why but it is clear that the organic reach of a photo that has around 10-15 lines of copy is being pushed higher in search.

Don’t be afraid of hashtags, this is the one place where you can actually get away with spamming hashtags and not be ridiculed for it. Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags in a post or comment so feel free to add as many relevant ones as you like. The key is to keep hashtags relevant, so if your content is a photo of the sunrise then you would want to include #sunrise but you wouldn’t want to have something like #football.

Engage With The Community

One thing that many brands fail to do on Instagram is actually engage in conversation. Instagram is no different in terms of replying to people, you respond to tweets and Facebook posts in a timely and efficient manner so why wouldn’t you do the same on Instagram?

If people have taken time to leave a thoughtful comment on your photo then why ignore them? Monitor your interactions on Instagram with the same vigilance as you would on other social platforms. Take Instagram seriously if you want to reap the rewards from it.

Using Quotes

I’m not a big fan of quotes at all to be honest, however they perform stunningly well on Instagram. They do take work though, when you make a quote with stunning typography laid over a high quality image and you nail the caption and hashtags then the chances are it will do well.

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Authenticity

Keep it authentic and real on Instagram, tell a story with a photo. If you upload content that is full of company branding then it just screams “ad” and people won’t be as interested. Less branding is more, by all means include a hint of the product and the brand in the photo or video but try not to make it the core of your content. Sometimes you will want the brand to be the core of the content on Instagram and in those cases you need to try and keep the backdrop of the scene as authentic as you can. Keep it real!

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Cross Promote Instagram Content

Instagram allows you to share to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr directly from the platform. Make sure that people know you are active on Instagram by linking up your account and cross promoting your content. Again this is a platform which is an exception to the rule, we would never tell you to cross promote between Twitter and Facebook. However, cross promoting between Instagram and other platforms is the right move.

Keep in mind that if you cross promote from Instagram to Twitter, all that shows up is a link and that is not good either. You can use a recipe from IFTTT which will allow your Instagram posts to appear natively in the Twitter app.


Businesses are really starting to find their feet on Instagram and Instagram are responding by unlocking great new tools for them. It could be the next big platform you need to add to your social media portfolio!

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