Do you want more organic engagement on Instagram? Are you having a hard time knowing what to post? In this article, I’ll share several tips that I have used to consistently grow my organic Instagram growth.
In the end, we’ll do a little algorithm breakdown. What engagement counts and how it is actually ranked on Instagram. This is going to be in-depth, covering the feed, Instagram Stories, and analytics.
Let’s start first with your Instagram Feed.
Follow this Step and Gain more organic Instagram Growth
1. Post More Carousels.
Carousels are a singular feed post that contains two or more photos or videos up to 10 that you can swipe through.
You’ve probably seen them with the little dots under the bottom of the post. You can use them to showcase multiple photos of an event or aspects of your product or create a mini educational slide deck.
So why are carousels so powerful?
These posts double your chances of getting reach in the feed. If a user doesn’t engage with your posts the first time they see it, Instagram will actually resurface that post in their feet again, the next time they log in displaying a different post from the sequence.
Now, this only happens twice. If you have five posts in your carousel it’s not going to resurface five times. It will only resurface the second time but it’s a great chance for that second exposure.
Carousels are also a great way to declutter your feed by consolidating your content. Instead of posting 10 separate posts on your feed and probably frustrating your audience, you can put them all in one post in one easy-to-access place.
Now, a few warnings and tips about using your carousels
Don’t use the same image twice. Instagram doesn’t like it and neither will your followers. So make sure you’re using at least two separate images.
Also, if you were posting before and after type content, put the after photo first. This will typically perform better ’cause, that’s the prettiest looking image that’s gonna get people’s attention.
The next thing you can do in the feed to improve your engagement is to write a really good first sentence for your caption.
2. Catchy Caption
You’ll notice scrolling through Instagram that captions are truncated after the second line of text with a …more.
If your followers do not click …more they’re not seeing all that copy that you carefully crafted.
So you want to start your caption with a good strong hook that encourages them to click on it and read more.
Think of this as a great blog post title like an email subject line header. Use emojis, use capital letters, make a bold statement. Do something to capture their attention and encourage that. Click on …more.
Additionally, when someone clicks on that …more, read your caption, that is a positive ranking algorithmically that Instagram recognizes.
We don’t get metrics on it, but it shows that your audience in that case is very interested in that content. Also, this becomes a micro-commitment for the user, increasing their chances of taking more action on your profile.
They don’t see your call to action if they don’t read that copy they’re not gonna navigate to your profile if they didn’t see that call to action.
3. The Hashtag for Instagram Growth
The most popular and most important tag on Instagram is the hashtag.
So this super short version of my super secret recipe that I tell everyone if you want to use a combination of popular hashtags that are popular hashtags in general, niche-specific hashtags, and your own branded hashtags.
This gives you a wider range of hashtags to reach as many people as possible, which allows your content to perform better.
Now, let me point out that it’s important to get that reach from things like hashtags because the more people you reach and view your content, the more likely they are to engage with likes and comments.
The other two tagging features aren’t often talked about as much on Instagram, but they can certainly help with your reach and engagement.
Be sure to tag your location and be as specific as possible when you can tag a finite location be it a business, a street rather than a broad location like a city or a larger space, like a community.
Why this matters is because if you were to tag something like San Diego as your location, there are probably millions of posts associated with that. A ton of content and yours will be hard to surface in those searches.
But if you tag a very narrow area or a specific business, there’s less competition for posts, which means if someone’s looking in that general area or for that business, they are more likely to see your content getting you more reach and therefore more engagement.
It’s actually tagging someone in your photo or video. The process is basically the same. You’re about to upload yours as you normally would write your caption.
Just below the caption option, you have the tag people option, tap on it. On a photo, you’ll have the option to tap anywhere on the image to start tagging.
On a video, you just start tagging. You can tag up to 20 people on an Instagram post. Now I don’t recommend you to tag a maximum of 20 people.
You want to limit it to the people or brands that are really into that content. You shouldn’t tag people who weren’t engaged with the content or who aren’t in the post itself.
Tagging users actually has some additional benefits. If you tag a user in your content, they will be notified that they have been tagged and that post will also appear in their tagged photo on their profile.
Now they can technically remove that tag if they don’t want your content to have a tag, and here’s a little pro tip for you.
If you’re tagging people in the photo or video itself, it’s also a good practice to add a mention of them in the caption.
Sometimes people can’t see the actual tag in the photo or video, but they are reading the caption and we will see the ad mentioned there.
4. Shares Reels and IGTV
Now the last tip to increase engagement in feed, you can share your reels and IGTV videos in your feed to give them a little extra visibility and quick engagement.
Instagram Stories can be a great way to boost engagement because it has a ton of tools built in that encourage audience interaction.
There are actually two types of engagement on Instagram Stories, passive and active engagement.
Think of passive engagement as taking action without actually doing anything physically. He just watched your entire series. That would be passive association.
Active engagement means that your followers are taking some sort of action in the post, such as tapping on a sticker or sharing the post, or navigating to your profile.
Both types of connections are great. But Instagram certainly favors that active engagement.
So how can we encourage active engagement in our stories?
Instagram makes it easy for us with all the different story stickers. You should absolutely consider using things like question stickers, polls, quizzes, even sliders, and countdown stickers.
These invite your followers to participate in the conversation. Plus, you can use this useful information in your audience.
They’re a great way to find out what your audience values, what they’re interested in, what matters most to them, and that sort of thing.
You should use hashtags for location stickers just like we talked about in-feed posts, and use the mentioned stickers for the same reasons we’ve already mentioned.
Also, make sure to use the featured stickers on Instagram stories.
These are seasonal stickers that can highlight a holiday trend or movement. These often appear more prominently in the story bar, and when used appropriately can give you a little boost in that reach and engagement.
I recommend being selective about your postings. Think about the experiences of your followers. They may feel overwhelmed and put off by your stories. Did they see a hundred little dashes at the top of your stories?
So for the most part, I recommend that you make no more than seven posts in a 24-hour period. Hosts have the best results in a series of about three to five photos and videos.
Plus, mix photos and videos. This keeps their attention a bit more engaged and will ensure that they are more likely to have an active engagement.
The length of an individual story doesn’t matter for Instagram stories, although they are limited to 15 seconds for videos. Photos last about six seconds.
Beyond stickers or any other actions that users can perform. If you have a professional account with more than 10,000 followers, you can use the swipe-up feature that lets you add a link to any story.
If you don’t have 10,000 followers yet, no problem. You can still use Swipe Up to send people to your IGTV video or you can put a link there.
Regardless of whether you want people to comment, share or swipe up on your story, you often need to ask them. And that goes for feed reels and IGTV as well.
There is no penalty from Instagram for asking for that action.
Let us now talk about some general things that should be considered to increase your engagement across all Instagram platforms.
5. Be consistent with your branding.
If people recognize your stories or your posts visually quickly, they are more likely to stay and engage positively. Don’t make it difficult for them. Where your feed posts have color, have consistent branding elements.
For example, with my Instagram stories, I usually use the same font that is the neon font, and I usually use one of two filters, Paris being one of them, and if I post a text I almost always use a pink gradient background.
Now, no matter what your brand of colors is, certain colors can give you a slight edge or disadvantage, according to a study.
Take these with a grain of salt as many other factors go into an attractive post or brand. But in blue the engagement has increased to 20%.
It can be a blue sky, a blue prop, a blue shirt. It doesn’t have to be heavy, but using blue can help.
Conversely, using black and white images results in weaker performance than color images. That doesn’t mean you can’t use black and white, some photographers use it exceptionally well.
Just be aware of that potential for reduced performance. So take the time and experiment with different filters, whether you choose one with warmer tones or cooler ones.
And just because your primary brand color is a particular color, don’t be afraid to experiment with other colors to see if that increases your post engagement.
Just one more tip before getting into insight and myth-busting.
6. Ask for Engagement
You are getting value from this article, can you like this article? See, asking for engagement works on other platforms too. When you can, I recommend including a human component in your post.
Adding a human element can be as simple as involving one hand, holding a product, it can shoot someone in the shoulder and this will usually increase engagement by 10% or more.
One of the best ways to really increase your engagement is to know what your audience is already doing.
So, let’s talk about Instagram insights
To get your Instagram Insights, you are going to go to your Instagram profile, you can have an Insights button on the profile.
Great, tap on that and you’re in your insight. If you don’t see the button that says OK, tap the three-lined button in the upper right corner and then choose the Insights option from that menu.
And as a reminder, Insights is only available for professional accounts that are either creator or business accounts.
So once you get to the info page, you’ll see a quick overview of your account’s performance, and then you’ll see different sections.
One for posts, one for stories, one for IGTV, and one for promotion. Tapping on one of those categories will allow you to get more details with your insights and allow us to start looking for patterns and trends.
Within each category, whether it’s IGTV feed stories, there will be different patterns and trends for you.
There will also be a variety of content that promotes different types of engagement.
How can you figure all that out?
Let’s look at the first post. If you tap on that option from the Insights page, you’re about to get a sorting screen, which allows you to store it for different criteria.
On feed posts, you can go up to two years old in content and you can find a whole bunch of criteria.
The things you want to see are the ones that are driving the most in terms of engagement for likes and comments.
When it comes to your likes and comments there is a lot more engagement than posts with animals. Or posts with certain colors have a lot to do with it.
If your objective for a post is to get engagement, you want to know what pattern or trend will keep that post-high-performing.
Now let me also point out that my favorite metric to watch at this point, it’s actually reached.
Engagement is great and ultimately that’s what you want, but on Instagram, there are several steps a user can take that are actually engagement, but we don’t get metrics for that.
So if someone scrolls long enough to stop and sees your photo a little slower than usual, they swipe through that carousel, if they click… and to read your caption, they are all positive ranking algorithms but we don’t have any metrics about them.
If the reach is high, it’s telling you how many people actually viewed it, regardless of the level of the conversation. So reach can often be a better indicator of post-performance, regardless of your engagement.
Now, when it comes to Instagram stories, it has very similar features to discover patterns and trends in your feed posts.
You can go back to just two weeks of content here but again you can see when you used certain filters, was it when you had texted or not? Was it when your product was in the story or not?
This can help you determine what is working and what your audience is most engaged with.
Likewise, you can look at your IGTV and your promotions for all these different trends to find out which ones your specific audience is most responsive to with your specific content, allowing you to get more done.
As with all of this information we’re talking about, if you’re just switching to a professional account on Instagram, you’ll only see metrics for your new posts.
And it can take a while for these analytics to populate, so switch now so you can start taking advantage of it.
Analytics and Scheduling
A common myth we hear about Instagram all the time is that analytics and scheduling are great, but do professional accounts have less reach on Instagram? No.
Having a professional account doesn’t reduce your reach on Instagram growth.
I suggest most people, especially brands, use a business account as they provide a lot of benefits.
Now, due to this rumor, some users have switched between personal and business or creator accounts to try to get an edge. I have a warning about this.
Switching between accounts occasionally won’t hurt you. But Instagram doesn’t like the bulk activity. So I would definitely avoid anything that raises red flags where you are constantly swapping back and forth between account types.
Another question that always comes up about Instagram is photo vs video. Which should you use?
There is no algorithmic preference between the two on Instagram. Instagram doesn’t care but your audience probably cares.
If your audience likes the video, you’ll want to offer them more videos. If they like photos, you’ll want to focus on the photos.
You can even go as far as using your Instagram Insights to find out what content your audience is most responsive to and then make more of that.
Instagram penalized you for Actively asking for engagement
Now, I’m not going to recommend you double-tap on each post to like it as a call to action, but yes, you can ask. You will not be punished for this.
Encourage your fans to tag a friend in the comments below if they know someone who would benefit from the information you’re sharing.
It’s okay to ask them to click the link in the bio. Ask them to save or share the post. It’s not going to hurt you.
I have just scratched the surface of so many of these strategies. For more in-depth training about hashtags, read the next article on How to Use Instagram Hashtags for Maximum Exposure.
I hope you like this post on Organic Instagram growth if you have any questions and suggestions feel free to comment with me.