If someone asked me what is the most important part about Instagram marketing was, do you know what I'd say? Your engagement strategy! Planning out your content, taking pretty pictures and writing great captions are all important pieces of the puzzle, but if you want to crush your Instagram strategy, it's all about that engagement. Yet, it's a topic that isn't covered as much when it comes to Instagram marketing.
Why? Because it's not that sexy of a topic.... it can be time-consuming and there's no app or scheduling tool that does it well. Yes, I'm talking to you automated comment services. Just. don't do. it. So why is it so important? Well, social media is meant to be social! And no matter what you're marketing goals are for the platform, chances are they involve growing your community and getting others interested in the content you're creating. Do you want to increase eyeballs on your blog? Promote the services or products you sell? Elevate your influence in your industry? No matter what your goals are, they all involve connecting with others.
Creating quality content and having the perfectly curated Instagram feed is great, but if no one is seeing your content then it's not really doing you any good. I'm not saying you need 10k or 20k+ followers to make an impact either. Working in social media, I see too many people who are obsessed with vanity metrics. We've been trained to believe that to have "influence" or have people care about us we need x amount of followers, but you can throw that concept out the window. Having 10k followers is great, but if you only have 20 actively engaged followers then that's not doing you any good either... then it's just a number. It's not actually helping your business. Instead, it's time to focus on building your engaged audience. The ones who actually give a hoot about your business or blog and who look forward to seeing your posts.
This is why engagement is SO dang important. I'm talking good old-fashioned getting to know the people you follow and who follow you. Replying back to their comments... Leaving thoughtful comments or questions on their content... seeking out new people to connect with who have shared interests. When I said we're going back-to-basics I literally mean networking and building relationships 101! Is it glamorous? No, not at all, but if you want to create meaningful and authentic relationships with others on the platform then you need to get to work!
If you don't water your plants you can't expect them to grow, right?! The situation is no different with your audience on Instagram.
Ready to get started? Here are some tips:
Identify key hashtags that your audience engages with: Instagram now allows you to follow hashtags so they go right into your feed which is a nice feature. I also like to keep a list of 5-10 main hashtags I want to monitor on a regular basis and engage with.
Identify key influencers and people with klout in your industry: A great way to find people who have shared interests with you is to look at those engaging with influencers and other industry leaders that you follow. Who is commenting on their content? Who is following them? Taking a look at other accounts can be a great way to connect with others who have shared interests.
Make time for your engagement strategy: Here's the key... make time for your engagement strategy! This is the one that people get stuck on.. You're already spending your time planning content... creating content.. #allofthethings. Like I said earlier though, if your audience isn't engaged with your content or your audience isn't growing then all of that hard work is going to waste. This is a big reason why some of our clients work with us specifically just on their engagement strategy. If you're on your own though, I suggest starting small with 10 min. increments a few times a day. It's all about finding the time for your strategy and actually executing it. If you're really on a time crunch, I also suggest cutting back on your content creation for a little bit to make time for your engagement. It's that important.
Not only will this strategy help you start to build meaningful relationships with your audience, but with each comment, your account is now popping up in others' notifications. Of course, the key here is to share real interest and be genuine. If you're leaving generic comments or just following the motions without much thought, then you're not any better than automated comment bots. And ain't nobodyyyy want to engage back with accounts like that. Keep it real friends! By putting in the time to build real relationships with people, you will slowly but surely develop a dialogue between your audience and ultimately increase your influence! This isn't an overnight success strategy or shortcut, personally I don't believe in those in social media marketing, this is a long-term, put in the work and get the results you're looking for strategy.
And since we live in an age of ever-changing algorithms, those relationships are what count! We're all using rented space on social media so the key is to create relationships that go beyond that. So in the off-chance Instagram blows up tomorrow, you still have your audience. And when you take the time to develop those relationships, people will go from liking your posts, to commenting regularly, to reading your blog regularly, to signing up for your newsletter and so on! It's allllll about those relationships -- as with a lot of things in life! So get to work on building those relationships and I promise you'll see the difference when it comes to your big-picture marketing goals!