Optimizing for Instagram is all about getting your current followers, and people searching for hashtags to engage with your content. For this post I’m going to focus on how to increase Instagram engagement for your current fans and followers, with the goal of sending the right signals that your images and posts are high quality.
When your followers engage with your Instagram posts in a natural way, it should help you to get more exposure to new audiences in the hashtag search feature and for the people that already follow you. On Instagram there are multiple signals that can send a positive note to the algorithm.
Five Instagram Engagement Ranking Signals Include:
To get your fans and strangers to engage, you not only have to produce images your audience wants to see, but you have to be creative. That is where I come in and I help the partners in my affiliate marketing programs with this regularly. Here are a few Instagram optimization strategies by the type of account to try and help you get more swipes, comments, and saves.
Swipes are when people swipe left and right to look at your photos when you have multiple images in the same post. If a user is scrolling through their feed and stops to look at your image, then also swipes through the series, there is a good chance the content is good. Aside from asking your followers to look through each image, here are a few ways to encourage more Instagram swipes by popular type of Instagram account.
Bonus tip: Add arrows that point right in the lower right hand corner as an additional signal if you have a series. You could also place “next” or “step two” over top of the arrow in the lower right corner of the image.
For Photography Instagram Accounts:
- Share a series of how you create your photos starting with the final version as the first image in the series. You could caption it, “how to create a photo like this”. You could also do a split picture with a before and after image that has a line dividing the image in half. Then make each image in the progression a major step in your editing process. Now your fans can follow along to see your process and replicate it. In order for them to create the same outcome, they’ll have to swipe through each image in your series.
- Teach a photography technique like “taking an XY shot in harsh light”, or “how to create XYZ effect with photo editing”. Each image in your series should be the next step to reach the end goal. If the fan or follower wants to learn the technique or skill, they’ll need to swipe through.
- Upload multiple shots with the same theme, and offer a discount on the last photo in the series that applies to each. This shows off your work and provides an incentive to look at the last image in the series.
Makeup and Beauty Instagrammers:
- If you’re sharing makeup tips, start with the completed look and then share start to finish shots for the rest of the series. This way your fans can follow along.
- Did you overcome or help someone else overcome a skin problem like acne? Start with a split before and after image, then make each image in the series a time lapse of how your skin reacted and healed with the products used at each interval.
- If you give advice or do tutorials, why not explain what the person will learn by scrolling through.
Lifestyle & Product Reviewers:
- Do an unboxing where you share the unopened box in the first image, and do the unboxing image by image for the remainder of the series. If your followers want to see what is inside, they have to follow through by swiping.
- Ask your followers which of the items are their favorite in the subscription box, and ask them to leave a comment with why they love it.
- If you have a coupon code for the product, make it the last image in the series. By including the code on the last image, you’ve given your follower a reason to swipe to the end, and your fan gets to experience everything inside which may help get them more excited to buy it for themselves.
- If the image series is a home gym, let them know to swipe through and find the equipment they need to build one similar to yours.
- When recommending a new exercise or movement, share step-by-step images so that your fans can follow along and learn how to do the movement.
- Create a workout of the day or week and have the reps and sets on each of the images. This way the person can more easily follow along because you don’t have to list everything in one image.
Comments can be great, as long as they are real and reflect the theme of your text and image. A couple ways to encourage comments on your Instagram posts could include.
For Photographer Accounts:
- Ask questions about which shots are the person’s favorite and why. You can also ask questions about which techniques the person would like to learn and share examples of each.
- Share a few options of photos that are very different stylistically, but are within the same niche like astrophotography. Next add images of the milky way, aurora borealis, and the desert, mountains, etc… Or try dog portraiture and share multiple breeds, or the same breed in different settings like in a studio, in a park, in a lake, etc…. Then ask your followers which images match their photography style and how they would shoot a similar shot.
- Is there a new technique or something you’d like to find alternative ways to do? It could be photo editing or taking a shot in specific situations. Ask your fans for a solution. This helps them engage with you and further build a bond with your account.
Makeup and Beauty Instagram Accounts:
- Ask questions about which of your images, products, or services are your fans’ favorites and why. Let them know that you’ll begin producing or sharing more content similar to them by using their feedback. You could also let them know you will try to offer more discount or sale options based on their comments.
- Share a few options for your main products or services and tie them into the person’s life. You can try asking why they would use it, how it will benefit them, or something else related to your followers’ day-to-day life.
- A third opportunity could be to share 4 or 5 different options for your products or service in the same niche, but for different people. It could even be the same product but with a different background like at a ski lodge, by the pool, at a beach, or in a park. Then ask which matches their specific style.
Product Review & Lifestyle Instagrammers:
- Ask your fans questions about which items in the images you share are their favorite and why.
- Share a few options of photos which are very different stylistically, but are in the same niche like party planning or baking. Then ask your followers which ones match their style. You could also do a party drink series and share different types of drinks like a beer, a mocktail, a martini, and a glass of wine.
- If there is something you’re not a fan of, or that you don’t know what to do with, ask your fans and followers what they would do with it if they had to upcycle it.
Fitness Instagram Accounts:
- Ask questions about which fitness gear is your fans’ favorites and why. If you choose specific products like kettlebells vs. dumbbells, or which crunch alternative they like more, you’re engaging them on their interests, not your own.
- Share a few options for recovery like foam rollers or lacrosse massage balls, or building mass or toning problem areas. Then ask your fans which option is their favorite.
- If there is something you’re not a fan of, or that you don’t know what to do with, ask your fans and followers for their favorite alternatives. This lets them participate in the conversation as well as engage directly with you.
Getting someone to save your Instagram post can be tricky. One way to encourage more saves is by adding an incentive to save the post so that your fans can find the same post later. Here are a few ways to try and incentivize your audience to click save.
For Photographers on Instagram:
- One thing you can try is offering a deal or discount on the most loved item of the month or week. Each day for the first week, share a new piece of your work. Place a label like A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 on the images and ask your followers to save their favorites. Then whatever post has the most saves at the end of the month goes on sale for XY% off. To increase this incentive, try giving a print away to one lucky person who saved the post. Just make sure it is legal to do this where you are based.
- If you create guides or presets, you can share your favorite shot using your instructions or preset. Then whichever Instagram post has the most saves at the end of the month, that guide or preset will go on sale for XY% off.
- Do you lead retreats and workshops? Share a series of photos from different retreats that you would like to do again. Then ask your fans to save the one they would want to attend most. You can also encourage them to leave a comment why. This will encourage swipes, comments and shares. You don’t have to guarantee you’ll do the workshop again, but it could let you gauge interest in having a repeat one.
Makeup and Beauty Influencers:
- Provide a specific set of instructions or something the person will want to come back to try again, like an instruction guide or tutorial. Then in the text portion, recommend your fan clicks the save flag so they do not have to scroll through your account to find the post again.
- Offer a discount for the most popular product for the month. It can be called Instagram fans’ favorite choice. Let people know you’ll be posting one product on specific days throughout the month. At the end of the time frame, the one that has the most saves will go on sale via Instagram only.
- Post a series of 5 possible solutions that your service provides. Then tell your fans and followers to save the two out of the five they would like to learn more about. As a bonus, you now have a new topic, or series of topics for blog posts and YouTube videos that can attract new business.
Lifestyle & Product Review Influencers:
(this is somewhat of a repeat of the other sections here)
- Fitness – provide workout routines of the day or week and recommend saving the post if your fan wants to perform the routine again. This way it won’t get lost and they won’t need to scroll through your feed.
- Photography and art – Offer a deal or discount on the most loved item of the month or week. Each day for the first week share a new piece of your work. Place a label like A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 on the images and ask your followers to save their favorites. Then whichever Instagram post has the most saves at the end of the month goes on sale for XY% off. You could also try giving one lucky fan that saves the post a print in a random drawing, just check with a licensed attorney to make sure this is legal where you live.
- Skin care and beauty – Share some images of skin tones with matching color palettes, common issues or other relatable problems. Then ask your fans to save which ones they’d like to learn more about.Once you have given enough time for your followers to respond, let them know you’ll be focusing your next updates specific to these issues and how to overcome them. You can also create a unique hashtag for them to follow so that as you share the tips on addressing their topics of choice, they can find your solutions more easily.
- Provide workout routines of the day or week and recommend saving if the person wants to perform the routine again. This way it won’t get lost and they won’t need to scroll through your feed.
- Ask your audience which type of workout routine, or what fitness goals they’d like to see in the next upcoming series of posts. By saving their favorites you’ll be able to see which are the most in demand and create a series based on your fans’ fitness goals.
- Build a relationship with brands you love and then share a new product on a specific day, or on specific days during the month. Next, have the brands provide you with a unique discount code for those specific products. At the end of the month, whichever product or products have the most saves, you’ll share the discount codes for them.
By thinking about what causes people to engage with your Instagram account, you can help encourage your followers to continue sending signals to the algorithm and hopefully boost your engagement and exposure. If you have any unique Instagram optimization tips, feel free to share them in the comments below.