Updated: Feb 1, 2020
I’m partly ashamed to say that I was a late adopter of using Instagram for business. It all looked like bit too much hard work having to come up with regular amazing images to post. However, after finding out that Instagram boasts the highest organic (AKA not paid for) engagement rate compared to all other social media platforms, I jumped on board.
Instantly sales increased and I was able to engage and convert more likes to sales than ever before. Though as with doing anything for the first time, I guessed my way through it. Shortly after I joined the Insta- train, Instagram updated their algorithm and engagement rates dropped. They switched from a chronological feed to an algorithm based one, meaning that feeds were populated with what Instagram thought you wanted to see (even if posts were days old), rather than real time posts from the accounts/ individuals you follow.
And so the adventure of trying different tips and tricks to regain engagement rates began, and still continues.
There’s since been another algorithm change just recently in March. Here we will breakdown current best practises to get your account and posts seen by the most of your audience as possible.
Firstly- Be a business!
Make sure you’re using a business account. Business accounts allow you to see much more detailed analytics which are super useful in your mission for increasing Instagram engagement.
Plus business profiles get access to many more features, which when utilised can not only help with engagement but can help you win favour with the algorithm.
There’s been some debate recently that the importance for hashtags is decreasing. While the jury is still out on that one, they are certainly still a tool that can help. If you’re a regular Instagrammer, you may have noticed that the infamous ‘top 9 posts’ per hashtag has disappeared. So many (now outdated) Instagram courses preach about getting your post in that sacred grid. Instead, Instagram now simply shows 2 tabs, ‘Top’ and ‘Recent’ and each one displays as a scrollable feed. It will never hurt you do still aim to get into the first few squares of the ‘top’ section, but it’s more important to use hashtags to tell the good old algorithm what your post is about.
Not sure what hashtags to use? Firstly don’t use the same ones over and over again, Instagram doesn’t like that and will not be nice to your posts if you do that.
Now go ahead and have a little spy on your competitors… what hashtags are they using? If there are any good and relevant ones, write them down and add them to your hashtag arsenal.
Of course, as with everything here at Mothers of Enterprise, we aim to make life and easy and straight forward as possible. Which is why we scoured the web and created an Deluxe Instagram Hashtag Cheat Sheet. There’s a link to download this wondrous piece of magic at the end of this article… only because we really want you to read everything before jumping in to hashtag glory.
Another option is to use a hashtag tool. There’s quite a few around, all have a slightly different slant on their uses so play around with them and find one that works best for you:
www.displaypurposes.com - great for finding other relevant hashtags. It’s only draw back is that it only has results for very broad and general terms, like ‘business’ or ‘marketing’.
www.hashtagify.me - is another great one for related hashtags, very similar to the one above
www.hashtags.org - is great for finding the most prolific users for a hashtag, this is perfect for investigating what other hashtags they use in their content to add to your collection.
Last point on hashtags, no one likes seeing a million hashtags in the description under your post, it looks a bit spammy. Current best practise, is to pop all your hashtags (you can have up to 30) in the first comment under your post.
Thirdly- Play nice with the algorithm
Good, high quality content is always the number 1 way to increase Instagram engagement. No amount of relevant hashtags or consistent posting can out run bad quality content. Instagram is becoming more and more saturated, and purely going for the “I’ll just post more stuff” is not going to help with that or help with your engagement.
The more you can get your audience to engage with your content, the more they will see. Quality over quantity is always preferable with Instagram, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with posting once a week and expecting instant engagement. Consistency is still key, just make sure it’s great content and that you’re not just posting for the sake of it.
When your audience finds your posts relevant and interesting, the more they will engage with you and your account, which means the good old algorithm will keep your content high up in their feeds.
A nice simple way of working out what works, is simply looking at which of your past posts got some decent engagement, and then do more posts of that style!
It’s true that Instagram’s algorithm favours accounts that use as many of Instagram’s features as possible. So if you’re a “I only post filtered snaps” kinda lady, then you could be missing out! Try playing around with carousels, boomerangs, video and whatever else Instagram surprises us with along the way.
Fourth- Know your audience
Learn about your audience’s behaviour. When are they most likely going to be online and scrolling their Instagram feed? If you’re a business account on Instagram, then you can see this juicy info in a few clicks. Simply head to your reports (top right on your profile), hit ‘audience’ and have a little scroll down. Here you can see which hours and days your followers are most online. Simples!
Now there are more intricate services that break down this info in much more detail, there’s A LOT of them, so if you fancy knowing a bit more, then simply google ‘instagram analytics’ and you’ll get a whole host of options.
You’ll need to do some testing to make sure you’ve fine tuned your timings, but once you do, it means you can create a solid content strategy for your Instagram account. And since Instagram opened up it’s API recently, you can now use scheduling tools that automatically post for you! It couldn’t be easier!
Lastly- Get on your stories
Stories! According to many sources, users are spending more time watching stories than scrolling their feed. Meaning that if you’re not making use of stories yet, you’re missing out on some serious reach and engagement! It’s a great feature that doesn’t require perfect, curated, styled content that your feed deserves. Now of course you can go all out and create amazingly designed stories like I'm sure you've seen the bigger brands do, which is always fun and impressive, but definitely not a super requirement for quality engagement. Take a look at these clever story combos:
Stories are a great way to introduce yourself and your audience to you/ your brand on video. I know it can be daunting being direct on camera, but Instagram Stories is perfect for this! Each story will only live for 24 hours so it’s a great playground. In fact, you can get away with posting less on Instagram (if that is suitable and appropriate for your business) if you keep up with a daily story… who knew!
Another great feature is ‘Story Highlights’, which are like little folders that live at the top of your profile. You can give them individual names and then you can pop any of your stories into the relevant folder, making it constantly accessible by your audience and more. So you can pick and choose from all that great content you put in your stories, save the ones you fancy to their relevant folder/ highlight and they will be saved and viewable until you tell them otherwise.
Now once you’ve created your highlights, it’s important to drive your current followers to them. After all, most of your followers most likely haven’t visited your profile since their initial follow of you. Now you can drive them back to not only your content but your profile, increasing your profile views (a metric the algorithm likes), plus you’ve now turned your profile into an ever updating resource for your followers to continue to learn more about you and your business.
Instagram has recently allowed you to share stories from others that mention/ tag you in. This is very often great free content from customers/ influencers that you can reuse. As with ALL sharing on Instagram, and that’s sharing of any kind… best practise is to always ask permission first (most are more than happy for their content to be shared) and then GIVE CREDIT!! And not just in the comments, make sure it’s nice a clear in the description. That way you can start building up some happy relationships on Instagram which can be very helpful in expanding your reach and building your network.
And there you have it. It’s a lot I know, but once you’ve got these things in place, you’ll notice your engagement increasing and with that followers converting into fans and customers!
Like I said before, we want to make life and business as straight forward as possible, so we've researched the top hashtags in lots of different sectors to bring you the ultimate hashtag cheat sheet! Of course you must always double check some hashtags and make sure that they've not been temporarily banned by good old Instagram. Also, if you think we're missing some really juicy one's, please just comment in the box below and we'll get them added.
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