If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to get engagement on Instagram, you’re not the only one.
Now, if anyone can get engagement on Instagram it’s Peg; and yet, even she’s finding that regular Instagram posts just aren’t getting the traction they once did.
While this is frustrating, to be sure, there is hope.
According to Peg, while it seems that likes and engagement are slowing down considerably for regular posts, stories are crushing it in terms of follower growth. She admits, however, that consistently creating and promoting your stories is a lot of work – so it’s always nice to use new, less time-consuming strategies as well.
In this episode of Tailwind’s Marketing Unleased (watch the full video below), Peg, Rebekah and I discuss 7 ways to use Instagram’s newest features to drive engagement on Instagram…yes, even in the midst of declining post reach.
1. Creator accounts
So, a bit of background on this. Most of us started with a personal account, and over time, upgraded to a business account in order to get better analytics (among other features).
However, there’s now a third option available to anyone selling stuff on Instagram – creator accounts.
Creator accounts are kind of a cross between personal and business accounts, and are specifically designed for influencers. And as Peg noted, who doesn’t want to be an influencer?
The major benefit to using a creator account are the analytics: you can see who follows you and who unfollows you on a daily basis – which can drive you crazy, if you let it – but which is also super valuable for knowing what’s working, and what’s not. And this is key to getting consistent engagement from your posts and stories.
Creator accounts are also ideal if you work with brands, as brands can actually go in and promote your branded posts.
Peg has noticed that Instagram’s algorithm tends to favor new products and features by giving them more visibility and reach…so this alone is a great reason to switch over to a creator account (you can always switch back to a personal or business account if it turns out you don’t like it).
In our Live, we discussed how creator accounts are only available to users with 10,000+ followers; however, it appears creator accounts are now slowly being rolled out to all users, so stay tuned!
2. Shoppable tags
This is a fantastic feature for anyone who wants to sell stuff on Instagram. And what I love is that you don’t need 10,000 followers to use shoppable tags. You do need to have a store connected to your Facebook business page, but that’s not a big deal to set up (if you haven’t already).
Here’s how they work: You include links to your Facebook products right within your Instagram stories. You simply tag your products in your story, and users can click right through and buy your stuff with just a few taps.
One downside I’ve found is that the reach on shoppable posts isn’t that great. This is likely because Instagram is hoping we’ll pay to get our posts promoted.
However, here’s a workaround I use to get more reach with just a bit of patience and elbow grease: Create your post without shoppable tags, and let it ride for a while, gaining traction. I use Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder to find popular and relevant hashtags, and then just let it rack up some visibility organically. Once I see the post is getting traction, I go back and add the shoppable tags. This seems to work much better for me than adding the tags at the outset.
Peg also recommends using shoppable tags in stories, even if you have the swipe up feature. Tags tend to be more visible – because they’re visible all over your picture (see screenshot above), rather than just at the bottom.
IGTV – Instagram TV – has been around for a while, but I’ve noticed a lot of people already giving up on it, thinking it’s just not effective.
However, I’m seeing increased visibility for IGTV in feeds right now, so it’s definitely worth trying out for yourself.
Peg notes that vertical is always better on Instagram, simply because your videos will fill a viewer’s entire screen.
Peg also reminded us of the importance of generating engagement right from the very beginning of your videos. Do this by using popups of text since there are tons of people watching without sound. Peg has also seen tutorials get tons of engagement on IGTV…so this is another strategy worth trying, for sure.
Finally, a reminder of the importance of burning captions into your videos to increase engagement. I find Headliner is a great tool for this.
4. Using hashtags strategically to get on the explore page
You likely already know that when a post is popular on Instagram, it has the potential to get featured on the explore page (which is visited by more than 200 million accounts every day).
Interestingly, Peg noted that it’s not always the newest posts that get featured on the explore page. Rather, she’s seeing posts that are several days old and have proven popular.
For the best chances at getting onto the explore page, Peg recommends using your hashtags strategically. It’s important to follow the hashtags that are most relevant and most important to your business, and to continually make sure your posts make sense within the context of that “little hashtag world”, as she describes it.
Rebekah recommends getting really, really specific with the hashtags you use. Understand what you want to be known for, nail down the topics you’re posting about, and then choose hashtags that really align with your business. She uses Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder to identify top hashtags, as this consistently helps her find news ones she never would have thought of otherwise.
5. Story highlights
As already mentioned, stories are consistently getting more engagement than posts these days. But the problem, of course, is that those stories disappear after just 24 hours.
This is where story highlights come in. When you’re creating a story, a little button with a heart will pop up that says “Highlight”. Tap it, and it will add your story to a highlight that shows up on your profile…not just for 24 hours, but until you remove it.
Peg describes it as a whole little storyboard where all your images for your highlights exist. I describe it as a way to tell a story.
But what if you’re too scared to create stories in the first place?
Peg gave some great tips for overcoming this fear: She says start with a test run – don’t stress, just create a story, and if you don’t like it, delete it. Another tip is to make sure you’re actually looking at the camera, not at yourself – this is so important for getting engagement. Sharing other people’s stories can also be an easy way to get used to using stories without having to show your face on camera.
Finally, Peg reminded us to simply have fun with stories! Draw on a mustache or use emojis to lighten the mood a bit.
Rebekah suggested focusing on what’s natural and engaging, and telling your stories the way you would in real life. What point are you trying to get across? What would captivate you? How can you break down your message into three little bit-sized snippets with one big takeaway?
6. Re-share stories that you’re tagged in
This is another easy, non-threatening way to create stories, especially if you don’t want to be on camera.
When someone tags you in a story, simply re-share it with your followers. This is a great way to give some love to people who took the time to talk about you, or your event, or your blog post. It also makes you look good, so it’s definitely a win-win.
Peg uses this strategy when someone shares her book. The book has been published in about 30 different languages, so when she sees someone share it, she messages them and asks where they’re from. Then she shares that person’s story, which they love.
If you want, you can even organize all this beforehand: for instance, arrange with someone else to create stories, tag each other, and then share the stories with your respective audiences.
7. Use collections to save posts for later
This is a great tip for helping you save important posts to read or review later on. When you see something interesting in your feed, simply bookmark that content for later.
According to Rebekah, this can be an important strategy for businesses. For instance, Peg talked about how she likes to re-share stories where people talk about her book. So, you could create a collection called User Generated Content where you put all the stuff people have said about your products or business (so you can re-share them later).
You can also use your collections as a kind of ideation board. Rebekah likens it to Pinterest in this way, saving content that you can reference later. Saving your competitors’ posts in a collection is also a great strategy.
Then the next time you don’t know what to post, or are wondering if anybody’s created a post around a certain topic, you can refer to your collections to spark some ideas – or to make sure you’re not duplicating something your competitors have already done.
Peg uses collections for interesting travel-related posts. She finds it to be a great way to get ideas for creative shots and angles that you might never have thought of. She also finds this strategy useful for identifying off-the-beaten-path places to visit while traveling.
Thanks for Reading!
I hope this post has inspired you to try some of these new and new-ish features and strategies as part of your own Instagram marketing strategy.
And special thanks to Rebekah and Peg for delving into how to use these features to boost engagement!
If you’re looking for more Instagram tips, check out my interview with Sue B. Zimmerman here on the blog: Instagram for Business.
And as always, if you have questions or ideas you’d like to share with me, reach out to me at any time!