Consumers now spend up to two hours per day on social networks, which is double the amount of time they spent five years ago. For businesses, Instagram is a social network that cannot be ignored, as its the third largest social network in the world and claims 800 million monthly active users.
Additionally, there is an appetite for businesses to have a presence on this network, as more than 200 million users visit a business account each day. However, it isn’t enough to simply just post about current products or offerings. Companies should aim to create highly engaging content that will build brand awareness and loyalty, and ultimately boost revenue. Here are a few ways brands can increase engagement on Instagram:
Balance Editorial Content With More Candid Content
Brands should try to balance content that has a more editorial look versus content that looks raw or unedited. For instance, Victoria’s Secret and Urban Outfitters are the top two retailers on social media in terms of engagement. Victoria’s Secret amassed 352 million actions — likes, comments, retweets, etc. — or 28% of the total social media engagement for retailers, while Urban Outfitters saw 161 million actions or 13%. Their Instagram accounts include ample amounts of more relatable content and scenes that look candid.
Also know that authenticity is key to driving engagement. In fact, content that is perceived as genuine is important to 86% of users when they decide which brands they like and support.
Create a Hashtag Campaign
Companies can use hashtag campaigns to increase user-generated content. Seventy percent of hashtags on Instagram are branded. Additionally, campaigns with at least one hashtag have nearly 13% more engagement than ones that don’t use hashtags. ASOS’ #AsSeenOnMe campaign is a great example of how to encourage Instagram users to generate posts for your brand. These types of posts are particularly useful in building a report among users that don’t follow them, especially among millennials.
User-generated posts are much more influential to millennials, with 70% saying that they are influenced to make a purchase based on a post a family member or friend made, in contrast to the 47% that reported a brand post influenced a purchase. Companies reap benefits from hashtag campaigns beyond the increased amount of user-generated (authentic) content. Hashtag campaigns also allow brands to reach new users that follow the person participating in the hashtag campaign, but not the company’s account. This can help bring in more followers and increase brand engagement.
Consider Working with a Micro-Influencer
Overall influencers tend to have higher engagement levels than brand-generated content. The average engagement rate for influencers is about 6%, while paid brand posts fall between 2 to 3%. For example, beauty influencer Zoella and NYX cosmetics have a similar Instagram following of around 11 million followers each, but Zoella has a 3.4% engagement rate while NYX only has a .44% rate.
Micro-influencers, whose following ranges between 10,000 to 250,000, are particularly influential as they typically have a closer connection with their followers, and interact more often with individual followers. This allows them to build more trust with their audience, and make their posts feel more authentic to their audience. Brands should maximize their partnerships with influencers and increase the amount of authentic content on their pages by featuring their influencers content on their own Instagram account.
Make Your Posts Useful To Your Audience
Brands should look to create posts that inspire customers to use their product or service. DIY guides, recipes, and how-to videos are all useful in helping Instagram users envision how your brand or product fits into their lives. For example, when CVS Pharmacy posted an image that featured a how-to for treating a sunburn with aloe vera ice cubes, users were highly engaged with the image. It accumulated 124,000 likes, 66,600 shares, and 6,400 comments.
Take Advantage of Instagram’s Growing Capabilities
After brands have piqued users interests through a post, they should ensure they keep customers engaged by connecting them with any other information they need. Instagram’s shopping feature, for instance, provides a way for customers to transition from the product discovery to product research phase smoothly. By connecting users with the information they desire, they will likely be more satisfied with brands and engage more often with them. Vice president of marketing for Lulu’s, Nicole Sadler, noted that the Shop Now feature on Instagram had generated 33% of the site traffic that clicked to learn more about a product on their site.
Another feature that brands should take advantage of is Stories. Much like the shopping feature, the swipe up feature on Stories provides a bridge from social media to a brand’s site with very little friction for the user. Additionally, it is a great way for brands to test various content strategies rapidly.
Brands can create short videos, insert polls, and snap behind-the-scenes photos that disappear within 24 hours. And with a business account on Instagram, you can get real-time metrics of how your Stories are performing throughout the day. This allows brands to see which types of content users engage with most, while the new Highlights feature enables them to keep the successful content. Stories are also a great way to provide frequent updates to users during an event, without inundating their feed.
Work With A Company That Can Help Test Your Campaigns
Fashion retailer Natori worked with an artificial intelligence (AI) platform called Albert, to improve its digital marketing strategies. Albert tested various combinations of visuals and text in digital campaigns and discovered that the carousel ads were most effective in boosting engagement and directing traffic to the company’s site. The AI company also helped Natori identify various micro-segments, which allowed them to target users based on factors like geographic location, and interests.