If you've been frustrated by Instagram over the past year, you are not alone. Many blame the algorithm, which, if you don't know what that is, it's something that Instagram put into place to insure you would see the content you are most interested in. But in the last year as video has dominated social media, the algorithm has changed. So some of the techniques you’ve used in the past to grow your following and increase your engagement may not be working.
Instagram Is Prioritizing Reels
These short form videos are typically a few seconds to a minute long and often use trending audio to gain more traction. These videos do not need to be overly edited. They can be simple shots on your phone with a voiceover or an in-app audio bit from Instagram. You can also create Reels using static images to make a slideshow.
In-Feed Engagement May Decrease
People are spending more time in Reels, so don't get caught up on the number of likes you receive per posts. Some important metrics to look at are Profile Visits and Website Clicks. Both of these will show you how many people are interested in learning about your brand after seeing your content. Also, keep an eye on how many views your feed posts receive and compare to the number of people viewing your stories, reels or other content. I think you will be surprised!
The Curated Feed Does Not Work
Beautiful photography and a super curated feed no longer leads to engagement. People are craving context and storytelling. Think about why your friends who don't own a business use Instagram - for entertainment! Potential clients are constantly being sold to, so think about how you can get them to buy into you and your brand, then the sales will come easily. They will feel like they are following a friend versus a company that only cares about making sales. Also, be you to stand out! Imitating what others are doing on the platform will not get you anywhere.
Hashtags Don't Work The Way They Used To
It is hard to passively grow your following using hashtags anymore. It doesn't make sense to add a big block of 30 hashtags to posts anymore. Instagram sees this as spam content and will hide your post. Think about what your clients might be searching for, but try not to use hashtags that are too broad (such as #jewelry). When possible, choose niche hashtags that have less than 200k posts and create a branded hashtag that all your customers can use. This will make it easier for people to find you. Also consider using Geotags when you post - especially if you're doing an in-person event or have a storefront. This helps people find you if they're in the area!
Direct Messages Are Important
A strategy to get followers to engage with you through direct message is crucial because that's where sales happen! Leveraging Instagram Stories will lead to more DMs. Once you have a message from someone, be sure to response. Think of this experience as a potential client walking into a retail store, how would you engage? How would you respond when they ask the price of a piece they are interested in? Take an in-person experience and translate it to online. This will lead to sales!
Grow Your Instagram Following
Think about shareable content such as quotes, thoughtful captions, relevant images and client photos! Encouraging your followers to share your content is the best way to increase your following. Consider saveable content, such as jewelry care tips, to encourage followers to come back to that post in the future. The Instagram algorithm views a save as a strong indicator of a good post.
Be sure to personalize your content! Think about what sets your brand apart from others and share more context and relatable content. You don't have to share your entire personal life or anything you don't feel comfortable having on the internet, but try making your content more casual and conversational. Speak directly to your client instead of marketing to the masses. With that in mind, also think niche. Put a strong focus on your ideal client when you think about growth and provide good customer service when interacting with them in conversations.
10 Things to Focus On For Instagram Engagement
- Video - On Stories or Reels videos lead to more engagement and growth.
- Carousel Posts - These are said to be the most engaging type of post. Lead with a strong image or video that encourages followers to swipe through the rest.
- Instagram Stories - From a post on Stories, it’s easy for someone to send a DM.
- Captions - Instagram only shows the first two lines of the caption, so make sure this encourages your audience to ‘read more.’ Relate back to your followers and think about why they should care. Long posts are good, but make sure you use line breaks! End with a strong call to action.
- Conversations - Talk to your followers and invite them to talk to you!
- Direct Messages - This is where sales happen.
- Shares - The best way to grow your following is by creating shareable content.
- Consistency - This builds trust! Your audience knows what to expect from you.
- Individual Connection - Get bigger by thinking smaller.
- Community - Creating a community leads to loyalty and trust. Share your brand values, listen to your audience, encourage user generated content and try live videos!
While the change in social media platforms can be frustrating, they are always changing, so you have to stay on your toes. Engage with your current following and that's when your follower count will begin to grow!
Check out Liz's webinar: What's Working Now On Instagram to hear more of her tips for jewelers on Instagram.
Check out these other articles from Halstead to help grow your social media presence: