Welcome to The Social Smarty Show, your weekly podcast for social media marketing tips, tactics and practical digital marketing advice. Let's get you taking real action to grow your online audience, build connections and your business. I'm your host, Jodine McIntyre. Think of me as your digital marketing coach, cheerleader and wingwoman all rolled into one. Grab some of my social media marketing know how for free www.socialsmarty.com/freebies. Now before we dive in, make sure you subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes.
Welcome to episode number eleven of The Social Smarty Show. In today's episode, I'm going to be sharing with you six tactics you can use to increase your engagement on Instagram.
Now before we dive into the six tactics, I want to have a wee chat about why engagement is so important. Why should we bother trying to get more engagement on our Instagram content? The first thing I want to talk about is this idea of relevance. Now, if you pick up your phone and you open up Instagram and you're presented with your newsfeed, think about how many pieces of content you can be shown. So there's almost an infinite number. If you think about all of the accounts that you follow, the hashtags that you follow, the ads that you can be shown, that content just scrolls on and on and on.
Now, in the past, it used to be in chronological order, so we were quite used to seeing the most recent content first and then things changed. And I don't know if you remember, but there was a lot of criticism when things changed. And now we see content in an order that the algorithm, the behind the scenes working, has determined is the most relevant order for us. So the algorithm decides to put the most relevant piece of content at the very top, followed by the next most relevant piece of content, probably followed by an ad or maybe a suggested post - those seem to be really popular at the moment, but that's basically the way that the algorithm determines what you see.
Now, there is talk of bringing back the chronological feed so you can change your feedback to the old version where you can see everything in the order that it was posted. Now, at the time of recording, I don't have access to this. I know there are some users out there that do have the ability to change their newsfeed. As I said, I don't have access to this. Adam, babe, if you're listening, please give me access so I can have a play around. But it all comes back to this idea of showing you the most relevant content to you first. And the idea behind that is that you have a good time on the platform. So if you're seeing content that is relevant, that is interesting that you want to engage with, that you want to see really you're going to spend more time on the platform.
Now, every third or fourth post is an ad. The more ads you see, the more money Instagram or Meta makes. Now, it's in their best interest, therefore, to figure out what is most relevant to you and put it at the top of that newsfeed. Now, obviously, we don't know how the algorithm works. It's not public knowledge. And even if it was, I probably couldn't understand it. But what we need to do is do some tests and we need to figure out for ourselves what determines that relevancy. And a big indicator that we've found is what we engage with. If you think about it, the content that you comment on, that you like, that you share, that you save, we often see more of that content either from that same creator or similar content. So we need to flip that around for our business and think, how can we increase our engagement on our content so that we have a better chance of showing up in people's news feeds. So that's why engagement is really important from a technical perspective.
But the other side of it is that it shows us what our audience is interested in. Now, if we're posting content over and over that no one is engaging with, then we know that we've got a bit of a disconnect there. Either we're posting things that are not relevant to our target audience, that doesn't interest them, or maybe we are targeting the wrong audience altogether. So that's why engagement is so important.
But I do want to make a wee note here. Now, someone could see your post in their newsfeed. They could click through to your profile. They could click on the website link in your bio. They can be on your website buying your products or booking your services without technically engaging in your post. So Instagram doesn't count those actions as content interactions. That's what we're talking about today, content interactions or engagement. But you can actually see those profile visits follows, et cetera under Profile Activity in your insights. A little bit confusing, actually.
Grab your phone right now. Open up Instagram. I want you to go to your account. Now scroll down to one of your posts. Pick one, click on one, any one, actually, maybe don't make it a Reel so anything that's not a Reel. Now click on that post. And then at the bottom you'll see a blue link that says View Insights. Once you've clicked on that, you'll see a whole lot of data. As you scroll down, you'll see Post Interactions. Now, that is what we're talking about today, engagement or interactions, any action that someone has taken on your content. But if you do scroll down further, you'll see Profile Activity. So that's where you can see people who have taken serious action, like they have actually viewed your profile to find that link in the bio. Or maybe they've even followed you because they like what you're putting out there. So that's the difference between what we're talking about today, so someone can actually buy from you without it being counted as a post or a content interaction. Cool.
Now that we've got that straight, let's dive into those six tactics you can use to increase your engagement. Number one sounds simple, but ask questions. Now, the key to asking questions on Instagram is to make them easy to read, easy to understand, and easy to answer. If you think about our attention spans, when we're on social media, we're scrolling, we're often using our phone. We don't want to write screeds and screeds of text. So instead, what we want is really easy to consume, really easy to understand questions that someone could answer in a few seconds. So don't make them complicated. Make them straightforward, and then people will answer those questions.
Now I know what you're thinking. What if you ask a question and no one answers? Won't you look like a dick? Honestly, no offense, but people just aren't looking that closely at your content. Think about it. They have to actively look down there at the comments, either see a number or click to expand those comments and have a really good look to see if someone has commented. Now, you might have only just posted this content. So in their mind, they're thinking no one has commented yet. That's if they're even taking notice. Now, if it really does bother you, here are some workarounds. Number one, you can private message a friend with an SOS and ask them to comment. There's no shame in that. I've certainly done it before with my friends and usually they're very happy to oblige. Number two is you can tag someone who you think would be a good person to answer that question. So, for example, you might ask a question about podcasts and you know someone who has a podcast. So you tag them in the comments and you say, hey, @socialsmarty.co, which is my tag. Would love to hear your thoughts on this and that might just prompt them to come and answer your question. But it will also show as a comment in the comments field. So you'll see that there's one comment there. Number three, tag me. Honestly, I will 100% come to your rescue if you're feeling stink because you haven't had anyone comment, tag me or DM me the post and I'll come and comment for you. Promise. Cool.
Tactic number two is using carousel posts. Now, carousel posts are a great way to increase your engagement for two reasons. So number one, viewers obviously have to swipe through to see each panel in the carousel. Now, the first panel needs to be super enticing. It needs to build enough curiosity that it has them swiping through to see the rest of the panels or the rest of the images. And while the swiping action as they swipe across, that's not actually counted as a content interaction in Instagram's analytics or Insights. But what it does do is it sends a signal to Instagram's feed algorithm. So what we were talking about earlier, to indicate that you are interested in this content. So you swipe that's telling the algorithm that you are interested in this content. And as we know, the algorithm is working hard to figure out what's relevant to us and others like us. So by getting those swipes, it's sending that message to the algorithm that person who's swiping is interested in your content and is more likely to see more of your content.
Now, the other reason that carousels are so great is that Instagram actually gives you two chances to capture someone's attention. Now, when you post your carousel post, Instagram will serve up that first image or that first slide in the newsfeed. And if someone doesn't interact with it when it pops up, then it will often pop up again. But this time it will use the second image or the second panel in the carousel. So it gives you two chances for people to engage with it, which is really cool. Now, creating a carousel post is really easy. All you need to do is upload multiple photos. So you can upload up to ten photos in one post and that's going to create that swipeable carousel for you. If you want to take it one step further, have a look at my website, socialsmarty.co/freebies. I've got a tutorial in there on how to create a carousel post for Instagram. And this is going to be a seamless post. So you're going to create a design in Canva and I've got a template for you and then you're going to chop it up into pieces, upload it into Instagram, and it's going to be a seamless swipeable carousel post.
Right, tactic number three, use Instagram's own built-in engagement tools. Now, when you create a Story, Instagram has a ton of tools that are hidden under the little sticker icon. It's like a smiley face with the corner peeling up like a sticker. Once you're in there, you'll see things like polls, question stickers, reaction sliders, all sorts of things in there that people can engage with. So when you're creating your Stories, when you're sharing Stories to Instagram, think about how you can use these engagement tools. Again, it's all about telling the algorithm that people are interested in our content. So make sure you use those tools in your Stories.
Tactic number four is creating shareable posts. So think about things like memes, quotes, educational content. What does your audience love to share? Imagine they've spotted your post in their newsfeed and they think, wow, that is so funny, so relatable, so interesting, so newsworthy, so helpful that I'm going to share that with my own audience. That is a really good way to not only increase your engagement, but also reach new people. Because what happens is when someone shares your post, it is effectively like they are sharing you, your business, your Instagram account with their own network and their own followers. So that can bring new people back to your account and increase your following, but also increase your reach so that we can reach new people.
Tactic number five is adding video content to your mix. Instagram has told us that video is a winner. Not only have they told us that, but we can see it when we actually post video content. We can see it in the data. Now for me, I have, I think, two Instagram Reels now that have reached over 10,000 people. Now, I have never reached even close to 10,000 people with any other content type on Instagram, like Reels are an absolute winner.
So video content on Instagram is more than just Reels. It also includes video posts, Stories. But Reel are kind of the winner here. But don't panic. Creating reels doesn't have to mean lip syncing, dancing, pointing your finger. It doesn't need to mean fancy studios, bright lights, expensive cameras, anything like that. Literally a Reel is simply a vertical video that's under 90 seconds. That's it. In fact, I have a step by step training on how to create a full Instagram Reel just using a free Canva account. No dancing, no lip syncing, no finger pointing required. So head to my website, socialsmarty.com/freebies or you'll find the link in my show notes and you can create your own Reel just using Canva. You don't even have to show your face. In fact, it's as simple as creating an image on Canva that is an Instagram Story size, so that's the template that I would use and then animating it. That will turn it into an MP4 video. And when you upload that as a Reel to Instagram, it is good as gold. That's all you need to do. It's as easy as that.
So Reels and video content can help you reach more people. But this podcast episode is about engagement, not necessarily reach. So why should you bother posting Reels or video content on Instagram? Well, the more people that we reach, the more chances we have for people to engage. It's simple maths. More people equals more opportunities for engagement. Now if you do a quick Google search, you will see lots of tests and studies and experiments and statistics showing you that video on Instagram does increase your engagement or does get greater engagement. But at the end of the day, I just think the more people I reach that's, the more opportunities I have for people to engage with my content.
Onto the last tactic, tactic number six. Now, this one is not for the fainthearted, but this is posting content that might be a little bit controversial or content that is a bit of a hot topic in your target market or your target audience at the moment. So what I mean is, by adding your own opinion or your own take on it or your own viewpoint, you can invite others to offer their opinion or viewpoint. Often that will be in contrast to yours so they might disagree with you. So get ready to have some conversations. But the more controversial your post is the more engagement you're likely to get. But as I said it's not all going to be positive engagement. So if you don't like to have conversations with people online or maybe you just don't like to be seen as being an opinionated person online then this might not be the tactic for you but I promise you it works. When you take a stand, when you tell people your opinion, when you show your viewpoint people will either agree or disagree which is a really good thing because good marketing, it either attracts or it repels. You're going to be repelling the people who are not your target audience and deepening your connection and really attracting those who are a good fit with you. So just to recap tactic number six is posting content that is either controversial or it shows your position on something or a hot topic within your industry or your target market.
There we have it guys. There are six tactics you can use in your own social media account and your own social media content to increase your engagement. Let's just have a quick recap tactic number one was asking questions and remember you can always tag me or send me the post if you're nervous about people not responding to your question, I promise I'll respond. Tactic number two was using carousel posts so that's having up to ten different images or panels that people can swipe through. Tactic number three was using Instagram's own built in engagement tools. So think polls, question stickers, reaction sliders, that sort of thing within Instagram Stories. Tactic number four was creating shareable posts so memes, quotes, educational content, the sort of thing that your audience would love to share with their own network. Number five was adding video content to your mix and I talked a lot about Reels so absolutely give Reels a go., remember I've got that free training on my website or you can find a link in the show notes. And the last tactic was not for the faint hearted but that is posting controversial content or content that is part of a hot topic or that you have a real opinion on.
Now guys, let me know if you are going to use any of these tactics. I would love to connect with you over on Instagram - my username is @socialsmarty.co
If you enjoyed this episode make sure you share it with a friend. I would love to reach more people with this podcast and I will see you in episode number twelve.