We’ve been steadily growing our Instagram account for the past few months. As of this post, we are over 11K followers. Of course, that’s not a huge number of followers, and we can point to any number of Instagram accounts that have far more followers. The interesting thing is that we have put next to no effort into growing this account, and when we do post to Instagram, we get an average of 1,400 likes.
The math is pretty basic:
1,400 Likes / 11,000 Followers = 13% Engagement rate
We’ve mentioned our engagement to other Instagram users (and at other times it has been pointed out to us) , and generally, they all suggest this is a great rate of engagement. When I first received this feedback, I decided to see how we are stacking up to everyone else. So, I undertook an extensive research project….no, that’s not true….I Googled “Average Engagement Rate Instagram” and clicked on the top result. The article on Hubspot I found (you’ll need to scroll down to #47 to find the stat I was looking for) reference a research study of “several thousand brand posts” and states that on Instagram the “average engagement rate is 4.3% and the median is 3.5%”. I read this and thought “Wow, we’re kicking the big brands’ asses!”
Of course, the more followers you have, the less percentage engagement you have as well, so this isn’t exactly apples to oranges. That said, it still seemed like we were doing something right.
Why does engagement matter? Well, you can buy thousands of inactive followers to get you great numbers, but at the end of the day, if you are trying to communicate something, or even better, sell something, then inactive followers mean nothing. People who actually click the like button, or go to the effort of making a comment, are at the very least confirming that they’ve seen your content.
Obviously, we use Mass Planner to automated a lot of the actions to grow. But, there we still have a strategy, and I’ve decided to share our secret formula for growing an engaged Instagram following.
The Secret Formula for Growing an Engaged Instagram Following
- Figure out your niche. Oh, and make sure you actually have a niche.
- Post GOOD CONTENT that applies to your niche. Videos are good, but focus on good quality photos. Use a photo editor. Seriously. Don’t post selfies, unless they are spectacular.
- Find the big players in that niche. Find 50 or so Instagram accounts that have tons have followers, and dump them into a spreadsheet. This doesn’t take too much work, really. Google “Top Instagram Accounts in XXX”. Not, not XXX, replace that with “travel”, “photography”, “fashion” – or leave it XXX if that’s you’re niche, I guess.
- Timing is everything. Most Instagram users are interacting on their mobile devices, in real time. You need to get their attention while they are online. Instagrammers have the attention span of gnats, so you have a limited amount of time to do this.
- Set up Mass Planner to follow people who have interacted with these large Instagram accounts within the last 10 minutes. The likelihood that they are still online when you reach out to them is pretty high.
- From your spreadsheet of big niche accounts, use only 15-20 as your follow sources. Rotate them out every week. There’s some technical reasons why this works better in Mass Planner, but just do it.
- Set up Mass Planner to like the last couple of popular posts of the people you’re following, to show you are interested in them.
- The lower the number of minutes since they interacted with the large account, the more likely that they are online and will see your follow/like, and check out your profile.
- If you’ve picked your niche correctly, and posted the right content, they’ll follow you back. Done.
- Unfollow people who don’t follow you back. Screw ’em, right?*
*Instagram lets you follow up to 7,500 people, and then caps you. If you reach that, and don’t have anyone not following, you have to do the cut-throat thing: unfollow people who are already following you. Ideally, start with picking inactive users, but eventually you are going to have to unfollow active users, and this WILL affect your follower rate. Also, make sure to use a whitelist so you don’t unfollow accounts that are important to you.