“For f*ck sakes, I’ve been stuck at 34k FOREVER.”
The struggle. How many people have said this about Instagram, maybe with a different number, maybe with less (or more) f-bombs dropped?
It’s a frustration that so many of us feel these days – the ease in which we could grow a following for our blogs, personal brands and lifestyle accounts on Instagram has been replaced by a daily struggle to reach any new audiences, thanks to an algorithm that no one REALLY knows how to crack. 2017 for me was filled with trying everything I could to grow my Instagram followers (without being shady) – my goal was simply to get my work viewed by more eyeballs and create whatever type of content could do that.
But in the process, I forgot about cultivating the community that I had already built. Shit.
At the beginning of this year, I finally gave up on constantly trying to beat the algorithm and grow my Instagram followers (hello, that algorithm don’t give a shit about you and trying to drop your shadow ban, girl), and instead focused on how I’m serving the people that are already here. The people that WANT to see my content and want to be part of this little renegade tribe I’ve built.
And since I made that strategic shift and started creating content that would benefit the people that show up for me on the daily, my engagement has never been better. True, I’ll never have the likes or reach I had a year ago, but the quality of comments, the amount of DMs and the steady Instagram Live attendees has been incredible. And not just that, but I’m retaining those quality followers who are genuinely interested in my niche, rather than letting them drop off the radar because I’m constantly looking for new followers.
So, my friends, if you’re struggling with keeping your Instagram followers engaged with your content, try integrating my 8 simple strategies for connecting with your community and making sure they stay around for the long run.
Make them part of the conversation.
One of the easiest ways to keep people engaged with your personal brand is to make them part of the conversation rather than just viewing them as consumers of your content. Think of Instagram as building a community rather than a following – ask questions at the end of your posts, conduct polls on Insta Stories or encourage them to share their own experiences. You’ll be amazed at how much more people are willing to engage when they feel included, and how many connections will be made amongst your community through comments on your posts!
Host an Instagram Live.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I loooooove a good Insta Live (in fact, I host a weekly series called #ThisRenegadeLive, where I’m joined by a different guest each week). In doing these, I’ve found it to be the ultimate way to connect to my community on a truly real and unfiltered level because, well – it’s live! There is no room to edit or curate yourself. But it’s also a great opportunity to have a real-time conversation with your audience, let them ask you questions, and feel like they’re sat down for coffee and a chat with you (even if you’re on the other side of the world).
Reply to DM’s with video.
I started doing this at the beginning of the year, when I found myself falling behind on direct messages (no bueno, because I aim to reply to every single one). So I started sending video replies instead – when I was walking Keith, putting on my makeup, in the passenger seat of the car. It was quick and much easier to talk on the go than to sit and type. But what I found was that people were SO surprised and happy to get a video reply – it made the relationship more personal and less one-sided. It’s such an easy thing to do, but is one of the most effective strategies I’ve learned to keep my community engaged.
Create service-oriented content.
If you want your Instagram followers to consistently engage with you, you need to be posting content that offers them something, whether it’s a new idea or a hit of daily inspiration. A picture of a latte is lovely, but you have the opportunity to SAY something with your caption rather than just ‘Friday feels’ (that’s not going to get you meaningful comments, boo). Start posting with purpose – for each piece of content going up, think of how it’s serving your audience or helping them in some way. After an Instagram Live, do an Insta post with a round-up of the best points made during the session. On a post of your avocado toast, share your five fave ways to eat avocado. On an OOTD photo, share your best tip for mixing patterns.
I’ve always found that when it comes to social media, it’s much more effective to be relatable than simply aspirational. That doesn’t mean that your photos can’t be beautiful and inspiring, but sometimes showcasing a perfect life can actually be detrimental to your community and create a disconnect between your and your followers. When your community can relate to you on a more personal level, they’re not only more trustworthy of your opinions (hello sponsored content), but they’re also much more likely to share their own experiences and connect to YOU instead of just your content.
Reply to comments on posts.
This one kinda seems like, ‘Duh’, right? But I can’t believe how many content creators don’t do this. Sure, sometimes you might not be able to reply to them all, but taking a half hour out of your day to hunker down and give meaningful replies to your community’s comments makes a huge difference (especially if they’ve asked you a specific question re: your post).
Encourage user generated content.
An easy way to get your community engaged with the content you’re creating is to encourage them to create their own content under your brand, whether it’s a challenge you’re starting or simply a hashtag like #renegadeselfie. My friends Joelle and Sabrina are obsessed with all things pink, and actually created an account called @willtravelforpink, where they feature beautiful images with pink as the feature colour, encouraging others to use the hashtag #willtravelforpink. Their feed is now filled with posts from other pink-obsessed travellers, creating a niche community that’s all interested in the same content.
Engage on THEIR channels.
It’s one thing to engage with your community through your account, but also showing some love on their content is a great way to build a loyal community. It doesn’t mean you need to follow everyone that’s following you – I’m a firm believer that you should follow accounts that inspire you and that you want to fill your feed with things catered to your interests. But if someone leaves a comment or sends you a DM, pop on over to their account and leave some genuine comments on their posts to make it more of a two-way relationship.
How do you guys keep your audience engaged with your content?
Share your strategies and best practices in the comments below!