Instagram followers are sexy. I’ve said it before, but they’re like that hot AF boyfriend who’s also a total ass.
Large followings make you feel good – it’s an easy number to look at each day, it seems to give people bragging rights, and yeahhhh it’s hella cool to realize 10,000 people want your content – until they leave you wondering what you’ve done wrong and why no one likes you, or is clicking your links, or buying your product.
Because the reality is, chasing after a large following can distract you from what really matters: engagement.
If ‘Content is King’ was the phrase used across the internet universe… then in today’s age of social media ‘Engagement is Queen …and King’. And Instagram has proved to us that they’re serious about it with their recent algorithm change.
Because engagement is what earns you sales, and shares, and raving loyal customers. That level of interaction that says daily “I want your product. I love your brand. I want to connect with you.”
So then, what Instagram numbers matter more than followers?
Numbers that show Instagram engagement
For years, influencer marketing has been about finding people with the biggest audience size to reach the most amount of people. Now, we’re doing the reverse, we’re finding out more about the audience we want to target and then seeing who influences them.
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1 | Shares
While Instagram is a platform that doesn’t naturally have a “share” feature (think Facebook’s share or Twitter’s re-tweet); it does have two features that I would label as “sharing”.
1A | Re-grams
If someone is deciding to re-gram your image (always with credit of course!), they’re essentially sharing your content and brand with their audience. Depending on how they tag you you can track in different ways.
If they tag you in the photo, it makes it super easy — from your profile, click the top right icon that looks like a man in a box (cool description Kate). That shows any photos you’ve been tagged in. Not all may be technically yours, but provides an easy place to look at what’s been shared.
If they tag you in the caption — you’d have to make note as the notifications come in.
1B | Tagging a friend in the comments
Are there images that receive a lot of these comments: ” omg @becky we need these” / “@boyfriend hay babe…gift idea here, just sayin” / “@becky check her out – I think you’d love her stuff”
This is your audience sharing your brand and products in a way that’s natural on Instagram. You’re creating conversation between potential customers and generating the type of interest that others want to share and talk about. Yay!!
How to Use This to Your Advantage:
- Review what types of images are frequently shared and by who.
- Are you able to replicate that image type/style? While you can’t guarantee it would be shared again, it’s obvious that type of content resonated with your customer and would be to your advantage to continue sharing those types of images.
2 | Likes
While likes won’t pay your bills (sad), they do show you’re creating content others are interested in. And not only that, but it shows your content is being found, which is important for the obvious reason that you can’t sell something in no one knows about it.
The big question here is whether you’re getting the right kind of likes. It’s possible that you’re getting a good amount of likes, but they’re not from accounts that would actually turn into customers.
So take a quick look through your last 3-5 images and review your “likers” by clicking through them:
- Maybe you’re getting a lot of social media apps liking your photos > so while that’s great, they’re probably not the right customer for your handmade ceramics.
- OR maybe most of your likes are from spammy-looking accounts > also not great.
- OR maybe a majority of your likes are from other creatives > awesome for support! Not always so awesome if you’re looking to find your core customer and make sales.
How to Correct:
Make sure you’re using the right hashtags as this is primarily how other accounts will be finding you.
- Are all your hashtags super generic? That’s probably how spam accounts are finding you.
- Are all your hashtags really ‘maker’ focused? ie. they’re all about Etsy. That’s why it’s mostly other makers or social media agencies finding you.
- You can jump over to this post to help you discover your best business hashtags or get the exact step-by-step approach I use for my clients.
3 | Comments
Comments are GOLD. Not only did someone take the time to leave one, but it opens up a direct pathway of communication between you and your customer!
This is the time to be you and show your personality; and can further cement that relationship between customer and business. When you’re fighting to stand out above the noise, having a personal relationship and chance to chat with a customer is seriously amazing.
How to Use This to Your Advantage:
- Repeat after me: ALWAYS COMMENT BACK!
- Set aside 5-10 minutes a day to review your notifications and comment back. If you’re finding it hard to manage through notifications, you can try a tool like Iconosquare (for a small fee, offer a 7-day free trial) that shows your unread comments and you can comment back directly on your computer.
- If you’re stressing about how much or what to say, an easy rule of thumb is to leave a comment similar to what the customer left you.
- If they left you a few emojis, send back one to them or write a quick “thanks!”
- If they wrote you a heartfelt message, match that sentiment (always in your own tone + personality) and be grateful, humble, thankful, etc.
- If they wrote a short thoughtful message, thank them or leave a quick comment back.
- Don’t overthink it! Be yourself.
- Lastly, kind of a “duh”, but don’t forget to tag them in the comment back! (I occasionally miss this myself, oops!)
So, what’s a good Instagram engagement rate anyway?
Your engagement rate on Instagram is measured by the combined number of likes + comments a post receives, divided by your number of followers at the time.
So knowing that… I’m super proud of my 14% which I directly attribute to my hashtag strategy (I give you the exact steps here).
If you use a service like Iconosquare or have an Instagram business profile, those tools will calculate engagement rate for you by image. That will allow you to sort your images by highest engagement and again, see if there are common themes or replicable content ideas to use in future posts.
If you missed this post, you may also be interested to see the numbers behind a more engaged audience versus a large unengaged audience.
Another reason to care about engagement on Instagram?
With the new Instagram algorithm, the more an account engages with yours (ie. leaves a comment or like) the higher Instagram will rank your account in that person’s feed and that of other followers as they deem it “high quality” and reward it with more exposure.
So if they’re not engaging with you regularly, it’s likely they’re not even seeing your content on a daily basis. So it’s literally just a vanity number at that point as they won’t even have the choice to take action or not.
So my message to you: Focus on the right followers, don’t get caught up in the follower numbers game, and focus on building quality relationships with customers that will convert.
If you want to learn more about your followers behaviors, find your best times to post, and review engagement stats; check out Iconosquare. You can save 20% on your first year with my affiliate link if you’re interested.
What are your questions on Instagram engagement? Learn my best tips for creating captions that convert + get your followers talking with the (free) guide below!