Comment pods are like security blankets. They give you a false sense of security that you’re getting “engagement”. In a previous article I wrote about why comment pods can actually be hurting you versus helping you and for those of you I’ve talked to directly … I sensed a nervousness in letting it go.
That’s ok. Because up until today comment pods are all you had. Back in 2016 when the algorithm changed Comment Pods was one of many tactics to help grow your account. That said what the general masses do not know is there it’s just one tactic. There are so many other ways for you to engage in Instagram so here’s a list of twenty for you to consider.
20 Different Ways You Can Increase Engagement On Instagram
- When you are interacting with someone online … ask yourself …would you be invited to dinner right away? Probably not. So if you encounter someone new … and you leave a huge comment on their photo but they don’t come back to your account to look at your photos … reconsider your strategy. Think of their “path” in reviewing their notifications. If you seriously want to form a connection … get to know that person first. Your interaction might look like this: Review their gallery and like the first photo that catches your eye. Second, leave an emoji on the next photo that catches your eye. The third interaction might be a short 2 or 3 word comment. The fourth interaction might be a longer sentence or two on a photo that intrigues you. Then I imagine that person who owns that account will see the “path of engagement” and it may just cause them to come to reciprocate and at least visit your account to get to know you better.
- Give before you receive. When someone leaves meaningful comments on your account … make an effort to go to their account first and look for a photo where you can return the favor. Just as they left you a comment … comment on their photo first. And then go back to your photo to like the comment they left on yours as well as giving them a reply. This small shift in the order you acknowledge their comments is a small gesture in saying thank you and investing in your new connection.
- The rule of 7. In advertising there’s a rule of 7 that someone has to see your content 7 times before acting on it. So remember this as well when you’re trying to catch the attention of a brand or a new friend that you have to interact with them outbound (you initiating the conversation) before them come to your account. If you’re super ambitious you could track this to see for yourself if and when it works. I do this when I’m trying to create the attention of a brand from my dog’s account …or if I am trying to see if an influencer is paying attention to me when I’m commenting AS a brand from one of my client’s accounts.
- Tell someone how you found them: I look for photos that capture my attention on the explore page. When I go to their page I start the like + emoji comment + meaningful comment. If you found someone on the explore page and you’re totally impressed. Leave them a comment “… I found you on the explore page.” This is certain to capture their attention and it just might get them to come take a look at your page.
- Don’t forget your besties. If you look at your photos – typically the top names that appear that liked it are still showing. For example it will say John and Dana liked and 818 others liked your photos. The two names that are visible to you before you expand to see the detail is a best friend of yours – so click on that name and like/comment before you post. I typically will go back between 5 and 10 photos depending on how much time I have to look for opportunities to engage with my besties first before I post.
- Be Engag-ING: In order to get engagement you need to be engaging. There’a a game of volleyball being played. You toss the ball up with your caption. And sometimes someone picks it up and volleys it back. You can continue this on your page – or start another on theirs. Those watching want to join in on the game and jump in on the conversation.
- Contests – the participants are your super users. When I see someone launch a contest … I’m not looking at them in the traditional sense. It’s not about winning for me. It’s about identifying who the active accounts are. You can spot them a mile away they tag 20+ friends. Those are the chatty Kathy’s. Those are the people I want to get to know. So I click over to their accounts and start my like +emoji comment + comment strategy to see if I can spark a new friendly connection.
- Do you know your heavy weights are? These are the large accounts who have been on Instagram at least 2 years and typically have 150 to 200K followers. They also give back and acknowledge comments left on their accounts. Create a collection of your whales and engage with them. Regularly. Any engagement back from them carries more weight than comments from smaller accounts. Ways to engage with them is to leave a comment on their account. If they “heart” or like it or reply that’s a sign to keep engaging with them. Also watch out for their stories and comment on any that resonate with you.
- Welcome new Instagram Users to the Party. Have you ever clicked on the icon to Discover who else to connect with on Instagram? There you’ll find friends, FB friends, and if you scroll down… users that are “new to the community”. Take on the role of being a good host to the party. Pop over and like + emoji comment on a few photos. You’ll be surprised the high rate of those that start to engage back with you because you were the friendly face that were the first points of interaction for them on Instagram.
- Let your guard down. I remember the first time I disclosed that Maggie had allergies was the first time I peeled back another layer of connection. Instagram is known for “showing the best parts of yourself”. But the first time I let my guard down from the “safe captions” to share what was keeping me up at night … I was immediately flooded with comments on tips on things to try to relieve her allergies. That’s when I realized people actually “care”. So ask yourself when you write your captions … are you playing it safe … or are you writing as you would to a dear friend or family member?
- Look up new hashtags in explore. One of the ways to break the echo chamber I create is to insert new hashtags (keywords) into the explore to teach the algorithm new things about my interests. One example is I have a list of all the different dog breeds. I will systematically look them up to find new accounts to interact with.
- Writing from the heart. Interject thoughts you have through out the day … chances are some feels the same way. Being real makes you relatable and relatable often times is what causes engagement.
- Your first 64 characters are the most important. It’s because its what’s seen before it’s truncated. Think of it as the “headline” to your post and the rest of what you right after that is the body. The first 64 characters should immediately capture someone’s attention even if that is all that they read.
- The billboard effect: Being tagged repeatedly is a fast and sure way to expand your reach. The more you are tagged, the more you are seen. It’s called the Billboard effect. Think of your connections as a galaxy where each connection point is from one person to another. These connection points go in a multitude of directions. The wider your network the greater the chances you will be seen. Some people get sensitive when brands tag them without asking. Or other accounts tag you and you don’t know them. Unless you’re a photographer making a living from your photos, then you should not mind. Unless you’re being impersonated, then you should not mind. The more you are tagged the greater your visibility and reach.
- Do you pass the restaurant test? What I mean by this is most people will try a restaurant and the key indicator if they liked it or not is if they will return. If your account, and a reader’s experience with you or your photo was like going to a restaurant – would they come back for a second experience? Each touch point with you creates a memory so consciously think about the memories you create.
- Be different. Show who you are. When you show more of your personality – you give others permission to do the same. If you want to appeal to the masses, then you typically have to homogenize what you say. But if you want to maintain a unique voice then you’ll be sacrificing part of the audience that won’t appeal to what you say. Consider the comedian Russell Brand – he doesn’t appeal to everyone and he’s publicly said that he consciously made that decision because the risk of giving up his identity or hiding behind a wall was a risk he did not want to take. I have my fair share of accounts that I follow that are very “safe” and if I defined them an ice-cream flavor they would be vanilla. And I love those accounts I just don’t seek them out. But then there are those that are so true to who they are I find myself compelled in looking them up to see what they are going to say next. Understand the difference. Being different and unique makes you compelling.
- Connections. Ultimately what everyone is seeking deep down inside is to connect. Make an effort to look for people you can connect with on their accounts and on yours.
- To be seen. The need to feel special is common to all of us as human beings. We want to know we matter to others. We want to be seen. One of the ways of knowing this is when someone is kind and someone demonstrates they care. All over Instagram I see people stating ‘MY engagement is down” but in my opinion that’s the wrong thing to focus on. You need to show that you are caring and you are kind. Be intentional in how you interact. Be intentional in what you post. Be intentional in what you say with thought to how it might make someone feel. When you do this from the right heart space then it starts to flow. So instead the right question to ask is “How can I form meaningful connections with people I care about”. If you say this to yourself before you open up the platform it just might just take your experience with others in a whole different direction.
Remember to have fun on Instagram
As I write and share this article I also want to remind us all not to take Instagram personally. It will never replace face to face interactions.
And one day this might all be gone. Remember My Space?
Until then focus on the things that matter. Your content and the story that you share and the connections you make.
If you found this article useful you might also want to read:
- Why comment pods can be hurting you
- Shadowban freakout
- 12 Famous Celebrities and their Instagram Dogs and Cats
- 9 Instagram Dogs with over 1 million followers
- 6 Instagram Dogs with followers over 500,000 and under 1 million followers
- My secret tool to increase engagement on Instagram
- How to add Multiple Links to my Instagram Bio
- How to make my dog famous on Instagram
And you can also consider my guide to help you become a Dog Influencer on Instagram.