A common problem that all of us itty-bitty (yet, totally fabulous) businesses face with social media, is increasing engagement from our followers.
When social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram changed the feeds from chronological to an algorithm feed in early 2018, it created some challenges for businesses that do not get immediate engagement or don’t appear that popular (as in, not many likes or comments on posts). AKA: SMALL businesses.
Here are a few quick ideas you can use TODAY to increase engagement, grow your following, and ensure that the content you are posting is going to resonate with your target audience.
1. #HASHTAG, BABY
The first and most important thing you need to do for social media - more specifically Instagram: You need to USE hashtags.
Yes, they can be annoying especially #when #people #begin #to #use #them #like #this.
Don’t be that person.
Instead, select key words that describe the photo. For example, if it’s a picture of you working out, use variations of hashtags such as #workingout or #liftinghard. Also, use hashtags of a category the photo may fall into. For example, for a picture of a Tony Robbins quote, you might tag #motivation, #inspiration, #TonyRobbins, #quote, or #positivelife.
We recommend you make a list of hashtags in the notes of your phone, or save them in groupings in a scheduler such as Planoly, that support the general theme of the post. For example, if you owned a quilt shop, your hashtag list would include words such as: #sewing #quiltsofinstagram #creating #localbusiness #HighRiver #CraftyTime #sewcrazy. Simply copy and paste the hashtags from the notes to the social media post. Having a list of hashtag groupings you can copy and paste will save you from coming up with a bunch of creative hashtags on the spot. Also it is always a good idea to create a hashtag that is specific to your business - so people can find your posts, and also use your tag when it is something that is very “you”. Here at The Art of Business we have a couple of hashtags we use in every post: #theartofb.ca, #artofbusiness, #aainspiration
Your list should have at least 20 - 30 hashtags PER grouping. Yes, I know. It seems obnoxious. But think of these hashtags as a search engine people use to find what they are looking for…so the more the better, Instagram allows for you to add 30 to a post - we recommend you max out the 30 each time - you will notice an instant change in your exposure and reach. To keep it looking tidy and clean, paste the hashtags into one comment in the comment section. This will preserve the tidiness of your post and make the caption easier to read.
2. CALL TO ACTION
Speaking of a caption that is easy to read, in your posts request a call for action. Ask a question, or for advice after you’ve written what you wanted to write in the caption. People LOVE to give their opinions or advice on things. Don’t feel self-conscious if no one responds; this happens to ALL of us and is just part of the growing process. Just keep asking and posting! Every post you do should have a call to action of some sort - your goal with social media is to encourage engagement. Keep that in mind and make sure every post you do is with a purpose.
3. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Posting when your audience is scrolling is also a key to your success. This will differ from account to account. But, a good starting place is to ask yourself is, “When do I scroll my social media?”
Most of us will scroll during down times of the day, not during the peak hours of work. So, aim to post during lunch breaks, after dinner or before work, the times when you find yourself scrolling.
Also ask yourself, “What days are am I less likely to scroll?” For most of us, we do less browsing on Sundays, as it is these days that we are either traveling home from the weekend away, doing house chores, meal prep or taking advantage of our last bit of “free time” before work again Monday morning. With this in mind, if you have an important announcement to make or sale to push, consider another alternative day, rather than Sunday, as this is a less popular day for most people to spend online.
Want to skip the guessing? You can use the Instagram marking platform like, Later, which not only will calculate the best time to post for you, but will also give you a place to schedule all your social media posts from one place. Hello convenience. Or if you are more of an analytical type of person you can dig into your analytics and put together a pretty solid plan that will be specific to your exact audience.
4. POWER UP YOUR TEAM
Talk to your employees, team members or friends and request for them to help create engagement on your posts by commenting or liking whenever they see a post.
You can even take it a step further, and DM the post you need engagement on to a few people and ask for comments. Doing this ensures that they don’t miss the post in the algorithmic feed. You could even come up with an agreement that if you send your post to them, they comment and in return, they can send theirs to you, and you comment! This works especially well for small businesses operating the same area or town. After all, it’s all about lifting each other up! And who doesn’t want to be lifted! Yes yes I know we may hear some flack on this point - when we do things like this we encourage authentic engagement with people who are our ideal clients. Engagement pods online are great but often Instagram will figure you out and that wont be a good thing.
Form strategic relationships.
5. USE STORIES
Both Facebook and Instagram have the “stories feature.” Think SnapChat for social media pages. It is a quick “story” that dissolves away after a 24-hour period.
Added bonus is you can see who has viewed it! Stories can be great for less-clean content, or content that doesn’t tie in as well to a certain “look” you may be trying to maintain on your social media page, but still creates opportunities for engagement from your followers! Stories are becoming more and more popular, almost to the point where that is ALL some users pay attention to. Understand the power of this feature and make sure you are using it. People love to see the in-the-moment updates and for us we like to use our stories to share a bit of everything. Our IG Feed is pretty specific and planned out so we really take advantage of the stories feature to let people have a different perspective into our business and personal lives.