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The Rules of Engagement

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

And no, I’m not talking about the hit American comedy (even though it is one of my favourites)...I’m talking about social media. One thing many businesses forget about when it comes to social media is the fact it’s meant to be ‘social’, and what do we do when we’re being social? We make conversation.

No one wants to see a soulless, bland, salesy social post between a picture of their friends avocado toast and the others new born baby. Instagram posts (that work) have to feel authentic, spark conversation and be optimised for the platform.

Okay, so the Instagram algorithm is slightly against us. No longer do we see posts in chronological order, but based on the accounts we seem to engage with the most, the timeliness of posts and how often we use Instagram. But don’t let that get you down, at least the right type of audience are engaging with your posts and, with a few rules of engagement, beating the algorithm can be as easy as 1,2,3.

Authentic content

High quality content seems like a no brainer doesn’t it? Because of this, you have forked out for new, glossy, campaign imagery but it still doesn’t seem to resonate with your audience... and it’s probably because it’s lacking that authentic feeling.

Regardless, there’s no denying that the most-liked and shared content on Instagram is often visually striking.

Seamless colour schemes. Breathtaking landscapes. Stylish curation. The sort of imagery that gets people to stop in their tracks and hit “Like.” But it needs to feel real. You want your imagery to be inspirational but not out of reach. It needs to connect with your target audience.

One of the best ways to achieve an authentic feel is to use influencers and utilise user generated content created by your community. Not only is it cost effective, it instantly gives your content validation as it’s been created by your customers.

Get conversational with your captions

The Instagram algorithm priorities engagement. So get your followers to engage with you and spark conversation!

Ask questions, encourage followers to tag their friends or even go chunky on your captions and write something so real, relatable and authentic your followers can’t help but comment.

Likes are great, they help boost your content to a wider audience and drive engagement; but for me, it’s the comments that matter. They seem more valuable and it takes a lot more time to craft a comment then to simply double tap.

Engage, engage, engage

A customer leaves a comment on your post, it’s time to engage! Whether it be a complaint (which 100% should be replied to) or a compliment, you should respond. It’ll make your community feel listened to and loved.

When it comes to growing a loyal following and increasing your engagement, the best practice is to increase how much YOU engage.

Engaging with comments on your posts but also posts uploaded by your fan base and Instagram users who seem like your target audience. Give them a like, say you like their content and not only will you increase your engagement, your reach will also improve.

Use all the Instagram features

When it comes to increasing engagement, the best practice is to give your audience content to engage with (sounds simple right?) From posts, to hashtags, to polls to stories. How are your following supposed to engage if you don’t give them anything to interact with?

Instagram has so many amazing features now. We’ve chatted about the the simple steps of engagement through captions, commenting and liking but how about Instagram stories and IGTV?

One thing I love about stories is how low-fi it can be. As it’s there for only 24hrs (unless saved as a highlight) you can use stories to give your followers more of an insight into your business, your life and behind the scenes. Get chatting into the camera, use the poll and question stickers, add your location to increase discoverability. Respond to the questions asked by your following and add the answers to your story. By doing this you’ll see your engagement increase and your following becoming more and more loyal by the day.

Time it right

First things first, if you’re a business and don’t have a business Instagram account, change that now. Having a business page on Instagram gives you an insight into your audience behaviour online.

As said in the introduction to this blog, engagement can be affected by the timeliness of posts. In the analytics section of the app, you can see when your audience is most active and it’s at this time it’s best to post your content as it’s more likely to be seen by more people.

If you’ve got a decent budget, it’s worth investing in an analytics tool like Later, Iconosquare or Sprout Social to get the most out of your content.

So there you have, seemingly simple steps to improving your Instagram game by sticking to the rules of engagement. If you need any extra tips or you’re looking for someone to transform your Instagram game then drop me an email on

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