3 Tips for Better Engagement on Instagram

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

3 Tips for Better Engagement on Instagram

Instagram continues to be a popular social media marketing platform with a variety of ways to promote your products and services. Taking full advantage of the features Instagram offers helps your brand stand out. Here are some creative ways you can attract more attention and increase engagement.

1. Use Interactive Instagram Story Stickers.

There are several stickers offered in the Instagram Stories feature that immediately increase exposure or prompt viewers to interact in some way. Here are some examples:

Location - Tag your Story with a general geographic (city, state) or specific (place of business, landmark) with a specific location. This can help people find the Story based on location.

@Mention - Mention other accounts in your Stories in a relevant way to grab their attention and allow them to share your Story to their Stories.

Add Yours - Encourage people to add their own image to your Story to create a collage of similar or related images from followers, instantly creating interactions and connections.

Questions - Prompt followers to ask you a question. They can click on this sticker and respond with their questions. You can then answer the questions in subsequent Stories to create a conversation.

Emoji slider sticker - Put in a question and allow people to respond by using the slider to choose an emoji that best expresses their answer.

Poll - Ask Yes or No questions or offer multiple choices for answers to get a sense of what your followers think about a topic.

Quiz - Create a short, fun, interactive quiz to test your followers’ knowledge about a topic.

Countdown - If you’re counting down to a special sale or other time-specific event, type in the date and time and let this sticker create a sense of anticipation and urgency.

2. Make an Informational Carousel Post

The carousel feature for images on Instagram lets you add up to 10 images to a single post. A person viewing the carousel would see the cover image and would have to swipe left on their device screen to scroll through the rest of the images. While carousels are a nice way to display photographs, a more engaging use of Instagram carousels is to present information like a slideshow. You could tell a story in 10 slides or relay facts or tips or break down a complicated idea into smaller parts to explain it more clearly. If you’re an accountant, you could include tips for preparing your paperwork for tax time. If you’re a florist, you could use each slide to recommend a different type of flower arrangement for different occasions.

The idea behind providing more useful information in a carousel is to showcase your expertise or provide extra value to your followers so they like, share, and otherwise interact with - and benefit from - your post.

3. Create Shareable Memes

Memes are typically humorous images with quotes that are shared widely on the Internet. Because much of Instagram is based on images, successful memes can attract attention and interaction for your brand. But what makes a meme funny?

While there are no hard and fast rules for what makes a good meme, often they combine an odd, awkward, or otherwise expressive image with an offbeat quote, sometimes related to the image directly but more often unrelated which adds to the humor.

For example, a very popular meme is the "distracted boyfriend" meme - the one with a young couple walking with the guy turning to look at an attractive woman walking past them and his girlfriend looking on in anger. People on the Internet have turned this stock image into a variety of memes to convey different messages. A healthy snack business could turn this meme into something relevant for their brand by labeling the girl walking by "sugary snacks" and the boyfriend "you" and the girlfriend "Your promise to yourself to eat healthier." Caption this meme: Looking to snack healthier? Try our delicious, nutritious XYZ Snacks!"

Another popular meme is the Spider-Man Pointing meme where three identical Spider-Man characters point to one another. While the original image comes from an actual Spider-Man cartoon episode from the 1960s and showed only two Spider-Man characters, the three-way meme has been used often across the Internet in a myriad of ways. This meme became so popular, that it was recreated in the major motion picture, "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

While it is perfectly acceptable to copy a popular meme and make it your own, do some homework and check the different ways it has been used in the past. If there is a credit or logo on it from the meme creator, do not remove it or add a credit if you know the originator.

You can also create your own meme but be careful with copyright issues. Do not use an image without either express written permission or use an image that allows modifications and distribution. Royalty stock photo sites could be good sources but read the copyright rules for the image you select.

Keep in mind that it is hard to protect an original meme and enforce your rights to it. Not everyone will keep your image credit or company logo on the meme. Pursuing a copyright violation with memes may not be worth your time or money.

As you can see, Instagram provides the tools to make your content instantly more accessible to your followers and encourage them to respond or interact. More attention and interaction can help improve the effectiveness of your Instagram-based marketing efforts.