Instagram has certainly evolved. What started out as simply a social media platform for individuals to share their photos with friends has become a place for individuals and businesses to engage, to grow a following, and to post far more than just photos.
But like every other social media platform, getting new followers, likes, shares, and comments takes time, some tenacity, and some actionable strategies. If you are unhappy with the number of comments (which stimulate discussion, of course), then you should take a look at these tips.
First, understand why comments on Instagram are important
Instagram has algorithms, just like search engines do. They track the activity on accounts. The more activity, the higher on the scale those posts will be shown on followers’ accounts.
And, the more activity on a post, the more relevant Instagram judges a post to be. So, it is obviously ranked higher when users search by topic or category on its “explore” tab.
Obviously, scoring higher based on comments ultimately means more traffic to your account. If you are a business, this is obviously a good thing.
And people are impressionable
Here’s the thing about likes and comments on Instagram. They are tabulated and displayed on each post, as well as the company’s profile page, much like Facebook accounts (after all, it is owned by Facebook). Here’s an example of ModCloth’s profile page:
Number of posts and followers are recorded and displayed.
Now here is an individual post from the same company posted just one day ago.
And here’s the tabulation of likes and comments (on the first day of posting, no less.)
With this kind of activity, users of Instagram will see ModCloth as widely popular and are far more likely to sign up, so they can “get in on the action.”
Let’s look at those tips
1. Get out there yourself
Start following company’s that are related to your business, not direct competitors. If you sell interior wall design products, follow businesses that offer paint, furniture, window dressings, etc. Begin to comment on their posts. Comments are always appreciated and chances are they will acknowledge your comments with replies. Invite them to sign up to your account and comment on some of your wall art. Good collaborative relationships can be formed in which you both recommend one another.
And no matter where a comment comes from (another business or an individual follower), always reply. You can set up a social mention tool that will alert you when you receive a comment so that you can access it quickly and make that reply.
2. Solicit comments
This is not a time to be timid or shy. You can solicit comments in various ways, but one of the best is to ask readers for their opinion – people love to give opinions (that’s why surveys are so popular).
Post a photo or video and ask a specific opinion question in the caption.
You probably want to stay away from politics and religion, but there are plenty of other mildly controversial news items that could be the fodder for lots of comments and discussion. How about the polar bear going extinct? How about the devastation to animals in the Australian bush fires? How about the recent efforts to clean up our beaches and oceans?
Ask for support of a cause that is near and dear to you. Toms Shoes does a great job of this – it gives away a pair of shoes for every one sold. It has grown to support lots of other cause in poor countries too – eyecare, clean water, prenatal care – all from sales of its shoes. Talk about a great way to tug at people’s heartstrings and to sell the product at the same time! Not too long ago, Toms had an Instagram campaign – asking people to go one day without shoes and to send in pictures of their bare feet. For every picture, Toms would donate a pair of shoes. Here’s the response:
You can also purchase comments. There are companies that actually sell them. They will send their online communities to your profile and ask them to comment on one or more of your posts. If you are young and need an initial boost on Instagram, this is an option.
3. Focus on high quality and frequency
Nathan Chan had an idea. He saw a need for a digital magazine just for young entrepreneurs and startups. It’s called Foundr and was launched in November 2014. He decided to launch his magazine through an Instagram campaign. He began with amazing photographs, with an inspirational quote superimposed on each. He posted many times throughout each day. And he asked for comments; he offered a free magazine in exchange for likes, shares, and comments. It’s called promotion, and he did it well. In fact, his account went from 0 to 30,0000 followers in just 10 months. Today, he is considered a “guru” in the process of growing an Instagram following, and businesses would do well to follow all of his tips and advice.
4. Provide incentives/contests
One of the things that Chan does well is providing an incentive for followers to comment and share. He tells them exactly what they must do to get a free magazine or subscription, and these always include sharing with a certain number of friends, commenting, etc. You should do the same.
What can you offer as an incentive? A free product? A great discount?
You might also try surveys and contests. Remember, people love to give their opinions. And contests are always great. ModCloth has contests to name an item of clothing it has just acquired. Followers can “vote” on the best name, and the winner gets that item free.
Jim Stanton, Content Marketing Director for the writing service Supreme Dissertations, has this to say: “Once we began to run a few contests, offering free pieces of writing to the winners, we saw our following really expand. And we also found that having several winners as opposed to just one brought far more interest.”
5. Tell stories
One of the great things about Instagram is that it is so visual. You can actually tell stories with a series of photos, and now educational, entertaining, and inspirational videos. Tell your own story, those of your team members, and certainly those of your happy customers.
Remember, visuals are processed and retained by the brain about 60,000K better than words. And Instagram is the perfect venue for these. What’s more, people love stories – far more than just a parade of products!
Stories are what make your business human. And Today’s consumer is initially much more interested in your “humanness” than in what you are selling. Relationships first; selling later. Best Essay Education has found that featuring its team members regularly generates far greater interest and tends to keep visitors engaged and spending more time rather than just scanning and bouncing.
6. Entertain your target audience
Instagram is not meant for all “seriousness.” If you have done the research and understand your target audience, then you should understand the types of humor they appreciate.
Put some variety into your posts by including great humor once in a while. Memes and GIFs are great; also, a “joke of the day” – if they are good, followers will come to get those and share them with their tribes. More traffic for you! Wow Grade discovered some time ago that when it added humor to its repertoire of posts, followers returned more often.
7. Use human faces whenever possible
People will respond better to posts that have humans in them. People will comment more on these. A close second is animals.
8. And those hashtags!!
Instagram organizes posts into categories based on common hashtags.
Research the most popular hashtags in your business niche. This is a part of smart social listening – you want to know what is trending in your niche. These are the ones that searchers will use, and you want to show up. Yes, there will be many others with the same hashtags, but at least you will be there. And you can show up on timelines of those who are not even following you.
The old adage that “timing is everything” applies to social media too. You will need to do some research on the best times to post on Instagram but also dig deeper and find the best times for your target audience.
In general, the research shows these times as best:
- In the wee hours of the morning
- Other early morning hours that tend to coincide with breakfast or arrival at work
- Late in the afternoon once the workday is over
But do not focus solely on these times. If your audience is comprised of a lot of freelancers, for example, they will check social media throughout a day. And if your audience is in a variety of time zones, the general times may not be the best. Keep track of when you are receiving the most views, likes, and comments (Instagram has tools for this), and plan your postings accordingly.
You might not want to be up at 2 a.m. posting to Instagram. But you can use an automated posting scheduler to do this for you.
So here you have nine tips for generating more traffic and thus comments on your Instagram account. All of them are immediately actionable and relatively easy to implement. Start with a few of them and move onto the others. And patience is in order here. Nothing happens overnight. Plug along consistently, and you will see results.
Nicole D. Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor to a number of platforms for digital marketing specialists. She consults with specific companies, such as Pick the Writer, on effective social media marketing, and is a full advocate of using research-based data to make those campaigns more successful. In her free time, Nicole is a passionate runner and a curious beekeeper. She also runs her own blog, Live Inspired Magazine.