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11 Basics for Growing Engagement on Instagram To be an Instagram superstar you must have engaged followers.

By Lesya Liu

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

2nix Studio | Shutterstock.com

Instagram is one of the hottest social platforms right now. You have to pay attention to Instagram, especially if your target market consists of millennials. While this network is pretty self-enclosed, it is still a powerful tool to gain business benefits. So, how do you increase engagement and ensure that it stays consistently high?

1. Great images.

This one is pretty obvious, yet it's not uncommon to see blurry, badly-lit pictures. If you post anything on Instagram, make sure it is good. Don't treat Instagram as a tool that's just an accessory for everything else you do in your marketing strategy. To get results from this network -- and any other platform for that matter -- you have to put in a great amount of diligence.

While Instagram became popular as a mobile sharing platform, smart brands today do not use phone photos unless they are very high quality. Instead, they take high-res photos obtained through professional photography and upload them using their mobile devices or a desktop uploader.

Related: How to Become an Instagram Millionaire

2. Hashtags.

Hashtags are super important, because this is the only way images get discovered on this platform. To champion hashtags:

  1. Identify industry-related tags.
  2. Have a good mix of common, semi-common and uncommon hashtags. This will ensure that your image will appear in lots of popular searches, but won't disappear when someone looks for images with less common hashtags.
  3. Be as descriptive as possible. If one thing really pops out about an image, use that hashtag.
  4. Sometimes you can use more abstract hashtags, like #beautiful, #style and #lifestyle.
  5. It's a good idea to use five to 10 hashtags on each image, but if you're just starting out, you're allowed to use more for initial exposure. But don't get too spammy or irrelevant.

3. Locations.

Geotag your images as much as possible, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar business. This will allow people to go through images at that location and add their own, enhancing your photo library.

4. Offer unique prospective.

If you're a part of something big and well-covered by media, offer your unique perspectives. For example, if you sponsor a local concert, you can post behind-the-scenes pictures. How awesome is that? Or, if you have a new product launch coming up soon, you could heat up interest with teasers. You could also show the innerworkings of your business. People love to feel like insiders on something exciting.

Related: Why Your Business Should Establish an Instagram Presence ASAP

5. Followers of other handles.

This is especially effective if you're starting out, or if you're trying to gain greater exposure. Identify handles of competitors' or influencers in your industry. Follow them first, so you're out in the open. Then, see who they follow and who follows them. If these handles are influential in their respective industries, it means that people who follow them and who they follow share the same or relevant industry, interests and passions. You want those people to follow you too.

6. Graphics with text.

Since Instagram is all about images, it becomes more challenging to stand out with just an image. Add some text. It can be a call-to-action, a testimonial quote or an announcement.

7. Questions.

Another idea to increase engagement would be to ask a question or create a poll with the question typed out on an image itself. Then, people would put their answer in the comment section, boosting engagement (which algorithm will notice).

8. Specials and promotions.

Some companies have been really creative in encouraging engagement by offering discounts for a specific amount of favorites. You, too, can create a promotion where you offer a discount on your products. For example, for every 50 likes, you will decrease an item's price by ten dollars. It's up to you how you want to set it up, but make sure it's enticing for your customers and that you're not breaking the bank for one Instagram post.

Related: 10 Examples of Instagram Ads and the Lessons They Can Teach

9 Reposts.

Reposts are a great way to show that you're an active part of Instagram community. If you find an amazing picture of your customer using your product, give them credit and repost it. It will show that you're interested in other people's content, and you are monitoring conversations that happen online.

10. Trending topics.

If a hashtag relevant to your business is trending, take advantage of it and gain tremendous benefits fast. Of course, trending hashtags get a lot of attention from lots of people, and images don't stay up at the top for too long, but it is still a great way to get in front of many new users. Do it only when hashtags are relevant to your business though; otherwise, you'll be too distracting and will confuse your existing followers.

11. Humor

Humor is a great way to connect with people. Not only does it show your great brand personality, it also makes you more memorable. Show your funny side once in a while to prove that you're on Instagram to not only sell, but to connect with real people. Have fun with Instagram, as it is a great platform to simply engage your followers and strengthen your long term relationships with them.

Lesya Liu

Social Media Strategist at The Social Media Current

Lesya Liu helps entrepreneurs create a meaningful and profitable Instagram presence that feels right for their creative businesses. Born and raised in Ukraine, she is a social media strategist and a photographer. Her passion lies in combining art and marketing to create compelling storytelling, both visually and textually. Most days she roams the Interwebs, looking for fresh, inspirational ideas or testing things out on her own social channels.

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