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Social Media > Instagram Icon

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

You can't expect people to stick around if you only post content and remain silent.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Social media is a two-way street, so you can't just expect to present content and hope people stick around. You have to engage with them.

Each comment, like and DM is a form of communication in the social media sphere, allowing Instagram celebrities to break the barrier between them and their fans. We asked 13 Instagrammers about how they engage with their followers for feedback and inspiration.

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

1. Look past your own account.

Courtesy of Leslie Mosier

Name: Leslie Mosier

Handle: @itsdougthepug

Messaging and commenting back to people and commenting on other people's photos. Sometimes it's kind of easy to get lost in your own account and forget that you should still be talking to the other people that you follow. So remembering to do that is a big thing.


(Read more: The Secrets of the Woman Who Quit Her Job and Made Her Pug an Instagram Celebrity)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

2. Let audiences know you’re listening.

Jessica Hirsch

Name: Jessica Hirsch

Handle: @cheatdayeats

I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that’s a great way to let people know that I see what they’re saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I’m interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I’m always happy to answer it.


People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they’re coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, “What’s your favorite place?” or “Where should I go in New York?” So I actually read all of my direct messages also.


(Read more: This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

3. Share a story.

Image credit:

Name: Daniel Kordan

Handle: @danielkordan

I post pictures and create nice stories to go with them. I don’t just post a picture and say the location, I try to add a story under each picture, and get people involved -- ask them some questions and give them additional information.


People ask questions like “What camera do you use?” or “Where is this picture taken?” through direct message. I do not have lots of time to answer everything -- I receive up to 100 message per day, which is quite crazy.


(Read more: How This Physics Student Turned His Passion for Beautiful Landscapes Into Instagram Fame)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

4. Be an explorer.

Image credit: Micaela Erlanger

Name: Micaela Erlanger

Handle: @micaelaerlanger

I’m interacting on direct message and in the comments section. I’m curious about who is reaching out to me, so I’m exploring just like they are. That’s the beautiful thing, it's a melding of those worlds.


(Read more: This Celebrity Stylist Uses Instagram to Show Fans How Red Carpet Moments Are Made)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

5. Explore their accounts.

Peter Kmec courtesy of Natalie Amrossi

Name: Natalie Amrossi

Handle: @misshattan

I go into their profile and check out their work and comment. I think the more you engage, the more engagement you'll get. It connects you differently with your audience, and it's a fun way to kind of communicate.


There are so many different ways that you can engage with different people, whether it’s commenting on your own photo and just writing back to somebody -- if they write a nice comment to you, you could do the same in return. Clicking on a hashtag of a common interest and just commenting on photos that you like and liking different pictures as well as, now you can search different locations, and on the explore page, you can just scroll through. The Instagram algorithm already has posts in there that they think that you would like. So I think that's another great way to engage with other users.


(Read more: This Aerial Photographer Took Her Hobby to New Heights With Instagram)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

6. Create campaigns.

Ryan Glick

Name: Ryan Glick

Handle: @coffeenclothes

It's kind of built into our brand and our ecosystem. To give you an example, we teamed up with Vans last summer and [the campaign] was Coffee 'N Vans, and there was a call-to-action to post your best Coffee 'N Clothes shot but with your new Vans. So we can engage just through our mechanism and through our community.


We haven't done any paid media -- it's all been press and word-of-mouth marketing.


If you click on the hashtag #coffeenclothes, you see content from all over the world -- [you] can discover a trend in Indonesia or see the hottest coffee shops in Australia. [You] get exposed to different styles, different people, different coffee shops, different coffee trends.


(Read more: This Marketer Transformed His Instagram Into 2 Profitable Businesses)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

7. Ask questions.


Name: Lana Elie

Handle: @floomofficial

We try to open up a lot of conversation. We always ask people if they know what a flower is. We're very question-based. I probably do a lot less than I used to, but it's also when florists that we want don't respond to emails, we just go straight to Instagram because we know that's what they're going to be checking. A lot of our outreach to new florists is through Instagram messages.


(Read more: How This Former Personal Assistant Used Instagram to Turn Her Love of Flowers Into a Blooming Business)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

8. Host contests.

Murad Osmann

Name: The Osmanns

Handle: @FollowMeTo

We recently had a contest where we had people post photos in our style and write text about where they met their loved ones or how they met, their love story. Then we traveled with the winners. So we got really good engagement with that. This type of contest involves more difficult mechanics than a giveaway of equipment. A lot of people would want to have free equipment, but then they'd all subscribe to your content and unsubscribe as soon as the contest was over.

Obviously, we read all of the comments and communicate via stories, follow our hashtag comments on people who are doing photos in our style and encouraging them to do more. The communication works well when we talk to them and when we understand what they want. A lot of people write to us with suggestions of where to travel and which country to visit.

(Read more: How a Spur-of-the-Moment Photo Led to This Couple's Iconic Work Being Featured in Times Square and Around the World)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

9. Like and repost content.

Aureta Thomollari

Name: Aureta Thomollari

Handle: @aureta

I love the new feature [where] you can "like" comments. I think the number one way I show that I'm reading the comments and everything is by liking. And artists have been drawing me a lot, which is very flattering, so I repost their images that they draw and I comment and like.

(Read more: This Mysterious Entrepreneur Uses Instagram to Show Off Art and Her Travels and Now Has Half a Million Followers)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

10. Stay online with your followers.

Rachel Ryle

Name: Rachel Ryle

Handle: @rachelryle

I wish with all of my heart that I had the capability to do more engaging. I think that it's really important, especially in the first hour to two after I post my animation. Typically, I'm up until like 3 a.m. filming and editing the night before, I go bed for three hours and then I post at 6 a.m. so that New York commuters can see it at 8 a.m. their time. Even in my tired state, I really want to be there, because it's fresh and people are really excited about the new animation. It allows me, in the moment, to be there with them. I try my best, but sometimes it's hard to keep up with it.

One of Instagram's latest features of being able to like comments -- give people a heart back and let them know that I read their comment -- has been really helpful. It's just another way of me saying "thank you" for their time that they've taken to comment about my pieces. And outside of my work, I definitely scroll through the people I follow and even people I don't follow and like their stuff and comment, just because it's the affirmation that we all need to inspire us to keep creating.

(Read more: This Former Marketing Director Quit Her Job After 7 Weeks of Posting Amazing Animations on Instagram)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

11. Include customers.

Courtesy of Sharmadean Reid

Name: Sharmadean Reid

Handle: @wahnails

We try to mix the product with inspiration and customer images as well. Even if the customer images don't get a lot of likes, for me it's still important for our followers to see the fact that girls like them come to the salon. We use it to promote all of our in-salon events. It's definitely an ongoing conversation with customers in real time.

(Read more: This Entrepreneur's Eye-Catching Instagram Keeps Her Nail Salon 100 Percent Booked)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

12. Choose who to respond to.

Name: Claudia Oshry

Handle: @girlwithnojob

Something I really like about Instagram is that I can see all my DMs and then choose which to respond to. I get to see someone responding to my story or someone sending me a nice message, [and] I really like Instagram for that.

(Read more: Instagram's 'Girl With No Job' Actually Works 24/7 to Build Her Brand)

How to Engage With Your Audience Like an Instagram Icon

13. Focus on old content as well.

Melanie Garcia

Name: Melanie Garcia

Handle: @hamlet_the_piggy

With every post, I like to go back and look at what the comments are and see if anyone's asking us questions. I try to always comment and respond back to people, so they'll know that we are just as invested in them as they are in us. I'll also go back to old posts and see if anybody has any questions or is looking to engage or respond in any sort of way, as well as check Hamlet's direct messages. That's why I started the blog, to be able to just send links and engage that way, vs. having individual conversations with each person who has the same question, like, "How big is Hamlet going to get?" or "Where did you get her?"

But I also love going to the explore page and finding new pet accounts. That's where I get most of my inspiration. Ideas pop up when I am engaging and when I am meeting new people on Instagram and following different accounts.

(Read more: She Adopted a Pet Pig to Cope With Epilepsy. Now, Her Job Is Managing This Adorable Instagram Star)