How to boost your Instagram engagement (probably not the answer you expect)

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Wondering how to get more follows, more clicks, more saves and shares on Instagram. Check out this episode of The Dare to Grow Show and learn how to boost your engagement on Instagram.

Let’s talk about Instagram engagement. How do you get more people to leave comments, send DMs, respond to stories, share and save your posts??

Because engagement is the biggest factor in growing your audience.

Remember, Instagram only shows your posts to a small percentage of your followers to start. If those followers engage with your post, that signals to Instagram that your post is worthwhile and it will then show your posts to more of your followers and maybe to more people via the popular page. 

So the usual advice is to post more, higher quality content, which is true, but there’s one piece of the puzzle that lots of people ignore which is what we’re gonna talk about in this episode of The Dare to Grow Show!

Resources + links

Instagram Caption Guide: xosarah.com/igcaptions

Instagram Workflow Training: xosarah.com/igworkflow

The whole shebang – my Grow Your ‘Gram course

Too long, didn’t listen…

Craig and I have been watching a lot of stand-up comedy specials recently because we’re in need a little humor in this very intense year. So a few nights ago we parked it on the couch and started scrolling through Netflix until we found a new comedy special.

And I’ll be honest, I was skeptical of the guy’s comedy skills because of his hair. Don’t laugh I know you do it too. See someone’s shirt and think – that person is gonna be so annoying. Or the way they gesture – that person is gonna be so boring.

We pre-judge because our brains are trying to get a handle on the situation and figure out what’s going to happen in advance to keep us safe. Even if that’s keeping us safe from a terrible comedian.

But I was in the mood for comedy, the show was doing well on Netflix, and even though his hair made him look like a pompous jerk, I figured why not give it a shot.

And here’s the kicker…after his first joke, I was sold.

But it wasn’t because it was a great joke – it was a self-deprecating embarrassing story, but it made him human, down to earth, relatable.

Learning something about this guy’s life and that he wasn’t just a rich comedian with bad hair got me into watching the entire special.

The same things happens on Instagram…

We only see a photo or someone and our brain starts to form an opinion or some idea of what that person might be like. So we have to use our captions and our videos to create a clear picture of who we actually are.

And I’m noticing that this piece of the puzzle is often forgotten. 

Another example: When someone joins my coaching program I usually check out their Instagram, read their captions, and get a sense of who they are. But after speaking to them on Zoom I often discover they are holding back so much of their personality. How funny, how sincere, how energizing they are.

They’re not doing it on purpose. 

You just cannot tell these things from photos and short captions.

Which means you need to tell stories.

You need to use your humor, your way of speaking, references for things you love and you spend your time on.

And you need to do video.

It’s very likely that if you aren’t getting the engagement you’re hoping for it’s because your audience isn’t feeling moved enough by your posts to take action.

People who comment, share, save posts are doing so because something in your photo, video, caption INSPIRED them to do so.

And I know it makes you nervous. I know it’s super awkward because my first couple of YEARS of video were awkward too. Going live made me so nervous and so sweaty and I talked so fast that on my very first Periscope someone told me to slow down.

So I fully understand how hard it is. 

But if you keep telling me you want to grow your audience and grow your business then you need to put on your boss pants and do the hard stuff. I did it, even when I didn’t want to, and that’s how I have the business and the audience I have now.

How about one more example…

Imagine you go to a conference and at that conference I’m sitting near you. You notice me, maybe you like my leopard print shirt, maybe you hear me talk about how I teach people to grow their audience on Instagram. And at the end of the day I walk up to you and say, “Here’s the link to enroll in my Instagram course, you’ve got 10 days”

And you’re like…ummm thanks??

It’s weird right?

But that’s what a lot of you are doing.

You’re giving your audience minimal information about who you are, minimal information about your experience, minimal information that positions you as an authority and expect people to be excited to learn from you and buy from you just because you’re there.

So instead, what if at that conference you said, “I like your shirt.” (That’s like someone liking your photo) and we got to chatting. I asked you about your business, and your Instagram, and you told me what challenges you were having.

Then I shared some of the challenges I’ve run into and gave you some tips to help. And I made sure to follow you, and connect further. And THEN I said, “Hey, if you’d like more help my Instagram course is open for enrollment and it would be a perfect fit to help you write better captions, take better photos, and figure out what to post on stories.”

That’s a lot less weird, right?

Because I’m talking to you like a human, I’m listening to your challenges, I’m sharing about myself.

You can’t just post a sentence or two a few times/week and expect your audience to put in the time to get to know you.

Think about the people you love to follow on Instagram, what do you know about them? Not just about their business or expertise, what do you know about their life offline?

  • Do they have kids?
  • Pets?
  • Where do they live?
  • Who do they live with?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What is important to them as a human?

If you spend some time on my Instagram you’ll learn that I live in San Diego, but originally from Michigan, I have two dogs, anxiety, I love punk rock and the Real Housewives, and reading everything I can get my hands on.

And that probably makes you feel a certain way about me. Maybe you want to be my bff, maybe you think I’m not your kind of person.

You don’t have to get super personal to have that effect. I’m not gonna tell you what I talk about in therapy or what I’m doing every minute of the day,  but I can certainly share enough of myself and my life so you understand who I am and feel a connection.

When people understand who you are, they’re more likely to interact with you, they’re more likely to trust you, they’re more likely to buy from you.

If you are not giving your audience something to connect with, then you are not going to get the engagement you’re looking for.

Note taking time – grab a pen and paper…

➜ List 3 people you love to follow (look at the first 3 people in your list of stories at the top of IG – those are the ones you engage most with) and write down what you know about them (not their business)

➜ Then scroll all the way to the end of the list of Stories and look at who you engage with least – what do you know about them? Probably not as much, right?

➜ Then list things about yourself that you could share with your audience to help them understand what you’re all about – again, not your business you as a whole person. Do you love running marathons, do you always make it to church on Sunday, do you put your dog in a backpack and tote them all over town. Who are you?

➜ Mention these things in your Stories, put them in your photos, add bits into your captions. Weave them into your marketing so you aren’t just a robot spitting out information.

These are the things will make you relatable and they’ll help you stand out in your niche.

Once your audience feels like you’re an actual human showing up to connect with them, THEN you’ll start to see your engagement grow.

I know it’s challenging to put yourself out there, but if you want the audience and you want the business then it’s part of the deal.

And one last note – it’s not about the numbers. You should do this with 100 followers as much as you do it with 1000 or 10,000. Because if you can’t get engagement with 100 then 1000 followers isn’t going to do you any good.

You can do it and your audience is going to be so freaking stoked to learn more about you.

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