As a brand or business that’s new to Instagram, the thing you'll be seeking most is engagement. However, in order to get real followers, likes (if you’re not buying them), and comments, you need to earn them.
As always, in order to earn something, you need to work hard for it. On Instagram, one of the most important things you can do in the beginning is to experiment. Experimenting is what’s going to help you figure out what your followers like and when they like it. So, what are the things you need to figure out that will get you more engagement?
4 things you need to experiment with on Instagram before getting it right
1. The types of pictures you post
There are different types of styled pictures that you can upload on Instagram, and you have to experiment to know which ones your followers like most. It’s a matter of uploading the same type of content, and then seeing how your audience reacts to it.
You could be posting pictures with inspirational quotes five times a week, and they may be getting you a hundred likes, but if you pay attention, you’ll see that maybe the behind-the-scenes pictures you’re uploading during the weekend are getting you three hundred likes.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. One of your experimented posts could flop, but there's nothing to be embarrassed about. You had to try it out first to see what the reaction would be.
Try out different images, see what sticks and what doesn’t, and then do more of what works. Try to pick images that relate to the tone of your brand. If you’re a creative brand, maybe colorful images would work better than black text on a white background.
Instagram is all about images, so if you want your brand to be seen, this is a pivotal part of the process.
2. The time you post
According to Sprout Social, the best time to post on Instagram is “Wednesday at 3 p.m., Thursday at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., and 3 to 4 p.m. and Friday at 5 a.m. The safest times to post to Instagram are Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
Even though this data exists, there are some brands who choose to completely ignore this tested data, and their own posting schedule works for them. You might read different times from the data above, and you might hear “Post whenever your specific customer is on. Not when someone tells you your customer might be on.”
While it would be easier to tell you which opinions to follow, it's best to just experiment. You can follow the times above or just figure out when some of your followers are posting, and post when they do.
Keep in mind that even if the data is tested, it may not work for you. You could have a completely different audience that isn’t up until 12:00 p.m., but they’re fully awake at 3 a.m.. That’s something you’ll have to test.
3. The hashtags you use
The hashtags that you use are one thing that can determine how many likes, comments, and/or followers you get. There are numerous hashtags that exist already that you can utilize for your brand, and you can even invent your own (if you can get your followers to use them).
To experiment with hashtags and to figure out which ones would work best for you, gather a list of different hashtags you can use (here’s how you can find the right hashtags to use for your Instagram posts) and then use them in different posts.
For example, you might find that using the hashtag #booksbooksbooks will get you more engagement than #booksonbooks.
However, it’s not just about the kinds of hashtags you’re using, it’s also about how many hashtags. While most people recommend that you use all thirty hashtags available to you, there are some people who recommend only using eight to fifteen hashtags, and that works extremely well for them.
So, try different types of hashtags on your posts, and then mix around the amount you’re using. Make sure you’re really tracking the engagement you’re getting. If you find that neither is getting you too many likes, the problem may be in your picture or caption. Pay attention to everything for the first few months!
4. The captions you write
Your Instagram caption isn’t just something that you can write with no thought, especially if you’re a brand or business. You’re not just uploading to share your stories, and to connect (though, those should be huge reasons) you’re also there to gain customers, followers, and/or readers.
Every word that you’re putting out there matters. Captions can’t be written while you’re one-third listening to your partner, one-third shoving toast in your mouth, and one-third typing on your phone.
People don’t just look at the images on Instagram, they also read the caption. They're interested in what you have to say, not just show.
If you want to experiment with your captions, make sure that everything you’re writing correlates with your brand, tone, and message. So, what do you need to experiment with your caption?
One thing is how you can get your followers to comment. You can:
- Ask if people agree and why, what they’re doing in their business, life, etc.
- Ask people what they need help with, what you can do for them
- Tell people to comment “YES” if they agree
- Tell people to comment your name letter by letter if they want to enter some sort of giveaway
You also need to experiment with your captions being long or short. If you’re targeting busy momprenenuers, maybe you’ll find that a one-paragraph caption gets you more engagement, but if you’re targeting teens who spend to much time on social media, you could get away with something longer. It all depends on who your target audience is.
Finally, do your readers prefer something witty and funny or do they prefer something more formal? Do they love your bluntness and curse-filled captions or do they prefer sweet and caring? This depends on how you want to put yourself out there and who your readers are.
Like I said, try it all for a few months. Forget what doesn’t work, and do more of what does.