Audience Engagement Strategies for More Clicks & Likes on IG

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 22, 2024

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Many brands and creators use Instagram to show off their most aesthetically pleasing and visually stunning content. But it doesn’t always cut it on social media platforms. No matter how cinematic or captivating your posts are, they won’t be meaningful if they don’t engage people. That’s why it’s a must for brands to have audience engagement strategies in place before they even plan their content.

Though Instagram was an app made for beautiful content, it also values community-building and conversation among its users. Brands should strive to produce relevant, interesting content that their followers will actively interact with. Not only does engaging content improve their relationship with customers, but it also boosts their page’s overall Instagram performance.

Do you want to know how your content can pique your target audience’s interest and drive engagement on your posts? Keep reading to see our top tips for forming your Instagram engagement plan.

People in the audience of a small show smiling and clapping.

What Is an Engagement Strategy and Why Do Brands Need One?

Many social media creators and brands know that a creative content strategy is a must for Instagram. But some might be asking, what is an engagement strategy? Do brands really need to consider engagement if they can come out with cool content anyway?

An engagement strategy is a brand’s game plan for how it can connect and build a relationship with its audience. The content you make under this kind of strategy should entice audiences to interact with your brand. That means liking, commenting on, saving, or sharing your post. Not only does this increase your overall engagement scores, but it also fosters rapport between you and your audience.

There are plenty of ways to go about getting an engaged audience, from influencer marketing to online brand challenges. However, your strategy always needs to be aligned with your branding and your target audience’s interests.

Engagement strategies are different from run-of-the-mill creative content plans. Just because you post aesthetic content doesn’t automatically mean people will interact with your brand. Sure, pretty posts might get a lot of likes. But if your content doesn’t spark conversation or audience participation, it won’t help you build a connection with your followers. Your content must make them stop scrolling and interact with your brand.

The ultimate goal of these efforts is to have an actively engaged audience. Engaging content helps build a solid community where your followers and customers feel valued. By having a relationship with your followers, it will be easier to drive conversions and sales for your brand.

Plus, Instagram’s algorithm will push your content higher on people’s feeds if you have an excellent engagement rate. By engaging your audience today, you pretty much guarantee a higher reach for your future content. You’re essentially hitting two birds with one stone!

A person hitting the “like” button on an engaging Instagram post.

How To Engage an Audience Effectively on Instagram

You can’t just post one or two engagement-driven content pieces and expect your engagement rate to skyrocket. Building that relationship with your followers takes time and effort. You need to excite and interact with your fanbase regularly until you see your engagement scores rise.

An engagement content strategy is never a one-and-done sort of thing; it is a long-haul project. Here are our top tips for how to engage an audience on Instagram over time: 

Consistently Come Out With Interesting, High-Quality Content

If your content isn’t interesting and eye-catching, it’s not likely to get a lot of likes and comments. Try to come up with fresh, unique content that can immediately capture attention and drive engagement. The goal is to get people to stop scrolling when they see your post and interact with it somehow.

Make sure that the theme of your content is relevant to your target audience. Align them with their interests or trends and topics they might be talking about online today. This helps make your content more shareable. If people share your content with their friends or Stories, it counts as engagement and boosts your reach further.

Aside from your content being eye-catching, it’s also important to ensure they’re of high quality. Don’t use blurry videos or overused photos you’ve uploaded before. People will most likely scroll past them. Instead, go with original, high-resolution, creative material every time you post. 

Spark Conversation With a Question in Your Post Captions

One easy way to get more comments on your post is by adding a call-to-action (or CTA) in your caption. Pose a question to your audience related to your post. Then, encourage them to leave a comment below to share their answer.

This strategy gives your followers a reason to comment something meaningful on your post. It makes room for a two-way conversation instead of a brand hard-selling its products to a customer with no voice. This can help make your audience feel more connected to you, thereby strengthening your overall relationship.

It’s also a terrific way to get audience insights about specific topics. That way, you can get to know your fans more and create content that you’re sure they will enjoy.

For example, let’s say you’re a health and fitness influencer, and you post content about your morning workout routine. Explain each step in your regimen in the caption. At the end of the post, ask your followers to comment on their favorite exercise to wake up in the morning.

Here are some other examples of questions you can put in your caption for a boost in comments:

  • Travel post: “If you could travel anywhere, where would it be? Let me know!”
  • Bookstagram post: “What book are you reading this long weekend? I’d love your recommendations!”
  • Christmas post: “Do you have any special holiday memories, too? Comment it below to spread the festive spirit!” 

Interact With Your Followers Through Comments and DMs

When you see followers comment on your post or send you a direct message, respond to them promptly. And that doesn’t just go for queries and complaints from angry customers. You should always reply as soon as possible, even to fans simply showing their love and appreciation for your posts.

This humanizes your brand while making a connection with them. Plus, it makes your audience feel like their thoughts about your brand are valued.

And don’t just reply to comments and DMs with a few emojis or a templated response. Say something more meaningful that can make your followers feel validated and listened to. Make it a conversation, not a reply, for the sake of a reply.

Genuine, thoughtful responses go a long way on Instagram. It helps make your brand look authentic and credible, thereby boosting your trust scores among your followers. It also strengthens your bond and emotional connection with them. 

Have a Diverse Range of Formats in Your Content Plan

Keep your content fresh, exciting, and engaging by experimenting with different content formats. Don’t limit yourself to feed posts only. Rotate what kind of content you choose each time to keep your audience on the edge of their seats.

Post interactive Stories or funny, relatable Reels that resonate with your audience and entice them to engage with your brand. According to Social Insider, carousel posts drive more conversations than other formats. So, make sure your content plan has some of those as well.

Posting various content types on Instagram means each post will appeal to a different kind of audience. Some like watching videos on the Reels tab, while others prefer admiring beautiful photos on the feed. By being versatile with your content, you can captivate and engage every kind of follower. 

Use Hashtags for Added Visibility and Engagement

Don’t forget to add any relevant hashtags to your post caption before you publish it. That way, your content can appear on the hashtag’s main page for more people to see.

By doing this, you can potentially drive engagement even from Instagram users who don’t follow you yet. And the higher your post’s reach, the more chances you get of gaining likes, comments, and shares on your content.

A yellow sticky note with the hashtag symbol written on it on an office table

Hop on Trends That Are Relevant to Your Brand

When something is trending online, people talk about it non-stop. So, if you post content related to a viral Instagram trend, it will likely drive tons of conversations and shares.

Create brand-related content referencing popular topics that everyone on the internet is talking about. Use viral memes or trendy audio clips, or perhaps insert a pop culture reference in your posts. These techniques can drive buzz and engagement from your audience as long as you choose the right trends to leverage.

Hopping on trends (or trendjacking) also tells your audience that you are in touch with current events and viral topics. It shows that your brand is in tune with the world, not caught in a bubble trying to sell stuff. This can help build a terrific brand image. 

Concrete Audience Engagement Examples To Inspire Your IG Content

We’ve already laid out how a brand should act on Instagram to drive engagement. Now, it’s time to brainstorm what interactive content you should post to get those likes, comments, and shares.

It can be challenging to think of new posts that can drive engagement consistently. You can’t just rely on aesthetic photos and videos. You need to think of ways to resonate with your audience and get them to interact with your content.

Are you having trouble crafting these kinds of posts meant specifically to gain more post engagement? Here are some concrete audience engagement examples you might find inspiration from: 

Contests and Giveaways

Two of the most effective engagement-driven posts are organized contests and giveaways. These posts encourage a brand’s followers to do a specific action for a chance to win a prize.

Common mechanics include hitting “like” on a post, tagging friends in the comments, or sharing content to their Story. You can even hold a UGC contest—let people compete for the prize by creating content featuring your brand.

Meanwhile, prizes might range from special discounts on purchases on the brand’s website or products mailed directly to the customer. Get your followers pumped to join your contest or giveaway by putting awesome deals and freebies up for grabs!

People have a natural desire to win free stuff. These posts tap into that innate feeling and encourage people to participate and engage with the brand. 

Instagram Stories With Interactive Stickers

Another way to engage your audience is by adding interactive stickers to your Instagram Stories. These clickable stickers allow people to interact with your Stories in fun, easy ways.

There are stickers for polls, trivia quizzes, Q&A posts, and many more. They’re amazing not just for engaging your fans but also for gaining audience insights from them. Here are some of our favorite stickers available in the Story sticker tray:

  • Polls: Ask your followers a question and allow them to vote between 2-4 answer options.
  • Emoji slider: See how your fans feel about something by asking them to slide an emoji across a scale.
  • Quiz sticker: Educate your followers with multiple-choice, trivia-style questions.
  • “Add Yours” sticker: Encourage people to post their content under a specific theme or prompt.

The more people engage with your Story, the more the algorithm boosts its visibility to other people. Using stickers is a terrific way to increase engagement and put your Story posts in the spotlight. The fact that it allows you to get to know your followers more is just the cherry on top! 

Fun and Creative Brand Challenges

Plenty of challenges have taken over social media, from the ice bucket challenge to trendy K-Pop dance challenges. To boost brand engagement on Instagram, make up your challenge for your followers to have fun with.

Inspire your followers to let their creative juices flow with your unique brand challenge. It can be something as simple as encouraging them to post photos with a specific branded hashtag in the caption. You could also go the extra mile to create choreography for a dance challenge. Not only does this give you tons of UGC, but it also creates a bond between you and your audience.

If you’re lucky, your brand challenge could go viral! When that happens, even more people will want to join in on the fun in the name of FOMO. Your brand can potentially get catapulted into fame and gain tons of views and engagement on your content!

A group of friends filming a video for a trendy challenge on Instagram.

Partnerships With Your Target Audience’s Favorite Influencers

Another slick technique to get your audience to engage with your content is to collaborate with an influencer they love. If your followers see someone they look up to in your posts, they’ll likely like and comment on it. Having a familiar face that everybody loves in your content also gives it a shareability factor. And more shares mean higher reach and engagement.

There are also a bunch of other benefits of working with a popular influencer. For one thing, if you do a collaborative post with a creator, you could reach an even wider audience. More people might discover your brand, giving you more new followers and potential customers.

Working with an authoritative influencer also makes your brand look trustworthy and credible. People trust their favorite influencers more than traditional brands. If an influencer associates themselves with a brand, it’s social proof for their supporters that the brand is worth following. 

Path Social Can Help Amplify These Audience Engagement Strategies

Beautiful photos and videos showcasing your brand are never enough. To be a successful brand on Instagram, you need to engage your audience, too.

Remember to create relevant posts in diverse content formats and interact with your followers through comments, DMs, and Stories. Be creative in your posts by coming up with engaging contests, challenges, and collaborations. That way, you can foster a fun, genuine relationship with your fanbase and gain their loyalty.

Are you not all that confident in these audience engagement strategies? Pair them with our growth services at Path Social to get the maximum possible engagement from your audience.

Our team can help you pin down the best target audience for your page. Then, we’ll push out your content to their feeds to get more eyeballs on your photos and videos. The more people see your content, the more likes, comments, and shares you might get on it. As a bonus, you’ll gain lots of new followers on your page, too! Start growing your fanbase and boosting your engagement rate with Path Social today.