Great social media engagement is always rooted in relationships. And relationships are built on meaningful interactions. Today, Instagram, as well as the other top social platforms, is more saturated than ever, which means it is tougher than ever to cut through the noise.

Luckily, there’s one digital marketing approach that allows you to cut through the noise and have your audience come to you, rather than you trying to reach them.

That tactic is engagement. More specifically, by building relationships with your Instagram audience, you command attention and get an engaged audience.

When you have an engaged audience, you have loyal followers. This means loyal supporters who comment on every single post you share, who show a great interest in your brand, and who become valuable customers.

But can you convert more of your followers into loyal supporters and customers? Can you get them to come to you instead of you having to chase them?

Turns out, you can.

5 Ways to Get an Above Average Instagram Engagement Rate

In this article, I am sharing the 5 secret tips that allowed me to turn my followers from regular followers into loyal supporters on Instagram.

Okay, so the one thing we can all agree on is that consistent interaction builds relationships. And what lays the foundation to have an engaged audience on Instagram is interacting with your audience.

Just because the interactions take place on Instagram doesn’t mean the principle of building relationships is any different. You’re still interacting with humans, right?

This means, that essentially, my Instagram tactics are based on regular human interaction and relationship-building principles, only they’re adapted for the Instagram landscape.

Before we start, you can find out the current engagement status of your Instagram account using this Instagram Engagement Rate Calculator at Kicksta.

1. Respond to comments

On Instagram, you want to take every opportunity you can to engage with your audience.

Everyone wants more comments on their Instagram posts, but then when you look at their posts, you can see that they aren’t responding to the comments they receive. And what do you think happens when someone talks to you, and you just look away without responding?

Remember that building relationships on Instagram is based on the same relationship-building tactics in real life.

If you don’t respond to the comments you receive on your Instagram posts, whether it be questions or comments, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities for you to engage your audience and improve your relationship with them.

Because if you aren’t responding to the people who are commenting on your Instagram posts, they’ll get tired of talking to a wall without receiving any response, and they’ll go somewhere else. Possibly your competitor.

My most loyal followers on Instagram, the people who like and comment on every single post I share no matter what, are the people whose comments I’ve responded to every single time.

And the reason for that is that when you respond to a comment, you acknowledge your audience, and they’ll feel both seen, heard, and valued.

When you respond to Instagram comments, they’ll know that they can expect a response from you, thus increasing their chances of commenting on your future posts.

2. Ask questions

You can’t expect your audience to make the first interaction.

Often you have to be the one who takes the first step and invite your audience to interact with you.

By asking simple questions, you show your audience not only that you care about them, but also that you are interested in hearing what they have to say.

When you get comments by asking questions, you shouldn’t just leave it at that though. It’s when they leave a comment that the fun part begins. Now you can start interacting with them, ask follow-up questions, and get to know them better.

The questions I found that spark the most comments are when people have to choose between one or the other. That’s because there are always people on both sides, and obviously, people want the side they are on to win.

What’s more, these kinds of questions don’t demand too much thinking nor writing by your audience.

With a quick tap on some letters or emojis, they can comment, and then you can hop into the conversation and proceed to chat with them.

Here are some examples that I often use:

Left or right?

Which do you choose?

Pick one!

Yes or no?

The questions/call-to-actions are clear, concise, and straight to the point. (The Instagram post from Hubspot below demonstrates an engaging “which do you choose” format.)

In other words, everything you need to be on social media.

3. Chat one-on-one

If you’re talking to someone one-on-one in real-life, the conversation becomes much more intimate, and the conversation feels more genuine. You start to build a much deeper, personal relationship with that person.

The good news?

The same principle goes for establishing relationships with your audience on Instagram!

For doing this, Instagram’s private messaging feature, Instagram Direct, is perfect for this.

Instead of only talking to your audience through the comment section of your post, you can take the conversation to a much more personal level by moving it to your Direct Message (DM).

And from my experience, this is where you build the deepest connections with your audience.

4. Show them that you listen

Just like listening is important in real life, it is tremendously important for building relationships with your audience on Instagram as well.

So, how can you do this?

Well, the best way that you can show your audience that you actually listen to them is by recapping things they’ve told you and ask questions about them.

Doing this shows that you are attentive to what they are saying. What this does is it makes it seem like you’ve known each other for a much longer time than you actually have – even though you’ve never met in person.

Because the truth is, it’s a lot more difficult to build a strong relationship with someone on Instagram than it is in real life.

Nothing beats real-life human interaction. But while on Instagram, you’ll have to make the best use of the platform.

In fact, when it comes to reaching people from your target audience, Instagram is an amazing platform.

You can only meet so many people in a day in real-life, but on Instagram, you can interact with thousands.

For instance, let’s say that one of your followers comments on a post you’ve shared.

You ask a question about what they’re going to do this weekend. They might reply and tell you that they’re going to a wedding.

Then, sometime later, you ask them how the wedding was.

Doing this shows that you truly value them and what they say.

The best part about this is that when you show that you remember so many things about them, they’ll feel guilty for knowing so little about you.

And before you know it, you have a relationship with your audience that’s almost as strong as one in real life.

5. Show that you value your audience

If people don’t feel appreciated, they won’t hesitate to leave you.

Therefore, it is important that you often and regularly tell your audience as a whole and individually, how much you appreciate their support.

Something that I’ve done that I’ve found to be very effective in making my loyal followers even more loyal is to send a private message to them telling them how much I appreciate their constant support.

If you want to thank your audience as a whole, you can do this by simply making a post where you thank everyone. While this is a good way to show gratitude, it doesn’t become as personal and genuine as if you’re writing to them one-by-one.

If you want to take it one step further, you can even give the people who have been the most loyal to you gifts as a thank you.

It can be everything from a product sample to a coupon code.

Making the thank-you even more personal, such as giving them a coupon code with their name, will personalize the experience, humanize your brand, and make them more loyal to you.

Final Thoughts on Instagram Engagement

As a brand, building strong relationships with your audience on Instagram and other social media is one of the most beneficial things you can do.

When you build relationships with them, they’ll develop trust in you. And when they trust you, they’ll become much more likely to buy from you.

Our guest author Jens Wirdenius is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Veloce International marketing blog and the influencer marketing directory Veloce Network. He is a social media and marketing nut, sharing his passion for online marketing and business in his articles.

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