Hi, Nick Ponte here. I run a digital marketing agency, and I love using my experience to help small business owners in Hawaii navigate marketing in the online world. Last week, I shared how businesses can prepare for exciting changes to social media apps for customer relations. This week, we discuss how you can improve engagement right now, through an app that has challenged marketers for years: Instagram.

In the past, Instagram’s limited functions created hurdles for social media managers. Businesses couldn’t pre-schedule posts like they could on Facebook, and content primarily consisted of images with limited text.

Now, with its integration into the Facebook family and its capabilities for cross-app messaging, Instagram has become friendlier for business use. Instagram continues to add tools to help business owners create a successful social marketing strategy, and through convenient third-party apps, posts can be scheduled ahead of time. 

How can your business improve its social media engagement on one of the most popular social media platforms?

Also Read: How Local Businesses Can Use Facebook To Increase Sales

How Instagram Engagement Directly Benefits Your Business

If you want to make connections with customers, you have to swim in the same waters. Social media provides an excellent avenue for that, and Instagram sits among the top four most popular social media apps. Users can like, save, and share your posts, all of which increase your visibility and give your brand recognition.

Did you know that the peak time for Instagram engagement is around mid-day, central standard time? It makes sense when you think about when most people across the country take lunch breaks. First thing in the morning and right before bedtime are prominent times for interaction, too.

Of course, if you’re reaching followers on Maui, consider the times of day they take breaks and check their phones. The central standard time zone mentioned above takes place between 6:00 and 9:00 AM in Hawaii… not exactly time for a lunch break. Even though statistics point to that timeframe as the most active for Instagram users, consider the industry and time zone your business reaches, and adjust according to hours when your followers would most likely check their social media accounts.

The day of the week also makes a difference. Weekdays see the most active viewers; weekend posts don’t reach as many.

If you optimize your social media engagement, you reach more people with more content on a regular basis. Getting your business name repeatedly before users’ eyes creates branding familiarity. Plus, you have the opportunity to show the kinds of products and services you have to offer. You also get to communicate directly with followers through comments and messages.

It doesn’t take that long to set up a profile and get started. Once you have an account, consider these tips to strengthen your online engagement.

Also Read: Content Marketing Guide

4 Steps to Increase Instagram Engagement 

Try these 4 strategies to expand social media engagement through your business’s Instagram account:

  • Observe Your Audience’s Engagement

Through third-party apps like Hootsuite, you can view analytics for Instagram. This helps keep track of your account’s viewership, interactions, and shares.

Run tests by posting content and see when you get the most interactions. You can post in the feed or in the temporary Instagram Stories, both of which give different kinds of response options. While the feed invites comments and likes, Stories allow for direct messages, polls, quizzes, and question boxes. You can also share and tag other posts in Stories.

Engagement will vary according to the day of the week and certain times of day, depending on your audience and the industry your business serves. Consider what works best for your business. Pay attention to the fluctuations so you can know when your audience is most likely to interact. They can’t like or share your post if they don’t see it, and Instagram’s algorithms can be tricky to navigate.

Try using CTAs so followers will share your posts or tag friends. These could include discounts, entrances to giveaways, or signing up for email and text lists.

  • Design Attractive Posts

I’ve previously recommended that businesses should pay a designated employee to manage social media accounts. In addition to making sure these accounts get enough attention, it also helps to ensure brand consistency through design and communication. 

The social media manager needs to have an eye for marketing trends and attractive content. Use an online design tool like Canva to create graphics. It’s user-friendly with tons of options for creating visuals that match your brand’s look and feel.

Remember that you don’t need to fit every possible detail about a topic into one post. You can always provide a link in your account’s profile that leads to more information. For recurring content, highlight a new aspect every time you post.

By the way, make sure poor grammar and punctuation doesn’t distract from the message you’re sharing, either. Proofreaders are always a good idea.

  • Set a Regular Posting Schedule 

Make sure your followers regularly see posts with your business’s brand and services. They need reminders so they make mental connections to your business at appropriate moments. Determine the best times for posts to go out, and schedule accordingly. If you don’t get the engagement you want after a month, make a couple of changes. Learn as you go.

A local coffee drive-through recently opened a second location and used Instagram ads to stir up interest. These ads invited users to sign up for text message alerts, building a buzz in their community and an identifiable brand. They became well-known in their community before their building even had the right sign on it! 

  • Get an Instagram Scheduling Tool

Several services and third-party apps allow you to create and schedule posts in advance. This means you can chunk your social media prep time, and save yourself from switching contexts on a daily basis. This lets you shift your focus to other aspects of business throughout the week while the scheduling tool posts for you at predetermined times.

Some of these services allow you to manage multiple social media accounts. Simplifying the steps you need to take in your regular posting processes helps a busy small business with limited employees and resources to pivot and give attention to other important tasks.

With more people than ever regularly using Instagram, businesses of any size can expand their market reach in a number of creative ways. Take advantage of the free features, and look into paid promoted ads to increase visibility. Instagram provides an excellent mode of engagement with customers, so make use of the benefits it offers. Ideally, you want to be like the aforementioned coffeeshop, driving engagement and buzz without lifting a finger—which in turn will boost revenue like none other.

If you want to learn more about social media marketing or want help creating a solid strategy, reach out to us today!

Further Reading: Boost Your Internet Marketing in Hawaii With These Tips



Photos Courtesy of Souvik Banerjee, Djim Loic

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