6 Tactics To Increase Instagram Engagement in a "Click Farm" World
Some of you may have heard about the recent exposure of three Chinese men in Thailand who were operating what is called a "click farm."
In their rented apartment near the border of Cambodia, these men were using hundreds of cell phones and hundreds of thousands of SIM cards to vamp up "likes" and views on a Chinese social media platform called WeChat. They were arrested, and their operation was stopped. If you want to know more details on the story, click here to view the ABC News article.
Now, why am I bringing this to your attention? Because it affects all of us.
Whether you are a small business owner learning how to utilize social media or a professional selfie Instagrammer, this affects you.
I'm sure we've all heard of companies using spam bots to rank higher in online searches and to rake in money from ads, but "click farms" are a whole new level. Now that this operation in Thailand has been stopped, there will be thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of people wondering why their engagement on social media has gone down.
Why aren't they getting more likes on their Instagram photos? Why are their Facebook posts reaching a quarter of the number of people as before?
This is where true, genuine social media engagement is most valuable. In times like these, we rely on those true followers, those people who "like" and comment on all our photos because they love them!
I ADORE Instagram. So much. And I don't want some awful operation like these men were running...or the takedown!...to monopolize my social media efforts. Therefore, I need to make sure I'm doing my part in keeping my account alive and well.
Here are six tactics you can use to increase your Instagram engagement in a time when "click farms" are all too common — and these actually work!
1. Be consistent.
First things first, you must be consistent in your posting. Often I forget to do this, and my engagement definitely slows. Posting once a day or every other day helps keep your feed fresh and dynamic. The more people see how active you are, the better chance they will follow you and engage with your content ("like," comment, etc.).
Also, try to be consistent in the way you post—the look and feel of your images, the vibe you want to give off, etc. This is not to say every single photo has to look exactly the same, but try to find a way of consistency that works for you and gives your feed its singular charm.
2. Use local hashtags and "geotagging" to reach more of your ideal audience.
Using hashtags like #photooftheday or #lifestyle might get you some "likes" and some reach, but are you really reaching the audience you want to? For example, if you are self-made travel expert for New England small towns, you probably want to reach those people in New England who might want to utilize your services. (Side note, I know someone who does this, and her Instagram feed is awesome! Check it out here or head over to her newly published blog!)
For example, I want to reach those in New England who are looking for a wedding photographer; so I might try topically relevant hashtags like #NHwedding or #NewEnglandweddingphotographer. Instagram allows you to use up to thirty hashtags on your post, but do your research on how to make those hashtags unobtrusive.
With Instagram's "geotag" feature, you can tag your postings with the location of the image, and it will show up in that location's "feed," so to speak.
And want to know a secret? You can also do this with Instagram stories! If you tag your story with a location, that image will appear in the location's "story," and you will receive more local exposure. It's basically free advertising.
3. Post when your followers are active.
If you categorize yourself as a business on Instagram, you can use a great feature that allows you to see what time of day your audience is most active. You can then plan your posts around that.
However, if you are just a regular Instagram profile, I would recommend doing some research on when your own audience is most active and plan accordingly. There is a wealth of knowledge out there just waiting for you if you take the time to look.
4. Tell your followers what you want from them.
This is called a "call to action." If you want your audience to answer a question from your post, you should tell them to comment with their answer. It's a simple concept, but often we don't know to do something unless we're told.
If you want your audience to like your post, ask them to double-tap if they're feeling the love...or something like that. Be creative and come up with fun ways to get the conversations flowing with your followers.
5. Get personal.
Often on social media, it can be challenging to appear genuine and "real." We post the most beautiful pictures of ourselves or our clients and then craft this online presence that may or may not be true to us.
Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with posting beautiful photos. I do it all the time! My clients are just THAT fabulous, so how can I not showcase that?
But how often do we "get real" with our followers? How often do we share a little about ourselves and let our audience get to know the person behind the phone?
What I am suggesting is that every once in a while, post something a little different from the normal "How adorable are these two lovebirds?" posts. I'm speaking to myself here, too. Try a #fridayintroduction or post something personal from your life.
People flock to "real." People love genuine. Allow your followers to see you for the lovely person you are.
6. Engage, engage, engage!
This is probably the most important thing I could recommend today. You cannot just sit back and let your posts do all the work for you. You must involve yourself and actually engage with those people who follow you.
When someone comments on your post, comment back! Thank him or her for stopping by and showing you some love. Use five or more words to increase your engagement, and if you use emojis, just know they do not count as words.
Then pay it forward. Head to that Instagrammer's profile and comment on something. It shows you care.
Instagram is an amazing platform for businesses and non-businesses alike.
If you commit to being consistent, sharing great content that means something to you, and engaging with your audience in a real way, you will see results. It takes effort, and it takes time...but I encourage you to be diligent and work at it.
One final thing...
What types of Instagram posts have you found to be most successful for you? Comment below and let me know!