Instagram is a great platform to use to start or grow a business. But if you want to succeed, you need to know how Instagram outbound engagement works.
That way, you can get your posts in front of your ideal followers and customers. You can also build relationships with people so that they start to trust you and your business.
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Understand Your Ideal Follower
The first thing you should do before starting an Instagram outbound engagement strategy is learning about your ideal follower. Odds are this will line up with whoever is your ideal customer or client.
Consider their demographics, such as age, gender, occupation, and location. But you may also want to learn other details, like what hobbies they tend to have and what other accounts they tend to follow.
The better your understanding of the people you want to follow you, the easier it will be to find and connect with them. That will make your job much easier when marketing your brand and building a community.
Find Target Hashtags
Next, you need to figure out what hashtags your ideal followers use in their posts and which ones they visit. You can look for larger hashtags with millions of posts.
However, I’d also suggest finding hashtags with fewer posts. That way, it will be easier to find your ideal followers who use those hashtags, and you won’t have to filter through a bunch of spam.
You can use these hashtags to find accounts who may want to follow you. Then, you can engage with some of their recent posts to get your name in their notifications.
Select Target Accounts
You may also want to find accounts within the same niche as you. Either way, these accounts will probably have similar followers to the people you’re trying to target.
Be sure to follow these larger accounts. Whenever the account posts something new, look at who liked the post or left a comment, and engage with those people.
You can also follow the accounts with content that genuinely interests you. Then, you can engage with those accounts every time they post something new as well.
Turn On Post Notifications
A bonus tip for target accounts is to turn on post notifications for them. You’ll get an alert whenever a large account posts something, so you can engage with people who like and comment on the post right away.
This isn’t ideal if you tend to have a busy schedule. But if you’re flexible and can take a few minutes here and there to engage with followers of similar accounts to yours, it can be a good strategy.
Consider Target Locations
Another important thing to consider is the location tags on Instagram. If you’re looking to grow a local business on Instagram, you can look at tags for venues or other places in your city.
Even if you have an online business, consider different places your followers would go. For example, I have a flute blog and IG, so I might check some of the big flute retailers to find my ideal followers on that account.
This Instagram outbound engagement tip may work better for some niches than others. Some location tags aren’t as active, but it can still help to check them every other week or so.
Start With Likes
When you find an account who you think would want to follow you, it’s time to engage. An easy way to do this is to like some of the posts from the account.
I try to like at least two or three posts of each account I engage with. That way, my name will show up more prominently in their notifications, so (hopefully) they’ll take interest and decide to like some of my content.
Liking a post is super easy and quick, so it’s a great place to start if you’re new to Instagram engagement. But if you’re new, Instagram may limit your activity for a while until you make a habit of engaging regularly.
This is just to keep spam bots from taking over the platform. As you start to engage more, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
Leave Genuine Comments
You can also engage with people on Instagram by leaving comments on their posts. However, I’d recommend against leaving generic comments, like “love this!” or a string of emojis.
Those comments don’t do anything for the recipient, and I find them annoying when people comment those things on my post. It’s hard to respond except with my own set of emojis.
Instead, try to leave a genuine comment regarding what you like about the post. Maybe you think someone’s dog looks like yours, so you compliment them on that, just as an example.
Follow Accounts You Like
As you do your Instagram outbound engagement, you may come across some accounts that you want to follow. Following others is a great way to build your own community.
But the last thing you should do is “follow for follow.” It may have worked a few years ago, but people can see right through that strategy now.
They can tell if you try to follow them multiple times only to unfollow them the following day when they don’t follow back. Now, you can follow people and unfollow when they don’t follow you.
However, you shouldn’t unfollow someone who does follow you back. And you shouldn’t try to follow the same account multiple times because the person may decide to block you.
Send Some DMs
You can also use direct messages (DMs) as a way to engage with others on Instagram. Like with comments, though, you should make sure you have something genuine to say before sending a message.
Don’t just say something like “hi” or another generic phrase. Consider what you like about the person’s account or if you have a question about what’s in their latest photo.
After a few DMs back and forth, they may ask about you and your account. Then, you can start to tell them about what you do, and they may choose to follow you.
Unfortunately, you can’t just do Instagram outbound engagement once and be done with it. You need to do a bit of it every day or at least each week day.
I like to engage before and after I share a new post. That helps get my posts seen by people, especially if they check their notifications and click on my name.
But you can also engage at other times and on days when you don’t have anything to post. Go back to your ideal follower, and try to engage at a time of day when they’re most active on Instagram.
For example, if your ideal followers tend to work full-time, engage before and after work and around lunch. Then, you’ll have a better chance of getting engagement back.
Create a Schedule
If you have trouble remembering to do Instagram engagement, make yourself a schedule. You don’t need to spend hours a day on the app, but 15 to 30 minutes is a good goal.
Set aside that time either all at once or throughout the day. I like to engage for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Then, I can catch people who are more active in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
But do what works for you and your goals. Maybe it’s best for you to sit down and engage on Instagram for 30 minutes in one go during the day.
Separate Your Strategies
If you want to figure out which engagement strategies work the best, separate them. For example, you might engage with your target hashtags on Mondays and your target accounts on Tuesdays.
Then, you can look at your Instagram analytics to see on which day you got more followers. Maybe you got more followers on Tuesday, so you decide to find more target accounts.
You don’t have to do this, but it can be a good option if you’re short on time. That way, the next week, you’ll know what to spend more time on and what you can cut from your schedule.
Put on Your Favorite Show
As I mentioned, 30 minutes is a good benchmark to shoot for when engaging on Instagram. Sometimes, I’ll put on an old episode of one of my favorite sitcoms that I’ve already seen.
That way, I won’t be sitting in total quiet, but I also don’t have to focus heavily on the show. I can focus on what accounts to engage with and what to say in comments or messages.
Plus, sitcoms are usually 30 minutes, so they can help you time yourself and your engagement strategy. Then, you can make sure you spend enough time on the app but not too much time.
Engage at Different Times
Another thing to consider is switching out your engagement schedule. If you’re used to engaging in the mornings but haven’t gotten many new followers, make a change.
Instead, you may decide to do more Instagram outbound engagement in the afternoons. Check your analytics after a couple of weeks to see if you got more followers with the new schedule.
If so, try to keep up with that schedule in the future. And if your results ever start to dip, don’t be afraid to test out even more schedules to find what works at the time.
What Is Outbound vs. Inbound Engagement?
On Instagram, outbound engagement is where you go out and find people to engage with via likes, comments and messages. But inbound engagement is when people come to you, and you reply to their comments or messages.
Instagram outbound engagement is a crucial part in growing your account. But you need to know what steps to take to make your engagement strategy as successful as possible.
If you want to learn more about growing on Instagram, enroll in The Instagram Marketing & Sales Academy.