With nearly 500 million active daily users, Instagram has become a mecca for marketers and brands alike. It's become evident that people aren't using the app solely to keep track of friends and family, but to also keep tabs on their favorite companies, brands, influencers, etc.. If you're looking to break into the influencer marketing realm, then Instagram engagement plays a MAJOR role in the content you are posting. Brands aren't so much interested in large followings anymore. With the introduction of Instagram "BOTS", followings can easily be purchased and therefore don't hold as much value as engagement does. Brands and companies want followings that are engaged and invested, say hello to the "micro-influencer". But how can you boost the engagement rates on your photos? We're here to give you our top 5 engagement boosting tips. Becoming a "micro-influencer" is steps away!

  • Tip 1: Be Strategic With Hashtag Usage - Hashtags are extremely important if you're looking to expand your social reach. Using the RIGHT hashtags is even more important, as they will ensure that the right eyeballs are making their way to your photo and feed. Using generic hashtags like "iphonesia," "iphoneography," or "photography" will garner search results that are astronomically high, further limiting the amount of people who will see your photo. When posting + tagging content, think niche, and tailor your tags to the audience you wish to be reaching. A great tool for generating relevant and specific hashtags, is Focalmark. The app is free to download and will allow you to input specific information regarding the photo you're going to post. It will then generate a list of ranked hashtags in order of reach and authenticity.

  • Tip 2: Create Conversation Through Captions - One of the best ways to get more people talking in the comments below your photo, is to simply ask a question in your caption. It sounds so easy, but yet so little of us actually partake in starting the conversation. The average Instagram user loves to share their personal insight, captions such as "I'm traveling to NY in a week and would love to know where to stop for coffee! Leave a suggestion below!" or "Looking for healthier dinner options, comment your favorite recipe" will typically get higher engagement rates than captions that don't involve a question at all. The next time you're posting an IG pic, think about how you can get your audience more involved.

  • Tip 3: Join A Comment Pod - If you've never heard of a comment pod before, then you're in for a treat. A comment pod is a simple and fun way to get immediate engagement on your photo minutes after posting. Get 5-10 of your friends and start a private message group on Instagram. Anytime you post a photo, share the post within the group and everyone in your comment pod will go and like + comment on your photo. The same goes for when anyone else uploads a photo, your duty as an active comment pod member is to go and engage on their photo ASAP. In this way, your photo is getting a ton of engagement in the vital minutes after posting, thus pushing it to the top of your followers feeds.

    P.S. the bigger the comment pod, the better!

  • Tip 4: The Time You Post is VITAL - When posting on Instagram you will want to make sure your photo is going live when most of your audience is online. Tracking your audience is super easy, especially if you have a business account set up on Instagram. In fact, if you're really going to take Instagram seriously, then turning your IG page into a business account should be step number 1. The reason; Instagram allows you to view analytics on your followers, but only if you have a business account set up. From here it's as easy as clicking the analytics tool in your top tool bar and clicking on the "Followers" see more section. This will give you insight on where most of your followers are based and depending on the day, will show you when most of your followers are most active. Plan accordingly!

  • Tip 5: Partner with Another Creative - Whether it's meeting up to take photos, talk strategy, or host a giveaway of some sort, partnering with another online creative can greatly boost your reach. Who do you know within the photography, blogging, or social media realm? You'd be surprised by how many friends and/or followers are willing to collaborate. Can't think of anyone? No worries, we have the perfect app for you to utilize. Say hello to Collabor8, the perfect way to find other creators and brands to work with. Collabor8 is free to download, and will essentially allow you to link up with other people looking to create content online. Need some ideas for partner collaboration photos? Check out our Instagram Content Ideas To Be More Creative on Your Feed article.

In the beginning of this post we mentioned the term "micro-infleucner" and for anyone who isn't familiar with what a micro-influencer is, let me explain. A micro-influencer is an online persona who may not have the largest of followings, but who's audience is rather invested in the content they are viewing. A micro-influencer can have anywhere between 5k - 50k followings, but their engagement rates are exceptionally high. The audiences of micro-influencers really care about the products and services these influencers are pushing because there's a level of trust that has already been pre-established. Hence, conversion rates for brands are much higher. By following these steps and consistently creating post-worthy content using Instasize, you too can establish your online presence and be working with brands in no time. Happy posting!