With Instagram or any other social media platform, engagement is the name of the game. Without it, you’re essentially wasting your time because you need real people to interact with the content you create. Instagram engagement is higher than other social media platforms but you still need to work for it.

In this post, we’ll explore how to increase your Instagram engagement.

Compelling text and captions

There are many ways to use compelling text with your images. The most common is to use a high-quality image overlaid with a motivational saying or a quote that’s in line with your message.

You can also use a solid background that highlights your message.

The type of text and messages you use will depend entirely on your brand and following. Test different types. The most effective messages force your followers to take an action. The image below is a good example of how you can get users to comment.

Ask questions

Your followers are on Instagram to see something that wows them. They want to be inspired. A tried and tested way to draw them into the experience and engage with your content is to ask them questions.

Depending on your brand, you can ask their opinion on what they prefer.

This image is asking which dish the followers would prefer. They get to vote on the one they prefer in the comments section. This builds Instagram engagement for you and also gives you a peek inside their minds. You’re better able to understand what they want.

This works in almost every industry.

In this example, they’re asking their fans to vote on which outfit they prefer. If you don’t have two pictures to post side by side you can just as easily use one. Ask them if they like what they see by voting yay or nay in the comments.

Get creative. Keep your audience actively engaged.

Tell a story

Humans are wired for stories. We can go on and on about what happens in the brain when we’re sucked into a good story but we’ll spare you that.

Moving on.

Instagram gives you 2200 characters to write your caption. That’s roughly four hundred words. Enough to tell a short story. You may think people won’t read such a long caption. Some won’t. Some will.

Impact billions is an organization that wants to positively impact billions of people around the world. They do this by bringing news about projects social entrepreneurs are working on and projects of their own.

They use longer captions to engage with their audience and deliver value above and beyond what you normally find on Instagram.

The ones who read are more likely to take your desired action when prompted. Run an experiment and see if your longer captions get more engagement on Instagram than your shorter captions.

Tell them the backstory of how the image came about. The challenges you faced while at the shoot. What was going through your mind when taking it. Or why this image has special meaning.

Add a call to action

Every post, no matter what it’s about, should have a call to action. It can be as simple as telling them to follow you. Without the call to action, you’re leaving a lot on the table. Most of the people who see your post are already your followers.

Use the call to action to get them to invite their friends to the party. Use statements and questions to get them to involved and happy about including their community. A few Examples:

Tag the person this dress would be perfect for.

Tag two people you’d eat this meal with.

Tag your crew.

Tag who you’d go here on vacation with.

This is just one way to use the call to action. You can also tell them about deals in your caption and direct them to the link in your bio. Send them to a sales page with a discount code.

Get creative with your calls to action. Tell them about events, tell them about your Instagram stories, tell them about your other social media accounts, and of course – tell them to follow you.

Give value

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Just because you’re using a bot to improve your Instagram marketing doesn’t mean you can get away without adding value. Social media is a fickle beast. People who loved you a moment ago can hate you today if they feel used.

How do you use your audience?

By constantly pitching them a product without providing anything in return. When we say add value, you don’t have to teach something or bend over backward to please. It’s as simple as giving them what they want.

On Instagram, that’s something to aspire too. It can be anything from five-minute recipes to a look at the world through your eyes and experiences.

Whether you want the caption text to be long or short is your choice, but never ever allow that vital piece of screen real estate to be blank. It’s the best place to add value.

CEO 1m caption

Ceomillionaires is an Ecommerce fashion brand that sells shirts and accessories bearing CE0,000,000. They utilize a mix of short post captions and long post captions to keep consistent engagement.

Their captions usually ask a question or teach a bite-sized business lesson to their followers so they’re getting value two ways:

  1. Business lessons
  2. A peek inside of a lifestyle they find very interesting.


Hashtags and Emojis

Hashtags were first used on Twitter and have become a mainstay of social media ever since. Hashtags are words or phrases prefixed with the ‘#’ symbol. On many social media platforms—Instagram included—they serve as clickable elements. They also allow users to search for relevant content using specified terms.

On Instagram, there’s a limit of thirty hashtags for every post. That applies to your captions and comments as well as the comments your followers make on the post. The search function allows you to search exclusively for hashtags. Some of the more popular hashtags like #art or #music have been used millions of times.

It’s tempting to create a list of the most popular hashtags and flood your caption with them. This can actually hurt your ability to be found because thousands of accounts are using the same hashtags. Many of those accounts are larger than yours.

In addition to hurting your Instagram engagement, there’s something called shadowbanning. That’s when you use repetitive hashtags too much and the Instagram algorithm classifies it as spam. You won’t appear in search results unless the person is already following.

If they’re not already following you then you basically don’t exist on the platform.

Instead, it’s important to find a mix of relevant popular hashtags and niche hashtags. Your posts have a nice balance and a higher chance of being discovered by your potential customers.

You also avoid a shadowban.

There are many tools on the market – both paid and free – that allow you to do hashtag research. The best place to start is inside the Instagram app itself.

Researching hashtags

Start the process with three to four seed keywords. If we were to create a fitness page, we’d start with #fitness #health #bodybuilding and #fitfam

On your phone navigate to the search page of the Instagram app and right below the search bar you’ll see multiple options.

Hashtag research

Type in one of your keywords. Once the results load, click on tags and you’ll see stats of your hashtag plus a lot of related hashtags.

Note down the ones that make the most sense for you and save them in a doc or excel spreadsheet. Observe the number of posts using the hashtags and note it down as well. The ones with hundreds of thousands or millions of posts are popular and high competition. It’ll be difficult for a new account to compete.

Note them down anyways.

Find hashtags with less than one hundred thousand posts as well. Once you’ve written down all the hashtags that make sense, choose a few from the list you just compiled and plug them into the Instagram search bar. You’ll get another collection of hashtags.

Just like you did the first time, note down the ones that make sense for your business. Repeat this process until you have 150 – 200 hashtags. Create an even mix of high competition and low competition keywords.

How to use hashtags and emojis

You’ve gotten your list of hashtags. It’s time to use them. The most tempting thing to do is put all 30 inside your caption. That would be a mistake. Reserve your caption area for your branded hashtag, your call to action, and a few well-chosen emojis.

Place the rest of your hashtags in the first comment after you post your image. Once people start to comment, the comment under your hashtag will be buried but you’ll still receive all the benefits.

Quick note on Emojis: Emojis are a quick way to visually represent your message. Instead of “Photo credit” You can put a camera emoji. Instead of traveling, you can put a plane. Instead of gym, you can put barbells.

We think you get the point. The human brain processes visual information 60,000x faster than text. Take advantage of it.

On to creating a unique hashtag for your business.

60% of the hashtags being used on Instagram are branded hashtags. Your branded hashtag is equal to a trademark. When people see it they think about you and your brand. When you see it, you know it’s meant as a show of loyalty.

It should be:

  1. Short
  2. Relevant
  3. Memorable
  4. Unique

Once created, encourage your tribe members to tag their photos with it. Doing this allows you to start getting a handle on (1) the people highly engaged with your brand on IG, (2) user-generated content you can use on your page later, (3) the reach of your brand eg., how many total pictures have been posted with that hashtag.

The Seven Creative Elements

In advertising — especially visual advertising — there are certain elements that make your ads more effective. You can use them with Google display ads, Facebook ads, Print ads, and even TV ads. They also happen to work well with your Instagram posts and ads.

Focal point

Images with an easily recognizable focal point help the viewer concentrate on your brand’s message. No matter what your content is, you should have a point where you want your followers to focus. Do this every time.

Brand link

Your advertisements perform better when the viewers are able to quickly associate what they’re seeing with your brand. It’s the missing link. It’s easier for iconic brands, but by no means impossible.

On Instagram, your adverts will get more engagement when they know it’s associated with you. Keep the brand colors, logo, and imagery consistent.

Brand personality

Does your ad fit in with what you’re known for? For example, Louis Vuitton’s ads should represent luxury, innovation, and sophistication. Every piece of content uploaded to Instagram — especially your ads — should represent your brand’s values, ideals, and ethos.

Informational reward

Is the ad worth reading and engaging with? For example, you let people know about upcoming events and flash sales. Keep people in the loop. Create Instagram only sweepstakes and giveaways. Make your followers feel valued and they’ll value you in return.

Emotional Reward

Your Instagram advertisements, just like your content, should reward people on an emotional as well as an intellectual level. The most effective ads are in the true spirit of your brand.


Stand out from the crowd. Instagram has over 100 million new images being uploaded every month. If you’re just like everyone else, you’ll fade into the background. Ads that grab attention with a striking image or video perform better.

You have 2/10 of a second to get your audience’s attention. Give them a reason to drop what they’re doing and focus on your post.

Call to Action

Ah, the crux of the matter. Include a strong call to action like “shop now” so there won’t be any confusion about what you want your audience to do next. Statements always work better than commands. Other ones you can try are “learn more” “Click the link in bio,” “Double tap if you agree,” “sign up,” and “download now.”


Instagram is a great platform to engage with your fans, customers, and prospects. Follow the steps outlined in this post to increase your engagement and ensure you’re getting the most out of the platform.

Once you’re comfortable with the process of engineering engagement, automate the process with SumoGram and focus on more high-level tasks.


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