How to Engage on Social Media: Instagram

How to Engage on Social Media: Instagram

How to Engage on Social Media: Instagram

This is part of my series on How to Engage on Social Media: The Complete Guide. Last week’s post was about engagement on Twitter.

Instagram is Serious Business

Some people think that Instagram is all pretty pictures–which it is–partly. But Instagram is also a serious business, with 28% of adult Internet users on board. People mostly use Instagram on their smart phones, unlike certain other platforms, and with more and more people moving to using smart phones, Instagram can only become more popular.

Why Use Instagram?

  • Instagram has the highest engagement rate between brands and customers of any platform, according to Forrester.
  • If someone follows you, they will see your posts, unlike Facebook, which has become “pay to play”
  • People are becoming more image-centric, and Instagram is the land of images
  • More people are on their phones and Instagram lives on your phone
  • People are more engaged on Instagram
  • Great for local businesses, since you can target using hashtags (see below)
  • Instagram is simple and fun!


There are so many ways to use hashtags on Instagram. I like to bury my hashtags in the first and second comments of a post. There are quite a few ways to use hashtags:

  • Location-based hashtags. Any city, state, country, highway, or area can be turned into a hashtag. Search the people nearby and see which hashtags they’re using. For instance, #SantaCruzMountains is a favorite of mine for finding people near where I live.
  • Topic hashtags. Use the topic of your post as a hashtag. If you’re an SEO, expert, for instance, you could do #SEO or #SearchEngineOptimization.
  • Hashtags that work across industries. For example, #tbt or Throwback Thursday works for any brand.
  • Self-deprecating hashtags. These are my favorite! Use a hashtag to make a comment about your own post or yourself. #facepalm and #sosnarky, for instance.

Once you use a hashtag, click through and see who else is using it and like or comment on other posts. Be assertive and don’t wait for people to come to you! Go see who else is out there and be friendly. Do a Google search on hashtags in your industry and then experiment.

Tag Others

If your business has a company outing or if you’re with someone else who has an Instagram account, upload a photo and tag that other business or person. This is a great way to get a conversation going. And you can use it in conjunction with another idea, such as Throwback Thursday, to double your interaction! For courtesy’s sake, you might want to ask before posting a picture of someone else.

instagram media photo


Comment on other posts, and tag the owner, especially if the account has many followers. Often people don’t check their own comments, so tagging ensures that they see your comment. Anything, such as “I love this picture.” “This reminds me of…” “I love that park, too!” can be good conversation starters. Often one word, such as “Beautiful!” works, too.

Captivating Captions

At the very least, tell us where a picture was taken. Often, I skip by posts with no captions. Something about a picture with no caption makes me think it’s fake. Do you think so, too? But a wonderful image with a great caption? That can be very powerful. And some of the best Instagrammers use Instagram to tell a story. For instance, @thecuratedfeast uses Instagram to educate. Their posts are packed with information about food history.


If you really appreciate one of your followers, use their photo, especially if they’re a big fan of your product. One of my favorite accounts is Cutco Cutlery, and they often ask people to use the #shareyourslice hashtag for a chance to be featured. Could you do something like that?


Contests are an exciting ways to get your followers engaged. You might ask them to like your own or another account, tag someone who might like that account, for a chance to win a book or a trip! The @Whole30 people are very good at generating engagement this way.

Who Do You Find Engaging?

Leave me a message in the comments! I promise to engage with you!




  1. I found myself nodding a whole lot while reading this post. So much yes!

    I spend a lot more time on Instagram in the last six months than I do on Twitter even. I find it to be relaxing.

    • Hi Bridget,

      We must have similar wiring. I’ve been spending more time on Instagram, too! Yes, relaxing is the right word for it.

      Thanks for stopping by,

    • I agree especially when you choose to follow those things that make you happy/relaxed without the drama :) I totally agree Bridget. This is where I spend a majority of my time on social

  2. Hi Brandi!

    Thank you for reading and commenting. By the way, I found you on Instagram. And followed you. So I look forward to seeing more of what you post.


  3. How do you consistently find such amazing images Carol? The photo with the girl by the window is sublime.

    I’ve heard many good things about Instagram. I’ve also heard that it’s a difficult platform to leverage for B2B.

    Maybe I should take that as a challenge.

    One problem. I don’t have a camera.

    • Hi Clement,

      I have a secret weapon in the war against bad images. He’s a graphic designer. When I did my own images, they were blurry and not very inspiring. He does an amazing job finding the perfect ones!

      I think Instagram is becoming more popular. It’s an app for the phone, so that might be tricky without one. I’ll bet there’s a workaround, though! Let me know if you do get on Instagram and I’ll be sure to follow you.

      Thank you for all your support. It means a lot!


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