If you are spending all your time on Instagram worrying about your follower count and not thinking about your engagement rate at all, then you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Having a high rate of engagement on your Instagram account can mean the difference between barely making it and raking it in from companies wanting to get in on Instagram marketing. If that sounds like an exaggeration, see for yourself. We’ve already discussed this topic in-depth in another post.
As a short reminder, if you aren’t fully aware of what engagement is in terms of social media, it is the rate of how many of your followers interact with your content in comparison to the total amount of followers and content you produce. For Insta, this can be as simple as likes, comments, or watching your new stories. However, one of the best social media tips for boosting your engagement rate is to use questions. By asking your followers questions you are subtly asking them to participate in something enjoyable for them, rather than expecting them to passively. Doing this kind of thing regularly over time can boost your engagement rate to impressive levels. And if you are taking your Instagram presence seriously, then you should consider investing in a social media monitoring tool to keep track of your Instagram analytics.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as placing questions in your post captions and waiting for people to make comments. For one, there is no guarantee that your followers would ever see the question since you have to hope the algorithm will put the specific posts where you ask them on your followers’ feeds. Also, let’s be honest, not everyone even reads captions. People found creative ways to work around these problems. You used to see people ask a question in the picture itself, and use specific hashtags to make it easier to track down responses.
Luckily for you, the days of that being the standard are long gone. The Instagram app for iOS and Android is constantly improving, and it somewhat recently rolled out a couple of new features that make asking your followers questions a breeze: Instagram polls and the question sticker.
The Question Sticker and How to Use It
If you’re at the point where you are putting thought into your engagement on Instagram, you are probably familiar with using stickers on your Instagram story. If not, to access the sticker try, you start by opening a new story and either taking a picture or uploading one from your camera roll — videos also work but let’s keep it simple for now. After the picture is in place, you’ll have a chance to add some things, such as the drawing tool, captions, and with the squared smiley face in the top right of the screen, stickers.
As you likely guessed, you’ll want to use the sticker option labeled “Question.” The default version just says “Ask Me a Question,” but you can change the text by tapping on the sticker and typing in something new. What you ask specifically is largely up to you, but keep reading to see the list of the questions that have been proven to draw great engagement. Once you have the question looking the way you want it to, hit the “Send To button in the bottom right and select your story on the following screen.
Normally, when you go back and look at your Instagram story, you’ll see a few bubbles in the bottom left that you can tap on and figure out who has seen that piece of your story. However, when you use the Questions sticker, that allows people to tap on the story post and leave specific responses to the question you asked. When you go back and look and try to examine who has seen your posts, when you tap on the bubbled in the bottoms left, you’ll be able to see the responses people have given you all in one convenient place!
From this screen where you see the responses to the question you asked, you have the option to share the response to your story and feature it there. If you select that option, you’ll be asked to either upload a picture or take a new one, and the Share Response feature will place the original Question sticker on the screen along with the shared response below it.
You can’t technically respond to the response through the Question sticker function, but you can add text to the Share Response post as you can with any other story update. As a note, you should avoid hammering this excessively in your stories. Followers can have a lot of fun answering questions once in a while, but it starts to feel like a stale chore if you ask them all the time. People get burned out on answering questions will ultimately hurt your engagement in the long run, so be smart about using these.
Instagram Polls and How to Use Them
You get to the Poll sticker the same way you get to the Question sticker — in fact, they are often right next to each other. Instagram Polls are best reserved for simpler questions, rugged binaries, or yes or no questions. For example, “Do you prefer waffles or pancakes?” is a better poll question than “What is your favorite tv show?” It saves you the work of trying to figure out everything people could want to respond with. Plus, if people don’t see their preferred answer on a poll, they tend to not answer the poll at all, which hurts the engagement turnout.
Polls, on top of driving engagement in and of itself, can be used to inform your decisions on where to take your content in the future. For example, you can put up polls on what kind of photoshoot to do soon. In doing so, you get better insights into the kind of things that your followers are interested in seeing. Plus, when people vote on content and see it come to fruition, it helps them feel like their voice is appreciated, which subconsciously encourages them to continue contributing.
The same thing with Questions applies to Polls, you don’t want to go ham on them and burn out your audience. You can get away with Polls a little bit more often since they aren’t as mentally taxing, but be wary of not pushing the envelope. Try not to have both a Poll and a Question going at the same time; for whatever reason, people are less responsive to either of the ones you post if you stack them together instead of spacing them out by a day or so.
The Questions to Ask
Now that you have gotten a bit more informed on how to utilize this important tool in the engagement game, you no doubt want a head start on figuring out the types of questions followers are the most responsive toward. These are less specific word for word guides more than they are rough templates that you can customize to make them fit your voice as an influencer. As we have discussed before with brand ambassadors, your Instagram followers will be more responsive and better receive your content if it sounds like you put it together yourself.
1. Host An AMA
Short for “Ask Me Anything,” also sometimes just called a Q&A, this is a bit weird the first example because you don’t really do any asking yourself. You generally post a thing to your story that announces that you will be hosting an AMA at some point soon. Typically, people don’t post this as a question or poll, just an announcement. The actual AMA is most often hosted as a live stream on the Influencer’s account and people will pose questions in the chat or post using a hashtag that the influencer then pulls from. Larger influencers have shied away from this and have leaned more into the new Question response feature because your audience being big enough tips the amount of work back in the favor of doing it that way.
2. Ask Questions Related To Your Brand
Obviously, this is only a relevant option if you are already partnered with a brand and are trying to represent them. It should also go without saying that you should try to keep these questions flattering to your brand. A good example would be someone who represents an energy drink brand asking their followers “What is your favorite flavor?” Additionally, you can approach this with the poll option and just use some of the more popular varieties — energy drink flavors in this example. Of course, you can always just ask people a generic question like “How is your day going?” while featuring your brand in the Story picture. It doesn’t have too much of an effect on your engagement and can create a positive association between your brand and your followers.
3. Host a Pop Quiz
One of the most useful things to do to boost participation is to make it fun for those taking part. Quizzes are a good way to get your followers invested both from a sense of fun, but also by introducing an element of competition. Instagram does not have a quiz feature built into its stories, so you have to make do with the Question and/or poll feature to have a quiz up on your profile. If at all possible, you should offer some kind of reward, even a small one, to the people that answer the quiz correctly. A while after the quiz has finished, you can follow it up with another Story Question by asking people what kind of topics they want to see in future quizzes to get a bit more engagement and help your followers feel like their opinions matter.
4. Ask Your Follower’s Opinion
It might sound trivial and lazy, but people love giving their opinions, whether they want to admit it or not. As mentioned previously, one of the best ways to handle this is to ask your followers for input on future projects they’d be interested in. If you are a brand ambassador, you can use this as an opportunity to ask your followers’ input on things like upcoming product releases or any secret tips they have come across while using the brand’s products. Of course, you can also just ask your followers to give their opinion on random things; maybe ask them what movie you should watch tomorrow or what kind of food you should order for dinner that evening.
5. Get Advice From an Expert
Whether you happen to be an expert in a subject that your followers would be interested in, or if you know an expert that would be willing to help you out for a sort of Q&A, this is a great opportunity to drive some engagement from your followers. This is different from an AMA but follows a similar format, where you post a question and have your followers give their responses. You then answer the questions in another story post, usually as a video with the Question response posted on the screen. You want to have at least a moderate understanding of whatever topic you are offering advice on because people tend to put a lot of faith into the opinions of influencers, so if you give someone advice without knowing what you are talking about, you can get someone into trouble.
6. Use Questions as Bait
This sounds a lot worse than it is. Basically, you ask questions that you can use to lead toward promoting something. For example, if you are doing an AMA and someone asks a question relevant to some other form of media you produce, link it to that content as part of your answer. This is best done in conjunction with other question plans because it can be hard to intentionally set up this kind of stuff, but also if the only thing you ever do is bait people into asking questions that you can use as opportunities to plug yourself, people will eventually stop responding because they feel like they are being used.
7. Ask For Tips
You may not need any advice or tips on a subject, but giving the illusion you are looking for them is a good excuse to encourage your followers to answer some questions you post in your story. You need to be careful doing this more than every once in a while since it might start to seem suspicious of how often you are asking followers for advice. You can frame the questions in fun ways though, like “What are some of your favorite cooking tips?” or “What is your secret food combo no one else thinks about?” Of course, nothing is stopping you from asking for legitimate advice on things if you need it, but you don’t strictly have to need help to use this question for engagement boosting.
8. Have Fun With Your Followers
This is not a question so much as it is advice to help you come up with questions. You don’t have to have a rigid relationship with your followers; in fact, it is much better to be casual and fun with your followers so they feel more welcome to participate in your content. For example, you can post a selfie of you about to head to the gym and ask followers for their favorite songs to listen to while working out. You don’t have to listen to any of the suggestions, but why not? You can then respond to the answers people give you and let them know what you thought of the song. Never underestimate the power of building a community.
9. Use Questions and Polls as a Tease
This works best for brand ambassadors, but other influencers can use it to build hype for their own content. Basically, the most straightforward way to do this is to ask people something like “Guess what is coming at the end of the week?” Something vague but it immediately grabs attention and gets people excited. This works great for seasonal things because you can ask your followers which of the favorites they hope are coming back again. Alternatively, if a product has already been announced, you can ask your followers what they are excited about in the upcoming release.
10. An Outlet for FAQs
People love getting answers to questions that have been bothering them, and this is a great opportunity to use that to boost your engagement. If you are a brand ambassador, have a lot of experience, or are an industry insider, you can let people know that you are taking questions on a subject and answering them. People are more prone to ask help from someone they trust more than go looking for answers online, so you are also taking advantage of that. On top of that, by answering the questions on your story, you can help multiple people at the same time if you get asked similar questions by a ton of people.