• Riley Draper

10 Instagram Post and Story Ideas for Max Engagement

Engagement is one of the most important metrics in social media. It measures how much of your followers typically interact with your posts instead of just glossing over them. Why is that a big deal? Because it is a way for brands to see if you can get people to pay attention to the content you put out and maybe clink on an affiliate link.

As an influencer, you stand to make more money if you have a smaller follower count but a higher rate of engagement than your competitors with more followers but a lower rate of engagement. For a broader discussion on this topic, check out our guide on how much social media influencers can make.

So, how do you boost your engagement? Luckily for you, social media has been around for a bit at this point, and other people have already gone through the trial and error stage of figuring out the answer to that question. Now, all that’s left for you to use these 10 methods that have shown to greatly increase engagement. 

A person on their phone.

1. Get Your Followers to Slow Down

For the most part, engagement tracks things like reactions, comments, shares, and hashtag usage. Video content such as Instagram stories and Reels are a bit different. You don’t get hardly any engagement boost if someone views your story but just taps through it super quick — the same goes for videos that a follower only views the first few seconds of before moving on.

So, one of the ways you can keep people from skimming over your video content and ruining your engagement is to make content that encourages people to slow down and consume it in its entirety. You can do this in a couple of ways,

One of the more common ways you see people make their followers pause is to make stories with quizzes. Not only does the increased amount of text mean people have to spend a bit more time reading, but asking questions innately makes people pause and think for a bit. You can add a bit more to this method by having people answer the question in the comments of one of your posts, but that doesn’t always work well if people aren’t trying to win something.

Second, if it makes sense for your identity as an influencer, you can do story posts that encourage people to do a quick mindfulness exercise. It can stop someone from blasting through your story, and mindfulness is a genuinely good thing that can help people live better lives.

2. “Challenge” Content

In general, it is a good idea to put out regular content to keep you on people’s minds, but undertaking a “challenge” helps build hype, which always gets people engaged. What kind of challenge you take up is largely up to you, but it should at least seem difficult to do.

Don’t get discouraged if this doesn’t work right away. The worst thing you can do is give up early because the method is all about momentum. As you get further along, your followers will become more invested in you succeeding and give words of encouragement. Some people enjoy watching others have a hard time, which feels mean, but hey, someone wanting to see you fail is still someone invested in the challenge, even if it’s not as emotionally supportive.

A side benefit here is that social media challenges are a bit of a spectacle, which people are drawn to more than standard content. You might find that your challenge gets you some more followers by the end of it.

3. Link Larger Content in Posts with Compelling Previews

This method will only be useful to people that produce larger-scale content than what they post on social media. Blogs, a YouTube Channel, photo galleries, and online articles are good examples of this. If you don’t have something like that or plan on making it, you should probably skip over this tip.

Think of it as the teaser blurb on the back of a book or a trailer for a movie. You create previews for your longer content in more digestible forms for social media posts. For one, some social media platforms like Instagram aren’t friendly to some forms of content, but also a good teaser can convince someone to consume content better than presenting it by itself.

Planting links to your larger content in Instagram posts can benefit your appearance to brands in two direct ways. First, it gives you an easy and fairly one-to-one click-through rate for potential affiliate links from brand partnerships. Second, having a blog or website where you host your content on top of an Instagram account gives you a more robust portfolio to present to brands. There is a third less-relevant benefit you get where your Instagram account and secondary website can help boost the traffic of one-another.

4. Tease Upcoming Products in Your Posts and Stories

Similar to the previous method, you can probably skip on this one unless you have merch or a brand sponsorship where you get to announce or preview upcoming products. 

Once again, the name of the game here is building hype. Rather than just making a post announcing a new product that people can just look at and move away from, make a series of posts that lead up to the big reveal. You get people curious and asking questions by being mysterious about it, and you encourage people to keep coming back for the next update, giving you momentum like with the challenge method.

You might be able to organize a giveaway with your brand to give you some more ways to milk the teasing. You can have a contest where people can guess what the upcoming product is, and the winners can get some sort of prize, which always drives interaction. Regular story updates with quizzes or riddles, like with the first method on this list, works well in conjunction because they can offer hints to the final answer. If you haven’t already noticed, all these methods don’t have to be independent of each other, and it is often optimal to combine them.

Even without something to giveaway, getting people’s attention with progressively bigger hints and pieces of the puzzle makes it more fun than just a random “Hey, check out this cool thing.” And people go out of their way to have fun.

5. Prioritize A Good Caption

Have you ever seen an influencer post something with a caption that just didn’t feel right? Maybe it didn’t sound like they wrote it or they were promoting a brand in a way that didn’t match the energy of that brand. It is super easy to pick up on and puts followers off when a caption just doesn’t hit right.

The reason you should prioritize the caption is that it’s the easiest thing to work around once you have it locked in. You can curate a picture to a good caption way easier because brands and influencers don’t usually have a picture style that is as prominent as their voice and language they use in posts. 

Yeah, there is the whole thing about a picture being worth a thousand words, but the problem is most of those words often don’t leave an impression. Good captions leave a much better imprint than a good picture. Case in point, you can probably quote your favorite show much better than you can remember how all the scenes look.

Making content feel as organic as possible is the best thing you can be doing. Followers like influencers and brands that they think are relatable and you’ll convince people to spend money more easily if they like you. People like being sold on things, but they hate being aware of the fact they are being sold on something.

6. Take Advantage of Instagram’s Live Video Option

Instagram developed the ability to host live streams directly on its platform somewhat recently. It is possible to go back and watch a live stream you have missed on Insta, but it is kind of a pain to figure out, followers are heavily encouraged to catch live streams whenever they can. This already Helps drive engagement numbers by giving people some motivation to be active with your channel.

The fleeting nature of live streams is part of their appeal, but there is also the benefit of being able to react in real-time to your audience, and they react to you in turn. It helps remind followers that they are interacting with a real person, and as mentioned previously, followers prefer influencers that feel like genuine people. 

The interactivity is part of the trick too. People are much more likely to comment and react to live streams because there is a greater sense of participation. There is a good chance that the influencer will see their comment and respond to it. The same thing goes for reactions. Followers feel much more appreciated and accepted when dealing with a face that can respond to them instead of a face frozen in a picture.

As a side note, you get a bit more mileage if you can make your live streams feel unique and “you.” There is an oversaturation of “just hanging out” type content, maybe teach your followers how to cook one of your favorite meals, or have an audience to you putting together a new piece of furniture.

7. Stickers!

Stickers are all but a requirement to flair up your Stories and keep them interesting, but have you ever considered putting some stickers onto your posts? You need a bit of extra software, but you can find that stuff for cheap if not free. 

If sounds a bit weird and gimmicky, that’s because it is, but the results are hard to argue with. There is nothing about the stickers themselves that makes people want to like or comment any more than they usually would. All it does is make posts more visually distinct, and that can be all you need. 

A post that stands out in someone’s feed is more likely to get them to stop and look for a while, maybe even scroll back to catch a better look. These few extra seconds of viewing time add up and make a difference, plus if someone is grabbed by a post they will probably react or comment on it more than a post that didn’t even register as they scrolled past it.

Of course, you need to be wary of swinging too hard in this direction. The first few times you do it is bound to boost engagement, but if you keep it up to the point where it is no longer unexpected or stands out, you end up in a spot where people scroll past all your posts again because they aren’t interesting. What’s worse, it’s way harder to correct back to not using stickers and manage to grab follower’s attention.

A phone with Instagram on it.

8. Advertise Limited Time Offers in Your Story

Stories are designed to be fleeting and encourage people to watch them while they still can. This makes them the perfect place to advertise limited-time offers like flash sales, special offers for the next few people to buy something from an influencer’s affiliate brand, and so on. 

These sort of announcements typically go better specifically as Story pieces over regular posts anyway, since those can sometimes get lost in someone’s feed. Also, you’d do better with having a visually interesting slideshow with plain text over a running video to announce this on your story. It’s not clear why one is more likely to work than the other, but engagement records show it works better, so that is what everyone goes with.

You can get away with just announcing a flash sale for a brand you are affiliated with, but if you want to tweak the system in your favor as much as possible, you’ll want to get an affiliate link from your brand and have that available to your followers somehow. If you aren’t one of the lucky people allowed to post links directly in your Stories by Instagram, check out some of the other ways you can put working links on Instagram.

The reason this is a smart idea is that if you just make the announcements in your Story and tell people to check out a website, you only get the benefit of some extra Story view time. By having a partner link somewhere that followers can click through, you boost your Story view time as well as other important metrics like click-through-rate, possibly viewership on other parts of your profile, and engagement in general. Not to mention, sometimes brands give their influencers some kick-backs from affiliate link sales. If you can’t get a link worked out, a discount code for online sales also works as a fine substitution.

9. Insta Story Guest Stars

The most common form of this is what is known as social media takeovers, where an influencer or celebrity gets access to a brand’s social media account and can do what they want with it for a set amount of time. Those work fine, but there are some options you have as an individual to take advantage of the hype guests can bring.

Some people have started doing interviews on their Instagram stories with other influencers. This requires a bit of networking, but it is mutually beneficial to both of you. You can drive extra engagement by sourcing interview questions from your followers and having them suggest the next influencer you bring on.

Or, you can keep it simple and collaborate with similar influencers you are friendly with. Do a group workout tutorial with another fitness model, talk about your favorite kitchen tools with another food blogger, or have makeup challenges with other beauty influencers.

10. Show Off the Followers

Nothing will subtly motivate people to engage than the potential to be featured by their favorite influencer. This is sometimes as simple as responding directly to a comment. If someone makes your day or says something funny in your DMs, maybe post it to your story. Of course, you should ask the other person permission to post their content to your story — most people would probably want it but it’s never good to assume consent.

If your Instagram channel involves follower suggestions, it’s smart to include a shot of the original suggestion or at least a transcription of it with credit to the follower who posted it. If you sell direct or affiliate merch, encourage followers to send you cool pictures of it, and collect some of the best ones into a cool collage.

In general, it’s best to keep the fan appreciation posts to your story. For one, it can clog up your feed and annoy people. You also never know how people’s opinions of each other are going to change, so having a record like a formal post is not always smart. Finally, some people might get jealous if they aren’t receiving the same praise as other followers, and they can’t avoid it as easily if it all exists as posts on your feed. Stories being temporary once again comes in as a clutch feature.

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