Instagram for business owners

7 ways to boost your Instagram engagement that actually work

by Michaela fong

Instagram for business owners

7 ways to boost your Instagram engagement that actually work

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I am a small European town gal with big dreams who immigrated to Canada and built a multi-six-figure business from my living room floor and kitchen counter! I accidentally grew it into a small business community and became a small business educator along the way.

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7 ways to improve Instagram engagement for your small business that actually work by Small Biz Babes Community


Struggling with low Instagram engagement? Ever wish you knew how to build a deeper connection with your audience? I’ve got you!

Today I am sharing with you seven algorithm-proof tactics to boost your Instagram engagement so that you can create a deeper bond with your audience. No hacks, just genuine and proven tactics that work! I know you are busy, so let’s get right into it.

01 – Break-the-ice & show your audience that there’s a real human behind your account.

As small business owners, we often struggle with “how to genuinely connect with our audience without being salesy or sounding inauthentic.”

The key lies in sharing snippets from behind the scenes of your life and business in a way that your ideal customers can relate to. When you find yourself in a moment that could resonate with your audience, share it on your stories! For example, if your ideal audience consists of busy moms, you can capture a picture of the chaos when things are a hot mess and remind your audience that they are not alone.

Social media can often create the illusion of perfection, making us feel inadequate. But by sharing something honest and relatable, you make your audience feel seen and heard. It’s through these shared experiences that you connect with them on a personal level. Instagram stories provide the perfect opportunity to document your life and share quick lessons around it.

It’s not just about sharing random personal content but rather finding ways to infuse your personality into your Instagram presence. Show us who you really are.

For example, I was recently recording content in the studio when I ran downstairs and saw a towering pile of laundry. It had been sitting there for two weeks. To me, it was a visual representation of the chaos in my life that I felt at that moment. I’m sure you can relate to these situations too, right?

I snapped a picture of the laundry pile and shared it on my Instagram stories. I used an engagement sticker on that story and checked who interacted with it. Then, I took the initiative to send a genuine message to each person, sharing more details about how things can sometimes go crazy when life gets busy.

People responded with “me too” messages, opening up about the piled-up things in their homes. It increased engagement and built a deeper personal connection with my audience.

Being authentic and showing the imperfect life moments in your stories helps to “break the ice” and build a personal connection with you as a human behind your business.

02 – Create a series of value-based posts involving your ideal audience.

You’ve probably come across these types of posts before—part one, part two, and the promise of more to come. But how can you make it work for your business? Here’s the key: Craft content that provides value to your customers, giving them a compelling reason to keep coming back for more.

For example, let’s say you’re a nutritionist. You can create a series of engaging reels featuring healthy breakfast recipes. In each reel and its caption, pose a question like, “What ingredient or fruit should I use in the next breakfast recipe?” Encourage your audience to share what they want to see next.

Then, in part two, you create the recipe based on their suggestions, and you continue this pattern for part three and beyond.

If you have a gift boutique, you can create a gifting etiquette series that delves into proper gifting practices for different events.

No one replies just yet? No problem! Fake it till you make it. I am not kidding. This works! Hear me out. Get your friend to comment to start the train. Or ask questions on stories and answer to yourself and use that to create your next post with a screenshot of the story answer, so it looks like a content request. When people see that others are already engaging with you, they feel more comfortable engaging too.

Think about practical advice related to your products that you can share with your audience. Divide it into a series of posts and encourage your audience to participate by leaving comments suggesting what they would like to see next.

Remember to consistently ask for their input and ideas in the comments section and on your stories. Create reel covers that mention that it’s part 1, part 2, and part 3, so when your followers are interested in this topic, they have content to binge on your account!

03 – Challenge yourself to experiment and test out different types of content.

I know you’ve probably heard this advice countless times, but you still don’t know what it even means. Let me explain! The goal here is to discover what truly resonates with your specific audience. We all have unique businesses and diverse audiences, so what works for one person may not be a hit for someone else.

It’s crucial for you to experiment if you want to understand your audience and find the content that resonates with them. Keep in mind that this is not an overnight process. It takes time, commitment, and continuous analysis.

I know, sometimes it feels discouraging when the content you put out today doesn’t receive much engagement. Maybe you even lose motivation and start blaming the algorithm. But here’s the thing: By getting discouraged, we risk missing out on finding that one staple piece of content that our audience truly loves.

To tackle this, I constantly keep a running notes app on my phone and even have paper in my office where I jot down what worked and what didn’t. This way, I focus on understanding my audience and improving my content based on their feedback rather than getting demotivated by current results.

What does it mean to test different types of content?

It’s not just about testing whether reels, carousels, or static posts are the best fit for you. It goes beyond that.

It’s about experimenting with different ways of presenting your content. Try time-lapse videos, slower videos with voiceovers, or short videos with text overlays that share your story. Explore shorter reels that are three to six seconds long, as well as longer reels where you explain aspects of your work process using a voiceover.

Don’t forget to experiment with the actual messages you convey in your posts. It’s not just about showcasing your product. Your audience wants to hear stories about what you sell because that’s what captures their attention.

By testing and paying attention to how different formats and types of posts resonate with your audience, you’ll gain valuable insights into what they want to see. The more you test and refine your content based on audience preferences, the closer you’ll get to creating an engaging Instagram posts.

05 – Engage with your audience before and after you post.

This helps more of your followers to see your post. The more people see it, the higher the chances for them to engage with it.

Here’s a simple process you can follow:
Before you post, take the time to reply to your direct messages (DMs) and send genuine messages or thank-you notes to those who have watched or interacted with your stories. Then, publish your post.

Afterward, dive into your notifications and respond to as many comments as possible from the previous day or two. If you don’t have many comments yet, you can check out the accounts of people who have liked your posts and leave genuine comments on their stories or posts. Remember, engagement is a two-way street. The more you engage with your audience, the more they will engage with you.

However, it’s important to be mindful of who you engage with. Don’t waste your time engaging solely with others in your niche because they aren’t your target audience, they likely are not interested in buying from you, and it will just confuse the algorithm.

For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, focus on engaging with other wedding-related accounts that brides would follow rather than engaging with other wedding photographers.

06 – Answer comments with a question whenever possible.

Instead of simply saying thank you in response to a comment, take the opportunity to initiate a conversation by replying with a question.

For instance, if you share a post showcasing different hairstyles using your scrunchies and someone comments, “Thank you, this was helpful,” you can respond with, “You’re welcome! Which one of these hairstyles are you planning to try?” or “Which one was your favourite?” or “Is there a hairstyle you’ve never tried before?”

By posing a question, you encourage further engagement and increase the chances that the person who commented will respond.

This simple strategy allows you to start a conversation and gain valuable insights into your audience’s preferences and interests.

07 – Post during times when your audience is online.

By aligning your posting schedule with your audience’s active times, you increase the visibility of your posts and improve the chances of engagement.

Consider your audience and their daily routines to determine when they are most likely to be active on social media.

For instance, if your target audience consists of working professionals, they might spend their lunch breaks scrolling through social media. On the other hand, if your audience consists of busy moms, they may be more active on social media in the evenings after putting their kids to bed.

To determine the optimal posting times, you can experiment by posting at different times of the day and tracking the engagement each post receives. You can also pay attention to which days and times generate more traction for your content.

Alternatively, you can utilize Instagram Insights to access valuable data about your followers’ activity. Go to your Insights, click on “Followers,” and scroll down to see the times and days when your followers are most active on social media. Use this information to inform your posting schedule and maintain consistency in your posting times.

Remember, building a thriving Instagram presence is all about building relationships and creating content that resonates with your audience.

If you are tired of battling Instagram algorithms and ready to engage authentically, so you can build genuine connections with your audience – tune in and learn more in today’s podcast episode here ?.

Talk soon,


Related resources:

  • Instagram profile makeover – FREE GUIDE
  • Branding checklist for your small business by Michaela – FREE GUIDE

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