From multiple /r/marketing Reddit conversations in the last couple days, I’ve noticed an interest in increasing Instagram engagement (and social media engagement in general).

Looking for guidance increasing my business’ Instagram followers and engagement

And this isn’t the only question on this. There are dozens of people out there disappointed with their brand’s organic social reach.

The answer to increasing Instagram engagement?

Bizarrely, the answer: Don’t bother! You don’t  need Instagram followers. You should maintain a social presence for when people look up your business, but there is no need for most businesses to grow their organic social reach.

Social media companies work hard to convince people that followers are valuable. They say the money will  pour in once you get enough followers. However, for most businesses, there is little to be gained by doing this. We have another article on buying social media ads, and why its is a bad idea: While this article is specifically about Facebook, it applies equally to Instragram and other social networks as well.

As a business, a small percentage of your posts will actually be reaching you followers on any social network. You have to pay tor reach your followers (and I’d suggest that in 99/100 cases, its not worth paying for). “Organic Social” is effectively dead.

The social user is the product. You, as a brand, are the customer. The business is not going to give you (the customer) your followers (the product) free.

You do need to maintain a social presence though. Prospective customers will sometimes use tools like IG and Facebook to research, so even if very few people engage, there is still value in makings updates. Tools that can streamline the process of updating content across multiple social network apps make this easier.

Ten years ago companies were able to use social to inform their customers about products, but that is no longer the case. Most social networks are heavy on the “pay-to-play” model for brand engagement.

What you can (and should) do instead

– Collect email addresses in exchange for a discount or perk. Use marketing automation to connect with them (read this post on getting in their inbox:

– Consider building a text messaging campaign. If you go this route you will have to create good offers to keep users engaged. While an email about a product will be received well, unless you’re giving a coupon for a free item, you probably shouldn’t text message small updates, or people will opt out.

– Focus on increasing your search ranking, and your maps placement. Good Google reviews are one of the simplest ways to get more customers. The better (and more) reviews you have, the further out Google will show your business in when someone searches for you in Google maps. Updating your site frequently increases your search and map ranking as well!

– Create a “referral” program for customers. For those that are happy with your service, give them a few cards to hand out. These card entitle their friend to a free snack/drink at your business— and, when they turn them in, the existing customer ALSO gets a free item the next time they visit. Tricks like this will build loyalty with customers and it will bring in new customers as well.

What else have you tried that works? Email us, or comment below!

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