Despite being one of the first social metrics that indicate post performance, Likes on Instagram still stand as a go-to indicator for many brands. It’s low cost for the viewer: just a double tap is all that’s needed. And a Like gets wrapped into general engagement numbers.
Even as Instagram is in the testing stages of removing public Like counts from posts, the metric is here to stay as an internal measurement. Like removals have already been tested in several countries, including Australia and Canada, and as of this article’s publishing date, the test has been extended to the US as well. Right now, we don’t know what will ultimately happen with public Likes yet but importantly for brands and influencers, your analytics will still show the counts.
The below is a medley of tips that we’ve assembled to help increase your Like counts per post. We’ve skipped fundamentals like taking good photos and being consistent but it’s always a good idea to keep them in mind. These Instagram for business basics are the foundation for your strategy while these tips are the enhancers that can help you get the most out of your content.
Get inspired by other brands and industries
Where do you pull your inspiration from? If you’re only following your industry or your circle of friends, you won’t find fresh ideas. Instead, take time to research and find inspirational accounts to follow. Make this a combination of your industry, related industries and industries wildly outside your circle. Even if the customer base isn’t the same as yours, chances are that you’ll be able to find some inspiration in their posts’ strategy to extrapolate for your own.
Williams Sonoma uses illustrations to highlight some tips that otherwise might’ve been complicated with a photo. It’s clear, easy-to-read and ties in with the holidays in a timely manner. So while this particular topic might not be relevant to your brand, you can easily see the takeaway of using an illustration to talk about a tough topic.
Run a like-based contest
Some of the highest engaging content on Instagram are centered around sales and giveaways. People love to enter contests and the easier they are to enter, the more engagement you’ll receive.
To run a like-based photo contest, you’ll need one of the entry requirements to be that they must like the post. Usually, the other two requirements will include following the account and tagging a friend or two. Liking a post for an entry is such a low barrier that you’ll be sure to receive quite a lot of engagement.
In this example, Soma upped the contest ante by partnering up with another brand and multiple influencers in the health and wellness space. The contest benefits all of them with brand exposure and they get the Like count boost, too.
Work on a hashtag strategy
One of the easiest ways to get noticed organically is to utilize hashtags to your brand’s benefit. That doesn’t mean spam tagging every post with #top, #amazing or #hair. It means being selective in your hashtags, both brand and industry. When you have a brand hashtag, it’s easier to find related content and influencers. Industry hashtags work to help you see what’s trending in your field and ensure you’re not missing out.
To find the best hashtags for you, start by reading up on hashtag strategies. You can also use analytics like Sprout’s Instagram report to see which hashtags received the most engagements. To go beyond the hashtags you’re using and discover more opportunity in your industry, you could use a social listening solution like Sprout’s to hone in on hashtags you may be missing from top posts in your niche.
Madewell’s hashtag strategy on this post is pretty simple. It uses three brand hashtags: two of their own and one of the featured brand. It also added on a #collabs hashtag to put it into the rest of the collaboration posts out there. You’ll also notice that the hashtag in the caption is kept minimal: there’s only one. The remaining three hashtags are added as a comment to keep them from distracting from the caption.
Tag the right accounts
Give credit where credit is due. When relevant, tag on the post and in the caption those that you are working with. For example, if you have prominent products or people in your photo, tag them on the post. It takes little time and it gives credit to the makers. Oftentimes, these tags result in the brands liking your post and commenting on them.
CB2 often reposts their customers’ photos or talk about who contributed to a space’s styling. In this particular post, they’ve tagged the designers, product and venue. For the company, tagging the designers and spaces that use their products enhances customer loyalty and acknowledges their work. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Ask to tag a friend
Ever seen an Instagram post that was so interesting that you immediately wanted to tell a friend? When this happens, you usually have a few options: copy the link and text it to them, send it via DM or tag them in a comment. If you have content that is interesting or funny, asking users to tag a friend is an easy step. They were likely already going to tag someone anyway so this is just the next step.
These two examples are different but they still produce the same results. One is informative while the other is plain silly. However, both directly ask followers to tag a friend. The result is plenty of likes and high engagement.
Tag your post’s location
Especially relevant to travel and retail brands, tagging a location ensures that your photo comes up when people are looking at a location. It’s easy enough to do and shouldn’t take more time out of your publishing time.
Many Instagram-savvy diners also use Instagram to research the best food and drink options at a restaurant. By opening up a tagged location, they can easily find photos of the meals they want to try out. If your content is good, the likes will come in organically through the location tag.
Vogue Living location tagged the city in this post. For those who want to visit or learn more about the place, they can explore all the posts in the location. It’s also possible that others will land on this post because they were looking at Puglia as a potential vacation spot. Those visitors are the ones who will add on to the likes.
Make your captions just as good as your photos
We all know already that excellent media is a key to creating a captive audience. But what about the accompanying caption? Don’t gloss over that section as unnecessary or go on autopilot with your words. With the right tone and voice, your captions can be just as captivating as your photos.
Developing good captions a priority means creating an expectation with your audience. They’ll look forward to the next post’s captions and spend more time with your posts. Writing engaging captions is a skill that can be developed over time.
The New Yorker is known for its words and photos and their Instagram account doesn’t fail in this regard. With the right excerpt from a piece, the reader is drawn into the story and wants to learn more about the kid in the photo.
Go with a meme or trend
When used strategically, memes and trends in posts still drive engaging results. There are whole meme accounts on Instagram dedicated to themes and topics. To incorporate this into your own account, you’ll need to first make sure you have the right audience for this. This means that they’re knowledgeable about pop culture and are on the internet often enough to recognize a meme when they see it. For some brands where this type of humor isn’t a fit, a meme could be more alienating than helpful, so make sure you’re tuned into your audience before going with something just because it’s trending or viral.
The DFW airport posted this meme in between photos of planes. It’s very specific to their account and is hilarious to those who understand the meme. It also has just the right amount of geek in it.
Cross content types
With the introduction of Stories, Instagram’s content types expanded. Perhaps related, feed post engagement dropped at around the same time. However, engagement in general is just more spread out among the content types. The metric now includes video views, post likes and even Story replies.
What this means for you is that you should take advantage of the different types and cross promote them when you’re able to.
Trader Joe’s story did a single post on their newest feed post. It’s a common tactic to grab those who watch Stories more to drive them to the feed. If the user is interested, they’ll click through and like your post.
Organically increase your Instagram Likes
There are many ways to increase your Instagram posts’ Like count, even if the public metric might be hidden soon. From adding a location tag to trying out a meme, having more Likes is just one small way to help your brand get more visible on Instagram.
To ensure that you’re maximizing your post’s potential, use Instagram’s native analytics to find a tailored time for you or use recommended times like the chart below as a starting point.
Armed with these Like-boosting tips in mind, you’ll be on the path to greater success in your Instagram engagement. Tweet us @SproutSocial to share what strategies have worked for you.
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