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‘Do I have enough engagement?’
Users are unique and do not always share the same habits, especially so if you’re dealing with an audience spread out all over the globe. That is why when I moved back to London I wasn’t too despondent about the amount of likes I received, even though my following was improving. As I knew that my new audience wasn’t based in Asia, I would have to plan for an adjustment period until my engagement matched my follower count. Social media is about building relationships anyway, and who can make friends in a matter of weeks?
In fact, to put an end to any doubts I may have about my theory, I recently asked a friend who works in PR at a global luxury beauty brand to look at my Instagram (hehe sneaky self promotion). Her reaction was how surprised she was at how many likes, and particularly comments that I get. She shared that the bloggers that her brand sponsors have to have more than double my following. However, they have expressed a struggle to hit my level of engagement. (I have my Asian audience to thank for that: Thank you, my people.)
Setting expectations for your Instagram engagement level
To compare statistics, we have all heard our version of what a ‘healthy’ amount of likes should be. One London based blogger with five figures divulged that she believed engagement should be 2% of her following (I was like, wtf). In Singapore, a lot of influencers claim to expect nearly 10% of their number of followers to ‘like’ their posts and are particularly cynical about accounts that don’t hit this target (my reaction was, good luck with that). A friend with six figures who has a massive following from the US argues for 6-8%.
With Instagram’s algorithm, it’s not possible to consistently reach a large proportion of your followers because images are pushed out according to popularity at the time of publishing. Even then it’s dependent on how many people on Explore are interested in that image, as measured by the amount of clicks from that page.
Goals, goals, goals
Looking at your engagement in proportion to your entire following is outdated and unrealistic. From my research, I believe that Instagrammers should look at their engagement level in proportion to how many unique accounts have seen that post. (This is up for debate but I would pinpoint an achievable engagement goal to be nearly 1/4 of your ‘reach’). Additionally, instead of expecting all of your pictures to do well, target them. If you suspect a post will be popular, capitalise on timing but fine tune it to coincide with the period of peak activity of your most engaged users. To give a parallel example, in visual merchandising, the most popular selling pieces are displayed at the window and on tables. Basics like tshirts are never highlighted as the focal product, which is the real life equivalent to florist displays, what you ate for breakfast and your shoefie on Instagram, even if they are Gucci.
This is what I consider an explanation as to why a lot of industry mavens are recommending more than one post a day. Previous online articles on increasing your Instagram visibility previously recommended no more than three uploads a day, and that’s when you’re at a huge event or attending Fashion Week. The days of chronological posts are long gone and I realised it was time to bite the bullet and do a little trial and error. No risk means no growth, right? I found that posting twice a day, even with a short space of three or four hours in between (during optimum times, of course) did not affect my engagement. Any ‘negative’ effect was negligible. In fact, depending on what I was posting, I would actually increase the amount of followers I usually gained daily. This posting behaviour was something that I thought was exclusively profitable to huge accounts. I was wrong. Take one step back and look closely at the date and times of the posts that are on your feed right now. I’m still being shown images that I’ve already engaged with and that was posted a day ago and it’s more than likely that it’s the same for you too. The rules have changed. It’s time we throw out our old habits and come to terms with the Instagram’s evolving landscape and create new online practices.
Photos shot in Ginza, Tokyo
Club Monaco blazer
Jeans from Shibuya 109