How To Thoughtfully, Purposefully and Intentionally Engage on Instagram (in order to grow)


We spend most of our time on Instagram in two areas. 1, creating content and posting, and 2, scrolling and tapping. Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. We are CONSUMING so much but we aren’t creating connection and starting conversation.

Engagement on Instagram refers to likes, comments, polls, and DMs and is one of the most important core strategies for organic growth. If you want to grow you have to engage and start conversations, simple as that.

We could think of engagement like a point system. Likes count as 1 point, DMs count as 5, Comments count as 5 if they have less than 4 words and 10 if they have more, and making an Instagram friend and collaborating counts as 100. Okay I just made that up. The point is that liking really isn’t good enough. Think about the last time you posted, did you really scroll through and acknowledge everyone who liked it? Probably not. But now think about everyone who commented, are you much more likely to tap over onto their profile? I sure am. I click over to the profile of almost everyone who comments every time, and I know I’m not alone. Leaving comments will drive eyes to your page not only from the person whose post you commented on but also potentially anyone else reading the conversation.

How You Should Be Spending Your Time on Instagram

What I teach my students is that the majority of your Instagram time should be spent off the app creating beautiful, on brand, and helpful content. The second biggest chunk of time should be spent on intentional engagement, and the rest is for mindless scrolling and watching stories (the fun stuff, I know).

Now think about how much time you spend scrolling. Could you imagine if you spent that much time engaging and double that much time creating for your page? I think you’d really have a good thing going and I think you’d notice growth in not only your follower number but also the amount of people engaging with you!

If you’re having trouble spending too much time on Instagram I’d set aside 2-4 15 minute blocks a day to intentionally engage by scrolling through your feed and leaving comments the more conversation-stimulating the comment is, the better. The algorithm ranks comments with more than 4 words higher. Of course by leaving these comments on someone else post you only helping their post but it is a nice gesture and it’s good Instagram karma! If you find you are having a hard time leaving comments on your feed you could jump onto a hashtag that makes sense for your brand and start engaging with those posts as well.

Don’t Post and Ghost

You may have heard of the phrase, “don’t post and ghost”. I actually really like this simple rule! Purposefully engaging with other accounts by leaving comments after posting on your own account creates an opportunity to drive more traffic to your new post. The quicker engagement comes to your new post the higher it starts to rank in the algorithm. I used to have a bad habit of getting on Instagram, scrolling for way too long, remembering I came on to post, posting, and then closing the app because I had already wasted so much time. Now I jump on, post, and then spend 15 minute engaging.

It’s also important to answer any new comments that show up on your post at this time. The quicker you answer your own comments the quicker your comment number grows and again the algorithm can see there is a lot of active engagement on that post. It will in turn show the post to more accounts.

These are definitely tactics but they aren’t spammy, they are intentional!

Tactics: Follow-Unfollow, Like-for-Like, Follow-for-F*** off mmk?

Okay I have to admit that heading escalated pretty quickly but these tactics are honestly, just lame. Batch liking 20 photos on an account to try and get their attention, or following 100 people only to unfollow the next day is really time consuming and super annoying to be on the other side of. Especially if you are spamming people you don’t even follow.

Unfortunately follow un-follow tactics DO work, and it’s because of this that we can sometimes see our follow number go up and down by 6 or 12 people over the course of just one day. When you get messages in your DMs with offers to ‘help you organically grow your account’ it’s usually through using these tactics. But it’s spammy behaviour and if I was you I wouldn’t want to be flagged by Instagram, just saying ;) . I also have a blog post about buying likes, followers, engagement and ads if you’re to know more about that!

I know it can be really annoying and super frustrating to notice that people are targeting you with follow un-follow etc. but at the end of the day we need to ignore that follower number for a bit and focus more on creating real conversation and relationships with those who are loyal to our account. If you have just 1,000 incredibly loyal followers who support you and spend $100 on your products or services once a year…well you wouldn’t be doing so bad. There will always be spammy behaviour on Instagram so look past it and keep focusing on giving value!

Intentional Engagement Checklist

  • Spend your scrolling time ALSO leaving thoughtful comments. Set a goal for yourself for how many comments you want to leave, make sure they are purposeful which mean actually reading the caption.

  • Avoid tactics like follow un-follow

  • Engage back on accounts of those who engage with you in order to help foster the relationship

  • Find new accounts to engage with by searching out hashtags that make sense for your target audience. For example if you are an online fitness instructor for Moms then you’d want to search out hashtags that a Mom would use.

  • Answer all of your own comments. Yes even the ones with just emojiis. The second we become too good to engage back with our audience the second we have stopped using Instagram as a platform to serve. Remember you’re showing up on Instagram to serve your audience and give before you sell. Use any and all DMs and comments as an opportunity to start a conversation and begin to build a relationship with someone who might just turn into a client.

Chat soon,