Em Files

The Em Files – Increasing Your Engagement

October 5, 2017

Here it is Ladies and Gentlemen – Part Deux of the Engagement Series. The Actionables. The Golden Nuggets. The Big Kahunas. (Okay, I’m done with the idioms.) If you haven’t read Part One about Engagement Basics, then I suggest you start there or this may get a bit confusing! You need to lay the foundation of the house before you can get to the roof, AM I RIGHT? (Actually I’m not sure if I’m right. It just sounded good.) For those of you that are new to The Em Files… Welcome! You’ve stumbled across my free series on how to organically and authentically grow your Instagram account. That’s right – FREE! Because gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom but sharing it is the first step to humanity. So let’s get started shall we? Today we are focusing on Increasing Your Engagement.

The Big Bad Algorithm

If you read my post about Engagement Basics, then by now you know that Engagement is the sum of likes and comments on an individual post. You also know that it represents your followers loyalty level – how invested they are in you. But what you don’t know is that on February 8th, Instagram changed it’s algorithm. And since then engagement has suffered for EVERYONE across the board. Why did Instagram suddenly up and modify something that seemed to be working perfectly well for us all? Because they went to war with spammers. Instagram set out to remove automation tools (bots that auto-like and auto-comment) from their platform.

I know what your next question is going to be: If I’ve never bought followers or used a bot then why am I being effected? The simple answer is, these bots caused so much traffic that when they were shut down, so was any engagement that resulted from them. For example: If you’ve ever used hashtags like #dogsofinstagram or #homedecor then I can assure you that people were targeting their automations towards those hashtags. So when they were removed from the platform, so was all their engagement. Does that make sense? The reality is, the engagement that was lost wasn’t real engagement to begin with. And that’s where the good news kicks in you may have lost the bots but you didn’t lose your true followers!

Pro Tip: You probably didn’t even know bots were interacting with you – liking your stuff and auto-commenting. Because they were a drop in the bucket compared to your actual followers.

So how do we get our engagement back up now that Star Wars has left the building and hashtags lead to shadow-banning? Instagram gave us some hints in a statement that they released to their Facebook on February 1st:

Utilize The Story Feature

Instagram told us to be a storyteller. They may not have straight up said, “Use our story feature.” But Jimminy Cricket.. let’s put two and two together here! As human beings we use our five basic senses to navigate through life – sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. On Instagram how many of those senses are we using? I’d say one – sight. (No, tapping and swiping don’t count as touch!) Now add stories to the mix. BOOM! You’ve just introduced the sense of hearing and instantly doubled the amount of ways that I can connect with you. Not buying it?

Let me explain further. I’ve always been a storyteller. I can tell tales and spin sagas until my heart’s content. But until you’ve heard the pitch of my voice and the cadence of my speech, you have absolutely no idea what my words sound like when reading my captions. Why do you find my writing so relatable? Why do you feel like you’ve just chatted with a friend? Because you’ve heard me speak, you’ve seen my gestures, and you feel as if you know me. I get about 10 messages a week saying that your husband or child can tell that you’re watching my stories from the sound of my voice. Now that’s power and if you’re not using it, that’s one less reason for your audience to engage with you.

Before I move onto the next subject, let me just hammer this home. Why are you here? Because in my stories I told you that I created a blog series to help with Instagram growth. Not only did you have to swipe away from my stories, go to my bio, and click on the link that I provided to read this but 50% of you will leave a comment. Now that’s real engagement. And that’s the ability of stories.

Pro Tip: I directed you to engage with my blog. However, why not use your stories to ask your followers to engage with your posts? Also, make sure that you’re actually showing your face. I want to see the person behind the squares!

Post During Peak Times

It’s obvious why posting during peak times is critical, right? Because that’s when the majority of your followers are on Instagram to engage with you. Some of my most frequently asked questions are, “What is the best time to post?” and “How many times a day should I post?” While peak times vary based on location, I have found several things to be true. Instagram audiences are much more engaged during the week. Which make sense. On weekends they’re off apple picking, going to the movies, climbing mountains. Ya know, that kind of stuff! So here’s where we need to think logically. When during the week can my audience be on their phones? If you said BEFORE and AFTER WORK then 100 points to you! For the best posting times, check out this awesome graphic that took me an hour to make:

Now here’s the real kicker: if you want strong engagement you should be posting around the same time everyday. Why? Because just like my dog Opal, we are creatures of habit. If I know that my favorite Home Decor account Danielle from posts at 9am and 5pm every single day, I’m going to head over to her page at those times to see what color she painted her walls this week. Seriously, Danielle posts like clockwork and because of this she experiences a ridiculous amount of engagement and growth. Consistency is the ultimate key. Don’t have time to post twice a day? Me Freaking Either! Start with once a day at the same time.

Pro Tip: The amount of engagement you receive within the first hour of your post is critical. It decides whether or not you’re going to hit the Explore Page. What’s the best way to ensure that you’re receiving likes and comments within the first ten minutes? Head on over to where we have engagement posts every morning and evening.

Write Thoughtful Captions

There are people out there who will tell you that captions don’t matter until they’re blue in the face. As someone who relies on her words more than her pictures, I strongly disagree. Make your followers want to read. Make them slow down. Because again, didn’t Instagram tell us we should be storytellers? If captions weren’t important there wouldn’t be an option to write them. I spend just as much time creating a caption as I do styling a photo. And do you want to know what happens because of that? My followers engage:

For example, let’s look at the photo on the left. I’m betting that half of those comments are mine. (Because you should be answering every comment!) So 165/2= 83 comments from my followers. Now what if we divide that by the number of people who liked my post? 83/1274 = 6.5%. Almost 7% of the people who interacted with my photo, commented. Can you say the same about your posts? Are you writing engage-worthy captions? If so – YES! You are doing it right!

Maybe you’re not a good writer or you’re not funny… you don’t have to be. Tailor your captions to be uniquely yours. You have a platform and a chance to reach out to people – use it for something good. Whether you’re inspiring, witty, charming, or thoughtful, find a way to connect to your readers. Because yes, they’re reading. What’s my favorite trick in my bag? Call to Actions. Ask your followers questions. And not just, “How was your day?” Cause dang – if your kids don’t want to answer that question then your followers don’t either. Try something relatable like, “Anyone else losing their mind and wash their body with shampoo this morning?” (Yeah, that’s happened to me on more than one occasion.) This creates a dialogue. But don’t just stop at one post. Remember when I said consistency is key? Do it often, so that your followers start expecting these questions. This will result in more reading and more engaging.

Engage with Others

The last topic of the day is ENGAGE MORE. You need to give a little in order to get a little. Isn’t that how relationships work? I am the number one repeat offender for not engaging on anyone else’s posts. I focus so much on answering messages, e-mails, blog comments, and Instagram comments (all while supposed to be doing my full-time job) that I forget to engage with others. This is my shortcoming. Don’t let it be yours. There are a couple reasons why this is so important. First and foremost, if you are taking the time to like and leave comments that are thoughtful and MORE THAN FOUR WORDS then people are going to take note and return the favor.

Now let me tell you why this is the case. If you are in the Home Decor community most of the accounts that you follow are Home Decor. Is that safe to say? Because you want to see beautiful, inspirational photos popping up on your feed. So naturally, most of the people that you’re interacting with are Home Decor. Ask yourself this: how can I connect with my everyday followers who are looking to me for inspiration – the accounts that are private? I think this is the big question that people overlook. You can’t just go to their feed and drop them a comment. And even if you could, that’d be a little weird. So we’ve come full circle. The best way to engage more with followers that aren’t Home Decor accounts is to…? Have you figured it out yet?

I hope that was a bit of an AH-HA moment for you. You can’t connect with your private followers unless you give them a reason to engage. The best, most encouraging advice I can give is BRAND YOURSELF. Set yourself apart. Make yourself stand out. You may not be a business or a small shop but as an individual you can turn yourself into a brand! and are two perfect examples of this. Be known for something. Make yourself accessible. Get your followers emotionally invested in you. Ask yourself, “How is this helping me to build my brand?” every time that you post something new. And if it’s not, then change it so that it is.

Still Need Help?

I hope this installment helped to get your gears going. As always, leave me a comment below with your thoughts and stay tuned for next week’s post!

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  • Reply Nicole October 5, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Love this, Emily! So awesome of you to go through all the work of creating this to help people engage!! You provided some awesome tips! Thanks girl!! ❤️❤️

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Thanks for reading Nicole! It means so much to me girl. <3

  • Reply Katie McCarthy October 5, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Very well-thought-out information! I will definitely use this info to help me with my engagement! Thanks 🙂

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Glad to help Katie! Can’t wait to see what kind of results you have!

  • Reply Tara October 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks Emily!! Really appreciate you taking the time to let us all in on your secrets!! I will definitely be trying out all these tips. It’s going to really push me out of my comfort zone but I will try. The idea of videoing myself is just terrifying!!

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Yes, getting out of your comfort zone and expanding your brand is the way to do it Tara!

  • Reply Julie October 5, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks Emily for sharing all of this with us. Now I need you to come over and force me to make a story with my face and voice included. I am seriously too old to be shy, but the fear is real! Ahhhh!!

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Hahaha Julie I’ll be right over! You can do this girl!

  • Reply Ashley October 5, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you for putting so much time and thought into this! Many of these things I’m already doing but it’s good to have someone reinforce that I’m doing it right! And I got some new helpful tips too. I guess it’s time for me to listen to my husband (?) and do stories, not something I’m at all comfortable with! Thanks Emily!!

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Hahah yes Ashley listen to that hubby of yours and get on stories!!

    • Reply Jourdan November 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      I know how you feel…I hate hearing my voice but yeah I guess I must break down and use stories.

  • Reply Donna @ rusticmoderncharm October 5, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Lots of great info, Emily! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Of course Donna! Thanks for reading! <3

  • Reply Tina October 5, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Wow! I learned a lot! Who knew I should be posting the same time of day, and at peak hours? I usually post from the comfort of my bed when I have a minute ?I’m realizing I have to be very intentional….thank you! Still sending dm?

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:46 am

      Yeah that’s a big one Tina!! Intentional is best. 🙂

  • Reply Shavonda October 5, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Yes. Yes. And More YES sweet friend!!! I’ve been doing allll these things since day 1 and I can tell you it makes a difference. The algorithm stillllll suuuuuucks, but it helps to be consistent and true to yourself/your voice! Thanks for sharing all the gems babe

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:46 am

      Get it girl!! Darn IG algorithm.

  • Reply Louise Castaldi October 5, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing Emily! I was always wondering what the best time to post is. This was so helpful!

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:46 am

      Yes 8-9am during the weekdays are gold Louise!!

      • Reply Suzy October 9, 2017 at 5:48 am

        Given time zones, which time zone do you think we should consider the most when posting, because a peak time from on the east coat falls into the worst time in central or west coast!

        • Reply emilyeveryday October 10, 2017 at 11:41 am

          The chart was based off of east coast times! So technically.. it’s not the worst time in central or west coast. Just east coast. Does that make sense? I’ve been testing this theory out with someone in California and she’s been posting off east coast times and it works well!

          • Suzy October 11, 2017 at 5:49 pm

            Thanks for getting back to me! I get off of work at 3pm central and that’s when I’d post something (aka worst time according to your chart in the east coast). I started doing it around 4:30ish and MUCH better!

          • emilyeveryday October 20, 2017 at 10:27 am

            Yesss!! Glad to hear that Suzy!

  • Reply October 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Great info. I learned something from this, Em!

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:45 am

      Yay Christina! So glad girl. 🙂

  • Reply Bri Moysa October 5, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    All such great info Emily! And I love the way you write. Xo

  • Reply Mylene raspado October 5, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    So so so good Emily!!! They are getting more juicer with every installment! Couldn’t have been a more perfect time for me! And yes to those graphics!!???

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:45 am

      Yay I’m glad the timing has worked out for you Mylene! Thanks for appreciating the graphics. 😉

  • Reply Pat October 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Soooo interesting. Thanks! Face and voice though… that’s still a hurdle for me.

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:44 am

      You can do it Pat! I have faith in you!

  • Reply Cathy October 5, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you for the helpful info! Love everything you’re doing Emily! ❤️

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Glad to help Cathy!! 🙂

  • Reply Emily White @shoptaprut October 5, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    “Here’s a graph that took me an hour” literally laughed out loud in a echoey room all alone! Once again, THANK YOU! This time I even had an “ooooooh, thaaaaat’s why” moment. Damn robots! But ok we got this ?

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Bahahaha! Seriously, I had to just emphasize the fact that it took me an hour to make. Glad you had some that’s why moments Em!!!

  • Reply Christin October 5, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    This is gold girl! I’m so glad you are so willing to help “us little folk.

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Oh please… I’m here to help anyone, little or big!

  • Reply Kim October 5, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Hi Emily!!!! Your last two posts about engagement have been sooooo helpful!!!! Although I’m still afraid of being in front of the camera for a story, it’s something I’ll keep at!?

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Kim, don’t be afraid – you can totally do it! It’s such an amazing way to connect with your audience! And it opens up messages to a whole new level!

  • Reply Laura carlton October 5, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    The voice thing is easy, still not comfortable showing my face! Why is that so weird for so many of us? Maybe because when your in your late 30’s (that’s a lie., early 40’s) you accidentally hit that forward facing camera and your all GAH!! Who is that and whys her face all baggy?!? Haha, jk, maybe not that bad! Thank goodness for pretty filters. Seriously though, thank you!!!

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Hahaha yes Laura.. utilize those filters girl! You got this. It’s not as scary as you think, I promise!

  • Reply Alycia October 5, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Great post again Emily! It is so sweet of you to be sharing your knowledge on here! You rock girl!❤️

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Thanks Alycia! Glad to help out. 🙂

  • Reply Danielle October 5, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Omg I got a shout out on your blog. It’s like Christmas. ????

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Oh stop it you silly goose!

  • Reply Yanira October 5, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    This was awesome and Yes I can hear the sound of your voice as I’m reading this hahaha – nice work ????

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 6, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Hahaha so happy it was helpful Yanira!

  • Reply Rebecca October 5, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Hi Emily!! This was so helpful. Thanks for sharing some great advice!! What are some tips for branding yourself when you don’t have a small shop ??

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 20, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Hi Rebecca sorry for the late response! Make sure that you are using a picture of yourself as your IG pic. Also, do things that set you apart from others. Especially in your stories. I do Meet My Tribe Monday and I do Wednesday love letters on my feed. I also talk about things that I like a lot – whether it be food or movies I’ve seen (things that make you relatable!)

  • Reply White Porch Farm October 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I have a question I live in the pacific North west so when you say to post between 8-9 a.m. Is that east coast time? Or my time? Thanks this is so helpful!

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 10, 2017 at 11:41 am

      East coast time 🙂

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 20, 2017 at 10:29 am

      East coast time! Sorry for the late response! I thought I answered everyone. 🙁

  • Reply Lynn October 10, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Great information you’re sharing, Emily! I made quick notes to keep close at hand to reference until it becomes more of s habit to be consistent.

    One question though. What’s the best way to increase engagement on our post during that first hour if no one comments? Sometimes I just get likes.


    • Reply emilyeveryday October 20, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Scroll your feed! Engage with other accounts and their posts.. this almost always ends up in someone coming over, checking out your posts, and commenting!

  • Reply Christine Higgs October 15, 2017 at 2:31 am

    Emily! You’re a true BOSS LADY! These posts are so helpful for new Instagram accounts such as ours!! I have a lot of work to do especially after reading your two engagement posts!!! Thanks so much for sharing tips. It’s so nice that you want to help others rather than keep the information for your self!!! Can’t wait to read your future posts! You’re amazing!!! Xx

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 20, 2017 at 10:27 am

      Aw glad to hear that it is helping Christine!! Can’t wait to watch as you grow and succeed. 🙂

  • Reply Jessica Cortes October 16, 2017 at 2:28 am

    This is great Em!! Very helpful, well put together and easy to implement!! Thank you for doing the research and putting it out there 🙂

    • Reply emilyeveryday October 20, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Glad to help Jess!!

  • Reply shannon March 13, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    This series is so helpful Emily! Thank you for sharing, do you think the apps that tell you when to post are accurate? If so do you use one/which?

    Thanks again!

    • Reply emilyeveryday March 22, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Shannon, I honestly don’t have any of the apps so I’m not sure! If you have a Instagram Business account it tells you the times and days that your followers are most active. Usually, my rule of thumb is 9am or 9pm EST!

  • Reply The Em Files - How to Become an Instagram Influencer Part I April 6, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    […] groundwork. You have to build your following and your engagement. Not sure how to do this? Click here for some tips and tricks! I know what your next question is going to be. How many followers do I […]

  • Reply Michelle April 14, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Hi Emily! Love your Instagram account, and have been really enjoying this series on engagement. I went to that link and put my account name in, and learned my score was 0. ? That I could believe, but then I put in several account which I’m certain have decent engagement (including yours) and every one came back with 0 engagement too. Is that tool no longer working, or has the algorithm affected engagement that much?

    • Reply emilyeveryday April 15, 2018 at 11:48 am

      Hi Michelle, I’m not sure I actually haven’t used that site since posting this! Checkout zine.co and build your media kit! This will show you an accurate representation of your engagement rate!

  • Reply Courtney Equall April 19, 2018 at 1:05 am

    I am blown away! Thank you so much for writing these posts! I feel like I learned so much about growing my account and instagram, in general. So helpful❤️

  • Reply The Em Files - How to Become an Instagram Influencer Part II April 23, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    […] when I talked about peak Instagram posting times? Well, the same applies to pitch e-mails. To ensure that your message is read and replied to, […]

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