In the recent news heard ‘round the Internet, Instagram just announced a major change to its news feed algorithm: it will now display posts based on users’ interests and relationships instead of chronological order. In short, the algorithm uses a recipe of relevance and resonance (sound familiar?) to make a user’s feed feel more personal.
Instagram’s adoption of an algorithmic news feed is representative of a greater shift to reinforce personal connections on social, and a corresponding demand for bigger ad dollars from brands that now discover their organic reach throttled. The social capital of your fans has never been more valuable for a brand than it is today.
But we’re far from the ‘death of Instagram’ for brands. Truth: It’s not enough anymore for your brand to simply have a good picture with a solid filter, and optimizing your Instagram post for likes can only get you so far. It’s time to talk about the most underutilized engagement feature on Instagram: the caption.
People engage with one another on Instagram over shared experiences. They want to drive responses on their own posts, and to respond in turn to the posts on their feed that delight them the most. In order to harness this same type of engagement around branded posts, the incorporation of actionable captions and commentary will drive the high quality engagement that a simple visual stops just short of achieving.
It’s time to go beyond the ‘double tap’. Here, we give you 10 types of questions you can ask your fans and followers to drive max engagement with your Instagram posts, #nofilter necessary:
#1: Get Personal
Ask your followers to share how, where, or when they use or represent your brand within their Instagram posts. This is an opportunity for your followers to combine their goals of self-expression with brand-specific passion, and delivers you with some awesome UGC that you can repurpose in the future. Make sure to provide a hashtag for people to use, so that the posts are all collected in one place.
#2: Q & A
Ask your followers if they have any questions about your brand, product, or industry. Providing a well-executed Q&A forum gives your followers a sense of importance and the opportunity to learn more about your brand; it also allows them to indirectly divulge ways in which they’d like it to improve, and provides you with insight into what areas you should focus on providing informational content around.
#3: Trivia or Games
Sometimes the easiest way to engage with your customers is with a simple trivia question or action-driven quiz to complete for fun, like Coca Cola’s post above. You can post an abstract visual game like the one Coca Cola posted, or you could ask a trivia question- bonus points if its based on your brand. For example, ask followers to comment with their guess on what year your brand was founded.
#4 Tag a Friend
People go on social networks to connect with friends, so why not have them connect over your post? Asking a user to tag a friend over a shared experience, event, or personal preference is an easy way to drive a conversation thread between like-minded users in your following. You can follow Warby Parker’s lead and tie a reward to your tag request, or you can caption around an experience that inherently inspires group sharing on social media, such as a picture of the best brunch spot in town.
#5: Conversation Starter
The best conversation starters are ones that are culturally relevant, or tangentially related to your brand and to complimentary lifestyle activities to your brand- like a cosmetics company referencing the most famous “chick flick” of all time. A question that references something of interest to your followers can jumpstart a threaded conversation that reinforces brand affinity and builds a sense of community between your followers.
#6: Quick Survey
Ask your followers to show how they engage with or use your brand. In doing this, you are both encouraging UGC creation and receiving free, unsolicited data on why they love your brand in the first place- double win. Jeep is a pro at combining the survey strategy with the re-grammed fan content strategy.
#7: Request for Tips & Input
Asking your followers for help, advice, or feedback reinforces their loyalty to your brand and drives engagement that can span multiple brand channels, depending on what you ask. Oreo’s request for fan-generated ideas gives users the option to either create a post or mention an idea in the comment section below, incentivizing them with a chance to feel personally involved in Oreo’s creative endeavors.
Take advantage of Instagram’s emphasis on experience, travel, food, or other sensory pursuits: Ask questions that tap into your followers’ experiential focus points- the topics that they care about most, and therefore make them excited to share and engage with your brand. IcelandAir shows how you can engage with your followers’ around their itch for travel, but you can also ask questions around cultural and holiday practices, sports, entertainment, or other emotionally driven topics.
Which ____ are you…? Fill-in-the-blank is similar to other trivia and survey questions, except the answer is more restricted. Make sure your fill-in-the-blank is brand-related, or you could reference an upcoming holiday; let your followers do the rest of the work by commenting their answer and tagging their friends to make it a group game. And as always, make sure to include a hashtag for your followers to spread the word for you.
#10: Surprise & Delight
Nothing gets people talking faster than a lifestyle hypothetical. Ask your followers something that gets their imagination going- think dream vacation ideas, alternate career possibilities, or ten year plans.