Making Instagram Comments Work for You: Engagement Etiquette 101
Like many real estate pros, I love Instagram (FOLLOW ME!). I love the immediacy of it, the visual aspect of it, and the way it allows you to get to know your favorite Influencers better without the "commitment" of a 20-minute YouTube video. But more than anything else, I love the opportunity to get to know my followers and the people I follow.
I have been lucky enough to gain new clients for property descriptions when I talked about how much people HATE writing them in one of my captions. I have gotten to know fabulous and accomplished social media mavens by reaching out to them in the comments of their best posts. From there, I've worked with and written with many of those same Influencers, both raising my game and raising my profile through the collaboration.
Now let me tell you my biggest pet peeve about Instagram: terrible commenters. People who use the comments to spam my followers with their site, people who steal my hashtags (including my name!), and people whose "response" doesn't add to the conversation.
Many of these rude commenters are the result of social media management "gurus" who tell people that the way to grow their following is to leave tons of comments on other people's posts. They're not wrong -- you can definitely connect with and gain followers by being active on the account of an Influencer. The problem is, you have to have the right kind of comments and real, true, authentic, meaningful engagement.
How do you ensure that your engagement gets the result you're looking for and makes a positive impact? Try the following:
1. Say Something!
Many of my commenters just leave a thumbs up emoji or other brief entry. While it's fun to see a cute emoji or two, it doesn't result in creating connections, either with me or with the followers who the commenter is trying to appeal to.
A thoughtful, meaningful comment sparks real engagement. It doesn't have to be a long comment. Respond to something in the caption, especially if it poses a question or brings up a common problem. Ask where the photo was taken. Ask a question you've always wondered about, especially if the IG account is for an expert like a luxury Realtor or a marketing consultant.
2. Be Positive
One weird comment that people have at some point been told to leave (and I say that because I see it almost word for word on posts from different people) is: "This is a good post. Your feed is improving over some of your older posts." Another one I see a lot is "Keep up the good work."
Anyone who you're going to want to engage with (1) spends time on their account and (2) plans to continue to do so. They don't really want you to insult their older posts nor do they need you to encourage them to keep creating content.
Remember when your mom said, "If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all"? The same applies here. Instead of telling someone they have improved over their old posts, just say "I enjoy your feed." Even better, choose something specific to comment on, like "I love the photos with your pets! More, please!" or "What time of day do you prefer for your exterior shots? They always look so good."
A little sugar never hurts, and saying something that is both positive and meaningful invites a response. In addition, specific feedback helps the Influencer define their audience's preferences and refine their content. That's a value-add, and it helps get you noticed.
3. Don't Spam.
One of the worst things I see is people who say (almost word-for-word): "Great feed! Check out my account at @spammyspamerson and tell me what you think." or "Awesome! Follow me at @spammyspamerson!" It is so offensive.
I will tell you right now that I not only delete these comments automatically, I also report them as spam. When you are using someone else's feed to promote yours, while adding no value, you are making yourself look bad not only to that Influencer but to his or her followers. It absolutely does not have the effect you want.
Worse than this -- and Instagram has deleted these accounts when I report them -- are people who tag me and a number of other accounts in the comments of their posts in order to reach our followers. This is just outright spam and is never okay.
If you want to tag someone, there should be a good and meaningful reason and the tag should include a comment explaining the reason. Unless it is a close friend or colleague, you must be careful when tagging. Tags should not be used to promote yourself but to promote the person you are tagging.
For example, I have an awesome client who tags me regularly in FB posts about his content or about the property descriptions I write for him. He does it as a way to promote me to the many real estate agents and brokers who follow him, and I SO appreciate it. I have earned many new clients through those tags.
Finally, the latest spam I've encountered was when I looked at one of my branded hashtags and found that someone who is a freelance writer is going to my posts and copying all of my hashtags -- including my name! -- and using them to reach my followers. Not okay! There's nothing wrong with using someone else's hashtags to guide you, but you should not appropriate their personal or branded hashtags.
4. Maximize Engagement
If you want to really engage on a deep level with an Influencer, seek out their other media to create a deeper connection. Subscribe to their blog or YouTube channel, comment on their media mentions, and let them know when you read or view their content. When they post a new link in their profile, let them know you enjoyed the content.
If they use IG Stories or IGTV, respond to their posts there as well. They'll get a notification of your response, and that will make you stand out. Be a fan and don't be shy about it. When you let them know that you're connecting to their content, it gives you the opportunity to create a dialog that can result in collaboration or referral opportunities. Conversion is the ultimate goal, and it requires deeper connection.
For my money, Instagram gives the biggest bang for your buck (or for your time expenditure) of all of the social media platforms and can be a powerful way for your to connect and increase your influence.
Learning how to connect properly and powerfully is worth the time. It's better to comment on one or two accounts from a place of authenticity and depth than to leave shallow comments on dozens of accounts. Follow these guidelines and you'll become a popular and valued member of your favorite Influencer's IG family.