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*updated on 24.06.2021

In May 2019, I tested the hashtag promotion method on Instagram. As it happens, it still works. Today I will check whether Instagram tools will work to increase engagement in stories.

Engagement is the top-ranking factor on Instagram. According to the official version of the app:

Engagement - the ratio of the number of "Likes" to the comments of publications.

In fact, when calculating engagement, likes, comments, shares and savings of the post are taken into account. The higher these rates, the higher the coverage. The more people will see the profile and content. This is about posts. What is Story Engagement?


1. Stories engagement

Story engagement is the time the user spends interacting with the story.

Therefore, bloggers and brands are trying to engage users in Instagram Stories – to increase the time that people devote to watching stories. After all, some people watch only stories, not feed. Ideal photos and videos are not so important for stories – these are snapshots, for which Instagram was initially created.

According to a joint study by Buffer and Delmondo, 500 million followers view Insta Stories, with a Stories view rate of over 50%. On top of that, the stories are located above the feed, and immediately catch the eye when entering Instagram.

Previously, stories were shown in chronological order. Now, content in Stories is also ranked by the number of impressions and comments received like in the feed.

What actions are expected from viewing Instagram Stories?

  • view next stories;
  • receiving a comment in Direct;
  • go to account or post;
  • sending Stories to a friend.

User feedback. These are the standard supposed reactions of people to the life of an account. This is how the profile progresses naturally and the reach grows.


2. Instagram Tools

There are additional interactive tools in stories – stickers that the service offers itself.

Blog engagement

Fig. 1 – Instagram Stories Tools

They involve the use of a sticker: choosing an answer option, writing something in the feedback window, going to the mentioned account, etc.

Why are interactive stickers useful:

  • collect user generated content;
  • collect of subscribers feedbacks;
  • increase the interest to stories;
  • increase audience reach;
  • increase engagement.

More responsiveness, more engagement.

1) Geotag

Works in conjunction with brand presence on Google My Business.

Upon a click on a tag the visitor is redirected to a page with photos of users who also marked this location. There are 3 advantages:

  • the user’s story gets the story of this geotag and so it can break into the TOP in views;
  • growth of account views;
  • invite new subscribers.

In this case, a map is displayed in the middle of the screen. User moves to Google Maps upon clicking on the map.

Engagement Geotag Tool

Fig. 2 – “Geotag” Tool

The benefits of geotags:

  • the ability to get directions;
  • understand in which area the location is located;
  • screen the mark and then return to it.

At the same time, the content gets into the story of the city or the specified place. This way the story gets even more views. As the story from the example above – the blogger’s post was available in the stories of the National Botanical Garden of Kiev.

Tag bonuses:

  • collecting UGC and adding it to Stories or Highlights;
  • popularization of geotag;
  • getting into the Story of the location.

2) @ — mentions

The main benefit of this tool is the likelihood of the publication being viewed by the mentioned account.

Pros:

  • the growth in popularity of the one who was mentioned due to transitions to the account;
  • increased confidence if the profile was mentioned by the influencer;
  • increase in subscribers;
  • UGC collection (if a brand is specified, this story can be re-posted on your site, and if it is an e-commerce profile, then add it to highlights with customer reviews);
  • automatic creation of a dialogue, which can then be used to start the mailing.

What does this give me – an ordinary user who has tagged a brand or an influencer?

Repost stories on the company’s Instagram profile. So this is the likelihood of other users viewing my page. Either a discount or some kind of free stuff for your feedback (it happens rarely, but why not?).

An example is a post-question from the manager of Kiev (guide) Yulia Bevzenko@yuliabevzenko, the author of the project @shukay.kyiv:

Engagement Mention Tool

Fig. 3 – “Mention” Tool

Then the girl tested the coffee shop. I was satisfied with the result and reviewed and advertised this place.

Engagement Instagram Mention Tool

Fig. 4 – “Mention” Tool

Here we used 2 tools at once: a sticker-question and a clickable mention in the text.

The result is a whole fascinating story. Even those users who did not plan to visit the location looked at the interior and the menu. Plus got positive feedback from an unbiased visitor.

3) # — hashtags

Hashtags are of 2 types:

  • General.

These hashtags collect user generated content (UGC). It turns out the so-called gallery of photographs of a certain subject. For example sunrise/sunset, greeting message, seasons, etc.

An example is the constant heading #jokes from beauty blogger Lisa Krasnova @totallyblond. By the way, subscribers often send content for this to Lisa.

Engagement Instagram hastag

Fig. 5 – “Hashtag” Tool

  • Branded.

Pros:

  • collection of UGC (if a branded tag is mentioned, you can collect these photos/videos in highlights in customer reviews);
  • growth of brand confidence.

This is if the mention is positive. If the review is negative, you need a brand reaction and work with SERM (in June I just wrote about the correct SERM in search results).

It is too likely that after the situation is resolved, a disgruntled user will post the correspondence with the brand further in Insta Stories (like a nail polish maniac, once a month I consistently observe clashes between bloggers and just users with TM and online stores). This will either form a positive/neutral attitude towards the brand, or destroy the entire reputation of TM.

*Bloggers (and not only bloggers) willingly share any experience of communicating with brands. Especially with negative ones.

It’s great to start the author’s tag, the photo confirmation of which can then be found in the feed. See how the SMM member of the Muse group did a great job: the guys were on tour in the summer and invited fans to mark themselves on Instagram with the special tag #simulatedmusers. After the manager repost the user photos in the group’s account story:

Instagram engagement Using the author's hashtag

Fig. 6 – Using the author’s hashtag

And if today you drive #simulatedmusers into Instagram Search, then photos from user profiles will also appear. I think this is a great solution, right?

Engagement Instagram Author's tag from the feed

Fig. 7 – Author’s tag from the feed

Or such an option performed by Rammstein, tag #rammstein2019:

Engagement Author's time tag in Stories

Fig. 8 – Author’s time tag in Stories

Now there are already a lot of extra photos, but during the summer tour everyone could watch video from the performances, listen to live performances and see the group’s fire show.

4) Poll “yes/no”

The clearest tool. Requires not only viewing history, but also active interaction with it.

Pros:

  • increased involvement (active actions of the audience of the story);
  • growth of user interest (come back after a while and see the statistics).

Блог Вовлеченность Инстаграм

Fig. 9 – “Poll” Tool

And even here you can fantasize – instead of the typical “yes/no” write detailed or humorous formulations. The same brothers Kochut:

Engagement Poll Tool

Fig. 10 – Variations of the “Poll” Tool

5) Question

The question field contains 80 characters. Anything bigger is visible to the owner of the account, but not visible when the answer is published in story. This must be taken into account.

At the same time, incognito is partially preserved. After showing the sticker with the Question, users will only see the avatar of the user account who asked the question or wrote the answer.

Also, you can share several stickers and answers to Questions at once.

This is the most popular tool among bloggers to increase engagement.

How?

“Share this answer” – download the story – upload the story as a new image in the story – share the next Reply. 

Questions are the broadest field for communication, it is provide:

  • content for subsequent stories;
  • themes for posts on Instagram.

Engagement Question Tool

Fig. 11 – “Question” Tool

Moreover, in the “Questions” field, you can even arrange a vote.

See what an interesting step – this is what Anna @orelanna did:

  1. invited subscribers to come up with popular expressions and topical funny quotes;
  2. write them in the handwriting of your followers’ profile;
  3. based on them, launched a vote among subscribers to choose a sticker font for the @hleb_shop icon store;
  4. the most popular options were included in the final survey “Yes/No”;
  5. Readers’ Choice Leaders have been printed.

This is how each follower who voted influenced the choice of the print option and saw the result of his work.

Engagement Voting in the

Fig. 12 – Voting in the Question

This move performed 2 functions at once:

  1. helped to make a choice together;
  2. raised the engagement in the account.

The result of working together:

Engagement Voting result

Fig. 13 – Voting result

In the same way, subscribers voted for the autumn collection of badges and stickers.

6) Slider

The tool assumes the interest and action of the user, involvement in the story.

You can select the background and emoji to be used in the scale.

Maximum text length – 35 characters.

Pros:

  • understanding how much subscribers like this type of content;
  • increased engagement (active actions with the story).

Engagement Slider Tool

Fig. 14 – “Slider” Tool

7) Test

The voting sticker has the same great potential as “Questions”. But in addition to creating tests, you can run a poll with a maximum of 4 answer options, and then count the votes.

Engagement Test Tool

Fig. 15 – “Test” Tool

Because of the game element, the tool engages users well.

You can think over a few moves and entertain the subscribers with the game, as was done by “Vidavnitstvo Starogo Leva”:

Engagement Play in the test

Fig. 16 – Play in the “test” (continued)

And 8th, an additional tool that is getting more and more popular.

8) Mask

When using custom masks, the creator of the above is listed at the top of the story and his nickname is clickable. Mask requests are on the rise – many celebrities and bloggers have their own face masks.

Engagement Instagram Mask Tool

Fig. 17 – “Mask” Tool

Please note, the 3rd profile is the Ukrainian travel blogger @juli_berk, and the last account is our retail @prostor_ua – they offer full makeup (even out the skin, shadows + arrows on the eyes, lipstick).

What is a mask for?

  • any user can try the mask – this is an increase in coverage;
  • the circle of acquaintances with the author of the mask is expanding;
  • the number of subscribers and potential clients of the designer is increasing.

What’s the use for the user?

For a blogger– priority of a sample or a personalized mask, advertising of the mask author and monetization.
For a brand – digitalization of goods (cosmetics, accessories) and fitting. Hereinafter – online sale.
For a designer – searching for new clients.


3. Practical part

A tool for masslooking stories was introduced in the summer when each user had crazy statistics for stories (for example, the stories in my account collected up to 220 views against the usual 80). There was fought against masslooking, and the algorithm for issuing Stories was updated on the 20th of October.

What’s the new way of working?

If the user did not watch the story but swiped to the left to the story of the next account, the previous account flies to the end of the list. And if this person posts a new story, the profile with overlooked stories will not move to the beginning of the feed, as it was before. And if the overlooked stories disappear due to time constraints, then this account will still go to the beginning.

This means that the views of stories have returned to real numbers – the number of live subscribers who watch stories and are involved in the life of the account.

Now I will check all the tools on my profile – it is an ordinary one, without paid ads and other.

Can I get more engagement with stickers? I’ll connect a business account for a while and take into account extended statistics data.

What metrics are recommended to target at Buffer.com:

  • coefficient of stories viewability;
  • reach and impressions;
  • indicator of exits in accordance with the frames of story;
  • time of publication;
  • story duration.

SMM experts advise you to post a story every day. I will try to adhere to this recommendation. Let’s see if engagement tools work for me, a non-blogger.

Inputs

Profile Instagram — my personal account with my target audience.
Content topic – at my discretion.
Posting time – based on the Buffer recommended by research.
Duration – 2 weeks (6 – 20 March).

Buffer provides such a graph of the effective viewing time of stories (according to the USA):

Engagement watch time graph

Fig. 19 – Effective watch time graph

Productive Time (Descending, USA / Ukraine):

  • morning 4 — 6 (12 — 2 pm Ukraine);
  • evening 20 — 22 (4 — 6 am);
  • daytime 12 — 14 (8 — 10 pm);
  • daytime 8 — 10 (4 — 6 am).

Taking into account the amendment of +8 hours for local time, it can be seen that the time of shows is also relevant for Ukraine. Except for the last one, it is still working hours.

I will try to post a story within this period. A number of publications per day – 1 and above.


3.1 Geotag

Object – video from the Lindemann concert on March 6, 2020 in Kiev;
Location– concert venue StereoPlaza, I mark it with a tag.

Posting time — 10-12 pm.

Engagement Using geotagging

Fig. 20 – Using geotagging

Reaction:

Engagement User reaction to geotag

Fig. 21 – User reaction to geotag

Views – 73.

The story got into 3 stories of the location: “Stereo Plaza”, “Stereo Plaza Kiev” and “Stereo Plaza”, which were viewed by 25 viewers.

Benefits:

  • additional views from the location stories.

3.2 @ — mentioning an account via tag

The storyline of the photo – congratulations by ITForce employees on March 8.
Time – 9 – 11 am.

Tag the @itforce profile and check the reaction.

Engagement Usage and reaction to mention

Fig. 22 – Usage and reaction to mention

Reaction:

Views – 71;
Replies – 1.

Benefits:

  • Responds – 1;
  • PR of the employer).

3.3 # — hashtags

One of the most popular hashtags is #sunset.

The storyline of the photo – sunset.
Posting time – 4-6 pm.

Engagement Hashtag usage and reaction

Fig. 23 – Hashtag usage and reaction

Reaction:

Views – 62;
From the hashtag – 0;
Replies – 2.

The number of publications under the #sunset tag is 241 million. Obviously, the tag is quickly filled with new photos and few people scroll through all the stories.

Benefits:

  • Responds – 2.

3.4 Poll “Yes/no”

The storyline of the photo – question about random funny photos, start voting.
Posting time – 12 -2 pm.

Engagement Usage and user response to the poll

Fig. 24 – Usage and user response to the poll

Reaction:

Views – 81;
Replies – 17 “yes”, 0 “no”.

Benefits:

  • interactive with subscribers – increase in engagement;
  • profile visits – 2.

3.5 Question

Storyline – please advise films/series in the spirit and atmosphere of “The Hunt” and “The Bridge”.
Posting time – 12-2 pm.

Engagement Instagram Using Question

Fig. 25 – Using Question

Reaction:

Engagement User reaction to the Question

Fig. 26 – User reaction to the “Question”

Views — 73;
Replies – 21 (of which 7 are spam messages).

Now, I can write a post with a selection of film adaptations based on what was advised. And in the post, re-ask the opinion of the subscribers, since not everyone watches the story.

Benefits:

  • subscribers’ feedback – engagement;
  • a new topic for a post with UGC – a selection of successful film adaptations.

3.6 Emoji slider sticker

Storyline – again a photo from an attended Lindemann concert.
Time – 10 -12 pm.

Engagement Using and responding to the Slider Tool

Fig. 27 – Using and responding to the Slider Tool

Benefits:

  • views – 70.
  • reactions – 9.

3.7 Test

The storyline of the photo – manicure with a new varnish.

I offer subscribers 4 possible answers (1 correct). Moreover, the shades are selected similar, so that it is more difficult to determine the correct option (4th).

Time – 10 – 12 am.

Engagement Use and response to test

Fig. 28 – Use and response to “test”

Reaction:

Views – 69.

Benefits:

  • votes – 29;
  • engaging subscribers.

4. Experiment results

Advanced statistics offers 16 metrics to analyze the effectiveness of your stories. I took into account only 10 relevant to me (as it turned out later, 8 is the optimal set):

  1. Forward – scroll forward to the next story. The publication seemed uninteresting to users.
  2. Exits – viewers who have closed the story. The publication turned out to be non-sticky.
  3. Back – the number of repeated views and returns to stories, a worthwhile indicator.
  4. Replies – messages and reactions in Direct.
  5. Reach – shows how many people saw your story. If 1 user views it twice, the analytics will still display the number 1.
  6. Subscribers – the number of subscribers after viewing stories.
  7. Impressions – the number of views of the publication, including repeated views by 1 user.
  8. Profile visits – the number of people who went to the account after viewing the story.
  9. Reposts – the number of people who have shared your story in their profile. To be honest, I did not understand this option – my stories were shared by accounts, but the Repost column reads 0…
  10. Next Story – the number of users who “scrolled” the story and moved on to the posts of the next account. An important indicator.

*SMS, Calls, Clicks on the site, Clicks on the button “How to get there”, Click on the link, I do not take into account emails, these tools were not used, there are zero statistics.

First, I look at the statistics BEFORE using the tools:

Engagement Initial statistics

Fig. 29 – Initial statistics

Engagement Initial statistics (continued)

Fig. 30 – Initial statistics (continued)

I put it in a table and analyze the indicators (I spied on the method from Ilya Slyusarev from SMMPlanner):

  1. Revision difference = Reach – Impression;
  2. % revision = (Difference revision / Coverage) * 100%.
  3. ER = ((Answer * 2 + Back) / Coverage) * 100%.

ER is an indicator of content engagement. I divide positive reactions by coverage.

Engagement Source analytics metrics

Fig. 31 – Source analytics metrics

For the last 2 columns, I have added all the indicators of 6 stories to have a total figure. Total, total % of story revisions = 192, and ER = 38%.

Now I take data AFTER using the tools:

Engagement Statistics after

Fig. 32 – Statistics on the use of the “Geo” and “Slider” tools

Engagement Geo and Slider emoji

Fig. 33 – “Geo” and “Slider” tool usage statistics (continued)

Engagement statistics for Mentio, Hashtag and Pol tools

Fig. 34 – Usage statistics for Mention, Hashtag and Poll tools

Engagement statistics for Mentio, Hashtag and Pol tools continued

Fig. 35 – Usage statistics for “Mention”, “Hashtag” and “Poll” tools (continued)

Engagement Statistics on the use of the Question and Test tools

Fig. 36 – Statistics on the use of the “Question” and “Test” tools

Engagement Statistics on the use of the Question and Test tools

Fig. 37 – Statistics on the use of the “Question” and “Test” tools

I put the data in a table to make it easier to analyze.

Engagement Statistics after using Instagram tools

Fig. 38 – Statistics after using Instagram tools

118 impressions received a story from the Lindemann concert (geotag instrument), she also has the most fast forward.
6 users wished to return to the previous stories – and again this is the “geotag” tool (in the previous stories I published a video with the opening act of Jadu and Aesthetic Perfection before the concert, people wanted to watch it).
2 replies – story with hashtag.
The best coverage of 81 Stories with a yes/no survey.
1 visit to the profile of the stories with a survey, a question and a test.

Again counting % revision and ER. Moreover, it is not clear what the ER rate should be. I will assume that the higher the better. Total:

  • max ER at the “geo” mark -10,9;
  • min due to the peculiarities of counting the question – 0.

Compare revisions and ERs before and after:

There was % of Stories revision = 192, and ER = 38%.
Now % of story revisions = 230, and ER = 39%.

Well, does it make sense to bother and use Instagram tools to increase engagement? After all, the difference between the indicators is small. The ER hasn’t changed at all. Did I fail an experiment?

No. First, I tried all the interactive tools of the service.
Secondly, I got creative – I had to come up with content for each sticker.
Thirdly, I got more interactions with stories: views, responses in stickers and in Direct.

Which tools brought the best result:

  • test with multiple answers +29 voters;
  • geotag +25 additional views from the location history;
  • question +21 reactions;
  • yes/no poll +17 interactions;
  • emoji slider +9 votes;
  • mention +1 reply.

The most stupid hashtag turned out to be.

The quiz, question, and slider increase the engagement of the profile and subsequent stories if they are responded to. Geotags and hashtags are only those where they are used – by tags you can find similar stories. So, interaction with buttons of polls, votes, etc. increase the ranking of stories.

What can I recommend:

  • use geotagging, so the story gets into the story of the mentioned location and the number of users who have viewed the story will grow;
  • the test collects the most views, because there is an element of the game;
  • the question arouses interest among users and a desire to answer (of course, if the question is relevant);
  • the poll is also effective and its result depends on the topic of the story;
  • emoji slider is a controversial tool, it is usually used in a “like/dislike” context.

Each specific profile will have its own methods of increasing engagement: you need to be creative, try, test tools and content. This is the only way to understand what works in your topic.

The main thing is interesting content. And each profile has its own “interestingness”, because each niche has its own thematic (or not) target audience. Ask your subscribers (and at least through the Question, not Direct) what they would like to see in your Stories. Today users are the king of consumption, no subscribers involved – no sales.

And, of course, it is better for ecommerce accounts that their account is mentioned as often as possible – this is how the referrals grow.

Try to work with your followers’ photos. In the next month, it will be very useful in an emergency in Ukraine.

Test Instagram tools, engage users!


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