Six key takeaways about Instagram engagement to leverage in your marketing strategy

Video or photo carousel? One hashtag or more—and should you partner with an influencer? When it comes to Instagram best practices, you might have a lot of questions. And though there are many smart ways to use the social media platform in your event marketing strategy, some tactics do prove more engaging than others.

Not sure how to get started? Here are the six main takeaways from HubSpot’s 2019 Instagram engagement report to guide your efforts:

1. There is no one way to define “engagement.”

Liked posts, comments, shares, tags—although more than 80 percent of brands say engagement is the most important metric, its meaning isn’t defined. The researchers behind the report suggest focusing on the interaction that aligns most with your brand—or, in this case, your meeting purpose. (For simplicity purposes, the report defines engagement as likes and comments.)

2. Video posts earn the highest engagement rate.

Compared to its still-image compatriots, video receives more than double the comments, on average. 

That said, video production can be expensive, and a parade of social video content isn’t always outlined in the event budget. If you’re sticking with photography, a carousel of images outperforms one single photo—but that doesn’t mean individual still images should be avoided. 

“If you find it hard to create video content every day, you’ll still get a healthy overall engagement rate by posting a balance of image, carousel and video content regularly,” according to the report.

3. More isn’t merrier when it comes to hashtags.

Contrary to popular belief, too many hashtags can cause a dip in engagement. Think relevance over quantity: The research suggests sticking to five or less hashtags to accompany your post. And don’t forget your branded event hashtag, either!

4. Start tagging.

Other than hashtags, tagging other active users can also boost brand exposure, increase engagement and grow your online community. But as with other elements of an Instagram post, this should be done strategically. For instance, you wouldn’t tag specific attendees but should tag and promote session speakers. Likewise, ask speakers to tag your event—and use the meeting hashtag—on their social channels, too.

5. Measure community over follower counts.

Struggling to grow your Instagram network? You’re not alone. The fact is, the platform’s algorithm, along with other brands’ savvy marketing skills, makes it harder to bump up your follower count. What’s more important than numbers: the strength of your Instagram community. A smaller follower tally that is liking posts, commenting, interacting with one another—again, whatever engagement might mean to you—is more valuable than thousands of disengaged followers. 

If your event is just setting off on its Instagram journey, remember that it can take time to build an engaged community. The report recommends starting with some targeted ads to get that initial follower base.

“After that, it’s up to you to stay engaged with your community, and to make sure that your account is continuously providing valuable content in order to attract new followers,” the report says.

6. Partner with micro-influencers.

Rather than A-list celebrities, try a social media takeover with micro-influencers instead. With about 50,000 to 100,000 followers, micro-influencers are bringing in higher engagement and conversion rates than their superstar influencer counterparts. The study says that’s likely because they have smaller, targeted audiences and therefore can appear more credible and authentic. Plus, they are more cost-effective for you, too. Just don’t forget to tag them!