When it comes to social media, it’s no secret that engagement rate is one of the most important metrics to pay attention to. This helps you determine how much of your audience is active on your account and, more importantly, interested in your products and services.
As a small business owner, having a low engagement rate is extremely discouraging. After spending hours creating content and engaging with your target audience, you don’t see the results you were hoping for. You see accounts with just as many followers as you, sometimes even less, and yet they’re getting more likes and comments. How can this be possible?
You begin researching and eventually find your answer: engagement groups.
What are engagement groups?
Engagement groups are typically a group of individuals with a common interest that agree to engage with one another’s accounts on Instagram and other social media platforms. It can be a group of influencers or small business owners, but they typically have the same goal — increasing their overall engagement.
Typically, everybody will send a link to their most recent post and then each member goes through and likes and/or comments on the post.
Seems like a win-win right? You get to help other small business owners while also growing your account! Wrong.
Why are engagement groups bad for your small business?
The reason engagement rate is an important metric is it can be used to measure how many people are interested in your products or services (AKA, potential customers!) If you inflate this metric with people who aren’t actually interested in your business, it becomes another vanity metric.
Think of it this way. Imagine you’re looking for influencers to collaborate with to market your product. As you’re doing your research, you come across an account with over 500,000 followers. They agree to collaborate with you and you’re so excited because you have the opportunity to introduce your business to over half a million people.
Now imagine that you find out that the majority of those followers are bots that they paid for. They’re no longer real people or potential customers. The collaboration suddenly loses its value, right?
Engagement groups work the same way. While seeing all of those comments and likes pour in may feel good, these interactions won’t actually translate to sales. And at the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal.
On top of that, it can also have a negative impact on the Instagram algorithm.
How do engagement groups impact the Instagram algorithm?
In 2018, Instagram banned the use of engagement groups or engagement pods. They consider this activity to be inauthentic activity and fake engagement, which is against Instagram’s community guidelines.
If Instagram flags your account for fake engagement, you’ll notice an extreme decrease in organic reach. The app will stop showing your posts to potential followers, limiting your ability to authentically grow your account. This means you’ll be reaching less potential customers, ultimately hurting your business.
Worst case scenario? Instagram will completely ban your account, disabling you from promoting your business on their platform.
What are safe ways to grow your social media accounts?
Think of social media as a marathon, not a sprint. Your long-term social media strategy should be about brand awareness, not overnight sales. The more work you consistently put into the platforms, the more results you’re going to see.
- Encourage Authentic Engagement
Use strong Call to Actions (CTAs) in your caption to encourage your followers to interact with your post. Want your followers to shop the products featured in your post? End the caption with a “Tap to shop!”
Want to get your followers talking in the comments? Ask them a question like, “What’s your go-to WFH routine?” Remember, engagement is a two-way street. Be sure to respond to comments too in order to get a great discussion started!
- Strategize Your Hashtags
The best way to reach new audiences is through the use of hashtags. You want hashtags that your target audience is exploring regularly. Instead of #makeuporganizer, you could focus on a more community-based hashtag like #makeupmafia.
Want to learn more about how you can create an effective hashtag strategy? We have a new blog coming soon! Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when it’s published!
- Post High Performing Content
Social media can really be a matter of trial and error. Depending on your business, different audiences are going to react differently to different types of content. This is where your engagement rate (if not inflated with engagement groups), can be extremely helpful.
Pay close attention to which posts perform well. Look at the likes, comments, shares, and saves to see how exactly people are interacting with your post. From there, make a list of the top three performing posts and the bottom three performing posts. Adjust your social media strategy to include more of the top performing posts and less of the worst performing posts.
Just like most things in life, if it isn’t hard, it isn’t worth it. When it comes to engagement groups, while the boost in engagement rate might seem great, it’s ultimately hurting your small business. Rather than going the seemingly easy route, invest in your small business’s social media strategy in order to see real results.
Ready to make that investment? We’d be happy to help! True Blue Creatives offers a variety of social media marketing services that are designed specifically for small businesses like yours. Book a free consultation today.