Noticing fewer likes and poor engagement when posting about your shop on Instagram? You’re not alone. Instagram is constantly changing their algorithm, which affects the order in which followers see your posts appear in their feed. This has to do with a variety of factors – your content, your activity, and the relationship you have with your followers – that all impact the overall reach you have. The following 5 tips will help you better use the Instagram algorithm to your advantage to increase engagement and expand the presence of your Spreadshop even wider.
Post Regularly and Consistently
Creating a reliable schedule for your content can feel overwhelming, especially if you have a full time job and other responsibilities in your life. Posting consistently lets your audience know that you are active and invested in your Spreadshop. It also makes you more likely to beat the beast that can be the Instagram algorithm.
Depending on which site you go to for information, they’ll recommend posting at least once a day or at certain times for optimal engagement. Just because a site tells you 10 a.m. on Tuesdays is the best time to post, that doesn’t necessarily mean that will be a good time for your followers. You should have an idea of what they respond to based on what posts get the most likes and comments, and what times of the day those little affirmative actions are coming in.
If you don’t have the time to go into Instagram and post individually, social calendar services like Hootsuite or Sprout make it easy for you to link your Instagram – and even other socials like Twitter and Facebook – to schedule posts anytime of day for weeks in advance and get ahead of the Instagram algorithm. I’ve used them in the past and found them to be really beneficial and easy to work with.
But before you go out mapping a whole social schedule, maybe try to keep posting like you normally do for a few days to see what your followers are responding to, and if that’s changed since you last checked. You can schedule out posts to your heart’s content, but it won’t make much of a dent unless your content is bold, beautiful and represents YOU.
Create Shareable Images Showcasing You and Your Merch
Showing people what the merch in your shop looks like is the most effective way to drive sales, but how you go about doing it determines where the Instagram algorithm puts your post on peoples’ feeds. It’s not enough to lay a shirt on a table and snap a photo anymore – you have to bring another element into play. That can include using graphic design, or putting yourself in the literal picture.
Not everyone’s a design pro, I know I’m certainly not. I can handle basic Photoshop stuff. But services like Canva are easy to use and can impact the presence of designs you’ve put so much time into. Upload images of merch items like t-shirts and water bottles and add different backgrounds, filters, and graphic elements that reflect the colors or theme of your shop. You’re not only creating a brand identity in the process, but making sure your posts stand out on your profile to future followers.
Instagram has fancier features like Stories and Reels now, but don’t forget to take advantage of standards like carousels and videos. Carousels are when you put 2+ photos within a post that people can swipe through. Analyzing their own social analytics, Hootsuite found that when they did carousel posts, they got 3.1 times more engagement than regular posts.
Video content regularly gets more engagement than static social images, and they don’t have to be as polished or professional. They can be a great way to check in with your audience and let them know about your Spreadshop updates, sales, or just what’s going on in your life.
Showing your face to your followers lets people feel more connected to you, and is great for promotion. It makes your merch feel accessible by seeing it on a real person, like Twitch streamer, DrGRIZLY. People want to feel connected to the person they’re supporting, especially if you’re a content creator like a Youtuber or other social personality.
Be Aware of the World Around You
Creating the kind of content I talked about before is the by-the-numbers type of posting you’ll do on a more daily basis. But it’s important not to get too comfortable in your own little bubble and to keep a pulse on what is going out there in the world and in your own community.
This can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Maybe it’s Pride Month and you put out LGBTQ merch to raise awareness and support. Or it’s the Holiday season and you want to feature festive creations that just dropped on your Spreadshop. It can even be something as small as hopping on Twitch to play a trending game while rocking your merch.
Continue to follow these trends and relevant topics with the hashtags you use to optimize the Instagram algorithm. If people are searching about this thing, they’re obviously interested and would follow that up by purchasing merch that speaks to it. I would limit my hashtag usage between 10 to 12 max so as to not overwhelm potential customers.
Don’t feel you have to go out of your way to follow every trending hashtag, though. Make sure it’s relevant to you and the niche community you have created with your shop. So, design that merch and snap those photos when it matters most to you. People will sense it’s coming from a good place.
Use Stories and Reels to Your Advantage
Bite-sized, video-driven content is the way of the future as far as socials go. No one has enough time to read paragraphs of text about the origins of your shop on an Instagram post. It feels impersonal and detached. You need to figure out how to break that kind of text up in a more engaging medium.
Instagram Stories have an incredible reach. Sometimes, I don’t even scroll through my feed, I just swipe through the first 20 or so stories at the top of the app. And maybe not so surprisingly, Hootsuite reported that 62% of users were more interested and inclined to buy a product after seeing it in Instagram Stories.
Just like the carousel feature for posts, Stories allow you to do just that: tell a story. For example, you can make one that says “About us”, followed by a series of stories that each talk about a detail in your shop’s history.
It’s also important to note that you can directly share regular posts as Stories, which is a great work around if the Instagram algorithm is continuing to affect the placement of posts on your followers’ feeds.
What are essentially the Tik Tok of Instagram, Reels are a fresh and fun way to jump in on the conversation. Play around with popular songs and video trends. Wear your merch while you do it, and show a different side of your personality.
Using a relevant song or trend in your video will put more eyeballs on your shop, and potentially expose you to a different type of audience than you would’ve normally interacted with. It can’t hurt to put yourself out there and use these tools to unlock your creativity and master an important area of the Instagram algorithm.
Join the Conversation
You’re saying a lot on Instagram through regular posts, stories, and reels – but are you doing enough listening?
Content sharing is important, yes, but you need to communicate with your followers and overall community to generate an unseen, yet essential value. People need to know there is an interested party on the other end. Respond and like comments in a prompt fashion, and engage them in a way that is relatable to them. Are they also interested in hockey like you are? Ask them what their favorite team is, keep the conversation going.
If they see you’re engaged, they might be more likely to check out your shop and whatever other projects you have going on.
Engage with other industry professionals or even other Spreadshop users that speak to your interests. Things don’t have to be competitive, they can be collaborative.
And if someone is wearing your merch and tags you in it – SHARE IT! That’s free promotion for you and proves to your audience that you’re a reliable and reputable seller. Use it in an Instagram Story, or in a regular post that will forever live on your profile. You can even embed the image into the About Us area of your Spreadshop.
Interacting with your followers and other accounts is only going to be beneficial to you and your shop.
Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Selling Merch on Instagram for even more great tips!