During June 2021 a group of us formed an engagement group with the view of testing if having early comments on our posts really does make a difference. As part of this challenge we also discovered what it was like to be part of an engagement group and if being included in-one provided us with a positive experience.
Much like many people on Instagram the participants in the group had experienced quite a fluctuation on the engagement of our pictures over the time they have had an Instagram account, and were curious to understand why that was. There was no real reason for this fluctuations and we wondered if it was the lack of receiving comments on our images soon after posting, and this is what we set-out to discover.
We were a group of people from across the globe and we had to find a time when we could all post our images together, so that we could all be online at the same time, with the view that we didn’t want to have to be glued to our telephones for hours on end waiting for each other to post our image. We were accounts from as far afield as Australia and the United States as well as the UK, and the challenge was trying to find a time that would fit all these countries and time zones. We settled on 1:00 PM UK time which was 8:00 AM in the east of the United States and 8:00 PM on the Western Australia. See the list of Participants below, click the account name to see the account:
Each day for about a week, each of us posted a picture at the same time and recorded the statistics from the insights on Instagram, specifically we made a note of how many likes we received, how many comments we gained and what the reach was for each picture. We recorded this information for about a week before we submitted our live test picture. We recorded our statistics after just one hour of our post going live to give us a good representation of the engagement we would receive, and it was set at an hour to make it easier for us to record the information. We realised that the change of time, and the either late or early start for the USA and Australia, would have a negative impact on the engagement they received on their posts, and an 8:00 o’clock post in the USA and an 8:00 o’clock post in Australia isn’t naturally the best times to submit an image to Instagram. It was immediately clear the engagement received on these posts were lower than they normally would be, and is why we took measurements for about a week to get an accurate impression.
To be able to gain Instagram insights each of the participants had to have either a creator account or a business account and this may have been a factor in how much engagement was received, as it suggested that changing your account type may have also reduced the engagement on the images. This has still to be verified however because it wasn’t true for all participants.
For each of our test images we did nothing special and just posted the normal type of picture we would have expected to post, although the test images were posted either much earlier or much later than we would normally post them. On the day of the live test we all gave each other a comment of at least four words, and we replied to every comment received with a reply of at least 4 words. Our live test pictures received many more comments within the first hour of being posted than most if not all of our previous posts. Before the test we highlighted what we were doing to our followers and encouraged them to leave a comment on our posts as soon as they were seen, this also helped to increase the early number of comments on our images. We chose fours words for the comment and our reply to ensure that Instagram didn’t consider the comments as left by a BOT or to ensure the application treated them as real person comments. Each member of the group received a greater number of comments and a higher quality of comment than on a normal post.
Our findings were inconclusive and none of participants received any significant improvement on engagement within the first hour. For our test it appeared that there was no jump in engagement for gaining many more comments and likes within the first few minutes or hour of posting, it didn’t seem to boost our statistics. Also at the last minute the group decided to also save each other’s pictures to include that as a metric which is reported to be the best action for engagement, this also didn’t help us improve our engagement. The table below shows the order of importance to Instagram for engagement, hence why it was considered a good option to also try.
Despite the lack of engagement the test was successful for lots of reasons – it did indicate there are other factors involved in engagement and immediate comments are just a small part of it. The test did help to create a new group and connect some people who otherwise would have not met online. We also tested the mechanics of an engagement group compared it to the groups we are in and had a feel if they are useful. The chart below shows the Engagement on my posts at 1:00pm UK for the first hour, before and after the test date of June 16th 2021, which shows no increase at all of either Likes or Reach.
We did connect very well in the group and although it was designed to not be a chat group it was inevitable that some chat did take place, though the conversation was steered towards the engagement test and considerations for it. We enjoyed the connection and discussion though even with a high degree of motivation we did struggle at times to keep up with each others posts, and despite how positive they can be for some, I still believe that a chat group is far better for engagement than a group specifically created for it.
The jury is still out and we only gave the engagement test one go, where at least 3 tests would be been better, and the effort it would take to keep focused on the test may have been too high. Since some had changed their group type and found a general reduction in engagement, they have decided to stick with the new group type, (mainly Creator Account), because it does provide additional metrics which can be used to track the account. I am often asked how to get more followers via Direct Message, and the best and easiest advice and what I think this test shows, is you must post your best possible pictures, which don’t have to be the best on instagram, but the best you can do.
Massive thanks from me for those who took part, the couple of weeks we were focused on the test was really enjoyable and you made it such fun – thanks again. I will be attempting to do other similar tests in the future and if you would like to be included, let me know when you see the call go out.