This advice isn't exclusive to Instagram, but unfortunately we tend to see a lot of spam-aholics trying to get noticed on Instagram. Instagram, like every other social media platform, is about being social. Spamming people, begging for likes, only liking them if they like you, and self-promoting your crap on someone else's post is NOT what we call engaging.
It's not authentic either. Well, unless you are authentically a slimy salesy douche bag who can't talk about anything but your own stuff. In which case, yes, you are being authentically spamtastic! Congratulations!
But for the rest of you. Who actually want to create a business, brand, and reputation that you're proud of, you need to stop spamming people on Instagram. You need to start engaging on Instagram.
There is a big difference.
For example, these people are not engaging. They are the definition of spam.
Coincidentally, all three of them, one after the other, in my Instagram notifications.
Sure, they've beefed up their spam game by sounding nice and complimentary. Much better than the "follow me" comments I'm used to getting. But they're still spam. They're still begging for likes. They're still putting out conditions like "shoot me a follow and I'll follow you back."
Come on people!
I will say it again. Follow people who provide value to you! And provide value to others so that they want to follow you. Understand that these two criteria may mean that who you follow won't follow you, and who follows you won't necessarily be someone you follow back. That's ok! Stop trying to collect irrelevant followers.
Building a brand on Instagram is about so much more than this.
It's about value. It's about community. It's about relationships. And all of this comes from actual engagement.
And, no. Not engagement in the format of giving 5 likes on photos, 3 comments, and then asking them to follow you. Not engagement like bragging about your product on someone else's post.
Engagement is about being authentic.
It involves following people who you value. It involves engaging with their content that resonates with you. You don't have to like every photo or comment on every post. But if you like it, "like" it. If something strikes you, take a couple seconds to add a comment that adds to the conversation.
It involves responding to the comments people make on your content. It involves taking the time to get to know those in your community. It involves creating content that actually matters to your audience.
That is how you can be successfully engaging on Instagram.