How to Increase Instagram Engagement and Turn Followers into Buyers

(Part 2 of 2 with Jeremy McGilvrey)

How to Increase Instagram Engagement and Turn Followers into Buyers

Welcome back to the second episode of Monetization Nation interview with Jeremy McGilvrey. In the previous episode, we explained why Instagram is a leader in social media. We also discussed 4 simple, yet powerful, strategies to grow an Instagram audience. In this episode, we will explore strategies that can help us increase our Instagram engagement and turn followers into buyers. We will reveal additional Instagram strategies and secrets and how Instagram influencers can help our brands.

Promoting Our Products through Famous and Credible Instagrammers

Brands need influencers to help drive growth. This follows the same rule as peer recommendation. People are more likely to buy a product or service that is recommended by those they trust, such as famous and credible Instagrammers they follow. 

I asked Jeremy how we can get Instagram influencers to promote our brand. While he believes in the power of influencer marketing over ads, he doesn’t recommend the shoutout strategy which means going to an influencer and having them promote our page. Instead, he believes that it’s best to have them promote a free piece of digital content that will lead potential customers to our page. Then we can follow up with these leads with an offer or get them to follow our Instagram account through an email sequence.

A brand is no _Blog

Connecting with famous Instagrammers isn’t as difficult as it seems. Most Instagram influencers write in their bio how to connect with them, whether it’s through email or direct messages.  

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is” Scott Cook, CEO, and founder of Intuit.

Growing an Instagram Account

Jeremy knows that most people want to grow their following on a budget. It’s very reasonable since there are many different areas of their products or services where they need to allocate their money as well. He believes that the most efficient way to grow an Instagram account without spending a fortune is to first get a niche-based Instagram account that shows the benefit of whatever product or service we’re trying to sell. 

The next step would be to find influencers and to pay them per shoutout. However, it’s again a shoutout that should go to a digital product. Jeremy advises us to Google our products and finds a private label-right ebook. Giving away this ebook as a free lead magnet will help entrepreneurs build their email, which should be one of the highest priorities of our marketing efforts.

Increasing Engagement with Instagram Followers

It’s not enough to have a lot of followers on Instagram. Instagram measures how our audience interacts with our content. There are many metrics by which Instagram measures engagement. Comments, likes, shares, and DMs are all included in those engagement metrics. 

Why does engagement matter? With more than 1 billion people using Instagram every month, engagement is a key factor in Instagram’s algorithm (Source: Hootsuite). When people engage with our content, it means that they like the content. The more our followers engage with our content, the more likely it is to be boosted in the Instagram newsfeed.

In order to increase the engagement of people following our Instagram accounts, Jeremy believes one key is to ask questions. This will get our followers to respond with a comment, which counts as a higher vote for Instagram’s algorithm. Jeremy suggests starting with simple questions such as  “yes” or “no” questions. Then we can ask questions that will get higher engagement, like “ruin the first date in 5 words” and ask people to comment below. Jeremy said it would be even better if we could reply to these comments as well.

engagement is a _Blog

Another secret Jeremy provided us was to boost our engagement with our followers through DMs. When we put a question as a story, instead of asking them to comment, just write “DM me,” for example. When they do DM us, this tells Instagram that these people are our friends. The platform then makes sure those individuals see our posts when they get back on Instagram. 

Turning Followers into Buyers

Working hard to gain followers on social media is important, but it is even more important to help followers convert into buyers. Step one of any social media marketing campaign is to build a strong following. The next step would be to monetize our following. 

When I asked Jeremy what advice he had to turn our followers into buyers, he focused on the importance of having an email list. He believes it’s a poor strategy to keep running offers to our followers. 

He finds it frustrating when people randomly run ads and leave them on their page for long periods of time. What would be a better tactic, Jeremy says, is to put our ad out for 5 or 6 hours and then delete it. Then we can put it up again for another 5 or 6 more hours and delete it to get it back at the top of the news feed.

Jeremy advises anyone who is trying to make money on the platform or preserve their followers to always have something in their story, like a free opt-in to encourage potential customers to give us their emails. This is when we can send our leads helpful and value-added content through email, and sparingly through our Instagram pages. Jeremy finds that one of the best results about automation, whether it’s a sales funnel, email marketing, or text messaging, is they help us build a tightly engineered sales funnel.

The Biggest Tectonic Shifts for Businesses Today 

80% of shoppers_Blog

Jeremy believes that the global economy and what happened with the recent pandemic have pushed toward one of the biggest tectonic shifts that businesses face. Before shoppers buy a product now, whether online or offline, 80% of them are Googling (not Yahooing or Binging) the business they want to purchase from. When they Google our business, it’s similar to a credit report. For instance, when we go to buy a house or car with no credit history, or bad history, we are unable to be financed for anything. 

80% of shoppers Google a business before they make a purchase (Source: Oberlo)

The same goes for our customers. Before they make a purchase, they Google us, and that’s the big shift that’s taking place right now. Jeremy advises us to work on the customer journey and experience before we rush to sell another product. He suggests opening an incognito window and Googling our product name. If we’re not impressed by what comes up on Google, with the images, the reviews, and the organic search, then something needs to change. 

Credibility marketing_Blog

I personally believe that credibility marketing is the most important digital marketing trend happening in the world today. People no longer trust what we say about ourselves. They want to hear from unbiased actual customers and learn from their experiences. We have to find more ways to get credible sources to tell the world how great we are.

“Credibility marketing is the most important digital marketing trend happening in the world today.” Nathan Gwilliam

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Jeremy for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. For memes to be effective, we need to find the most authentic component and be unique.

2. It’s better to get famous Instagrammers to promote a free piece of digital content instead of promoting the product ourselves.

3. Building engagement with our followers is more important than having many fans who are not engaged with our channels.

4. Instagram doesn’t replace the need for a solid email list. A large, engaged email list is better than a large, engaged social platform. This is how we can turn our followers into buyers. 

5. A big shift that’s been happening for quite a while now is how 80% of shoppers Google a business before they make any purchases. That’s why we need to fill in search results and review site results with great information about us. 

Connect with Jeremy McGilvrey

If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Jeremy McGilvrey or connect with him, you can find him on LinkedIn at, or visit his website and subscribe to his blog.

Want to be a Better Digital Monetizer?

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What strategies have you used to convert more Instagram followers into buyers? Please join our private Monetization Nation Facebook group and share your insights with other digital monetizers.

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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