How To Boost Instagram Engagement – With AceTheGram’s Vivien Conway

Instagram and Shopify stores go almost hand-in-hand. The visual social media platform is so popular among e-commerce brands that the company is building a standalone app for shopping.

Online store owners face many challenges and questions, though. Ranging from building relevant followers for their brand accounts to getting engagement on their posts. To shed light on these problems, I reached out to a very talented NZ-based Instagram growth hacker named Vivien Conway from Ace The Gram, which runs the most popular podcast on Instagram marketing out there right now. Here’s our Q&A in full:


Harris: For our readers, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

I’m the Co-Founder of Instagram specialist company, Ace The Gram. We host the Ace The Gram podcast, admin the Facebook Group Instagram Growth and Engagement, and we offer Consulting and Online Courses to paying clients.


How did you first get involved with Instagram as a marketing platform?

I started a sportswear brand at Uni and used Instagram to drive the majority of web traffic to my online store.

Tash was building her influencer account, @tastefullytash, at the same time and it wasn’t long before people were approaching us for Instagram help.

On Instagram Engagement

Is there a strategic angle to using hashtags for growth and engagement? What about geo-tags?

This one hashtag trick makes your hashtags work 10x harder:

  • Before you post, search up the hashtags you’re going to use and like or comment on the trending posts in each hashtag feed (as little as 5 in each is good enough).
  • This tells the algorithm you’re engaged in the hashtag and to boost up your post more.
  • Thirty hashtags later, and you won’t be able to keep up with the engagement!


What’s the best way to break into the trending/popular posts list on IG?

Other than posting consistently great content, if you’re really serious about making the explore page, you could consider using powerlikes. These work best for those in the Fitness, Luxury, and Travel niches and are essentially a ton of likes from big accounts as soon as you post a photo. If you’ve chosen a ‘viral’ snap that is going to get good engagement anyway, that headstart will often snowball you to the explore page. You can find out more about Powerlikes and how to get them on our Ace The Gram podcast episode ‘How To Go Viral’ here.


Content Strategies and User Feedback

People running e-commerce brands have their hands full as it is. What are some great content creation strategies they can incorporate that can grow their social presence without taking up their entire day building it?

One of my favourite time savers when creating content is to first browse Instagram/Pinterest and plan the shots that you need to take.

Instead of trying to create images from nothing, take inspiration from others, as your content will still look different & you’ll save SO much time not trying to create 30+ images for the month from scratch 🙂


What should the daily activities of a social media manager at an ecommerce company be on Instagram?

Other than posting and using stories daily, Social Media Managers should always ensure that they have a substantial content bank, and are keeping and eye on (and saving) any user generated content.

And most importantly, SMM’s should be aware of upcoming important/key dates that will tie in with any postings/promos. The easiest way to stay ahead is by creating a content calendar – try planning your next two week’s worth of posts in a google sheet!


Any strategies that online stores can use to generate feedback from their audience using IG as a platform?

One of the best (and easiest) ways to get feedback from your audience about your products and online store is to use either the ‘questions’ or ‘poll’ features in Instagram Stories.

And example of an e-com store using these often is @tribeskincare. Kayla, the Founder of tribe, often asks her followers to vote on upcoming products or suggest skincare topics for her to talk about on the stories.


Utilizing Instagram Influencers & Engagement Pods for Growth

What’s the best process for converting influencers (both micro and otherwise) into brand ambassadors?

Build a relationship with an influencer before you approach them for a collab. The easiest ways to do this are replying to their stories (your reply gets placed straight in their inbox vs if you just tried to DM them). It’s also important that you comment/like their content!

Once you’ve started to establish communication, then you’ll be able to gauge whether the influencer and their audience will be a good fit for your brand.


What’s your position on engagement pods?

Engagement pods can be a great tool to increase engagement, but aren’t as effective as they once were. The most important thing about engagement pods is that the other accounts in your pod are in the same niche as your account.


Ad Strategies & Instagram’s Algorithm

What IG advertisement strategies would work best for e-commerce brands?

The best results that we are seeing at the moment from paid adverts on Instagram are from Instagram Story ads. Check out this podcast here where we talk to Dee Deng from Right Hook Digital about how to set up Instagram Story Ads for yourself.


What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced in this space? How did you overcome it?

The toughest challenge on Instagram is the forever changing algorithm! Often it can be tough watching a post that ‘should’ have done well absolutely dive.

My best advice in these situations would be to stay consistent, ride it out, and always put energy into creating great content.


Lastly, any advice for struggling entrepreneurs out there?

Be prepared for things not to go as planned! As long as you’re strong in your long term vision/goals, bumps along the way won’t hold you back. You’ll always be tested, but it’s worth it!

Thanks for your time, Vivien!

Vivien and her partner Tash have spent the last three years teaching Instagram users how to organically grow and monetize their accounts. For readers of Within The Flow, they’re giving away a list of the 20 essential FREE apps they personally use to grow their own and their clients’ accounts! But only for a limited time, so click here to grab your copy before it’s gone!

Harris Sid

Harris is a growth hacker with a decade of expertise in marketing and social media. He has experienced industries ranging from affiliate marketing to e-commerce and currently spends his time sharing with the community at - You can Tweet to him @harharharris

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