Rebel Boss with Eden Fried

Boost Instagram Engagement with a Social Media Marketing Plan with Doreen Vanderhart from Knap Creative

Today, we’re continuing our conversation from last week about Instagram. Last week with Natasha Samuel we talked all about Reels.

Today we’re going to be zooming out a little bit and going beyond one element of Instagram. Instead, we’re talking about Instagram as a whole and how you can create a social media marketing plan that will help you boost instagram engagement.

I invited one of my good friends, Doreen Vanderhart, to come on the show today. She is another incredible Instagram expert and marketing expert in general who’s going to teach you all about how you can use the different elements of Instagram to create a cohesive marketing plan that will get those conversations happening with your people.

We’re not talking about how to get more likes or followers – those are vanity metrics and don’t matter to us here.

Instead, we’re talking about things like how to get more actual comments and conversations happening in the direct messages, how to get access to people who really are your ideal customers and how to start those conversations with those people.

Doreen is a graphic designer and a marketing strategist who inspires and empowers you to create marketing that your customers are just going to love and they ignite real results for your business.

Her company Knap Creative is a boutique marketing agency based out of Alberta, Canada. Doreen’s team at Knap works with small businesses worldwide, and she specializes in teaching and implementing down to earth marketing.

Today she’s teaching us all about creating a social media marketing plan to get better engagement, and focusing on Instagram. There’s so much to dig into here so let’s get started!

What Actually is “Engagement” on Social Media?

Today we’re talking about creating a social media marketing plan to get better engagement, but what does that even mean for digital product owners and small businesses?

Engagement can mean a lot of things, but it all boils down to the number and types of conversations and interactions you’re having. Engagement can be likes, comments, or shares.

Better engagement means more meaningful and deeper interactions with your audience. Likes may be superficial – it’s not super important how many likes you get on a post.

What’s more important is comments and DMs, those conversations you’re having, because you want to be building relationships. Engagement is unquantifiable – you want to be connecting to your audience!

Numbers may not be representative of your actual engagement. Because you’re only reaching a certain percentage of your audience, something like the number of likes you have may feel really low compared to your audience numbers. But that’s okay! You shouldn’t be measuring your success just by your superficial numbers, because these aren’t indicative of how well you’re actually doing.

How to Leverage the Different Features on Instagram to Boost Instagram Engagement

Instagram has a ton of different features – your feed, stories, Reels, lives, and IGTV. There are a lot of different elements and components to using Instagram when you’re thinking of engagement, but not necessarily one right strategy that you “should” be using in order to boost instagram engagement.

It really comes down to doing something that works for you. If you’re busy, maybe your digital product business is a side hustle or you have a family to take care of, you probably don’t have hours and hours every day to develop social media content.

It all just comes down to figuring out what really works for you as a person, as well as what your goals are – what you’re trying to do on Instagram is going to play into your strategy and what your audience is looking for, too.

Building a Social Media Plan to Launch Digital Products and Boost Instagram Engagement

Doreen says there are a few things that you need to consider when you’re planning out your social media strategy as a digital product creator.

The first thing is you need a sense of clarity – you have to know who you’re speaking to and what you’re trying to say. If you don’t, you’re just going to spin your wheels and get really overwhelmed and frustrated when nothing is landing.

For example, if you know that you’re going to be selling a workshop about Instagram insights, then you know that you’re going to talk about that for a whole month first to warm up your audience.

Once you have clarity on what you’re trying to sell, what your digital product is all about, then talk about that. Make sure that that’s part of your messaging so that you establish your expertise.

Another important thing to do is taking on a high-level overview first. Doreen is really big on goal setting – take a period of time and then put some goals in place for what you’re trying to do on the platform in that time.

The most important part of your goal will probably be actually selling something. Some examples of goals for digital product sellers might be selling a certain number of your products or enrolling a set number of people in your course. Once you set your goal, then you can start planning more detailed next steps.

The Customer Journey and Building Out Your Social Media Plan

Once you’ve established your goals, the next step to boost instagram engagement to think about and plan around your customer journey.

Any relationship always proceeds in the same order – first someone is going to be curious about you, and they’ll be attracted to your work. Then, once they’re following you, you want to nurture that relationship, otherwise they aren’t going to last.

After you nurture, then you want to invite them into working with you or buying your product. Then you need to delight them – you need to knock their socks off at the end of the experience.

You need to incorporate all four of these aspects – attract, nurture, invite, delight – in your social media plan, otherwise you won’t be as successful in selling your products as you may want to be.

For example, if you have a really great strategy in place to attract new people on Reels (which as we learned last week, is a great way to reach a new audience!) but you’re not nurturing or inviting, nothing will happen and you won’t sell as many products.

You need to make sure that you’re hitting all the steps of the customer journey and lean into different parts of the plan at different times. If you’re not selling anything at the moment, you can attract and nurture but not invite.

If you know when your next launch is, you can take some time to nurture your audience and then eventually invite them when your product is launched.

Using Each of the Four Stages of the Customer Journey on Instagram

There are so many ways you can use Instagram to dip into the different stages of the customer journey – attract, nurture, invite, delight – on Instagram. Doreen has some great tips for you to make the most of the platform for each stage.

1. Attracting on Instagram

Reels is a great way to attract on Instagram, but they can also be challenging and a lot of work! You need to be comfortable if you want to succeed on Reels, but they can also be super fun.

Hashtags can be another great way to attract people to your brand – they also require some strategizing and research.

Engagement is also a great way to attract on Instagram. The more people that you talk to, the more you’re going to pop in the top of their feeds. If you’re talking to people on the platform and starting conversations, your stories are going to move closer to the front of the bubble row, which will mean it’s much easier for people to see your content.

2. Nurturing on Instagram

Going out, engaging, and talking to people can all be great ways to nurture people. You want to be having as many conversations as possible with people in your space and your audience.

Doreen likes to challenge herself every month and see how many DMs that she’s sent and received on Instagram and if she’s beaten what she accomplished the previous month.

Another great way to nurture is through the content that you’re creating. You want to create content that gives your reader an a-ha! moment. That’s what’s going to make your content addicting and keep your audience coming back for more.

If you’re ever feeling stuck on content, use the knowledge gaps that your customers don’t know they have to share really useful pieces of information.

3. Inviting on Instagram

The key to inviting people is to not be salesy – you don’t have to be gross about selling or pitching your product at all.

It all comes down to whether or not you’ve attracted and nurtured your audience in the right way. If they want more content from you, you’ve nurtured the relationship and showed up as a person, then there’s nothing gross about asking for the sale at that point.

You just have to ask! Sometimes people can get stuck in the nurture phase – they provide so much value but never invite their customers to take the next step and purchase from you.

Make sure that you are reminding people what you do, how they can hire you, how they can work with you, how they can buy your course, and where they need to go. It sounds basic, but you really do have to call your audience to action and tell them exactly what they need to do to get your product, because otherwise they’re not going to do it!

A big part of this is striking a balance, you don’t want to promote too much, or never promote at all. What works for Doreen is really knowing what her promotional periods are going to be and breaking it down by quarter, then planning around the different events or launches she’s going to have.

Throughout your sales cycle, you should be posting different “phases” of your content, which means leaning harder into different aspects to match your goals at that time, whether it’s attract, nurture, or invite.

4. Delighting on Instagram

The final step is delight – once someone actually buys your products, now you want to woo them with how great your products and services are. You can actually use elements of this phase on Instagram to continue promoting your products.

For example, you can use the great testimonials and social proof from your satisfied customers as an important part of your marketing strategy. You want to prove that there’s people out there who are enjoying your product!

Another key piece of this is referrals – you want people to be recommending your product to your friends, which can also tie back to Instagram.

The Best Social Media Marketing Strategies for Engagement

The best social media marketing strategy for engagement is what’s going to work best for your business. There’s not one thing that’s going to work for everybody, and that’s okay!

Doreen’s biggest piece of advice is to not overthink it. Just put it out there, even if it’s not perfect or exactly what you think it needs to be.

Clarity comes from doing, not from planning! You can plan and plan and plan, listen to a million podcasts, and research all day, but at the end of the day you’re only going to get the clarity you need when you actually do the thing you’re planning, whether it’s a launch, showing up on an Instagram live, or more.  

Let’s be honest – sometimes you’re going to fail at it and it’s going to suck. But doing is the only way for you to move forward!

Learn More From Doreen

Pick up Doreen’s free Caption Starters, which are geared to the client journey – attract, nurture, invite, delight. This works for product or service based businesses, and you can plug and play your own information into these templates and be good to go!

Follow Doreen on Instagram @Knap.Creative and check out her website at


Want to make money with digital products but have no idea what to make?

Enter your email below to download this spreadsheet complete with 200 digital product ideas you can make in a single business day! Plus get access to my exclusive newsletter with the latest news, tips and tricks.