Savvy marketers and ad agencies will look at more than just your number of followers to figure out if they want to work with you or not. Everyone knows you can buy followers, at this point, and everyone knows you can now buy “likes,” too. But before we get to how, exactly, to improve your engagement (on whatever app you’re using), let’s talk briefly about how you can tell if the engagement is authentic:

If 10% of your followers “like” your post, you’re doing well. That’s a respectable, genuine average. However, if you have 10k followers and post a picture of a puppy (aka something that should yield tremendous interaction because everyone loves puppies) …and only get 17 likes—something is rotten in the state of Denmark. We know this sounds like something you’d find on a standardized test: i.e. A train leaves the station at 6:00 P.M. traveling west at 80 mi/h. On a parallel track… Don’t worry, this isn’t like the SATs; it’s not that complicated.

Beyond the 10% ratio, marketers and the like will look to your comment section. Bots built to post comments (to create the illusion that you’ve got solid engagement) often leave comments that do not correlate to the post. As you can imagine, this is easy to spot. So, stay away from bots—run your own show.

Anyway! About those tips we promised. Here goes:

1) Pose a question:

We’ve touched on the strength of good captions before. This is where the question would likely be posed. (You can incorporate it into the picture or in a video, too.) But don’t be obvious. Say you’re forte is fashion and you’re torn between two outfits. Don’t ask your followers which they’d prefer. That’s relatively boring and we know you can be more inventive. Make the question interesting. i.e. “Which one screams wife material?” Or if you really want to go for it, jazz it up in a multiple choice format: Does this outfit say: A) Wife material B) One-night stand C) Never call again D) Hide under the couch-embarrassing? Your followers will be amused and they’ll let you know. Just watch!

2) Contests, because people love free shit!

We’ll probably end up writing a separate post on best practices for running a contest on your social profile, but for now we’ll just say that this is really a no-brainer. If you’ve got a decent following and don’t yet have brands or marketers blowing you up, reach out to them directly. Hit up the ones you love (on REP!) and offer to do a contest. Post a pic of yourself interacting with said product; tag the brand; spell out the rules of the contest in the caption; and finally, be sure to use some relevant #hashtags.

3) Host a Q&A:

Give your followers a chance to engage in real time. This doesn’t exactly work on all social media platforms, but find the one that fits the bill for you. Maybe even promote it on the others. For example, you’d likely want to do this on Periscope or but you can promote it on Instagram. Get ready for silly questions—and even some mean ones. The internet is like a city: Some parts are beautiful but not without bad neighborhoods with scary alleys. Still, trolls aside, participating in this back and forth is an incredibly strong way to build a connection and, in turn, your engagement. One note: The first time you do it, you might not have tons of people tuning in, but the more you do it, the more people will join in on the fun.

4) Tag You’re It:

Tag your friends; tag the photographer; tag the product or brand that’s featured in your photo. You’ll pop up on their respective feeds, and people do cruise those feeds, which means more exposure for you. More exposure means more engagement. But when it comes to tagging brands or products (especially if you’re not otherwise engaged to do so by that brand) don’t do it all the time—because desperation is a stinky cologne.

5) Current Events:

It’s a big world out there with lots happening all the time. Stay on the current events. You’ll want to contribute to the conversation. Not just while you’re in line for coffee. Take the conversation online. If there’s something going on that strikes a particular chord with you, feel free to post about it. We don’t mean just about topics that are politically charged. Sure, all of that is fair game—but maybe it’s something as innocuous as being excited for the opening of a new movie. If you do go with a more probing topic, make sure you do your research beforehand. There’s nothing worse than offering misinformation. In fact, this will be incredibly detrimental and work against you. That said, if you’re passionate about a cause or movement and want to spread the gospel across your social media profiles, go for it. Start a dialogue (see tip #1 above). Maybe you’ll teach someone something, or maybe they’ll teach you something. That’s engagement!