Ah, engagement. A cursed word. A feared number. A number that brands now use to determine the quality of your audience. And that you use to determine whether people like your content. Of course it goes far beyond that. But, we all feel the same way when we put a lot of effort in creating something to see that it is not getting the love it deserves.
Disheartened. That’s how we feel. Me first. But because I am not one to let anything to fate, I find solutions to problems. Engagement is a hard one. Mostly because, even though I do believe the algorithm is blamed for much more than what it is actually responsible for, sometimes I do think it is not entirely at fault. Which means there are things you can do!
1. Engage more: like and comment
Sounds obvious, right?! Well, to some it might not be since we constantly see people complaining about low engagement while they themselves, do not engage. It is a two way street. As already explained in the past, if you want people to show interest in and engage with your content, you need to do it yourself with theirs first. Once you start engaging, people will want you to come back so of course, they will return the favor. With Instagram not showing everybody’s content, seeing you engaging might remind people they are following you and push them to check your profile and content out. So it is a win-win.
2. Drop meaningful comments
With the era of bots, automated services and fake engagement, people have become a bit paranoid. It has become super hard to differentiate between a fake short comment and a genuine short comment. Since most bot usually comment “Love this”, “Great content”, “Love this pic”, “Gorgeous shot”. Of course, when it comes from you it is genuine. I do not always comment novels and do give in to short comments that could look spammy or fake. Bots ruined it all for us. The best way to remedy this is to drop long, meaningful and genuine comments that are relevant to the photo and/or caption, which will guarantee you are not a bot. And encourage people to answer or even comment on your own content.
3. Block ghost followers and bots
This is such a long, tedious and frankly annoying process that I highly recommend you to do it on a regular basis. I have started to block all ghost followers, bots and weird accounts I could find on my old Instagram, and OMG it is taking a lot of time! And also showing a massive sudden drop in followers. If you do it over time, the loss of followers will not seem as dramatic and will be compensated for with new followers overtime. Engagement is calculated based on the like/comment ratio to followers. The more inactive followers you have inflating your follower number, the lowest your engagement rate will be. Removing ghost and inactive profiles will decrease your follower number but in the long term, it will also increase you engagement. Since the people left will be active AND interested in your content.
4. Time your posts well
What is the point of posting if nobody is there to see your content? Or not taking into account when your followers are most active? Posting at random times for your followers will reduce the probability that the content is seen, but will also ruin your future possibilities too. If you have an Instagram business account, check your insight to see when your followers are the most active. Post content accordingly. If you do not have a business account, Google the best time to post for each day and each time zone. Or you can use the WhenToPost app which will give you the best time to post for your audience. Publishing content when your followers are the most active just makes sense.
5. Use the right hashtags
Hashtags are tricky, aren’t they? Everybody has a different strategy and suggest a different way to use them. One day hashtags will work like a charm, the next day they won’t. One day a particular hashtags is super trendy, the next time it is banned. So yes, it is tricky. What I recommend is having a hashtag directory with different combinations of hashtags with different popularity. But most importantly, pick hashtags that are relevant to your niche. That’s how you’ll get people interested in your niche to see and engage with your content. A foodie will not engage with a fashion post lost in a food hashtag.
6. Use the location tag
Instagram will not punish you for not using the location hashtag. However, it still increases the chances of your content being seen. Because the location tag works just like hashtags. Your content will show for images in a particular location. If people are looking for a particular place, they might see your content.
7. Use stickers in stories
With Instagram removing likes and a new algorithm popping up every other week, engagement on feed posts decreases constantly. Even though story views have dropped for a lot of people, they are still one way to go around the algorithm. Post on stories. Once a day maybe. Even if it is just a photo of a book you are reading, what you are eating or the rain outside. But still try to be interesting. Use stickers as well. Because they encourage people to take action, answer a question, engage with your stories.
8. Write longer captions
Engagement is not only calculated based on likes and comments. No. It also takes into account the time you spend on each picture. So of course, a longer caption will get people to spend more time on your content since they need to read it all. By longer caption, I mean up to ten sentences. Because if you write an entire novel, chances are people won’t read till the end. You need to find a happy medium.
9. Review your content performance
And finally… trying it all to increase engagement is great BUT useless if you don’t check whether it works or not. Even though I fully support people creating content they love regardless of whether or not it gets a lot of engagement, if your job is being an influencer, then that it something you might want to amend slightly. Look at the hashtags, the location tag, or any data that shows you how your content is performing. Change your hashtags accordingly. Look at your captions and stories. Compare which one performed best. Same for the content. In the end, creating content is a two way street. You create something you love that you want your audience to love. They are your customers in the end. Their response to your content helps you decide which direction to take for the next times. While still finding a healthy balance between what you enjoy and what they love.
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How do you increase engagement on Instagram? What are your best tips? Is engagement something you worry about often? What do you think should people focus on to make sure their content gets seen?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
Photos by Junya Yashiki.
See you soon,