Understanding Instagram Engagement
Do you feel like you’re constantly battling with the Instagram algorithm to get more reach on your posts and increase your Instagram Engagement Rate? You’re not alone—Influencers, Creators, and marketers everywhere spend a good deal of time trying to figure out what they can do to get more reach and engagement on Instagram. And with the platform constantly changing, it’s completely reasonable to feel frustrated by it. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to improve your Instagram engagement rate.
At Sidewalker Daily, we help Creators and Influencers grow their social media presence and work with brands. We also consult with brands on their Influencer marketing campaigns and social media strategy so we have a deep understanding of Instagram and what works and what doesn’t. With Instagram being the arguably most sought after platform in the social media space for Influencers and Creators, it’s safe to say that we’ve picked up some tried and tested methods for increasing IG engagement rates that we’re going to share in this article.
Improve Your Instagram Engagement Rate
Many Creators and Influencers are afraid to pitch to brands because they feel like their Instagram engagement rate is too low, or getting lower every day. If you feel that way, you’re in good company. That’s why we’re breaking it all down for you the same way we do for the Creators who we work with here at Sidewalker.
Let’s talk about how the algorithm works, what calculating your engagement rate means, and then some ideas for how you can increase your Instagram engagement rate.
How The Instagram Algorithm Works
Before you start asking “how can I increase my engagement rate?” you need to understand how the platform works. After all, you could be suffering from low engagement on Instagram simply because your content isn’t even getting pushed out to anyone. If you don’t reach any feeds, you can’t get any engagement. It’s that simple!
What isn’t as simple is keeping up with the demands of the Instagram algorithm and working the best practices into your strategy every day. Put in the most simple terms possible, the Instagram algorithm is what makes your feed look different from someone else’s feed—it’s the formula used by Instagram to determine what people might want to see, and consequently what it ends up showing them.
Here’s what we know from Instagram themselves about what goes into the algorithm as of now. Like most technology and social media algorithms, they are constantly tweaking it so make sure you keep up to date with the changes. Keep these points about the algorithm in mind as you grow your Creator or Influencer business using Instagram.
Did you publish a video or a photo? Post a story? While this isn’t the end-all-be-all for getting engagement, it’s certainly no secret that Instagram is pushing video now and knowing How To Use Reels for growth is important.
In general, Instagram shows newer posts before older posts. While you can choose to toggle between a chronological feed of posts from the people you follow and an algorithm feed, both of these feeds will show you posts from 3 hours ago, not 3 months ago.
Who you engage with:
Have you ever noticed that if you like someone’s posts once or twice, you start seeing them more frequently? The algorithm wants to show you the content you’re interested in. It uses your level of interaction with someone to gauge that interest.
What you search:
The words and phrases users type into the search bar signal to Instagram that they want to see more of that type of content. In the future when a post holds those words—or related words—Instagram will be more likely to show it to them.
If you’re confused by search and how it can help you get discovered by brands, we have a course all about How To Get Noticed By Brands to help Creators and Influencers use this essential tool. We go over why having a search strategy is the key to your growth on social media and give you the keys to getting noticed by the right people.
You may have heard it before, but we truly believe that Consistency is the only cheat code. Although it might take time, staying consistent and posting on a frequent schedule has helped so many—including us—get more reach and engagement on Instagram posts.
What Is A Good Instagram Engagement Rate?
In truth, a good Instagram engagement rate depends on multiple factors and they are actually calculated differently by different people. There isn’t a magical Instagram engagement rate calculator put out by Instagram, but we do have some tips for how you can create a formula that works.
Just like figuring out how much to charge for an Instagram post, it’s not really a science, there are multiple factors that go into coming up with your rates. We discuss all of the factors and help you figure out what to charge brands in our signature Pitching To Brands Mastercourse. The factors traditionally used to determine engagement rate have changed too. In the beginning stages of this industry, the value of a piece of content was mainly determined by likes, and sometimes comments. Those days are long gone, and you should be using other metrics to calculate your Instagram engagement rate as well.
You can figure out your Instagram Engagement rate by looking at your posts’:
Open up your Instagram Insights and look how your post interactions vary from post to post. See how this week compared to last week. Know how many impressions a single post or a set of posts received. There’s so much you can do right on the app to analyze your engagement rate, and coming from people who have worked on the brand side: it’s what we want to see when we work with Creators and Influencers!
Engagement rate used to be (for the most part) solely based on an individual’s follower count. We personally believe that going into Instagram Insights, taking into account all of the impressions a post received, and comparing that to the total number of engagement actions is a more accurate way of seeing your engagement levels.
To summarize, you need the following information to calculate your engagement rate:
- How many times was each action taken on a post or series of posts
- Your total number of followers or the total number of Impressions a post or series of posts received
To calculate your rate, add up saves + shares + likes + comments (and any other actions you’re including, such as clicks), divide that number by the number of impressions, and then multiply by 100.
And if you were using your follower count instead of impressions, swap that out in the formula.
Like we said, there’s no one engagement score that means you’re good or bad. However, if the result you get is anywhere from 2%-5%, that’s pretty standard. Anything over those amount is considered a high engagement rate.
7 Ways To Improve Your Engagement Rate
Now that you know a little bit more about the Instagram algorithm, reach, and figuring out where you stand, it’s time to talk about how to boost Instagram engagement. Remember, when you pitch to brands that you want to work with, they need to know how well your content performs based on the amount of eyes that saw it.
As we always tell our micro influencer clients that when they pitch to brands, 100,000 followers or 2,000 likes don’t necessarily have more value than 10 people clicking a link and making a purchase. No matter your size, it’s important to focus on getting the people who see your content to make meaningful engagements so that you can show brands your value!
1. Ask Yourself: Is This Post Shareable?
As you plan out your content, it’s so important to ask yourself if a post is valuable, savable, or shareable. If you place a focus on these things from the start of your planning process, you are way more likely to create content that naturally generates increased engagement.
We all love a pretty picture, but when it comes to saving a post for later, a random image isn’t as likely to get someone to tap “save” as a valuable tip or piece of content. Maybe you expand your captions to include tips and tricks for your niche, a helpful piece of advice, or anything else that someone might want to come back to later.
What are people in your niche looking for? What questions can you answer for people in your audience? Literally ask yourself these questions as you do your Instagram content planning to help idea generate content that will boost your Instagram engagement rate.
2. Use Calls To Action
Who knew it could be that easy? Tell your followers what you want them to do! This might feel a little strange at first, but you can’t expect everyone to know what you want them to do on their own! Include a call to action in your posts such as prompting them to send a post to a friend or leave a comment. We promise, it makes a huge difference. Sometimes a little nudge is all it takes to get someone to engage with a post.
Of course, there are ways to do this that come off spammy. Just be straight up about the value you’re bringing: “Want more content that will help you do ____? Save and follow for more!” Let them know that your DMs are open to chat or organically include questions in your posts that people might have something to say about—never expect them to assume you’re looking to make a connection.
Be authentic with your followers and let your personality shine through. This will really make them feel comfortable engaging with your posts and taking steps that they otherwise wouldn’t have thought to do.
3. Engage With Others
Engaging with others on Instagram is a fantastic way to boost your own engagement. Instead of sitting around and waiting for everyone to come to you, actively pursue relationships with other IG users.
One strategy that some Creators and Influencers find effective is commenting on a certain number of posts per day or commenting on a certain number of posts right after they post their own. Leaving a comment is a quick and easy way to introduce yourself to a new person or check in with someone who has been following you for awhile.
When they see your comment—especially if it’s actually substantive, or more than just a quick emoji—they might head back to your page and take a look at your recent posts.
4. Use Instagram Stories
The power of Instagram Stories is definitely underrated. While they might not reach new audiences in the way that a Reel can, they’re great for starting conversations. If you post something in your Story that’s interesting, relatable, or requires people to answer, it’s highly likely that you’ll get some engagement out of it.
As time goes on, Instagram Stories only seems to get more popular. There’s always a new engagement sticker to use (for example: Ask A Question, Answer A Poll). Plus, now that Instagram has released the option to “like a Story,” you have an additional measurement of engagement to consider. If you remember from our talk about the algorithm, any interaction with your content signals to Instagram that they should show the person your content more. A Story view, like, or sticker interaction is certainly going to impact whether they see you on the feed too.
Brands are aware of the power of Stories, so it’s really important that you take them seriously if you’re considering pitching to brands. Unlike regular Instagram posts, Stories let you add links. This is a huge factor in engagement rates—how well can you push people to take actions off the app? Let brands know how many people click your links. If you can create engagement that drives traffic for brands, that’s a major incentive to work with you!
5. Use Keyword-Rich Captions
If you’re trying to grow your engagement, you need to know how to write captions that encourage engagement and that target your specific audience. This signals to Instagram just who exactly is your audience. Without the proper keywords, Instagram has no clue who to push your content out to…which means they might end up pushing it out to the wrong people. If your content lands on the page of someone who isn’t interested at all, are they going to engage with it? Probably not.
On the other hand, if it lands on the feed of someone who loves looking at your style of content then you might have just made a new follower! Always remember to also think about your keywords from a big picture perspective—you want Instagram to correctly categorize your account as whole. That way you’ll consistently land in front of people who actually want to engage, with your account and content.
6. Collaborate With Other Accounts
Instagram has a collaboration feature that allows two users to post the same photo to both of their feeds. What does that mean for you? One post, double the power!
Not only does your post have the chance of showing up on your own followers’ feeds, but the collaborator’s followers’ feeds too. Essentially, you’re borrowing their audience and hopefully getting a few of them to jump over to your account too.
Even if they don’t follow you right away, at the very least they might engage with something you’ve posted about. People are getting familiar with you through the eyes of someone they already trust. It’s a great way for both you and the other account to get a little boost of engagement right away.
7. Do A Giveaway
A popular method for giving yourself a little boost of Instagam engagement is hosting a giveaway. We tend to think that some people place too high of a value on giveaways, expecting it to give them a giant influx of followers that stay around forever. While that might not be the reality, it’s definitely a fun idea that helps you give back to your audience, celebrate a milestone, or spur a bit of conversation. It also can help you grow your following and engagement over time if you do it right.
In exchange for being entered for a chance to win whatever it is that you’re giving away, ask your audience to leave a comment or share to their Story. That engagement alone is a nice boost for your page. Plus, this can help you drive new eyes to your page. If they’re in your niche or really love your content, they just might stick around.
A note of caution: rapidly losing a ton of followers isn’t a good sign to the algorithm—it kind of shows Instagram that people found your page and then quickly decided it didn’t give them enough value. Just consider this as you do your giveaway. If you need help with your giveaway strategy you can book a call with one of our experts.
Ready To Get More Engagement On Instagram?
Don’t let a wavering Instagram engagement rate stress you out too much. It can be frustrating at times to feel like you’re posting and not getting the interactions you expect, especially if you want to work with brands. But we promise that with a little strategy and a commitment to implement it, you’ll start getting the engagement you want on your Instagram account.
And if you’re still feeling a bit lost—we’re here for you! Our Instagram Engagement Accelerator course will help you stay on track to your engagement goals. But as a quick recap of these tips for improving your Instagram engagement rate:
1) Understand how the algorithm works.
2) Calculate your engagement rate to monitor your progress.
3) Create shareable, saveable, and valuable content by considering this factor in your content planning process.
4) Use calls to action instead of assuming engagement will just happen.
5) Engage with others on Instagram.
6) Use Instagram Stories frequently and consistently.
7) Use keyword-rich captions.
8) Collaborate with others.
9) Host a giveaway.
We hope these tips for improving your Instagram engagement rate motivated you to think strategically about your posts. If you’re still looking for more help and professional guidance, book a one-on-one call with one of our experts and we’ll help you come up with a personalized gameplan to grow your social media and work with brands as a Creator or Influencer.
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