After Instagram implemented the much dreaded Instagram algorithm a few months ago, many people have been reeling from one of it’s biggest side effects: a significant drop in engagement. People have been seeking ways to increase engagement on Instagram, and many have turned to Facebook groups for solace and commiseration. I’ve seen comments like “I’m discouraged. What I can only assume is the algorithm has KILLED my engagement and new followings. I have 2 accounts, both 4-5000 followers, and getting 100 likes in 24 hours feels like a pipe dream anymore.”, and “What is up with engagement the past few days? I went from 160+ likes per photo to less than 75. I just posted a giveaway that a few weeks ago would already be 50+ likes and it’s down at 15. What gives? Advice? Is this the result of the algorithm?”, and also “I’d really love to know how some of you are beating this new Instagram algorithm. My engagement has sunken by nearly 40% since the change and I really want to get my groove back! Any advice?”.
The truth is that the new Instagram algorithm has affected engagement on Instagram. Rather than see posts in a chronological feed, Instagram now shows users posts that they think they’ll favor based on who they follow (and who they engage with), as well as based on what content they interact with (and engage with) the most. According to Instagram, people were only seeing 30% of the posts from the people they follow, so they feel with this “new ordering you won’t miss your favorite band’s video after the concert, even if it took place across the world in a different time zone. And no matter how many accounts you follow, you should see your best friend’s latest posts.”
So if you’re one of those people that are in the pit of despair, contemplating throwing in the Instagram towel, or if you’re just someone who’s looking for ways to further increase their engagement on Instagram, you’ve come to the right place. The 6 Actions below will immediately start to increase your engagement on Instagram, and perhaps like me, may even double the engagement you were enjoying before! As a bonus, I’ve bundled up some additional guides or workbooks that I think will further enhance these actions on this post, so make sure to download the bundle now. They include a guide to improve the quality of the pictures you post to your feed, how to make it to the top posts section on Instagram, and a list of statistics that increase engagement. Get the bundle right here .
6 Actions to Immediately Increase Engagement on Instagram
1. Post Visually Appealing Pictures
I know this may seem obvious, and it’s a point I drive home time and time again in the majority of the posts that I write, but if you want to get engagement on your posts, you have to post pictures that will make people stop, admire the picture, and then like or comment. Case in point: this Instagram post of mine that went viral.
As you can tell, my caption isn’t all that riveting–I’m making sure that people are aware that I have a free guide (that I’m including in the bundle) that I’m giving away and am including some additional tips. What stopped and got people’s attention with this photo is that it’s incredibly colorful and cheerful, the white background makes the colors really pop and maybe subconsciously it reminds people of something fun and exciting–going on vacation! It’s also bright (as opposed to dull), crisp (as opposed to blurry), and I imagine it stood out in people’s feeds.
2. Use (the right) Hashtags
And use all (30) of them*. At around this time, I started using the full 30 hashtags that Instagram allows you to use, and started really niching down on the hashtags that I thought were appropriate for my audience (hashtags I thought my audience either uses themselves or would use to find the content that I’m trying to get in front of them), as well as hashtags used by communities I want to be a part of. If one hashtag can get you in front of 5 other people (for example), and two hashtags get can get you in front of 15, then using 30 hashtags will get you in front of a whole lot of other people that aren’t otherwise following you. This happened with this viral Instagram post, and because it resonated with the audience I was trying to target, it got a lot of engagement, and I imagine the result was that it not only got me to the Top Post section (or Top 9) of several hashtag hubs, it eventually landed me on the Explore Page, and that’s when things got really interesting.
I studied this one post for at least a day if not two, because I was trying to capture this lightning in a bottle, and thankfully I was tracking my analytics to see what the effects of this viral post were. While the majority of engagement on my posts occurs within the first three hours (per the post above), with this post that went viral, it had several recurring spikes that further drew likes and therefore more engagement as well. I think the algorithm was telling Instagram that my post was engaging enough to be shown to more and more people, and the further spikes (I imagine) was when I was featured in the explore page again to users who at the time didn’t follow me but followed similar accounts to mine or had engaged with similar posts to this one. Make sure to Get the bundle right here that includes a guide to improve the quality of the pictures you post to your feed (tips/apps I use everyday), how to make it to the top posts section on Instagram, and a list of statistics that increase engagement. *If you’re not sure about using the full 30 because you don’t know how or don’t want to distract from your post, check out this blog post.
3. Include Calls to Action in Your Captions
And I mean alllll your captions. If you’re not telling someone to do something after they’ve taken the time to read your caption, then you are wasting a ginormous opportunity. Calls to action can include anything along the lines of “double tap if you agree”, or “tap the link in my profile to bla bla bla…”, but in this case, what you want to tell people to do is either to “tag a friend who ________” (would like this post, agrees with this thought, etc) or ask an (easy) open ended question that requires three to four words to answer. People want their opinions to be heard, and if you’ve posted a picture and a caption that resonates with your audience and then ask the peanut gallery to chime in, you should get some responses (it can take a few posts to train the troops if you normally don’t do this). The reason you want for them to answer is because Instagram values comments over likes (although they both add up to the overall engagement rate), so even if you’re still getting the same number of likes you’ve always gotten, if you can get 10-20 more comments then that will push your engagement rate further up!
This post alone has been the most liked, the most commented, and the post with the most engagement in the history of my account. Because I made it to the explore page, I ended up getting 1307 likes total, 47 comments total (as of today–I still get comments sometimes!), and the overall engagement rate was 74.84%. Now, if you look at the percentage rates above the post in the picture above, you’ll see my engagement rate (top right) for the last 7 days is 24.31% (as of January 2017), which is significantly higher than the average Instagram account engagement rate which is 2%-3%.
4. Be Social
This goes without saying, but it’s called social media for a reason, so make sure to engage with other accounts! Make a list of complimentary accounts that don’t do exactly what you do but whose audience you may want to attract as well (for example, if you’re a beauty blogger then engage with fashion bloggers, or if you’re a nail salon engage with a blow dry bar) and like and leave genuine comments on their accounts, and follow the ones you get inspiration from or admire. Similarly, engage with your audience and lookup posts using specific hashtags related to your business or niche, and like and leave genuine comments on those posts. Follow the ones that speak to you, the ones who have posts you genuinely enjoy and could learn from. Due to the law of reciprocity, if you take the time to leave a nice, genuine comment that someone sees on their post, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate the kind gesture, maybe even give you a follow (if your account speaks to them). In Austin Allred’s The Hacker’s Guide to User Acquisition, the follow back percentage of doing this approached 25% (may not be standard for all accounts–this is just one example). Meaning for every four people they followed, one would follow them back. Now be careful: this is not an open invitation to play the follow/unfollow game (those people should get a life), and be careful of following too many people in one day because Instagram can flag your account as spam account. Plus there’s a limit of 7500 accounts that one can follow.
5. Use Comment Pods or Facebook Groups
A comment pod is a group of people within an Instagram direct message that have agreed to like and comment on each others posts to drive up engagement. When one person posts a new Instagram post, they’ll post a comment to the message pod and when the individuals in that pod see that someone has a new post, they’ll head over to it and like and comment on it. I have found that a pod between 8-15 people is best (imagine almost automatically getting 15 comments on your post!), when there is fewer the engagement doesn’t make too much of a difference (in my opinion), and if the pod is larger then it’ll feel overwhelming if you’re late to the game and feel like you have to like and leave a nice comment on 20 posts. Similarly, there are Facebook groups that are dedicated to driving up engagement on Instagram, and will have different rules and guidelines, but they may request one day that everyone leaves their Instagram handle in a comment and for everyone to follow three accounts, another day they may ask you to include the link to your last post and have everyone comment on at least three, and so on and so forth. In order to find a Facebook group like this all you have to do is google “instagram engagement facebook group” (it’s like magic!) or do a Facebook group search for Instagram engagement.
6. Use Insta Stories
And drive people to like or comment on your last post! We all know how distracting those Insta stories can be–the second you log into your Instagram account for the 73rd time that day, you get distracted by those colorful, circulating orbs and after watching 27 minutes of bloggers getting their make up done, biz owners jet setting through an airport, or celebs lounging on a beach with perfectly bronzed skin and no make up (no fair!), you come out of a video stupor and try to remember what the heck you were meaning to do when you logged into Instagram. Take advantage of this bird-with-a-shiny-object syndrome and update your followers on one or two Insta stories, and instruct them to check out your new super helpful post, or give them a good reason to tap on your profile photo (on the top left of the screen) to check out your new post. I have a feeling that part of the reason that some engagement rates have plummeted is that more and more people are watching Insta stories more and more (and therefore perusing their feed less and less), so this is just another way to remind your tribe that you exist and they gotta check out your most recent post 😉
Those are a few of the ways that I’ve been able to increase engagement on my Instagram accounts, and I have a really good feeling that if you implement these actions, you’ll see an increase in your engagement rates as well! Let me know what you think by going to my last Instagram post, and let me know if you have any other ideas or know of other things that have worked! Last but not least, don’t forget to Get the bundle right here and get your guides on taking better pictures, learn how to make it to the Top Posts section, and last but not least get some statistics on what increases engagement on Instagram.