What is Instagram Engagement?🧐
It’s easy to get stuck obsessing over how many followers your account has. But follower count is not the only important ingredient when it comes to the recipe for Instagram success — there’s also engagement.
Engagement is the level of interaction your followers have with your account. At its simplest, you can think of engagement rate as the number of likes and comments you get divided by your number of followers (multiply that by 100 if you want it in percentage form).
So an account with 100,000 followers that gets 2,000 likes and comments on a post has an engagement rate of 2%.
Of course, this is just a simplified way of seeing it. There are dozens of ways users can engage with you on Instagram, from static posts to Stories to IGTV.
So – when we talk about boosting Instagram engagement, we’re talking about what you can do to encourage users to interact and connect with your brand across all the various features of the platform.
And, if you work on your engagement, you’re likely to increase your follower count and attract audiences that really love your content. So without further ado…
Here’s 7 Strategies To Boost Instagram Engagement👍
Engagement works in two ways. Think of it as a conversation: if someone walks up and starts talking to you, to turn it into a positive interaction you need to talk back!
Make it part of your social media strategy to be as responsive as possible to all interactions. That means replying to both positive and negative feedback, answering questions, and acknowledging people’s ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It also means keeping on top of interactions across all areas of Instagram including direct messages, comments on posts, and responses to Stories.
💼Pro tip: Responding to all interactions as they happen can be time-consuming – especially if you already have a high number of followers. If you’re in charge of your brand’s social media management, consider checking and responding to followers in designated blocks of time (immediately after posting is a crucial one) so you’re not constantly getting distracted by checking your account 24/7.
Chobani is great at responding in a fast and friendly way to comments from followers.
Spend time crafting your captions
Did you know that Instagram captions can be 2,200 characters long? Not that you need to write an entire essay every time… but it does mean you have the option of writing something more in-depth or meaningful if it adds value to your content.
And meaningful captions – whether bite-size or long – are one way to boost Instagram engagement.
You can also use captions to add context to your posts, to ask questions of your followers so they comment with a reply, or to prompt them by adding a call to action. A lot of brands also use their captions to speak in the same tone of voice as their followers. Remember – Instagram is a platform where you can meet your audience when they are relaxed, so don’t be afraid to use a humorous tone of voice that might make them stop when they are scrolling.
💼Pro tip: Inject some personality into your captions so they give people a feel for what your brand is all about. Extra points for a sprinkling of emojis. 👏
This short yet effective caption from Ben & Jerry’s has personality, depth, and a call to action all rolled into one.
Improve your hashtag game
Hashtag game… not so strong? It’s time to do something about that. Choosing your hashtags wisely can result in greater reach as well as higher engagement.
Hashtags are one of the key ways to make your content discoverable to the wider Instagram community. For example, if you can rank as one of the ‘top posts’ of a particular hashtag, your engagement for that post can potentially skyrocket. The key is to make the hashtag highly relevant to your content – that way you’re sure to reach an audience that’s genuinely interested in your niche.
💼Pro tip: You’re more likely to rank for a hashtag, and have more targeted engagement if you drill down to long-tail keywords (i.e, super-specific hashtags like “#rawveganbrownies” rather than broad ones like “food”). Flick’s Hashtag Search makes it easy to find hashtags you can rank on by showing you the average engagement, level of competition, potential reach and more for each hashtag. You can give it a try now for free and you’ll quickly see what a difference the right hashtags can make.
Become a topical authority
In our post about becoming a topical authority on Instagram, we look at the mechanics of Instagram’s algorithm and how you can use topical hashtags to rise to the top. We won’t repeat all that here (check out the post to learn more) but we do think it’s worth noting that becoming a topical authority is another great strategy to increase Instagram engagement.
What we mean in a nutshell: Being a topical authority means that you are, in Instagram’s eyes, an expert over a particular topic. This also helps with engaging followers because they know that anything you post to your account is going to be within their area of interest.
Stray too far from your topical area, and you risk that people will become disengaged.
If we go back to our food example, say you become a topical expert on vegan food. People who are passionate about that topic are more likely to find your account, follow you, and engage with you.
💼Pro tip: Becoming a topical authority doesn’t mean every single thing you post has to fit 100% within the one theme. Just be sure to make your content (and the hashtags you use to promote it) coherent with that topic in some way. Again, check out the post linked above if you want a deeper explanation of how this all works.
Stories, Stories, Stories.
Stories give you a bucket of tricks to boost Instagram engagement.
For one, you can use Stories to notify followers of new posts. Because of the way Instagram’s algorithm works sometimes even your followers will miss your posts, especially if they aren’t initially engaged with that well. Direct them to see the complete image or video at your account via your stories!
Another awesome use of Stories is to use stickers to ask questions or run polls. These types of stories are by nature interactive and provoke engagement from users. It can also give you a little more insight into what your consumers expect out of you as a brand.
Don’t forget to add locations and hashtags to your Instagram Stories. That way they can be discovered by people who don’t follow you (yet!).
The best thing about Stories is that you can get really creative with how you create and display content, and the ephemerality of it means you also have a great opportunity to test and measure what works and what doesn’t.
💼Pro tip: Stories are also great for user-generated content. Re-posting user responses reinforces a cycle of engagement and gives followers the incentive to tag your brand in their own posts.
In this example, Glossier is using stories to leverage user-generated content and perpetuate a cycle of engagement with followers who mention their brand.
Interact with others in your niche
The more active your account is on Instagram, the more likely you are to get noticed. Interacting with other accounts in your niche is a perfect way to keep active for two reasons: firstly, you’ll build industry connections and make yourself known in your niche. And secondly, you’ll put your account in front of your target audience.
For example: Let’s say you’re a boutique food brand (…can you tell we love food at Flick?!). Make it a strategy to interact regularly with food bloggers, culinary magazines, food inspiration accounts, etc. The more you do this, the greater the chance that these accounts and their followers will notice you.
To find accounts to interact with, check Instagram’s “Suggested For You” results, or search for relevant hashtags and see who posts popular content related to those themes.
💼Pro tip: Make your interactions genuine. Doing a bulk copy+paste of “cool pic!” on people’s photos isn’t going to win you much trust. Participating in discussions, giving advice or opinions, throwing out some humorous banter, or simply being warm and supportive are all ways to build genuine rapport with others in your niche.
Run contests and giveaways.
Giving stuff away is a 🔥way to boost your Instagram engagement. Because who doesn’t like getting stuff for free?
You can generate engagement by dictating what people have to do to enter your giveaway. Maybe they have to follow your account, like the post announcing the giveaway, and tag one or more friends.
Give them the option of getting extra entries each time they tag more friends, and you’ll quickly see the engagement levels multiply.
💼Pro tip: Make sure the terms for any contest, competition or giveaway are made clear in your description. It’s important to fit with Instagram’s promotion guidelines and also to keep the trust of your followers by being transparent. If you want to get ideas on what kind of contests to run and how to write up descriptions for them, you can always check out what your competitors are doing — and then try to beat them with something even better.
This giveaway post from tea brand TeaHuggers is generating a much higher level of engagement than their regular posts.