Where did the engagement go?

If you’ve been in the Instagram game for a while, you may have noticed that, over the past several months, you’ve been getting fewer engagements (likes, comments, saves, and shares) on your posts than you used to. Fortunately, it’s not your fault and it’s not just you! Studies have shown that Instagram engagement rates have been drastically declining since May 2019. Engagements are especially important because Instagram currently functions by favoring posts with more engagements on them. Simply put, posts with more engagement will be more likely to be featured at the top of a user’s feed and discovery page. With this in mind, we’ve got some good news and some not-so-good news.

The bad news: Instagram accounts across the board (both brands and individuals alike) are suffering from Instagram’s mysterious algorithm changes and there is no way to know for sure what the cause is.

The good news: There are steps that you can take to start earning that well-deserved engagement that you’re looking for, and we’re about to lay those steps out for you!

5 Ways to Get More Instagram Engagement

1. Use relevant hashtags

If you want to reach people outside of your initial follower base and allow more people to discover and engage with you, you need to be using hashtags in your Instagram posts. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags on one post. So to get the maximum value, you should use as many relevant hashtags as you can. We stress relevance here because loading your posts with vague, irrelevant hashtags just because they’re popular is a good way to be deemed a spam account by Instagram which will result in even less engagement on your future posts. On top of that, you won’t be attracting the right audience if you aren’t using hashtags that are relevant to your post or overall brand. Tailor your hashtag usage so that it’s specific, targeted and relevant to each individual post you publish.

A good place to start for choosing hashtags is to look at which hashtags your competitors and industry leaders are using. Take some time to note the types of posts that you find within a particular hashtag—Do the posts in that hashtag reflect a similar style to yours? Are brands similar to you using that hashtag? Is your target audience engaging with posts in that hashtag? If the answer to those questions is “yes” then that’s a hashtag you should consider using! 

Vary the categories for your hashtags within one post. For example, if it’s a pic of a beautiful bathroom you designed, use a few (1-3) bathroom specific hashtags, use a few location-specific hashtags, use a couple for the design style of the bathroom, then add general, relevant design-related hashtags. For more tips on how to win the hashtag game on Instagram listen to our podcast minisode about it!

2. Make the first sentence count

Because Instagram is a highly-visual platform, it’s essential to include a good-looking photo in your post. What’s a bit less obvious, however, is the importance of your post’s caption—specifically the first sentence. Because Instagram only shows the viewer the first 1-2 lines of a caption before they have to tap to see “more,” you need to make sure that first blurb of text packs a punch. The fact of the matter is that most people aren’t going to read your captions, and even fewer are going to “read more” after the first line or so.

If you have a question to ask your audience, ask it at the beginning of your post rather than at the end. Asking a question is a great way to encourage replies on a post. But don’t overdo it. Remember to be human and connect with your audience at a human level. People like to engage with other people—not robotic, soulless brands. Whether it be an enticing question, a bold statement, or an irresistible call to action, sparking attention at the beginning of your caption is a great way to encourage engagement on your Instagram post.

3. Reply to your comments 

Have you ever left a comment on an influencer’s or brand’s Instagram post and gotten a response from them? Take a moment to think about how that made you feel—probably pretty good, right? It may have even subconsciously encouraged you to leave a comment on more of their posts after that! So, when you get a comment on your Instagram post, don’t just be happy you got an engagement and leave it at that. If you’re not replying to your comments, you’re telling your audience that you don’t value their input. 

Replying to comments will not only make your audience feel valued, it will encourage them to continue to engage with your content in the future. A Sprout Social study showed that a whopping 75% of people are more likely to post something positive about a brand that makes a meaningful connection with them on social, while 70% are more likely to use a brand’s product or service. That’s a lot of potential value for just a little bit of effort! It’s called social media for a reason, so don’t be afraid to spark conversation and engage back.

4. Share the love

Fresh off the heels of the topic of commenting back, let’s talk about the importance of engaging with others’ content. It’s true: Engagement begets engagement. Being proactive about engaging with others in your industry will result in more people being exposed to your name (brand awareness, baby!), more clicks on your profile, and more potential engagements on your posts. Not only will the original poster be more likely to interact with your content, all of their followers who saw your comment on their post will as well. 

Talk to humans like you’re a human. There are a lot of bots commenting on posts with quick, generic comments or simply an emoji. The most ridiculous spam comment the Wingnut Social team has seen is, “Everything about this is important!” This could apply to everything and will not increase relevant engagement on your content. In fact, it could be detrimental to your reputation, since people recognize this behavior as fake. Make sure you’re nixing the robot speak and saying something specific about the post that only a human could say, like, “I love the mix of colors on those pillows!” Build authenticity within your community by strategically and genuinely interacting with relevant accounts to your brand.

5. Repost (and give credit!)

Sharing other people’s Instagram posts on your own Instagram account is not only a good way to supplement your content mix and provide valuable content to your audience, it’s also proven to produce up to 6.9x higher engagement rates on Instagram compared to normal brand posts. The proof is in the pudding!

Don’t get too excited yet, though! With great reposts comes great responsibility. When sharing people’s content from social media, it’s imperative to credit the original poster in the caption of your repost. Include the creator’s tag in the beginning of the caption, so everyone knows it’s not your design. Depending on best practices in your industry and the type of post, it may also be pertinent to get permission from the original creator before posting it to your own feed. It should also go without saying that you should only share other people’s content when it’s relevant to your brand and your audience. 

Conclusion

While there’s no one reliable way to maintain engagement, by using these steps in conjunction with one another, you can begin to build your account upon a foundation that will encourage more engagement on your posts. In the end, great content is what’s going to get engagement, so don’t forget to make every post matter. 

These steps only touch the surface of the measures you can take to increase Instagram engagement. At Wingnut Social, we understand that managing social media is no easy task, and creating a well-formulated social media strategy is the best way to increase long-term engagement. That’s why we’re here to help you get your social media under control by developing a custom social media strategy tailored to your specific brand needs and business goals. Contact us today so we can help you get your social media tightly fastened!