22 Simple Methods To Improve Instagram Engagement In 2021

When you use Instagram for business, you know that this is more than just a platform for storing all of your cutest product images. It's a powerful tool for building your brand and cultivating an audience online.

With a billion people using Instagram every month, this is a platform with serious ROI potential.

But to reap the rewards, you not only need an audience, you also need an audience engagement. You need comments, shares, likes, and other actions that prove that your content resonates with the people who see it.

It is important that engagement only has value if it is real – from real people who really care.

For this reason, you will not find any tips here on how to get started with an "engagement group" or "engagement group" or on buying likes or the like. The fact is, it just doesn't work. (We should know! We tried!)

The reality is that there is no shortcut to high quality engagement. You leave social media what you entered. So take the time to write this great post, start the conversation, and really connect with your followers. The benefits are sure to follow.

Read on to find proven ways you can impress your Instagram audience and organically build a strong, lasting engagement.

Bonus: Download a free checklist This shows the exact steps a lifestyle photographer took on Instagram to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers, without a budget and without expensive equipment.

What do we mean by Instagram engagement?

Commitment is more than counting your views or followers. It's about Measure the interactions your audience has with your content.

On Instagram, engagement is measured by a number of metrics such as:

  • Remarks
  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Stores
  • Followers and Growth
  • Mentions (checked or unchecked)
  • Brand hashtags
  • Click through
  • DMs

Check out our full list of social media metrics here and learn how to track them.

These types of promotions are proof that people aren't just seeing your content. You are actively interested in what you have to say.

Why are we interested in engagement? First of all, it means that your content is having an impact on your audience. (They like you, they really like you!)

Second, strong engagement is a key factor in the Instagram algorithm. The higher the engagement, the more likely it is that the content in the newsfeed will improve and attract more eyes and attention.

How do you measure engagement? Well, it depends on your brand's goals.

You need access to the aforementioned metrics. You can use Instagram's Insights tool, Hootsuite Analytics, or any of these other great Instagram analytics tools to collect that juicy, juicy data.

With your stats on hand, use one of these Instagram engagement calculators and type in those numbers to find yours Engagement rate.

What's a Good Instagram Engagement Rate?

Your engagement rate measures the amount of interaction social content deserves relative to your followers or reach.

In other words, what percentage of the people who saw your post actually looked at it?

There are several ways to get to this number. You can calculate an engagement rate based on impressions, posts, reach or followers. It really depends on your social media goals.

Instagram itself is shy about what a "good" engagement rate is. However, most social media marketing experts agree that there is strong engagement 1% to 5%. Hootsuite's own social media team reported an average Instagram engagement rate of 4.59% in 2020.

Of course, “good” is subjective. Your specific industry and community may have an entirely different number that marks success.

Whatever your sweet spot, try some of the tips below to maximize engagement.

(Want to know how to measure engagement across other social media platforms? Here's how to measure engagement across Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.)

How To Increase Instagram Engagement: 22 Useful Tips

Tip 1: get to know your audience

It's difficult to create great content if you don't know who you're creating it for.

Your audience demographics will help define the type of content you post, your brand voice, and even the days and times to post it.

For example, the quirky indie fashion label Fashion Brand Company caters to people with a bold sense of humor – both the product range and the tone of its posts reflect this.

For more information on identifying your target group, see our guide to conducting target group research.

Tip 2: get authentic

On social media, it's better to be honest and reliable than to polish perfectly. Share content that goes beyond your nifty marketing campaign to showcase the real people and experiences behind your brand.

That could mean sharing behind-the-scenes footage on an Instagram story, adding a caption that reveals a sassy sense of humor, or picking up on mistakes.

This meme, shared by A Practical Wedding, received thousands of posts and comments from an audience that found the less-than-perfect joke about wedding culture to be extremely understandable.

Audiences value honesty more than perfection, don't they?

More tips on sharing your authentic side can be found here.

Tip 3: share great pictures

Instagram is a visual medium in case you haven't noticed. And while you don't have to be Annie Leibovitz to be successful on the platform, it's important to create images that stand out from the news feed.

Even if you're not a great photographer or graphic designer, there are a million tools you can use to add a little pizzazz to your image.

For example, Canva's design templates make it easy to add layers of text or filters. You can also edit photos and add text and filters to them right in Hootsuite Compose. (Here are even more apps that can help you take your Instagram posts to the next level.)

This image, promoting Fast Company's Creative Conversation podcast, takes a standard headshot of model Ashley Graham and has creative graphic treatment to aid the pop-up.

Tip 4: Post carousels

When you get the hang of creating eye-catching images, try posting some using carousels. Carousels – Instagram posts with multiple pictures – are a great way to build engagement. (And as luck would have it, we have some gorgeous Instagram carousel templates here!)

Hootsuite's own social team found that their carousel posts received, on average, 3.1 times more engagement than their regular posts.

This could have to do with the fact that the algorithm is forwarding these types of posts to followers who haven't engaged the first time, and giving them a second or third chance to make an impact.

Tip 5: publish video content

Video is both eye-catching and engaging. So engaging, in fact, that posts with videos get around 38% more engagement than pictures.

Here is a video by Carly Rae Jepsen showing some pictures from a new photo shoot with music. How can you look away ?!

Don't overthink it: video content doesn't need to be overly polished or perfectly edited. (Do you remember that "authenticity tip" from before?) Shoot it now, edit it quickly and bring it into the world.

There are a million tools that you can use to combine scenes, add music or text, and download a free or paid video editing app. InShot and Magisto are great, but we have plenty of other suggestions here on our list of the best Instagram apps for business.

Tip 6: write strong subtitles

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words are worth a thousand words.

Instagram subtitles can be up to 2,200 characters and up to 30 hashtags. Use it! Good captions add context and show your brand's personality.

Nike tells a compelling story here with the headline and asks its followers to share their own story in the comments.

Here are our tips for creating the perfect caption.

Tip 7: create storable content

Creating reference material that your audience will want to keep in their collections can also provide a small boost to engagement.

The Instagram account you want to talk about will create easy-to-grasp reference material on a wide variety of complex topics, perfect for storing in a collection or a story highlight.

Add a call-to-action to a carousel post to save that post with tips, how-tos, or recipe videos to encourage users to revisit that content later.

Tip 8: go live

Using Instagram Live to stream live video is a great way to connect directly with users, exchange messages, and build engagement.

80% of viewers would apparently rather watch a live stream than read a blog post. Give them what they want!

Live video lets you answer questions live, greet viewers by name, and welcome your audience to your world in an intimate, engaging way. If you want, you can also use Instagram's new live shopping feature to build an ecommerce audience.

Here is our Instagram Live guide on how to get your broadcast going.

Source: Instagram

Tip 9: create compelling content

The daily posting of product pictures gets a bit old after a while. Mix it up with a varied content plan.

Contests, polls, questions, and quizzes break the routine and directly encourage your audience to engage and take action.

Hello Alyssa Comics, for example, made a custom card giveaway to celebrate a milestone for followers and encouraged users to share and interact with the post.

You can find more Instagram post ideas here.

Tip 10: share the content of the audience

It's tempting to treat your Instagram account like a one-way street, but social media is a conversation, not a broadcast. Make sure to listen to the fans and engage with them when they come up.

A great way to do this is to republish or share content from the audience. If someone tags your tequila brand on a post about a runaway margarita Monday, toss that post on your story.

The Las Culturistas podcast has complimented listeners on the 12-day culture countdown in its own Instagram stories. A shout-out within a shout-out, like a little stories inception.

Share content from the audience
Source: LasCulturistas

They will be amazed that you listened and other followers may be forced to tag you in their own content.

Don't miss a mention with the help of Hootsuite or any other business social listening tool.

Tip 11: create custom stickers and filters

Sprinkle some branded dust on other users' posts by making custom stickers and filters available in stories.

Sephora has introduced a special AR filter for Holiday Beauty Q&A that makeup fans can use for their own stories over Christmas to spread the Sephora brand and build a community.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create your own AR filters.

Tip 12: answer questions and comments

When the comments come in – in response to all of your fun new photo and video content, of course – it's only polite to respond.

When you acknowledge your commentators and participate in conversations, the followers feel seen and heard and look forward to chatting with you again in the future.

The sun protection brand Supergoop not only encourages followers to share their favorite products in the comments of this post, but also likes to intervene to exchange recommendations and positively support everyone's decisions.

To track indirect mentions outside of your page, simply set up search streams on your Hootsuite dashboard so you don't miss a chance to keep the conversation going.

Tip 13: experiment

You won't find out what works best for your brand until you test, measure, and optimize.

The nice thing about social media is that it's made for experimentation. When something works, you know pretty quickly. If it's a flop, learn the low risk lesson.

So be creative. Keep an eye on the metrics to see the impact of your great ideas. Read our guide to A / B testing on social media here.

Tip 14: Publish consistently and at strategic times

The more you post, the more opportunities your followers have to get involved. Make sure you have a consistent schedule to keep your feed updated and mesmerize your followers.

Of course, it's also important to consistently post at the right time. If you post while your audience is sleeping, you might run into problems.

Here is our guide to finding the best time to post on Instagram for your audience.

Tip 15: increase traffic from other sources

Get your Instagram handle anywhere in the world where you can: share it on your Twitter bio, paste it on your email signature, and toss it on your company newsletter.

London (yes, the city) uses its Twitter bio to draw attention to the Instagram handle and content.

London Twitter Bio

The more you can refer people to the platform, the more eyeballs you will get for your content and the more chances of engagement.

Tip 16: join the conversation

At a dinner party (a fun one anyway) you wouldn't be just waiting to be spoken to, would you? Sometimes you will be asked to talk.

The same goes for Instagram. It's great to respond to questions and comments. It's even better to get out there and start your own convos on other posts and sites.

Think of this as a balance between reactive (answering) and proactive (starting a conversation) actions.

Tip 17: create current content

If a current event or a holiday is already on everyone's lips, you can get involved in this conversation.

When Taylor Swift's 2020 album drop got everyone talking about Cottagecore (everyone), clothing brand Farewell Frances was wise to label some of their coats as #cottagecoreaesthetic.

Especially if it is a trending hashtag, you immediately gave your content an up-to-date "why now" tick.

Tip 18: Be active on Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories have an incredible reach. Half a billion people use stories every day, and 62% of users say they care more about a brand or product after seeing it in stories.

The satirical news site Reductress shares its cheeky headlines in both posts and stories to grab readers' attention in two different places.

Satirical news site Reductress shares headlines through posts and stories
Source: Reductress

Stories don't just make people watch, they also give you a chance to engage with stickers.

Questions, polls and countdowns provide the opportunity to have conversations and connect directly with your fans.

Here are some creative Instagram story ideas, as well as all of the hacks and features every Instagram master should know.

Tip 19: add strong calls to action

Do you want engagement from your posts? Sometimes it just comes down to asking nicely.

The Welks General Store didn't just tell the world it had puzzles with this post: it gave specific information on how to buy it.

A compelling call to action, if executed carefully, can result in activities, likes, replies, or approvals. Read our guide to writing the CTA of your dreams here.

Tip 20: take advantage of the power of hashtags

Instagram hashtags are a double-edged sword. When used properly, you can generate serious traffic and buzz. Overdo it and you will look spammy.

Be thoughtful and strategic about the hashtags you use to reach a particular community or industry, participate in a trending conversation, drive a branding campaign, or identify your service offerings.

Illustrator Cecile Dormeau, for example, has tagged her cute drawing with both art-related and psychological hashtags.

The consensus is that 11 hashtags or less is the right number to look professional but not desperate. You can find more information on how to get the most out of Instagram hashtags here.

Tip 21: Increase your posts

Getting your post in front of more eyeballs is an easy way to build engagement (and hopefully increase your number of followers while you're at it).

With a potential audience of more than 928 million users on Instagram, your next superfan could be out there, just waiting to find out what you have to offer.

Using Instagram ads or boosted posts can be a strategic way of getting your name out to the right people. For more information on maximizing your reach, check out our Instagram Ads Guide.

Boost posts to maximize reach
Source: Instagram

Tip 22: Slide in their DMs

Sometimes the strongest engagement can take place privately.

Direct messages and interactions with stories are great examples of an engaged audience and an amazing direct connection to a passionate fan. When someone is in your DMs make sure you respond and treat them right.

Tip 23: embrace Instagram roles

Instagram Reels joined the Insta family in the summer of 2020 and reportedly offered an alternative to TikTok. Reels allows users to create and edit short videos with multiple clips with audio and effects.

Drag artist Eureka O’Hara uses Reels (at least a repurposed TikTok video within Reels) to promote an upcoming season of her show We’re Here.

Since this is a shiny new role, it gets higher in the newsfeed than a standard video. More eyeballs mean thousands more people can enjoy these sick dance moves.

Each new function of social media tools is usually improved by the algorithm. It is therefore in your best interest to try the latest and greatest deals. Roles appear prominently on the Explore page. So take on this new form of content and you may find yourself in front of some fresh faces.

Take a look at ideas for memorable roles here.

Angry! There you have it: your crash course on Instagram engagement. For more information on building a successful social strategy, check out our social media marketing guide.

Save time managing your Instagram presence with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and post posts right on Instagram, engage the audience, measure performance, and run all other social media profiles. Try it for free today.

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