August 29, 2018 Last updated on August 19th, 2020
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A good Instagram engagement rate is essential to growing your account, and so it’s unsurprising that this is the number one goal for many Instagrammers and social media marketers. Unfortunately, Instagram engagement is prone to fluctuate along with algorithm changes, and it can be difficult to maintain, never mind improve!

But don’t despair.

There are some easy to implement tactics you can use to increase your Instagram engagement, which will also help you grow your reach, gain new followers and build up your community in no time.

In this post, I’m sharing 7 easy ways to increase your Instagram engagement rate, starting today! 👏 So, let’s go!

Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate in 8 Easy Steps

1. Engage with similar accounts in your industry or niche every day

Before you post your next photo on Instagram, take some time to engage with the content other accounts are posting: specifically, accounts similar to yours which are part of your niche.

The basic rule of Instagram is that engagement feeds engagement. By interacting with other users on the platform, you’re increasing your chance of being seen. The more you engage, the more visible your account becomes, and the more engagement you’ll get from visitors to your profile.

But, the quality of engagement on Instagram is just as important as the quantity, which is why you should invest your time selecting specific accounts to engage with.

For example, if you run an Instagram account for a fashion brand, engage with content from fashion label accounts, fashion and beauty influencers, fashion inspiration accounts, and so on. If you’re managing the Instagram of a social media marketing company, engage with posts from social media thought leaders and social media marketing blogs.

This way, you’re putting yourself out there in front of the right audience, who will have some interest in your content and hopefully, whatever it is you’re selling or promoting.

To discover new accounts to follow and engage with, you can:

1. Check out Instagram’s recommendations of content you might like, or recommendations by category, which appear along the top of the screen when you select the search (or magnifying glass) icon on the Instagram app.

Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate searching recommended content to engage with

2. Find accounts by searching for keywords that appear in the account bio. Just enter them into the search bar and select ‘People’. Make your keywords as specific as possible to get the most relevant matches

Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate searching recommended accounts to engage with3. Search for hashtags relating to your niche to discover associated content and accounts. When you enter a hashtag into the search bar, you’ll get a list of related hashtags to browse as well (but we’ll talk more about hashtags in a second).

Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate searching recommended tags to engage with

4. Engage with your competitors’ followers. Just go to a competitor profile and click ‘Followers’, or check out the accounts of those who are commenting on and liking your competitors posts.

2. Engage with content directly before and after you post

You want to get as much engagement on your post as possible within the first hour of posting. A lot of engagement straight away means the Instagram algorithm recognizes that post is something that is likely to be interesting to a lot of your followers, causing the post to appear higher up in more of your followers feeds.

But how do you generate enough Instagram engagement within such a short time span?

Engage with other posts shortly before and after you post something to your own feed!

This will increase the chance of people visiting your profile, liking your most recent post within the first hour of posting, and thus boosting your posts visibility on the platform. Of course, your comments and likes aren’t going anywhere and should also continue to draw users to your account well after you’ve left them, so it’s a win-win.

3. Use long-tail, strategically selected hashtags (and mix them up across your posts)

Long-tail hashtags are specific and detailed, which means they more accurately reflect the context of your post.

Say you post a photo of a postmodern building that caught your eye on Instagram. You could use the hashtag #architecture, which has 86.491.936 associated posts, or you could use #postmodernarchitecture, which has 8.739 associated posts. They are pretty similar tags, but the latter (the long-tail) has way fewer associated posts, which means your content is more likely to be discovered and liked or commented on.

New posts are being added to the the architecture hashtag every minute (probably even every second), so your post is going to get pushed down the page very, very quickly 😞

Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate using long-tail hashtags

In contrast, posts are being added to #postmodernarchitecture less regularly, which means your post is more likely to stay near the top of the page, giving your content more time to be found. Not only that, but unless you have a huge account with a sizeable following, your content will never be featured under ‘Top Posts’ on the hashtag search if you only use tags with millions of associated posts. And no discoverability = low to no engagement!

You can use more general hashtags with a large amount of associated content — you never know, you might get some engagement through these if you have a great post! But make sure you mix them in with your long-tail, less popular tags with a ratio of around 80:20 to long-tail tags.

4. Write better captions

Instagram posts with captions generate more engagement and encourage users to spend more time looking at your post, which is believed to be an advantage with the current algorithm as it prioritizes content by engagement.

A good caption will give your photo context, express personality, and engage your audience. You can approach your caption in a number of different ways: it can be a long, detailed caption that tells a story. It can be a short and to the point caption that enhances the photo, and provides a ‘take’ on the image or additional context. It can be serious and thought-provoking or funny and light-hearted.

Whichever angle you go for, to make your Instagram caption even more effective and engaging, include a CTA. Ask a question or encourage users to tag a friend who would appreciate the post to keep the momentum that you’ve built going. Don’t underestimate the power of your caption to get you extra likes and comments!

5. Post more photos of people (like yourself!)

Did you know that photos with faces get 38% more likes than those without?

This is why you should make sure your next post is of a person! Posting photos of people is a great (and easy) way to boost your engagement. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or promoting on Instagram, you can always weave people into your Instagram posting strategy somehow.

You might share a post of the social media team you work with; you could share photos posted by your customers; photos of the people your brand serves, or just have models show off your products. The possibilities are endless. Sharing photos of faces will help you to humanize your brand, connect with your audience and, of course, boost your engagement.

So, say cheese! 📸

Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate by featuring people in your posts

Iconosquare’s most engaging media from the past 3 months features a person (and a dog!)

6. Reply to comments as soon as possible

Replying to comments is vital to keep that conversation going and help push your post to the top of more of your followers’ feeds. As people respond to you more and more, Instagram recognizes your post as a valuable piece of content that will probably also be interesting to others. So, tempting though it can be when you have a million tasks at hand to put off replying to comments – don’t! Reply straight away with a quick and friendly comment to keep the ball rolling (before you forget).

Top tip: Take the opportunity to draw other people into the conversation where you can, tagging their account so that they get a notification you’ve mentioned them. For example, if someone comments about an event you organized to let you know how great it was, you can introduce any partners who helped, such as members of your team, the venue, or the catering company who provided all the delicious nibbles.

7. Track your best time to post

Do you know when your best time to post is? If not, it’s time to find out! The best time to post on Instagram is basically the posting time that results in the most engagement on average for your account. You can do this manually using a combination of Instagram Insights; testing different posting times, and by creating very organized spreadsheet to monitor all your data. Or, you can use a social media analytics tool such as Iconosquare, which will do all the calculations for you.

If you’re using Instagram Insights, you’ll already have an Instagram business profile. Go to the analytics tab (the little graph symbol in the top right corner of your screen), select ‘Audience’, and you’ll see where most of your audience is based.

Increase Your Instagram Engagement Using Insights

This will help you know when roughly you should be posting: if your most engaged audience is in the US, you’re going to want to post when they’re awake and likely to engage, which might mean posting at really random times of the day for you (but scheduling posts will help you out there).

Scroll down further, and you’ll see when your audience are most active on Instagram by both days and hours. This is a good starting point before the real work begins.

Next, it’s time to test a variety of posting times to figure out what works best for you. Keep track of your engagement rate for every post, alongside the day and time of posting, in your spreadsheet. Over time, you should start to notice patterns of engagement, and a winning “best time to post” will emerge!

An easier way to discover your best time to post is with Iconosquare. After scheduling a few posts on Instagram via the Scheduler, your best time to post will automatically be calculated and displayed as a yellow star on your scheduler calendar, so you can continue to post on these days and at these specific times.

Find your best time to post on Instagram with Iconsoquare's Scheduler

Get a free trial of Iconosquare and start scheduling your posts today!

The more often you post and the more varied your posting habits (at least at the beginning), the more accurate your best time to post will be. You can get an even more in-depth overview of your best time to post by clicking on the “Engagement” tab and scrolling down to “Best time to post – Engagement”.

Best time to post on Instagram

8. Draw attention to your post through Stories

We can’t talk about Instagram engagement without talking about Stories. Boosting your engagement on Stories is a whole other topic, as there are loads of things you can do to create more engaging Stories that keeps your audience interested. However, you can also use Instagram Stories to draw attention to new posts on your feed and boost your engagement that way.

To do this, tap on the aeroplane/arrow symbol below the post in your feed. This will bring up the option to “create a Story with this post”.

Increase your Instagram engagement by sharing your feed post to Stories

When you select that, a new Story will be created that you can add tags, copy and filters to.

Increase your Instagram engagement by sharing your feed post to Stories

Just be sure to let people know to head to your feed to find out more – try and create some suspense and don’t give away all the information about the photo in your Story (that’s what those amazing captions are for!).

Implementing all of these tactics will drive up your engagement rate, keep your audience interested, and attract new followers to your account. Good luck making the changes, and don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know how you get on!

About the author
Caitlin Hughes

Caitlin Hughes

Caitlin is a Content Marketing expert at Iconosquare, based in Berlin. She’s passionate about creating ROI-driven content strategies and sharing her best tips on social media marketing. She’s also into true crime, loves ‘80’s music, and spends too much time online shopping.

More posts by Caitlin Hughes

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