So you just posted what you think is a fire piece of content… You’re ready for those likes, comments, and DMs to come rolling in… But, even an hour later… there’s nothing but a few measly likes. Sound familiar? It’s Instagram engagement hell and nobody wants to be there. But don’t worry—it’s actually more common than you think. Without a holistic Instagram strategy in place, your content may tank without any interaction from your audience. Instagram engagement has to be won. It’s not enough to simply develop great content ideas. To really impress the algorithm (and your human followers of course!) you also need to implement ways to increase your followers’ engagement and get them more involved. You need to create connections. We’ve put together this guide to help you do exactly that. Here’s everything you need to know about turning passive Instagram scrollers into engaged followers. What is Instagram Engagement? First of all, let’s get clear on what Instagram engagement actually is and how to measure it. Put simply, Instagram engagement refers to the interactions that you see on your Instagram account. This includes likes and comments, but can also include saves, shares, DMs, sticker interactions on stories, link clicks/swipe ups, video views, profile visits, and more. In other words, engagement is the metric that tracks how much your followers interact with your Instagram content. It plays a huge part in the Instagram algorithm too. By the way, there is no universally good engagement rate so don’t base your entire Instagram strategy around achieving a certain number. Average engagement rates can vary between 1 to 5% depending on the content type, format, industry, or even your account. How to Calculate Your Instagram Engagement Rate You probably know that engagement metrics are most often represented in percentages. This is known as your Instagram engagement rate. But did you know calculating your engagement rate can be surprisingly difficult? There is a bit of debate around which metrics are the most useful when measuring your engagement. Some marketers measure the engagement rate on their Instagram posts by the number of followers. While others believe measuring based on the number of impressions is a better method. Let’s take a look at both methods so you can figure out which method is best suited for you. Calculating your engagement by follower count The first way to calculate the average engagement rate on your post is to divide your total engagement by the number of followers your business account has and then multiply that by 100. Engagement Rate % = (Engagement/Follower count) x 100 Add up all engagement including likes, comments, shares and saves to get your total engagement count. Divide this by your total follower count. Multiply by 100 to get your engagement rate percentage. So for example: Your post received 140 likes, 2 comments, and 5 saves. Your total engagement is 147. Your account has 10,000 followers Your engagement rate will be (147/10000) x 100 = 1.47% Using this method to calculate engagement is a great way to get a handle on how your existing followers feel about a particular piece of content. This can also be useful if you’re assessing the engagement rates of a potential partner or influencer your brand may like to work with. Calculating your engagement by impressions The other, equally popular way to calculate your Instagram engagement rate is to divide your total engagement by the total number of impressions and then multiple that by 100. Engagement Rate % = (Engagement / Impressions) x 100 Add up all engagement including likes, comments, shares and saves to get your total engagement count. Divide this by your total impressions i.e. the number of people who saw your post. Multiply by 100 to get your engagement rate percentage. So for example: Your post received 140 likes, 2 comments, and 5 saves. Your total engagement is 147. Your post had 3000 impressions Your engagement rate will be (147/3000) x 100 = 4.9% This method of calculation is a great way to assess how many of the people that saw your content actually chose to (or not to) interact with it. As we’re all aware, the Instagram algorithm is notorious for not showing your content to many of your followers. That’s why measuring engagement based on impressions can be more useful in some cases. If you want to keep better track of your Instagram engagement rate as well as other Instagram analytics, Sked Social has your back. With Sked’s comprehensive analytics tool, you can get a better understanding of which posts resonate with your followers and which ones didn’t quite hit the mark. Easily identify outliers in Sked’s detailed post analytics views. Plus, you can also see the hour-by-hour performance of the first 24 hours of a post’s life—super important for the Instagram algorithm. Why Does Engagement on Instagram Matter So Much? Source You know what engagement is and how to calculate it but before we jump into some strategies to help increase Instagram engagement, let’s quickly discuss why it even matters in the first place. Well, if it’s not obvious enough already, engagement rate is the best metric for your Instagram business account to track if you truly want to understand which content is resonating with your target audience. If your audience finds your Instagram posts interesting, fun, and/or valuable, you will see your engagement number soar. If your content isn’t doing it for them, be prepared to watch those metrics take a dive. Simple as that. When your engagement is good, it means your content is performing well. This is an opportunity to learn more about your content so you can try to replicate this engagement success with further new content. 10 Tactics to Increase Instagram Engagement Rates Engagement matters. You get it. So how can you improve and maintain your engagement rate? These ten strategies will help you next-level your Instagram marketing strategy and get you higher engagement rates across your Instagram posts. 1. Find the best time to share Instagram posts Posting your content at the right time could make a huge difference to whether or not your content receives good engagement. Instagram’s algorithm hugely favors posts that create a lot of engagement soon after they’ve been posted. It’s a signal that your content is interesting and valuable. Instagram is more likely to make this content more visible to your followers—expanding its reach and opening up the potential for even more engagement. So what is the right time for you to post? According to Bazaarvoice, the best times to post on Instagram to maximize your engagement are at 7 am EST, between 4 pm-5 pm EST, and at 7 pm EST. However, take this advice with a grain of salt. The best time to post can vary depending on your account, the industry you operate within, your audience’s time zone, and more. Essentially, the right time for posting on your Instagram page really comes down to your target audience and when they are most active. Dig into your ‘Best time to post’ data on Sked Social to understand when your Instagram followers are online. Post at these times to maximize the opportunity to increase the Instagram engagement rate on your content. 2. Experiment with different content types Single image posts on the Instagram feed are only the beginning. The best Instagram profiles post a variety of content formats to keep their audience engaged. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life… and Instagram! If you continue to post only one type of content, your audience may lose interest. Don’t be afraid to take a trial-and-error approach to your Instagram marketing. Keep experimenting with different content types and formats to see what sticks and which formats generate the most engagement. Here are some ideas for experimentation: Choose from single image Instagram feed posts, carousel posts, videos, IGTV, Instagram Reels, and Story formats. Play around with posting memes, quotes, user-generated content, infographics, and videos. It’s also worth experimenting with your Instagram captions. Longer captions usually mean your audience spends a bit longer on your Instagram content. This time spent on your post sends Instagram a signal that your content is engaging. Try out different video formats—in feed, IGTV, Instagram Stories, Reels Keep an eye on trending content and what’s popular and try to emulate it for your Instagram profile. You don’t have to try all of these ideas but we definitely think you should experiment with a few and see what impact it has on your engagement rates. Of course, there’s no one size fits all. Every brand has its unique mix of variables so what works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. For example, Sked Social Instagram’s account is a mix of different content types such as carousel posts, Reels, and IGTVs. We also post a ton of Instagram Stories. We recommend that you analyze your Instagram data when creating content. Review your Instagram content and identify the best performing posts, stories, reels, etc. Pay attention to the content that works and create more of it. When the algorithm sees people consistently engaging with your content, it sees it as a signal that your content is interesting and relevant to them. 3. Make saveable and shareable content As we discussed above, content shares and saves are key engagement metrics for this social network. These metrics signal to Instagram that your content is resonating with your audience. When creating content for your business account, keep these metrics in mind if you want to improve your Instagram engagement rate. Think about how you can make your content more easily shareable and/or saveable. This requires knowing your audience and knowing what they respond to. Shareable content When a piece of content is so relatable for your audience that they can’t help but share it with their own followers, you’ve achieved your shareability goals. For example, @yung_pueblo shares quotes and snippets of his writing that are interesting insights and very relatable for much of his audience. These posts are highly shareable content. View this post on Instagram A post shared by yung pueblo (@yung_pueblo) Saveable content Saves are a good measure of the quality of your content, as they indicate that what you posted is worth coming back to. According to Bazaarvoice, “on average, the top 20% of Instagram performers have a Saves Engagement Rate of 0.5%.” For example, this post from @poppilatesofficial is a great piece of content that will continue to be valuable to their audience. Their followers are likely to save this content so they can refer to it when they do their workout later. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Join the POP Army! (@poppilatesofficial) The more your audience shares and saves your content, the more Instagram shows your content to users. Shareable/saveable content = better engagement = increased reach. 4. Create interactive Instagram Stories Over 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories every day. In Instagram’s own words, “Stories give people the power to communicate creatively and easily interact.” For business accounts, you can Instagram Stories as a fantastic way to interact and engage with your audience in a more personal way. Inbuilt stickers, emojis, and other features on Instagram Stories make this engagement much more effortless too. For example: Host an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with the Q&A sticker. Need help making up your mind? Use the poll feature. Run a multiple-choice quiz with the Quiz sticker. Generate launch for a product launch with the Countdown sticker. Invite feedback by asking your Instagram followers to DM you. Add links to your Stories to encourage website visits. All of these actions are easy and invite engagement without much extra effort from your audience. For more on Story stickers, check out: How to Add Instagram Stickers to Stories (The Complete Guide) How to Use Instagram Story Stickers to Make Stories Stand Out 5. Encourage user-generated content If there’s one thing Instagram users love to see from brands, it’s real, authentic content from other users just like them. Therefore, a great way to increase Instagram engagement rates for your account is to actively invite and encourage user-generated content. When you share UGC and tag your users, they are more likely to share the content with their followers as well. Instant boost in engagement! For small businesses, constantly coming up with ideas and creating new content can be a lot of work. Investing time in inviting and amplifying user-generated Instagram content will help you simplify this. Get your audience to create content for you and by sharing it on your account, you not only boost your engagement, but you also humanize your brand and start building a community around your brand. For example, @photoshop uses the hashtag #MadeWithPhotoshop to show off its software capabilities while connecting with its community of users. 6. Partner with influencers Influencer marketing is increasingly becoming a big part of Instagram strategies for many brands. Influencers can Partnering with the right Instagram influencers can place your brand in front of potential new followers and can help you expand your reach as well as your engagement. Influencers have loyal communities and the right partnerships can help introduce your own Instagram account (and your brand) to a whole new audience. You don’t need to bring onboard a big celebrity influencer to increase Instagram engagement either. Micro-influencers with smaller but more engaged followers can also be just as effective. Micro-influencers are also more affordable and due are perceived as more authentic. Look at your expanded network, find the accounts that have an influence on your followers. Reach micro-influencers who would like to partner with you. Do your research to find the right match for your brand. 7. Use data to support your decisions The best way to find the right, most engaging content for your audience is to test and learn. You can start with as many assumptions as you want but you still need to test them to confirm what’s working for your brand. The best social media marketing decisions are always backed by data. Start with A/B testing the most popular tips mentioned in this article on how to increase Instagram engagement. Experiment with different content types, various captions, and themes. Focus on one experiment at a time to validate your assumptions. Dive into your analytics tool (e.g. Sked) and look at the data to measure your success and keep the winning strategies for your future campaigns. 8. Make the most of video content Video is here to stay on Instagram—it’s time to embrace it. If you’re not creating video content for your Instagram marketing efforts just yet, now is the best time to start. Instagram users love video and are increasingly creating, consuming, and sharing more of it. Adding more video content into your Instagram marketing mix is almost a guarantee for increased engagement rates. From short in-feed videos to Stories, IGTV to Instagram Reels—Instagram now has so many video formats for you to take advantage of… so you know, go nuts! Here are some ideas: Create Instagram Reels to share how-tos. Create Stories to go behind the scenes are your company. Post short gif-style videos to share product sneak peeks. Work with influencers for videos of your products in action. Video creation doesn’t have to be hard either. There are many great Instagram apps that can simplify the video content process for you. As always, test and learn to see which video formats work best for your audience. @sukinskincare does a great job of using video on its Instagram account. The brand shares lots of Reels and IGTVs. You will also notice they’re very active with videos on their Instagram Stories as well. 9. Choose the right Instagram hashtags We don’t need to tell you that you need to use hashtags on your Instagram content. This is especially important for posts on your Instagram feed. However, using just any old set of hashtags isn’t going to cut it. A well-thought-out hashtag strategy will help you get the most out of every piece of content you put out there. Some tips: Take the time to research hashtags that are relevant and important for your brand. Don’t make your hashtags too generic. E.g. #fashion. Choose more specific hashtags for better visibility such as #EthicalDenim. Create different sets of hashtags so you’re not using the same set on every post. Consider using smaller, less frequently used hashtags over hashtags with millions of posts. Don’t feel the need to add 30 hashtags to every post. Less is more effective sometimes. The stronger your hashtag game, the more people will see (and engage!) with your content. 10. Post consistently Last but not the least, post, post, post. Instagram success is a continuous effort. How frequently you post on Instagram can definitely have an impact on your average engagement rate as Instagram’s algorithm favors active users. We’re not saying you have to post multiple times a day. That may not be as necessary for your brand as it is for some other Instagram pages. However, you must stick to a consistent posting schedule so your followers (and Instagram) don’t forget about you. As we mentioned at the beginning, pay attention to your data to figure out the best times to post. For most accounts, however, it’s important to post at least once a day so your content keeps showing up in your followers’ feeds. Build a Community to Increase Instagram Engagement There’s no secret formula to skyrocket your engagement from one day to another. What works today may not work tomorrow. Even the unexpected success from one post will need to be maintained to ensure the follow-on effects actually make a difference to your Instagram account. However, if there’s one “tactic” that is evergreen—it’s community building. We believe that building a community is the key to social media success in the long run. If you truly want to boost engagement on your Instagram account while future-proofing your strategy, you need to start building your community. Don’t just create content with the goal to go viral. Instead, stay focused on what your community wants and needs from you. Become a trusted leader for them. Create content that is interesting and valuable for your existing followers. As you gain new followers, it’s important to cultivate your relationship with them too to keep them interested in your content. You want to make them enjoy your posts enough to keep liking them, sharing them, and interacting with them. The more they engage with your posts, the more frequently your content will show up on their feeds. It’s the cycle of engagement. It’s really as simple as that. Here are the key tips to keep in mind: You don’t have to do everything but keep doing what’s working for your brand. Don’t be afraid to try out new ideas. The more creative you are, the easier it becomes to create engaging content. Keep an eye on the latest Instagram trends. Stay ahead of the curve to stand out with your posts. Test and learn. Experimentation will help you find the best strategy for your brand. Remember, the more time you spend on understanding your target audience and their interests, the easier it will become to create content that they’ll want to engage with. Finally, don’t forget that you don’t have to do the math alone. If you need a tool to do the analytics heavy-lifting for you, Sked Social can help. With robust Instagram analytics features, Sked can help you keep an eye on your engagement rate and all the other metrics that matter. Learn more here.