Are you looking for effective ways to increase your Instagram engagement rates? That’s a wise choice because followers are extremely overrated on Instagram. The only metric that truly matters is your engagement ratio.
However, increasing your Instagram engagement rates is hard, especially if you’re just starting out.
Growing your engagement rates is going to be as challenging as before. To make matters worse, there’s always that same handful of generic advice people will give such as posting frequently, using the right hashtags, posting at the right times, etc.
But let’s be honest – they are only effective to a certain extent.
You can have tons of followers on Instagram, but if your posts are getting much lesser likes than your total amount of followers, (e.g. <5% engagement rates) the engagement ratio of your account is poor and you should improve it.
In this article, I will explain why engagement rates matter and how you can make changes to help improve your engagement rates which could convert into a higher ‘quality’ account.
Why engagement rates matter
Engagement > followers, period. An account with a high amount of followers but low engagement rates signifies two things. One, that account has a bunch of inactive followers, or two, that account has a bunch of fake followers.
Both of these assumptions are highly detrimental and should be evaded at all costs. This is because it makes your account look like a ‘ghost town’.
If you post something that gets little to no engagement, what’s the point of posting it anyways? This shows that no one cares about the content that you produce. Moreover, this also shows that you didn’t bother growing your engagement rates.
How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement: Table of Contents
- Follow for follow groups
- Find and use the best hashtags
- NER: Network, Engage, Reciprocate
- Remove ghost followers
- Share your post on your story
- Connect with people you know who are active
- Post less often
1. Follow for follow groups
Followchain.org is an example of a follow for follow community for Instagram.
Participating in follow for follow groups is an unconventional way where you can increase your Instagram engagement rates. However, you’ll have to be very ‘meticulous’ about this and choose who to follow wisely.
Follow for follow groups are basically groups of people that share their Instagram handle for the intention of other users discovering and following them. These groups are quite easy to find in contrast to Instagram engagement pods. I’ve written an article for a list of those groups, you can find it here.
There are two types of users in them, ‘the sharers’ and ‘the initiators’. If you’re the lazy type, you can share your Instagram username and wait for others to find, follow and direct-message you.
Or you can initiate, follow, and direct-message users that have shared their handle first. If you’re looking to grow your followers and boost engagement rates quicker, you’ll have to be the initiator.
Now you might be wondering, how can these follow for follow groups boost your engagement rates? Well, there are two reasons for this.
Firstly, you can state you’re doing like for like (L4L) in accordance with follow for follow (F4F). Most often, these two are usually in sync with one another.
If you’re following someone from a follow for follow group, you can also tell them that you’re also doing like for like. Most of them would love to participate in both.
Secondly, if you’re ‘meticulous’ about picking who to follow, your engagement rates will improve naturally. For instance, if your account is in a fitness niche and you’re following another account also in a fitness niche, they’ll tend to engage more in your posts.
Additionally, if you’re meticulous, you can do a background check of each user that you have followed and see whether they’ve engaged in posts of the people they follow.
2. Find and use the best hashtags
Heads-up: This is not another generic hashtag advice.
Hashtags are becoming less and less effective on Instagram. In the past, you could use a bunch of random hashtags and you would still get a decent amount of likes fairly quickly. In the present, you can use relevant, niche hashtags but they will not produce the results you hope them to.
Here’s a quick hack you can use to find and detect the best hashtags you can use to get the most amount of likes in the shortest amount of time:
- Search for any relevant hashtag on Instagram.
- Navigate to most ‘recent’ posts.
- Tap on the first post of the list.
- Scroll down the list and find a post with the most amount of likes that has a small number of followers and has posted very recently.
- Copy all of their hashtags (either in the caption/comment section).
- Lastly, paste them in the caption/comment of your post.
The power of this strategy is that you can find a bunch of hashtags that actually work and not just a few that are relevant to your niche. There are always some hashtags that perform better than the others and the only effective way you can find them is through this method.
Otherwise, you’ll have to utilize trial and error for a long period of time to find the best mix of hashtags, which is way too time-consuming.
3. NER: Network, Engage, Reciprocate
Now, this strategy is what I like to call NER. NER stands for networking, engaging and reciprocating. After all, the best strategies to increase your Instagram engagement rate revolves around these three points.
Networking is all about connecting with people either online or in-person. Follow for follow groups in the first strategy allows you to easily connect with people from all around the world.
Because these groups are dedicated to expanding your follow-base and discovering new people, it simplifies ice-breaking as it advocates direct-messaging to connect with one another.
For instance, if you were to follow a random person on Instagram (no mutuals), chances are, they wouldn’t follow you back because you haven’t connected with them in some way or another.
This is why following a bunch of people in a list doesn’t work anymore. People are increasingly wary of spam followers.
Ones that follow you just for the sake of you following them back. In the long run, this is highly detrimental to the quality of your account as in most cases, spam followers wouldn’t give you any engagement at all.
Follow for follow groups are quite the opposite because they have people with the same set of rules and objectives. Hence, the followers that you get from them are quality ones that actually actively engage in your posts (if you’re meticulous about who to follow).
The second point is about constantly engaging with your followers/following. What’s really important is the amount of engagement you’re giving to others.
You can’t just constantly take but don’t give, it’s a selfish train of thought. Try your best to keep up with your feed and like or comment on every single post you see.
Reply to every single comment or direct-message you get from others. Make this a habit, and you’ll see a positive rate of return. This is because people will eventually start to notice and reciprocate. It also shows that you actually care about your followers.
For example, if you see someone constantly posting content on their feed, but never actually engages on your posts, you’re more likely to ‘blacklist’ that person and engage less on their posts.
This brings me to the next point, always reciprocate. Whenever someone ‘mutual’ follows you, be sure to follow them back as it is common courtesy. Similarly, whenever someone likes or comments on your posts, its a good idea to like and comment back on their posts.
Most people are fuelled by compliments and gratification, especially on social media. A simple like on one’s post signifies that you actually enjoy the content that they produce and that can go a long way.
4. Remove ghost followers
To increase your engagement rates effectively, you can also remove ghost followers.
Ghost followers are followers that don’t engage in any of your posts, hence, the term ghost. By removing ghost followers, you’re cleaning your follow/following ratio.
To remove ghost followers, you have to utilize mobile apps that track them. These apps track several metrics on your Instagram such as your new followers, unfollowers, users who are not following back, etc. other than ghost followers.
There are many apps like these on the Google Play and Apple Store.
However, most of these apps charge their users for detecting ghost followers as it is considered as a premium feature, so you’ll have to be prepared to pay a small amount of money to unlock it.
Personally, I use the app Follower Plus by 2 Creative Monsters LLC. They charge a one-time payment of about $2.00 to unlock the engagement metrics.
Now, how exactly does removing followers improve your engagement rates? Well, a majority of Instagram users also utilize mobile apps to track their unfollowers.
Hence, if you unfollow users that don’t give you any engagement, they can track it too and unfollow you.
5. Share your post on your story
This is a very underrated tip you can use to increase your engagement rates on Instagram. Whenever you post something, make sure to share that post to your story as well, and give a signal for people to like.
Sharing your post on your story will dramatically improve your engagement rates as its a great way to convert users into tapping on your post and liking it.
Suppose your followers have a huge amount of following, their feed might be flooded with other user’s posts. To stand out, you’ll have to share your post on your story as a huge percentage of users watch Instagram Stories.
To share your post on your story, simply tap on the arrow icon and then tap on add ‘post to your story’:
6. Connect with people you know who are active on Instagram
Following friends and family is a great way to increase your engagement rates on Instagram. You can actively search for friends and family who are on Instagram and follow them.
Friends and family are usually more actively engaged on Instagram because they want to be updated on your happenings, locations, or activities. Additionally, they’ll tend to engage in your posts more frequently as you might know them personally.
Following mutuals is also a great way to get quality follow backs. You can easily find and connect with users with mutual followers/following under a user’s bio:
If you notice that a user has many mutuals, you can follow them and there’ll be an increased chance that they’ll follow you back, in contrast to someone with 0 mutuals.
People are driven by warm introductions and mutuals enforce this.
7. Post less often
Now, many other articles or blog posts mention directly at running contrary to this exact tip that I’m going to be sharing. I’ll be responding to these articles with some actual facts and experiences and show how exactly this tip helps to increase your engagement rates on Instagram.
Other articles’ position is that by posting consistently on Instagram, at least once a day, you can get more followers and likes. That’s not always true.
Unless you have already established a large amount of following, posting consistently is not really going to apply to you.
If you post way too often, some people will find you annoying or ‘spammy’ and end up muting your posts. You do not want that. Users who mute your posts will decrease your engagement rates drastically.
Additionally, if you post a lot, you’ll find that your engagement rates tend to fluctuate. Your older posts might get a lot more likes as compared to your newer ones. This is because you didn’t give enough time for your newer posts to ‘catch up’ with your older ones.
Whenever you post something, it’s best to wait for a couple of days or more for the likes or comments to stream in because everyone’s time-zone is different, especially if your followers’ geographics are global.
Some people tend to only like your post after a period of time. It could be a few hours or a couple of days at most before their feed is flooded with new content.
So the key here is to be patient and wait for all the likes and comments to stream in before posting a new piece of content.
If you liked this article (7 Effective Ways To Increase Your Instagram Engagement), feel free to read my other ones:
Instagram Action Blocked: How to Fix And Prevent It?
7 Ways to Grow Your Instagram Followers
Author: Lim How Wei. Lim How Wei is the founder of Followchain, a community that simplifies growth and networking for Instagram users. Feel free to follow him on Instagram.