Lets Talk Instagram Engagement


Jayne Harrington

29 November 2019 5 comments

Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users 50% of those users are scrolling through their feeds every day. As a result of having so many active users, Instagram uses algorithms to dictate the order of the posts that users see when scrolling. These algorithms are based on specific signals, they prioritise posts, pushing the most relevant ones to the top and giving them the most visibility. Ultimately this has been affecting a lot of users engagement rates, So many posts get lost within the hashtags. So how can you increase your engagement rate?

Focus on building relationships not just reach

Since the most recent update to the algorithm, audience loyalty and continual engagement from your followers is more important now than ever before. It’s no longer a case of upload and wait for the likes and comments to roll in, it takes a lot of work if you want to grow your account, it has become more of a community than just a social sharing platform. Which in my opinion is great, but it can take a while to get to grips with this new way of sharing!

When posting the use of prompts within your captions will give you and your followers an opportunity to engage. Open ended questions are a great way to start a conversation. Remember to always go back through your comments and answer any questions your followers may have left for you.

Likewise commenting on other users content will not only help their engagement but it will also potentially boost yours. If you leave interesting and involved comments that are relevant then you may find that some users will look to your profile and return the engagement.

Sure, these algorithms have made it a lot harder for us to get our content seen, but Instagram is doing it for a few pretty good reasons.

Have you heard of Instagram penalties?

Yes you heard me, Instagram has started penalising accounts for many different reasons. It’s no secret that Instagram hates bots or automated content, things like batch following or unfollowing or liking and commenting in such a way that looks spammy.

Instagram is trying to outwit the bots and spam accounts. Which is great but sometimes it can feel a little extreme, and is affecting business and influencers who are trying to grow their social media presence.

These new algorithms limit each user to 500 actions per day. Again this this designed to stop the bots and spam accounts, but recently I have noticed that it is blocking genuine users.

Instagram has started to ban actions on accounts that violate their terms of use. Sometimes you get banned from liking if you have liked too many posts within a certain amount of time. Following dozens of people in one go is also a violation, as is leaving lots of comments as the algorithm sees this as spam. Some bans are lifted within a couple of hours, however I have seen some users banned for up to a month, I’m guessing because they kept violating the terms of use.

Using 3rd party software may also get you Banned

When I say 3rd party software I’m talking about those apps, where you can track your follows and unfollows. Instragram does not allow mass following and unfollowing, and over the last few weeks they have really started to crack down on this. I discovered this when I tried to use my unfollow app. I logged into it, went back to Instagram and a message popped up to say that they don’t allow the use of this software as it violates their terms of use policy. It made me change my password, and logged me back out of that 3rd party app.

Some users have said that they logged back into those apps again and got banned from all actions on instagram, they could only scroll feeds, no liking or commenting allowed, and some were even banned from posting. Some bans have been just for a few days, others have been weeks. This is the same for those app where you can buy likes and follows, yes you can buy these! Don’t though as most of the likes and follows you but will most likely be from bot and spam accounts.

It looks like I have gone off on a tangent here, but bear with me, all of this does affect your engagement and your reach.

Even if you stop using these apps your ban will be lifted but you may still be shadow banned, so if you use hashtags your posts won’t be seen in those feeds. So it’s probably best to stop using these app all together. Getting banned in any way will affect your engagement and you’ll lose followers as people are not seeing anything from you.

So how can I improve my engagement?

So, now that the use of third party apps are a no go how can you increase your engagement? I’ve put together 6 ways you can increase your engagement organically.

  1. Actively like and comment on other users posts, just note that comments need to be a sentence of a decent length to count as engagement. The consensus is 4-5 words per comment.
  2. Respond to questions, now you can place questions within you caption, as others will do too, but you can also ask and respond to questions within comments, get the conversation flowing!
  3. Follow and engage with accounts that are relevant to you. This will make it easier for you to engage and gain engagement back, you’ll likely have more to talk about!
  4. Sharing your post to your stories will also help your engagement. The algorithms are to blame here, some of your followers may miss your posts from time to time, so stories is a good way to let people know you have a new post.
  5. Now, while apps that get you likes and follows are banned, small engagement groups within the platform are not (YET)! Small comments and likes pods are going to give you a little engagement boost, particularly useful if your a brand or an influencer. Just remember to make sure that the pod is relevant to your niche. For example there’s no point being in a travel pod if your posting about daily family life.
  6. Look within your insights (can be found in the settings within Instagram) this will help you to see when your engagement is highest, it will give you a better idea of when to post to maximise engagement, and will hopefully help you post’s reach to new accounts.
  7. Limit your posts to 1-2 a day, if you are posting 2 or more posts just make sure you leave 20/30 minutes between each post as Instagram may think your spamming if you post too many within a short space of time.

A quick note on hashtags

Another way Instagram likes to monitor users is through hashtags, this is a sneaky one as you may not realise at all, unless your looking through each hashtag for your post. If your using the same hashtags over and over again, your likely heading for a shadow ban, and this will affect your reach and engagement.

Here’s some tips!

  1. Do your research

    Make sure your using hashtags that are relevant to your niche, this will make it easier for other users and brands to see your content.
  2. Try to pick tags with 100K posts or less.

    Its easy for your posts to get lost when so many people are using the same hashtag.
  3. Your allowed to use 30 hashtags within your posts.

    Make these count, but at the same time try not to use all of them as this can appear spammy. I usually stick to between 15-20 hashtags depending on the type of post.
  4. Change up those hashtags

    This will prevent you from getting shadow banned. Make sure they are relevant. Seasonal hashtags are a great way of changing things up a bit providing they are relevant your hashtag research will help with this.
  5. Did you know you can use hashtags in your stories?

    Another great way to get your account seen in those relevant hashtags. Not only does each hashtag have its own little feed, but you can also create stories under that hashtag. Just simply add in the hashtag within your own story!

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5 thoughts on “Lets Talk Instagram Engagement

  1. Lisa Alioto

    This was incredibly informative. I know little about Instagram so this insight was invaluable! Thank you!

    1. Jayne Harrington

      Your welcome thanks for reading x

  2. Emily Carter

    I noticed Instagram penalties a few weeks ago when I was having a clear out of who I was following- I unfollowed about 300 people and then got blocked from any other actions. I was confused as to why but it’s interesting to now know why it happened.
    Thank you for sharing useful tips about boosting engagement on Instagram- they’re super helpful for novices like me!x

    1. Jayne Harrington

      I hope they help you out! Thank you for reading

  3. Instagram is getting really strict but it makes sense since there are a lot of bots out there. It is important to have organic engagement with others. Thanks for sharing all of these tips! I went public recently and I’m trying to gain a better follow base. Definitely will check these out!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

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