Has your Instagram engagement dropped recently? If so, you are not alone! Even some Instagram experts have noticed a huge decrease in likes and comments on their Instagram posts. And since we know it’s not a result of “Shadow Ban,” what exactly IS going on, and more importantly – how can we turn it around to keep our Instagram accounts active and growing?
Instagram Engagement Drops – It’s Not Your Imagination, and It’s Probably Not Your Fault
Unless you are using an unapproved 3rd-party tool to schedule, post, or otherwise engage on Instagram, there is probably no actual “blocking” of your profile or your updates at all. Instead, Instagram has simply updated its algorithm to account for the huge number of posts added every day – meaning you will not see all posts from all the accounts you follow – and not all your followers will see all of your posts. It’s just the way platforms need to change and react to growth. Read more about it in our Shadow Ban post.
Instagram comments have historically been plagued with “great profile!” and “Nice one!” comment spam from bots. As Instagram continues to cut down on these, you’ll have fewer and fewer of those comments – and, even if it brings your engagement numbers down, that’s a good thing!
So, assuming you’re still consistently posting quality content and making good use of hashtags, keeping your Instagram engagement up is not so much about what you’re doing wrong as what you need to do even better.
The Best Way to Increase Instagram Engagement – Engage!
Several new Instagram features make engaging on Instagram easier than ever – and give us more ways to be creative while we’re at it!
Yes! Now we have nested threads of comments on Instagram making it easier for people to follow a conversation and for those who have commented to see your responses to them. Take advantage of this and respond to every genuine comment you get. If you’ve ever commented on Peg Fitzpatrick‘s Instagram posts, you’ll likely notice that you NEVER get the last word – in a good way! Her zealous engagement begets more engagement – both because of the personal connections she fosters, and perhaps because Instagram sees and rewards this behavior.
And don’t wait for people to comment on your photos – get out and comment on other accounts’ photos! Not only does this build a relationship with the one person whose photos you engage with, it can also draw the attention of their followers to your account. Do it authentically and this can work wonders!
Did you know that you can view and reply to comments in your Tailwind dashboard? Just go to Post Inspector! Don’t have a Tailwind account? Try it now for free (no credit card required).
Direct messages have been around for a while on Instagram and spammers have yet to find a wholesale way to abuse them, so use them!Sending direct messages on Instagram is a great way to build real engagement on Instagram - are you using them?
Just click on the paper airplane icon, choose your connection, and then add either photo, video, or text and send!
How Can You Use Direct Messages to Connect?
Encourage your followers to direct message you. Are you doing an informal poll? Collect results via DM and now you’ve opened a conversation you can keep going indefinitely!
Ask followers to submit photos, videos, or text stories involving themselves and your product or service. This request can even go in your bio. It’s is a great way to keep your profile full of quality user-generated content you might not have spotted otherwise. Besides, when they send it to you, you don’t have to ask for permission to use it!
A new feature allows us to send web links and photos of any orientation via direct message. If someone asks you a question, you can send a URL with a preview to help answer their question (and get them to your website).
If someone does send a message to you, why not spend a moment creating a video response JUST for them? You can bet they don’t get many of those and will remember that you took the time to make them feel special.
If you want to reach out to a fan or two with direct messages, do so, but in a meaningful way. Don’t send them your latest blog post, product offering, or launch – unless they specifically asked you to. Instead, connect just like you would with a personal friend. Comment about something you noticed they’re working on, congratulate them on an achievement, or ask a question. While you could do this in a comment on a post, direct messages are a much more intimate means of communication, and much more rare. Ideally, you’d do both!
Engage with Instagram Stories
Posting stories is a great way to foster engagement, but you can also reply to other people’s stories using text, photo, or video. You can even run a poll on your own Instagram story – it gives your followers an easy way to interact.
Ask for the Engagement
Though we’ve covered several recent additions to Instagram engagement options, don’t forget that the simplest ways often work the best.
Asking people to double tap if they agree, or “tag a friend who would like this” still works!
Regram (or Repost) – with Permission
When someone adds a post that mentions you or includes your product or logo, or if you spot something that just really speaks to you and reflects your business values, ask them if you can regram it! This gives them more exposure, shows them that you care about them, shows your other followers that you care, and encourages lots of fun engagement.Regramming is more than a great way to showcase a fan - it builds Instagram engagement, too!
Tailwind makes this easy to do from desktop. You could search for a hashtag or key word and then when you find an image to regram, just hit the Tailwind extension. Modify the caption if desired, and then when you publish, it will add the regram notice for you! Easy! Try it today for free!
It’s worth restating – ALWAYS ask for permission to regram or repost someone’s Instagram posts. Even if you have shared their work with permission in the past, ask again. Sharing someone else’s photos without permission, even with attribution, is an infringement of their copyright.
Instagram Giveaways for Engagement
Giveaways on Instagram can also bump up your engagement – and fast. Make sure you offer a prize that would be of interest only to people you really want to attract – giving away an Amazon gift card or iPad might bring in many entrants who have no incentive to continue to engage with you after the contest.
Contest entrants can be asked to like posts or comment and @mention friends, but don’t ask them to add a tag for friends who aren’t in the photo.
Use Hashtags Like a Pro!
Skillful use of relevant hashtags in your posts is a great way to help new people discover your account. Because they’re looking for content like yours, they’re likely to be some of your more engaged followers. But, some hashtags have been overrun with spammy posts or too many posts and no longer expose your posts to those who aren’t following you – even if they search for a hashtag in your post!
Use a variety of hashtags that are niche, competitive, and popular, but not too popular. A great way to do this is with Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder.
Just start it off with one hashtag, and it will suggest many more that you might not have thought of! Add mostly good/best with a couple of niche and competitive hashtags in and stay at around nine to eleven per post.
Schedule Your Instagram Posts For When Your Followers Are Active
Yes, it still matters when you post! If you can share your images when your fans are on and active, you’ll get more engagement right away, which, by the way, tells Instagram that yours is a post worth showing more widely. More engagement right away and more later. Win-win!!!
Tailwind analyzes your account and followers and suggests the best times for you to post. When you add posts to your schedule in Tailwind, it fills up your queue for those times! Give it a try (no credit card required).
Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Instagram!
- Schedule photos and videos directly to your Instagram feed with Auto Post.
- Optimize every post for more engagement with SmartSchedule and Hashtag Finder.
- Automatically hide your post’s hashtags in the first comment to keep your caption clean & clutter-free.
- Make your posts more discoverable with user tagging & location tagging.
- Analyze what's working across every post and profile with smart analytics.
Recently, I was joined by Jeff Sieh of Manly Pinterest Tips and the Instagram manager for Social Media Examiner for a spirited Facebook Live discussion. You can watch the video here, and catch us next month for another fun chat about Instagram.
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Alisa Meredith is Pinterest Product Specialist at Tailwind – a Pinterest and Instagram scheduler and analytics platform. She is a sought-after speaker and teacher on Pinterest and Promoted Pins in particular, having spoken at Social Media Marketing World, Agents of Change and appearing on The Art of Paid Traffic and Social Pros podcasts. Alisa has invested heavily in becoming an expert in her craft – realizing (and loving) the fact that the learning never ends! She lives in coastal North Carolina with her pampered pets Pepe the couch potato Cavapoo, and more cats than she’d like to admit to.