An engaged audience on Instagram can help brands reach new customers and boost sales. That’s why businesses are constantly searching for new ways to improve their ER on a platform that accumulated over 1 billion users in just a few years. With the constantly evolving Instagram algorithm, brands are looking for new ways to publish engaging content that will eventually bring new customers to the table.
If you’re wondering how to increase your engagement on Instagram, you’re reading the right article. But before I dive into that, let’s have a quick little intro. You can always skip it with the table of contents below.
What is Instagram engagement?
Engagement can be broadly described as the sum of the actions that Instagram users can take when interacting with your content. This includes:
- Liking your content
- Commenting under your posts
- Sharing your posts
- Saving your posts
- Visiting your Instagram profile
- Reacting to your Stories
How to calculate your engagement rate
Calculating your Instagram engagement rate can be tricky. This is because different methods are used to calculate post and account ER.
If you wish to look up the engagement rate of a specific post, simply divide the all the above-mentioned interactions by the post’s reach, and then multiply it by 100 to turn it into a percentage.
However, if you wish to calculate the overall engagement rate of your profile, you should divide all of the interactions by your follower count.
Sounds like something you can get lost in, doesn’t it? That’s why there are tools that can do all the math for you.
Calculating engagement with Instagram Insights
The free Instagram analytics tool that is built within the app is called Instagram Insights. It’s pretty basic, but it can still be quite useful. In order to access Insights, you need to have a Facebook Page and switch your personal Instagram profile into a Business Account. Here’s our video tutorial to show you how it’s done:
- Make sure your Instagram profile is set to public.
- Switch your personal Instagram profile to a Business Account – you will be asked to connect your account with a Facebook Page. If you don’t own a Page, you’ll need to set one up. Don’t worry, you don’t have to post anything there, all it needs to do is simply exist.
The easiest way to see the engagement (not the engagement rate) under your posts or Stories is to go to Insights (by clicking the three lines in the upper right corner of the app). Access the Content tab, and scroll down to Posts or Stories, click “See all”, and select the “Engagement” metric. Here’s a 20-second video tutorial on how to do that:
The numbers only show you the sum of interactions under your content. If you want to fully understand the impact of your content and accurately measure engagement, you will need a more sophisticated social media analytics tool.
Analyzing engagement with NapoleonCat
With NapoleonCat, you can easily look up the engagement rate of specific posts and the overall ER of your Instagram account. You can also check out your competitors’ engagement rates and analyze the performance of any other public Business Accounts. You can choose a custom, longer time period (even a span of 2 years), which isn’t possible in Instagram Insights. Oh, and if you’re interested in analyzing other accounts from different social media platforms, you can do that in NapoleonCat, too. The platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and even Google Analytics.
Moreover, you can use NapoleonCat to automatically generate an in-depth report that includes all the key Instagram metrics, and more:
How to increase your engagement on Instagram
Here are some good practices that will help you increase your engagement rates and reach new audiences:
This one is so simple that it can be easily overlooked. When you get comments under your posts, remember to address them. Your answer can be as little as a single emoji. You’ll double the engagement, and your fans will feel better knowing that you read their feedback. You can also ask your fans questions inside a comment thread, start conversations, which will in turn further boost your ER.
Sometimes responding to comments can be a hassle if you get hundreds of them on a daily basis. They can be overlooked, especially if you’re running paid ads and dark posts – those are simply hard to find using the native platform. NapoleonCat’s Inbox allows you to moderate all comments and messages from one simple dashboard. You can react quicker, improve your response time, and manage all your social media accounts from one place.
Managing comments under your ads will provide undecided customers with information, which may result in them making a purchase, and thus increasing your sales. It’s a simple, yet highly effective mechanism.
You can also share the Inbox with the rest of your team and collaborate. But that’s not all. The Inbox has one magic feature, which is called auto-moderation. In short, it’s your automatic social media assistant, and its capabilities can reach as far as you configure it (setting up auto-moderation rules is quick and painless).
In reality, you can use this automatic feature for a great number of purposes, however, the most popular use cases include:
- Protecting your account from spam, hateful comments, etc.
- Answering FAQs (e.g. those about pricing, delivery times, product features, etc.).
- Redirecting customers’ issues to designated support team members (e.g. when your team is offline).
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The right hashtags can boost your organic Instagram reach x20 and more. With the right selection of hashtags, you’ll get more users visiting your content and interacting with your profile. The key here is to choose the right hashtags for the type of content that you create. Try to use less popular hashtags – this way it will be easier to rank higher in the hashtag browser.
For example, I run a personal BMX account where I use hashtags to boost my posts (and Stories too) to a ridiculous extent without paying a single penny. I take one popular hashtag, #bmx, and then I customize it by creating variations of this word, like #instabmx, #bmxallday, #bmxforever, etc. You can use the hashtag browser to help you some hashtag suggestions:
Try to aim at hashtags that are used in at least 20k posts (you can check it by clicking on a given hashtag under a post or by typing it yourself using the hashtag browser), and directly relate to your business and the type of content you share. You can use up to 30 hashtags, but I recommend an optimal number of 28, so that it flies just below the infamous “Instagram radar” (you can, in extreme cases, get banned or have your reach cut by using too many hashtags), and maximizes the hashtags’ capabilities of reaching new audiences. Also, remember to use different hashtags or at least different hashtag combinations. Instagram doesn’t like repetitive bot-like behavior. So, try to have ready sets of hashtags that you can slightly change every time you publish a new post. Quick and safe.
Another trick to improve your Instagram marketing game is to add your hashtags not inside your post’s caption, but as the first comment right after you publish your post. It will look more aesthetic, and you’ll already have 1 comment (1 engagement). With NapoleonCat’s Publisher, you can not only schedule and publish posts but also schedule your first comment.
Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are a great way to interact with your audience. First, your most engaged fans will see your active Stories on the top of their feed, so they’re really easy to locate. However, the best thing about Stories are Stickers. Stickers are different features that you can place inside your Story content (photos or videos). They allow you to directly interact with your fans, create conversation threads, receive their feedback, measure how they feel about something, and more.
It seems like at this point, Instagram is rolling out new Stickers almost every month, so keep an eye out for new ones that will help you interact with your community. Also, Stories can be found through the hashtag browser, therefore you can also boost their visibility and discoverability with hashtags.
Share your feed posts to your Stories
It’s getting harder and harder to increase your organic reach on Instagram. Due to Instagram’s tricky algorithm, it’s more difficult than ever to have your posts displayed in your followers’ feeds. Back in the day, I could reach 80% of my followers with only a feed post, now it’s not even a quarter of that. That’s why you should also share your Instagram feed posts to your Stories as a reminder of fresh content. Here’s a 20-sec tutorial on how to do that:
Find the best times to post
Finding the best time to post on Instagram is crucial. There’s no universally accepted, optimal time to post that would be the same for every account – it all depends on your particular group of followers. You can access Instagram Insights to see when your followers are most active. Go to Insights (by clicking the three lines in the upper-right corner and clicking on Insights), go to the Audience tab and scroll all the way down:
However, if you’re looking for more in-depth insights, we recommend you try NapoleonCat’s Analytics feature. You’ll be able to analyze your posts based on many more metrics, for example ER by days and ER by hours:
You can also use NapoleonCat to analyze your competitors on Instagram, which can give you an even broader perspective when deciding on the best times to publish content. After all, you and your competitors share similar audiences, so what works for your competition will likely also work for you.
Utilize user-generated content opportunities
Instagram is the ultimate platform to collect and re-share UGC, and ultimately turn your customers into brand ambassadors. One popular way of leveraging your UGC strategy on Instagram is to run contests. For example, shoe stores can encourage users to show off their products in exchange for a repost, free coupons, etc. A lot of clothing companies nowadays are starting to only post user-generated content, showcasing customers wearing their products.
An interesting case of combining UGC with Story stickers is that of Alohas, a clothing brand from Spain. They ran a giveaway contest and gave participants few conditions, one of them was to add a “Support small business” sticker to their Stories (that business being Alohas), and the other was to follow Alohas on Instagram. Fast forward 2 weeks, and Alohas gained over 11 thousand followers.
When encouraging your community to feature your products in their posts, remember to ask them to tag your brand!
Post vertically-scaled images
Gone are the days that all Instagram content was cropped into squares. Now that there’s the option to post scaled content, we recommend posting vertically-scaled images. Why? Because they will simply fill out more of your audience’s screens, decreasing the chance of your content being mercilessly scrolled through.
Write long captions
Instagram offers a great opportunity to write engaging captions. The character limit is currently set at 2200 words, which is more than enough to fit a good story.
You can share your opinions, spark a bit of controversy, ask users questions, sneak in some CTAs, or combine all of the above at once. Just remember that your captions should not only be interesting, but also encourage users to comment on your stuff. Writing long and relatable captions will help you build a community of loyal, engaged fans.
Tag other Instagram users
Tagging others in your posts will allow you to get noticed by new audiences and increase your reach. But don’t just tag others in your captions – accounts with a bigger following and social traffic may not be able to see that you tagged them. I myself have faced this problem.
If you only tag others in the caption, they’ll only get a tiny notification that may easily get overlooked. It’s best if you tag them on your photo/video, and also mention them in your Stories (so that they can repost your Story with a link to your profile). Moreover, if you tag them in on your photo/video, your post will be seen in the tagged tab on their profiles:
Tag the location
Whether we’re talking feed posts or Stories – always remember to tag your location. You should always have a few extra viewers coming from the location tag. This method is particularly important for people running local businesses and catering to local communities.
Create unique content
Content is still king, and all these tips will work best when you create something special that users find engaging. Find your niche, and then dominate it with quality posts. The better your content is, the more users will share it with others in DMs and in their Stories, which will further improve your reach and engagement.
Try to apply these tips to improve your Instagram strategy, and you should see better results coming your way. Just remember that it does take time for your content’s performance to pick up some pace, whether a few weeks or months – be patient and, most importantly, consistent! Good luck!