List of 30 Ways to Fix Your Low Instagram Engagement
Instagram is the single social media platform with the highest average engagement rates. It becomes even more distressing, then, if you have low engagement on your posts. Maybe this started last march, when Instagram notoriously lost engagement across the board. Maybe it started later, or just never picked up. Regardless, it’s low.
So, you want to boost that engagement, but don’t know how. That’s where I come in. What follows is a pile of 30 tips and techniques you can use to get more engagement.
1. Don’t Overuse Hashtags
Instagram has a limit of 30 hashtags allowed on each post in the caption. Other hashtags can be used, but they won’t link to the hashtags or be relevant to search. In fact, using more can actually be a detriment. Some people try to work around this by making an immediate first comment with another pile of 30 tags, but this is a bit of a spammy technique and it should come as no surprise that Instagram is starting to crack down on it.
2. Don’t Use Irrelevant Hashtags
While you’re at it, avoid using hashtags that have nothing to do with the image, caption, or brand you’re representing. There’s no reason to use #snow when you’re posting a beach picture, it’s just irrelevant. Worse, irrelevant hashtags can lead to users who browse those tags reporting your content, which can lead to further repercussions against your account.
3. Don’t Repeat the Same Hashtags
Obviously you don’t want to use the same hashtag twice in a post, but you also want to avoid using the same brick of hashtags on every post you make. A couple can carry over for a post or two, but if you have a couple of tags you use with every post, those tags are going to lose effectiveness for your brand.
4. Avoid Shadowbanned Hashtags
There are a number of hashtags that are commonly used by spammers, like code words.
Often they’re used for adult content, though not always. Always check a hashtag before you use it and try to avoid any that have been shadowbanned. Here’s a partial list, along with some tips for spotting whether a tag is shadowbanned or not.
5. Don’t Repeatedly Repost the Same Content
I’ve seen some brands looking to capitalize on showing up high in temporal searches by deleting their old content and reposting it, sometimes as often as once a day. Trust me, though; the people who browse Instagram every day will quickly see through your plan. Not only will your engagement for that post disappear, you might be reported for spam.
6. Don’t Excessively Churn Followers
Twitter is the site that usually bans for follower churn, but it’s a problem with a lot of different social networks, Instagram included.
If you’re following people in hopes of them following you back, and unfollowing them if they don’t, you’re participating in a practice that can get your account suspended or banned entirely from the site. Just don’t do it.
7. Don’t Spam Likes or Comments
Any sort of spammy action is liable to get your account suspended. You are free to like and comment on content, but don’t do it at an excessive rate. People posting 20 comments an hour and 100 likes in the same span of time are likely botting, or at least fishing for mutual follows or returning engagement, so Instagram doesn’t like seeing it. Use the platform as organically and reasonably as possible.
8. Don’t Sell Advertising Space
A lot of high profile Instagram users sell sponsored post slots on their feed. Instagram is aware of it, but as long as it’s kept low-key, they don’t intervene. The problem is, a lot of people think they can dive into the world of sponsored posts and start making money with obvious fake reviews. Fake reviews, which are against both the terms of service and FTC laws, can get everyone involved in trouble. Avoid it if at all possible; you have better ways to make money.
9. Prune Out Bad Followers
Bad followers either post spam comments or nothing at all. If you’ve been followed by a bunch of bots hoping you’ll follow them or use their promoted service, just block those followers.
Your engagement numbers won’t go up, but your percentage rates will, and you can grow further from there.
10. Don’t Buy Low Quality Followers
Buying low quality followers is how you get bad followers in the first place a lot of the time. It’s worse, though, because of two reasons. First, those followers are liable to be banned by Instagram sooner or later, meaning you lose the follower you paid for. Secondly, they provide no value to you after they have followed, which drives down your engagement and conversion rates. Plus, of course, you have to pay for the privilege of having this dead weight on your account. Focus on high quality visitors only from reputable sources.
11. Don’t Buy Bad Engagement
For the same reason you don’t want to buy fake followers, don’t buy fake engagement. Instagram purges it on occasion, and then you’re out the money and any future engagement. Plus, keen-eyed followers will see you were hit by the purge and call you out.
12. Don’t Use Posting Bots
There are a lot of bots out there that will post for you, either using your password or by setting up a one-button post for you. The problem is, these bots are violating the Instagram terms, since they want you to be using their app, not someone else’s. It’s also risky to give your information to some third party. Avoid such apps in general unless you’re willing to take a risk.
13. Post Better Content
Hey, so you know what works really well for getting more engagement? Posting better content!
Shocking, I know. Higher quality images, better written captions, these kinds of things are likely to be more attractive to people when they see your content in a feed they’re browsing.
14. Post More Varied Content
I’ve seen some businesses that aren’t very interesting, to put it bluntly. There’s only so many times you can post a picture of the same meal you served to a different customer today, or the front façade of your building, or yourself in a modeling pose. Vary things up in terms of content and scenery as much as possible.
15. Post More Relevant Content
While you’re busy coming up with more unique angles for your content, make sure to keep it relevant to your brand and industry. Widely off-topic content tends to drive people away; your followers followed you for a reason, and you’re not providing that reason. If someone is shocked that the content comes from you because it’s so out of character, dial back on the experiments.
16. Ask for Engagement
In your captions, why not ask for engagement? You can do it hard, by saying “hey guys, please like this post!”
You can also do it soft, by asking a question in your caption that begs a response. “If you were here on the beach, what’s your first order of business?” Get people talking naturally and they won’t feel like you asked for it, when really you did.
17. Write Better Captions
Write better captions, in general. You don’t want your captions to run on too long, so avoid getting them truncated. Keep your hashtags to the end whenever possible. Just write something nice, organic, and interesting enough to add value to your post.
18. Consider a Contest
Contests can bring in a lot of followers and a lot of engagement, though often that engagement is limited to the contest posts and doesn’t carry over when the contest is done. Either way, if you’re interested in making a contest, make sure you do it properly.
19. Post at the Right Times
A lot of studies have been done about when the best time to post each day is. I recommend posting directly before peak hours, if you’re trying to reach people via hashtags or general feeds, since the most people will be online. Otherwise, post for your audience’s peak hours, to reach them specifically.
20. Post Consistently Each Day
Post frequently enough that there’s always some content on your feed that wasn’t there the last time your users checked.
For some people, that means posting about once a day. For others, it might mean two or three posts per day. I doubt there’s ever a good reason to post more than that, and posting much less often just means more drop-off.
21. Don’t Post Too Often
I kind of covered this in the previous post, but posting too often means you might fall victim to a lot of reports about you spamming the hashtags or the feeds of your users. You don’t want to annoy anyone with your content, so post just as often as is supported by your followers, and no more.
22. Write a Better Bio
Writing a good Instagram bio is tricky. Thankfully, there are a lot of people who have done some serious work in figuring out what makes a good bio stand out from the rest. Do your research, read some good articles, and make a good impression with your bio section.
23. Keep Captions Short
This is another one I mentioned in passing; try to keep your caption short enough that it doesn’t get cut off in the “read more” truncation that happens to long captions.
Bonus points if you can write a caption just long enough to avoid being truncated, but long enough to push your hashtags below the fold. It makes everything look cleaner.
24. Engage With Your Audience
When people comment on your content, feel free to take a moment and comment right back. You can thank people for their comments, answer questions, make jokes at the expense of spammers or the creeps, and generally just show that you have an active presence on the network. It helps people feel like they want to comment.
25. Avoid Overt Marketing
Overtly marketing on Instagram is not just frowned upon, it’s something the site as a whole is likely to penalize you for doing. Overt marketing includes things like product pictures with price and buy information, soft links to product pages, and all range of “buy now” calls to action. It’s bad content and it’s not effective, so don’t do it.
26. Cross-Promote Your Account
Promoting your Instagram account from other sites and accounts can help you get more engagement.
Linking is good, but for the best results, embed some images in your blog occasionally. People can leave comments and likes directly from your blog post without needing to go to the app at all.
27. Run Advertising for More Exposure
If nothing else really works, you can always pay for more exposure and engagement. Ads run on Instagram have a lot of pretty robust options to help you reach your ideal audience, and they aren’t even that expensive.
28. Use Geographic Tagging
Geographic tagging is like one more hashtag you can use, but only if your image was taken in the relevant area. It’s another bit of exposure to a particular kind of local community that can have a lot of good engagement in the right circumstances.
29. Avoid Selfies
Seriously; unless your face IS your business, like you’re a model, don’t post selfies. You can post candid behind-the-scenes images that feature people and employees, but pure selfies just don’t cut it for business Instagram.
30. Accept Lower Rates
Finally, if all else fails, just accept that you might have lower than average engagement rates. Some industries, particularly B2B industries, don’t get a lot of attention on the site. If you’re in the wrong niche, using Instagram might not be the best idea for your brand anyway.