The most fundamental aspect to know when it comes down to Instagram engagement, it’s how to play by Instagram algorithm’s rules, being that your page’s health score, a.k.a., your page’s value in the eyes of Instagram’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) system.
And, in order to play by the rules, you must know what Instagram wants from you, as their user.
And the answer to that is simple:
Instagram wants you to make other users spend as much time in the platform as possible.
Allow me to elaborate:
Instagram engagement is directly related to growth.
In other words, by reaching out to more people, your posts will leverage higher engagement levels. The higher your posts’ engagement levels are, the more likely it is that they will, consequently, keep reaching out to more people.
The more people see and interact with your posts, the more people will visit your page and eventually become new followers, as engagement is the precursor form of interest of growth, constituting their “next level” of interest – the interest to stick around.
The algorithmic process that’s behind this phenomenon is quite simple, actually:
Instagram’s algorithm perceives content that is highly engaged with, as valuable content. That’s because it is Instagram’s goal for people to spend as much time in the platform as possible, as mentioned above.
Therefore, as your content is highly engaged with – preferably in a fast succession – the Instagram algorithm will allow it to reach out to more people through sources of reach, such as hashtags and the explore page, as you will be featured and rank higher on those.
How, you may ask?
Very simply and in a straightforward manner here’s how:
By using White hat strategies
Apply strategies that are healthy towards your page’s performance and that do not compromise its health score or even its existence.
By obeying to the rules, in this sense, your page has only to benefit from it, as a slower yet consistent growth is a million times better than a fake and worthless growth that is not worthwhile.
By providing high value content
Provide content that is shareable and saveable, as these are the most important and highly-ranked forms of engagement within Instagram’s AI, and make sure that your content is complemented by an engaging caption that, just as the content itself, that tells something about you, about a certain episode of your life, or about your page.
Content that has an element of entertainment or any other form of interest to your audience, as well as to an “external” audience is content that people will want to share with each other, as well as to save for their future consumption. Again, content that is shareable and saveable is content that will have a multiplied number of interactions, thus being considered as the most valuable type of content.
Do not be lazy with your content output, otherwise your audience will also be lazy when it comes to any sort of engagement (if they even do engage).
Content is the main asset of any social media network’s tool-belt.
If your content sucks, then expect no miracles in regards to engagement.
Keep people in the platform
Publish content that is strictly niche-related, so that Instagram’s algorithm allows it to be spread out to a wider audience that is also interested in the same type of content, according to their browsing patterns / behaviours.
Engage with your audience
Do this and you will ultimately optimise your engagement levels, as well as create a sense of community around your page.
It is not rare to see pages completely ignore and disregard their audience. Take a few minutes to reply to your dm’s and comments and to ask questions to your audience through stories or through your captions on your posts.
Count them in and show them that you care, they will appreciate it and most likely become more and more loyal to your page, so it’s a win-win situation.
Act like a consumer & a business
Post content consistently and interact with pages within your niche on a daily basis. Keep your page’s activity at a steady pace, without abusing Instagram’s features.
Instagram privileges human behaviour on the platform and activity should be reciprocal. As a business, you want to showcase your products or services, so you are keener to put out content. Although, it is also as fundamental to engage with other users’ content to show that you are a page that portrays consumer behaviour as well, in terms of content.
This ensures that your page’s activity is at a healthy level, while reinforcing your niche categorisation.
Post fresh content, content that is new to the platform.
Fresh is the best. That does apply to your content output these days on Instagram. As you publish content that is new to the platform, you are contributing to its diversity and interest, which is rewarded by the Instagram algorithm.
You’re also provided new content to your audience and they will thank you for that, as the platform is already flooded with lots of unoriginal, reposting content.
These are yet one of the most underrated and effective assets to retain your audience and keep it engaged, as well as to enhance your engagement levels and to improve your page’s overall performance.
Here’s what most people do: they post stories and insert a description. Tadow! – That’s all.
And they expect their audience to be happy that they’re putting out content…
… But hey, you’re not taking them on the ride with you.
Here’s how to do it:
Add polls to your stories. Instead of just describing your story, ask them questions about it. Be it “Yes or No” polls, or quizzes, or leave space for more personalized interaction, such as with “Ask me something” polls.
Take it a step further and ask your audience what kind of content they prefer seeing the most from you and insert an open answer poll so that you can track their answers and adapt your content to their preference (if that’s doable for you, of course).
Actually interact with their responses. Make them feel valued and relevant. That’s why you should have a presence on Instagram in the first place, and that’s how your page is going to grow a loyal, solid following base that continuously engages with your content.
I apply these strategies all the time and that’s how I leverage such a low following drop and such a high following gain and retention for my clients.
Feel free to leave a comment below in case you have any questions!