Instagram engagement has been declining for some time now, but it’s not all gloom and doom. Much of it can be attributed to Instagram’s continued commitment to getting rid of bots, spam, and comment pods.
Instagram took roughly four years to reach their first 300 million users. In June 2016, there were 500 million active monthly users. Between 2016 and 2107, they added the same number in almost a year. And as of September last year, the platform boasts 800 million active monthly users.
Accelerated growth like that leads to saturation. Saturation leads to more competition for the chance to feature in users’ feeds. Saturation or bot removals, either way, it’s crucial that we figure out a way to improve engagement.
First, let’s take a look at the causes of this downward spiral.
- Poor Audience Quality
One of the biggest issues affecting engagement rates is the lack of quality followers. Having a large number of followers is usually a good thing. Unless your followers are inactive or fake users. Whether it was intentional or not, having fake followers will decrease your engagement rates.
This is how the Instagram algorithm evaluates engagement :
At first, your new post will be shown to a small percentage of your followers.
It measures the number of likes and comments and then compares them to the engagement on your older posts.
If the new post is getting higher engagement than old ones, it will be shown to your remaining audience as well.
On the other hand, less engagement indicates you may have fake followers. And you may lose the chance to have your post shown to rest of your audience.
Seeing as they are fake and inactive profiles, they almost never interact with your posts. And as a result, your engagement rate will take a nosedive.
Buzzweb can help you to check out your audience quality regularly and getting rid of fake followers.
- Shadow Bans and Restricted Hashtags
With the recent change in Instagram’s algorithm, numerous users have taken to using comment pods to cheat it. Comment pods are an inauthentic way to improve engagement. And Instagram doles out shadow bans on users they feel are part of a comment pod.
Restricted hashtags are another reason why users are seeing decreased engagement. The platform classifies them as either NSFW or spammy (like #beautyblogger or #follow4follow) and reduces post visibility. Once your account has been flagged, they check for suspicious activity on it and possibly shadowban you.
- Automation and Bots
Instagram has been cracking down on numerous automation websites like Instagress and MassPlanner. Apps like these create bots to help users gain followers and engagement. They’re like small robot clones of a user with the same style and interests.
They aren’t fake accounts mind you. They just automatically like and comment on posts made by other people to artificially drive up engagement for those accounts. Even if you’re someone who uses automation tools, if you’re followers had been using them, you will be affected. Seeing as they don’t have a means to like everyone’s posts in their feed, your engagement can see a dip.
- Hashtag Suppression for Business Accounts
This one comes down to the new algorithm acting differently for different user accounts. To see posts related to a particular hashtag, unless it’s a top post, users must follow the particular page to see them.
This rule is particularly applicable to business and business-like accounts. Basically, any account that acts within the confines of specific algorithmic rules could face a harder time getting featured for some hashtags.
Post interactions are down by 33% in the past year. Photos have seen a 27% drop in likes and comments, and videos have it worse, dropping by 39%. Instagram saturation is the primary culprit behind all of this.
The user base and posting frequency have increased. With users following more accounts than before, they are seeing more content in their feeds. And quite frankly, it’s just too much content to keep up with. This increased competition for engagement has ultimately resulted in an overall decline.
7 ways to increase the engagement of your Instagram account
So, what’s the solution to all of this then?
Tip 1: Start conversations through Instagram Stories stickers
The engagement on Instagram doesn’t only include likes and comments on your post but also your Stories, people who follow your brand hashtags, IGTV, etc.
Thus, Instagram is always adding new tools on the app to get better engagement with your followers, for example, through stickers on Instagram Stories. Without any doubt, stickers encourage your followers to participate and get involve in your content, this way, they will feel more connected to your brand.
Tip 2: Write longer text on your post
Do you know a post can have until 2200 character? This is a huge amount of space to share things with your followers.
One of the aspects that affects to how behaves the algorithm of Instagram is the time each person spends viewing your post, this way writing longer texts will increase that time.
Tip 3: Optimize all the Instagram Stories you post
Everybody should spend time and efforts on Instagram Stories. Each time we post one, we should think on including the following tools if we want to reach major engagement:
-Include a mentioning sticker: if you are working with other brands or businesses on Instagram or you do repost from a major account is important to mention them. Not only the mentioned account would be notified but is also a good way of creating a community, because that account can do a repost from your post to thank you the mention and share it with their followers.
-Add location: if you want to increase your engagement, you have to post your Instagram Stories with a sticker with location. Now, you can search Instagram Stories by the location, this way any user who search that location, will find your Instagram Story.
-Use hashtags: we all know the importance of adding hashtags to our Instagram Stories, but do you do it? Sometimes, we think on adding a hashtag sticker can damage esthetically our Story, but you can reduce the size and add a sticker over it so can’t be seen (eitherway Instagram will posicionate your Story)
Also you can select for the text a similar color as the background of your Instagram Story to hide it.
Tip 4: Post your Instagram Stories on the hours suggested by your statistics
Those are the hours your followers are more active on the social media and, therefore, is more probable they see your Instagram Story and interact with it.
Tip 5: Post your progress and share your achievements with your followers
Instagram users prefer to see brand images than products, they are more interested on knowing the aspects of your mision, the people behing the brand, where and how your products are made. Fortunately, Instagram is good to share those details so your followers can interact with your brand feeling more connected and identified with your account.
Tip 6: Add content with humor mood
Every time more brands are adding humor post using memes and trending topics on their content. Actually, usually you can observe that applying this tip reverts with an increase of more direct message from your followers, your followers doing repost or sharing the content on their Stories or mentioning their friends.
Tip 7: Reply your direct messages and comments
This is something obvious, but many brands ignore their direct messages and comments on Instagram. Instagram is based on relationships between the users and they don’t want this to change. Doesn’t matter how big your account is, but make sure you spend enough time replying to your comments and direct messages both positive and negative.
This plain act will show your followers that you care about their opinion and you listen to them. As much comments and messages you have, the better the Instagram algorithm will position your content on the Explore page.
In conclusion, is evident that Instagram is a place where the competence is huge, but there are different ways to increase the engagement of your Instagram account on a creative way, so the next time you plan your content, try this tips and follow how your audience answers.
Instagram is continuously evolving and changing their algorithm to become a better, more engaging platform for users. It’s true that engagement has declined recently, but shortcuts like bots and comment pods won’t help you in the long-run. All they’ll do is give you a false sense of security.
Instead, concentrate on the tips discussed above because they are evergreen and will stand the test of time and algorithm changes.
If you have any questions or tips about increasing engagement on Instagram, let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts.