If you are on the internet and have an online business, the chances are you are familiar with Instagram. Instagram is an online photo app that allows users to post photos and videos with comments, IGTV, Instagram Stories and Reels. Instagram allows users to engage with each other, with businesses and with potential clients easier than ever before. Over the past few years, companies have utilised Instagram as an effective marketing tool – a single post from a well-known celebrity or influencer can result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of views in a few hours.
Although it is unrealistic for small businesses to pay for an influencer or celebrity to promote their products, there is still the potential to increase engagement with a new and large customer base effectively. In 2021, Instagram had approximately 1.7 billion users globally, with 13 million users in Australia alone as of June 2021. In addition to exposure, effective Instagram marketing and engagement can lead to sales, with Instagram helping 80% of users to decide to buy a product or a service.
Instagram uses multiple algorithms to personalise what people see on their feeds to ensure users see relevant and exciting content. Instagram stated in June 2021 that:
“Instagram doesn’t have one algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. We use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose. We want to make the most of your time, and we believe that using technology to personalise your experience is the best way to do that.”
So by ensuring you have a higher engagement rate over the range of functions available on the platform, and by making your content relevant and exciting to the audience you want to reach, your new posts are more likely to pop up on their feeds and lead to clicks.
What exactly is Instagram engagement?
When you think of ‘Instagram engagement’, most people will assume that this means the number of views or followers. But engagement is so much more than that – it is all about how your audience interacts with your posts.
Engagement on Instagram is measured with a range of metrics, including:
- followers and growth;
- mentions (tagged or untagged);
- branded hashtags.
These interactions indicate that your users do not just see your posts – they are interested, enjoy your content, or want further information. Strong engagement with your users is crucial as it is an important factor in Instagram’s algorithms. The more your audience interacts with your posts and content, the more your content will be boosted on newsfeeds, making it more visible and reaching a larger audience, resulting in a positive feedback cycle.
It can be a challenge to put your actual engagement rate into numbers, but Instagram offers insight reports so you can get a rough idea of how well your content is performing on the platform. But on the whole, engagement rate is measured by the percentage of people who saw the post and interacted with it.
What is the best form of engagement on Instagram?
You may automatically associate Instagram with the term Likes. Likes are one of the easiest ways to show appreciation to other people’s posts and one of the most popular ways to show engagement. But, you may be surprised to know that it is not the number one measure for engagement metrics.
Whilst it might be more common to give likes, it’s ranked as one of the lower engagement metrics in Instagrams complex algorithms. This may be related to the fact that Instagram introduced the option to remove their visible like function to ‘depressurise people’s experience’ on the platform, meaning some accounts no longer even have the likes visible on posts. It could also result from users not being able to ‘like’ some of the other functions – such as Instagram stories, which are temporary and disappear within 24 hours.
Comments on your posts are the next tier of ‘valued’ engagement in the Instagram algorithm. With visible interactions and the ability to have conversations, you would think that this would rate higher. However, we suspect that Instagram has factored that some people use engagement posts, automated tools to create comments and pay for comments – making the actual engagement worthless. You may have seen a post that has many single emojis or comments that add no value to a conversation or to the post itself. While the post has attracted attention, the ‘value’ of the post may not be enough to encourage continued engagement.
The next important engagement metric is post or story sharing. This is another strong indicator that what matters most is how valuable your content is to your target audience – valuable enough to share with their friends and other users.
However, the hottest form of engagement at the moment may not be what you expect. Instagram Saves have been determined as one of the vital engagement metrics to track, as Instagram Saves is a strong indicator that your content resonates with your audience – they find it interesting enough to save for later.
So whilst likes and comments look great on the first appearance, what matters most is how valuable your content is to your target audience. You need to create quality content for your target audience that encourages your followers to:
- Share; AND
To continue the conversation. By creating content that your users are likely to engage with, the Instagram algorithms will prioritise your posts on their feeds – making your content more visible.
How do I see the amount of engagement on my posts?
Luckily, it’s relatively simple to view and track your insights on Instagram! If you want to view the Instagram saves, shares, likes or comments on your account, go to your posts and select ‘view insights’. In the post insights, you will see the stats of your individual posts.
However, something to note with your Insights: Instagram insights no longer displays the stats from Europe due to their new privacy rules (GDPR). But, it can still be a good indication if you have an audience that focuses outside this area or includes areas outside this. It is unclear what type of stats would be impacted by this – we’re still doing some investigative work to share with you all.
How can I increase my user engagement?
There are several ways you can increase your user engagement. The best place to start is with what you already have and build on it using the insights.
If you believe you have a strong target audience, head to your posts and view each post’s insight. You can then view the most shared and saved posts, and by assessing these posts, you can identify the type of content – images, hashtags and tags – and any consistent themes that are performing the best and build on this for future content.
It’s always crucial to break up your Instagram feed with fresh ideas and information – your audience’s taste constantly changes, and what works consistently at one point in time might not work in the future. So spice it up a little!
Other techniques include ensuring that your feed is telling a story and making it relatable and realistic. You can do this by utilising user-generated content (content created by individual people rather than brands), allowing potential customers to engage and become more invested in your story and, therefore, your brand.
Lastly, give the various formats available on Instagram a chance. With the emergence of other popular video sharing platforms such as Tik Tok, Instagram has had to update its functions to keep pace with the competition. This includes introducing Instagram Reels in August 2020, which allows you to make and edit short videos and add them to your feed, in addition to the usual posting options of photos, videos and stories. Instagram Stories alone can be hugely beneficial to businesses when used effectively, with over 500 million Instagrams using them every day. So it’s time to jump on your app and get your creative thinking cap on!
For more information on how we can help you increase your Instagram user engagement, contact Design Grid today!