23 practical ways to increase engagement on Instagram

By Emil Kristensen read
29 Jun, 2021
23 practical ways to increase engagement on Instagram

Instagram expands all the time and its importance for social media marketing continues to grow. As much as 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business on this platform. Moreover, Instagram users are more interested in marketing content, which is a great advantage for influencers who advertise various products. This platform has more than 500 million daily active users. Instagram already accounts for 25% of Facebook’s ad revenue, and this figure is expected to grow up to 30% by 2020, which is why analysts start to consider Instagram the main factor the determines Facebook’s growth.

Instagram also demonstrates a high engagement level. Engagement is measured by calculating shares, comments, and likes from followers. For creators and brands present on Instagram, this parameter is 4.21%, which is 84 times higher than Twitter and 10 times higher than Facebook. However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to struggle to increase engagement on Instagram. Quite the contrary, Instagram’s algorithmic timeline has introduced many challenges for influencers. The good news is that you can increase engagement if you know what to post, when to post, and how to do it properly.

Practical Tips to Increase Engagement on Instagram

1. Create quality content

Of course, Instagram offers many opportunities for advertising, but you won’t be able to succeed if you don’t offer your followers the most important thing: high-quality content. Make sure that your content is both good-looking and informative. There are four most common purposes of the Instagram content: to entertain, to educate, to interact, and to inform. We recommend that you have 70% of the informative content intended for your existing and potential customers.

To understand what types of content will be most engaging for your followers, analyze statistics. In addition, we recommend that you use different types of content, including GIFs and videos. The main thing is to be authentic and to offer something unique. For example, @lakeyinspired shares his unique drum sounds. The best way to engage your audience is to offer something they won’t find anywhere else.

2. Get on the “Explore” page

The “Explore” page is a place where Instagram users discover new content and new creators. This feature of Instagram was created to help talented content creators get more exposure, but it’s not the most important thing about this page. The most important thing is that all the users see different Explore pages. The Instagram algorithm takes into account posts you’ve liked and posts liked by the people you follow. Therefore, you can get on this page if your post is liked by a big account. It will be easier to do if you use proper hashtags. We will consider hashtags in more detail below.

3. Tell a story

Some beginner creators forget that Instagram was created as a visual inspiration platform. Don’t push your marketing agenda too hard. Instead, engage your followers using storytelling. Don’t just share pictures or videos but share experiences. Instagram stories will help you engage your audience using the most organic storytelling approach.

Quite often, people have a hard time trying to figure out what visual storytelling is. In this case, we recommend that you check out successful influencers-storytellers, such as @thenoisyplume.

4. Post at the right time

Apparently, the developers of the Instagram algorithm believe in love at first sight. The earlier your posts get likes from other people, the bigger your reach. For instance, it’s better for your post to get 200 likes in 10 minutes than 200 likes in two hours. Business accounts allow users to see their most successful hours in the analytics. The best time to post depends on account time zones, the type of your audience, and many other factors. Thus, if you’re a food blogger, you might have a different best time to post than a fitness blogger.

5. Engage manually

Don’t expect impressive growth unless your posts go viral and you have the necessary budget for advertising and influencer marketing. You should engage your potential and existing followers on a daily basis. You can do it yourself but if you have too many followers, you will need a team that will interact with your followers, leave their comments, etc. For example, when somebody follows you, make sure to comment on a few of their images. You can also send messages to your new followers and offer them valuable information. If you don’t have enough time to reply to all the comments, at least give your followers a like.

6. Focus on branding

Branding isn’t only important for companies. Quite the contrary, you must have a distinctive personal brand and raise brand awareness. Look for style patterns that will make your account consistent and fresh. Interact with your followers and build brand loyalty. @924photography is a good example of brand consistency and style.

7. Host contests

Contests are a great tool to increase engagement on Instagram. According to statistics, contests generate 64 times more comments and 3.5 times more likes than regular posts. Nevertheless, many influencers forget to offer contests, missing on good opportunities to increase engagement. You need to plan your giveaway in advance and define the rules. For example, users may follow you to enter the contest, or you may ask them to make a post or to like your post. We recommend that you check out this article to learn more about how to run giveaways effectively.

8. Write interesting captions

We recommend that you consider your captions mini blog posts. Although Instagram is all about images and videos, your captions are nevertheless important. They should tell your followers more about your brand values. They must be memorable, informative, and unique. A good approach is to ask questions in your captions to start a conversation with your followers. If you’re not sure whether you can generate high-quality text content, we recommend that you look for a professional writer. For example, you can find experienced creative copywriters on Masterra.

9. Embrace different video formats

The importance of video for Instagram creators continues to grow, and the reason is obvious: videos are the most effective type of content. Brands that use video content increase their revenue 49% faster than those who don’t take advantage of videos. Instagram allows you to use different types of videos, including 60-second commercials, vertical videos in Stories, and “carousels.” Therefore, you can tailor your Instagram video to any purpose. A good way to engage followers is to offer various “how-to” videos. For example, you can check out cooking videos from @stovetopkisses for inspiration.

10. Use Instagram stories

Stories are extremely popular and engaging. They allow you to get closer to your subscribers and to connect with them personally. However, if you want to use Stories effectively, you should be consistent and think strategically. Highlight your Stories and sort them into categories so that users can navigate easily and find what they want quickly. Don’t forget to include strong calls to action and to use the “Swipe Up” feature to generate traffic for your website or to promote your products.

11. Optimize your profile

The very first impression matters. It determines whether somebody will follow you and stay or leave. Therefore, make sure to use a business account and add relevant hashtags to your profile. We recommend that you choose medium-tail hashtags instead of the general ones and use emojis and symbols to illustrate what you do.

12. Use video subtitles

Subtitles are useful because many people prefer to watch Instagram videos with the sound off. In addition, subtitles are another opportunity to deliver your key message. Given the fact that the videos quickly grab attention and are highly engaging, the effectiveness of your messaging also grows.

13. Create polls

Another great advantage of Instagram Stories is that they allow you to attach quick polls. Not only do polls make your interaction with followers more personal, but they can also provide you with actionable insights into your audience’s preferences so that you can tailor your content to your followers’ needs and interests.

14. Use the right hashtags

Hashtags can be a reason why your posts get to the top of recommendations or sink so that nobody can see them. If you choose generic hashtags, such as #fashion or #food, you will compete with millions of other users. Choose more specific hashtags related to your industry, along with the trending ones. The number of hashtags is also important. You can use up to 30 hashtags in each post, however, too many tags will make your posts look unprofessional. As much as 91% of successful brands only use seven or fewer hashtags in their posts. However, you can add more hashtags in a comment. We suggest that you analyze how many hashtags your competitors use and experiment with different approaches.

15. Study trends

Instagram is no different from other social media platforms because new trends appear here all the time. When you know that now people are really into some type of content, you should use this trend to your advantage, boosting engagement. However, this task is also challenging: if you’re too late, your posts will disappear among millions of similar trending posts, being absolutely useless. Therefore, you should try to hop on a new trend before it explodes. You can do it if you do your research and analyze what hashtags grow in popularity. We also recommend that you stay up to date about all the latest news in your niche.

16. Collaborate with influencers

Influencer marketing is extremely effective. You can collaborate with other influencers. For example, micro-influencers will attract a specific audience of people who are interested in your particular product or service, without charging too much money for promotion.

17. Use your Instagram traffic to increase your website traffic

Instagram can bring more traffic to your website because it allows you to include a clickable link in bio. Of course, you should also do something to motivate people to click this link. In this case, promotions and special offers will help you. In addition, you can add strong calls to action with your URL as an overlay when posting photos and videos. You can also work with other influencers and ask them to promote your URL in their posts.

18. Tag relevant accounts

The wider your audience, the more Instagram will recommend your content. More people mean more opportunity to engage, and you should use any chance to engage your followers. If you tag accounts that are relevant to your niche, more people will see your posts. You’ll be more likely to appear on the Explore page, and your posts will be shown on the “tagged” pages of bigger accounts.

19. Mind SEO

Although Instagram doesn’t look like an obvious place to exercise your SEO skills, a good SEO strategy may help you stand out on this extremely competitive platform. The two main things that affect your SEO on Instagram are an account handle and account name. The first thing is the name that starts with the “@.” This handle must reflect your area and niche. Instagram is capable of identifying the type of your content and if your handle doesn’t correspond to it, your posts will not appear on the Explore page.

Your account name should also correspond to the account handle and your niche. This way, you will help people who conduct search find your account, because Instagram checks not only hashtags but also account names, as well.

20. Use filters consistently

According to statistics, as much as 60% of the most successful brands use the same filter for each post. Instagram offers a vast variety of filters so you can always find something that fits your style. However, you’re not limited to the built-in Instagram filters. For example, you may create your own Adobe Lightroom presets and use them every time you want to post a photo. @justine_blchn always uses her own Lightroom presets and sometimes shares them with her followers who also want to make beautiful shots but lack editing skills. Keep in mind that the main thing is to use filters consistently, reinforcing the same distinctive brand image.

21. Two accounts are better

Everyone knows that two heads are better than one, and the same goes to Instagram accounts, as well. We don’t mean that you should create additional accounts because such efforts may turn out to be counterproductive. However, what you should try is to partner with successful accounts in your niche to reach an audience that otherwise would never know about you. Users with loyal and engaged followers will help you boost engagement and exposure.

Partnering with independent influencers can also help you add authenticity to your message and align your brand with their authoritative opinion.

22. Use emojis

Images are extremely effective, not only when talking about photos but also when writing captions. About 50% of captions and comments on Instagram include emojis. The most interesting thing about emojis is that they are also searchable: quite often, users search for content that contains certain emojis.

There are more than 2,600 emojis, and new ones appear all the time. Your goal is to figure out how to use emojis to promote your personal brand without making your content too informal. Don’t overuse them and make sure that you understand their meaning.

Not only are emojis useful when making posts, but they are also important when analyzing comments. They indicate sentiment so we recommend that you monitor comments with emojis to see what your followers feel when they see your content.

23. Focus on user-generated content

User-generated content is one of the most effective means of marketing. First, if you encourage your followers to share their content associated with your brand or products, they will be more deeply engaged. Secondly, if you produce a lot of content, other users can help you save marketing costs, providing the content that meets the interests of your audience. Even big companies have already realized the effectiveness of user-generated content so we recommend that you also don’t forget about this option.


Instagram offers countless opportunities for building engagement. You can use different types of content, add interesting captions, emojis, and relevant hashtags. You can also partner with other Instagram creators to boost exposure and to get to the Explore page. Stories enable you to create polls and to promote your website. However, the most important thing that directly impacts engagement is the quality of your content and your ability to give your followers exactly what they want. Study trends, research your audience, and you’ll be able to increase engagement naturally, with no need to invest extra money in marketing.

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Berta Melder is a talented brand manager and content strategist for Masterra, but thinking about additional career development opportunities as a data visualisation specialist. She also manages the company’s internal training activities on branding.