22 Simple Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement (Free Calculator)
Learn the easiest ways to increase your brand’s Instagram engagement, plus global average engagement rates and the most engaging post types.
If you’re using Instagram for business, you know it’s more than just a platform for saving all your cutest product pics. It’s a powerful tool for building your brand and cultivating an audience online.
The reality is, there’s no shortcut for quality engagement. You get out of social media what you put in. So take the time to craft that great post, to encourage conversation, and to connect genuinely with your followers. The benefits are sure to follow.
Read on for proven ways to make an impact with your Instagram audience and build strong, lasting engagement organically.
Bonus: Use ourfree engagement rate calculator to find out your engagement rate 4 ways fast. Calculate it on a post-by-post basis or for an entire campaign — for any social network.
What do we mean by Instagram engagement?
Engagement is more than counting your views or followers. It’s about measuring the interactions that your audience makes with your content.
On Instagram, engagement is measured by a range of metrics such as:
These sort of actions are evidence that people aren’t just seeing your content. They’re actively interested in what you have to say.
Why do we care about engagement? First of all, it means that your content is making an impact on your audience. (They like you, they really like you!)
Secondly, strong engagement is a key factor in Instagram’s algorithm. The higher the engagement, the more likely it is that the content will be boosted in the newsfeed, attracting more eyes and attention.
How to measure Instagram engagement
Your engagement rate measures the amount of interaction social content earns relative to your followers or reach.
In other words: what percentage of the people who saw your post actually engaged with it?
Instagram itself is coy about what a “good” engagement rate is. But most social media marketing experts agree that strong engagement falls around 1% to 5%. And Hootsuite’s own social media team reported an average Instagram engagement rate of 4.59% in 2020.
Here are the global average Instagram engagement rates for business accounts as of 2021:
Instagram post types: 0.82%
Instagram photo posts: 0.81%
Video posts: 0.61%
Carousel posts: 1.01%
On average, carousels are the most engaging type of Instagram post, which we talk more about in Tip 4 below.
Follower count can also affect your Instagram engagement rate. Here are the average engagement rates per number of followers of Instagram business accounts as of 2021:
Fewer than 10,000 followers: 1.18%
10,000 – 100,000 followers: 0.94%
More than 100,000%: 0.74%
Typically, the more followers you have, the less engagement you get.
On social media, it’s better to be honest and relatable than perfectly polished. Share content that goes beyond your slick marketing campaign to introduce the real people and experiences behind your brand.
That might mean sharing behind-the-scenes footage in an Instagram story, writing a caption that reveals a cheeky sense of humor or taking ownership of any mistakes.
This meme shared by A Practical Wedding garnered thousands of shares and comments from an audience who found the less-than-perfect joke about wedding culture ultra relatable.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of creating eye-catching images, try posting a few with carousels. Carousels — Instagram posts with multiple images — are a great way to build engagement. (And, as luck would have it, we have some beautiful Instagram Carousel templates right here!)
Hootsuite’s own social team finds that their carousel posts get 3.1x more engagement, on average, than their regular posts. And, globally, carousels have the highest average engagement rate of all types of Instagram posts (1.01%).
It could have something to do with the fact that the algorithm re-serves these sorts of posts to followers who didn’t engage the first time around, giving them a second or third chance to make an impression.
Don’t overthink it: video content doesn’t have to be overly polished or perfectly edited. (Remember that “authenticity” tip from earlier?) Shoot now, give it a quick edit, and get it out into the world.
There are a million tools to help you combine scenes, add in music or text, download a free or paid video editing app. InShot and Magisto are great ones, but we’ve got plenty of other suggestions here on our list of the best Instagram apps for business.
Tip 6: Write strong captions
A picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words are… also worth a thousand words.
Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters in length, and up to 30 hashtags. Use ‘em! Good captions add context and showcase your brand’s personality.
Nike tells a compelling story with its caption here, and asks its followers to share their own story in the comments.
Add a “Save this post” call-to-action to a carousel post with tips, how-to guide or recipe video to encourage users to come visit this content again later.
Tip 8: Go live
Using Instagram Live to stream live video is a great way to connect directly to users, share news and build engagement.
80% of audiences would apparently rather watch a livestream than read a blog post. Give ‘em what they want!
With Live video, you can answer questions live, welcome viewers by name and generally welcome your audience into your world in an intimate, engaging way. You can also build an ecommerce audience with Instagram’s new Live Shopping feature, if you’re so inclined.
When the comments start flying in — in response to all your fun new photo and video content, of course — it’s only polite to respond.
Acknowledging your commenters and participating in conversations makes followers feel seen and heard, and excited to chat with you again in the future.
Sunscreen brand Supergoop not only prompts followers to share their favorite products in the comments of this post, they also happily chime in to share recommendations and offer positive support for everyone’s choices.
Sometimes, the strongest engagement can happen in private.
Direct messages and story interactions are great examples of engaged audiences, and amazing direct connection to a passionate fan. So when someone reaches out in your DMs, make sure to reply and treat ‘em right.
Tip 23: Embrace Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels joined the Insta fam in summer of 2020, ostensibly offering an alternative to TikTok. With Reels, users can create and edit short multi-clip videos with audio and effects.
Drag artist Eureka O’Hara is using Reels here (well, a repurposed TikTok video within Reels, anyways) to promote an upcoming season of their show We’re Here.
Because it’s a shiny new Reel, this will get boosted in the newsfeed higher than a standard video. More eyeballs means thousands more people get to enjoy these sick dance moves.
Any new feature to social media tools typically gets a boost in the algorithm, so it’s in your best interest to try out the latest and greatest offerings. Reels are appearing prominently on the Explore page, so embrace this new content form, and you might just find yourself in front of some fresh faces.
Increase your Instagram engagement rate using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish posts and stories on a consistent schedule, respond to comments, measure your performance over type, and run all your other social media profiles in the same place. Try it free today.