If you’re beginning to feel like your Instagram post engagement is decreasing, then you’re not the only one. Ever since Instagram did away with the chronological ordering of posts in favour of an algorithm-driven feed in 2016, engagement has decreased on average around 33%, according to analytics firm Quintly. As such, you may want to have a quick spring clean of your posting habits.

There’s no shortage of speculation as to how Instagram’s algorithm (how any given post is placed within a user’s feed) works, and really, the only people that truly know are Instagram themselves. Of course, there are a few clues here and there. Instagram stated that posts are filtered based on the “likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post.” With this in mind, here are five ways to organically boost engagement:


1. Use relevant/strategic hashtags.

This sounds simple enough but it’s often overlooked. Do a quick bit of research into which popular hashtags also relate to your content. You can check the popularity of hashtags by switching the Instagram search function to “tags”. If you’re really struggling for inspiration, just start by hashtagging what you see in your image. A quick Google search will also highlight relevant hashtags by category. Don’t discount niche hashtags too. Often, they have a regular user base into which you can integrate.

2. Use analytics to check when your audience is online.

If you have over 100 followers, you get the option to switch to a business account. This gives you access to some basic analytics. If you don’t want to switch to a business account, not to worry, there are some free third-party tools available to help gain some insight into your follower base. If you want to go down this route, look into HootSuite, or our personal favourite, Iconosquare.

3. Use a call to action along with a decent caption.

Make it easy for people to interact with your account. Think about why people follow you and tailor captions to spike user interest. Use thought-provoking statements or questions which invite comments. When someone does comment, be sure to reply. To Instagram, comments signify engagement, making it likely your post’s reach will increase. Also, try putting your call to action as the first part of your caption. Putting it at the end may mean that users may not see it, as Instagram will only display the first few lines of a caption in a user’s feed.

4. Interact with other users

Become more active with other users by commenting on or liking their posts. You don’t need to go nuts here, and spammy behaviour will do more damage than good, but a few likes and comments here and there will help. Start or engage in conversations and be helpful; doing so will also increase the visibility of your page to others.

5. Roll back the blatant self-promotion

This might sound counter-intuitive but Instagram is not the place for relentless sales pitches. Do, however, direct people to your bio should they want to find out more. In general, think about the aesthetic of what you are asking people to engage with. If it’s an image that looks like an ad, even if it’s actually not, then your engagement will suffer. People, in general, use Instagram to view stuff they find entertaining and relevant, not to have your brand’s latest earth-shatteringly important message rammed down their throats every five minutes.

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