Have you noticed your engagement on Instagram (likes, comments, and shares) drop recently? If so, you’re not alone.
In fact, Instagram likes and engagement generally have been on the decline for the past couple of years. Many brands and influencers have experienced a decline in their overall engagement and lower exposure to their content.
You may wonder: “What’s wrong with Instagram?? Is it still worth my time?”
In short, nothing outrageous has happened, and yes, Instagram is still worth your time.
The drop in likes, shares, followers, and saves is something that’s not new to Instagram or any other social media network. Facebook had it too.
I’ve recently worked with a client who was shocked to see their monthly engagement on Instagram drop by a staggering 30%. It is terrifying, especially if you rely on Instagram as a source of revenue. However, the good news is that it’s possible to fix it.
Let’s dive into it.
What is a good engagement on Instagram?
It often happens that brands and influencers under-evaluate their success. The engagement rate on Instagram drastically differs from industry to industry.
However, some general guidelines help to understand if your engagement on Instagram is good.
- Less than 1% = low engagement rate
- Between 1% and 3.5% = average/good engagement rate
- Between 3.5% and 6% = high engagement rate
- Above 6% = very high engagement rate
Generally, I advise my clients to aim for an engagement rate between 1% and 3%. The number of followers has an impact on the overall engagement rate.
The higher the number of followers, the lower the engagement rate will be. Therefore, someone with 1,000 followers should have much higher engagement than someone with 1 million.
Another way to measure whether your engagement on Instagram is good is to refer to the graph by Influencer Marketing.
So, if you stand somewhere within the engagement on Instagram benchmark, you shouldn’t worry too much. However, keep in mind that there’s always plenty of room for improvement.
For example, highly followed celebrities and influencers have extremely low engagement rates. For example:
- Ariana Grande – 0.74%
- Kim Kardashian – 0.70%
- Justin Bieber – 0.90%
- Katy Perry – 0.12%
Looking at these numbers, your engagement on Instagram may not be that bad. Of course, these celebrities have a tremendous following and fan bases, which makes it easier to promote brands. However, their engagement rates are way below the industry benchmarks.
Why is engagement on Instagram dropping?
As I mentioned earlier, the decline in engagement on Instagram is nothing new. It has happened multiple times since the creation of the social media platform. You may view it as a natural phenomenon that’s part of Instagram’s growth as a social media giant.
In fact, Instagram has recently released significant changes to its features, design, and its algorithm – all of which seem to impact the engagement rates of brands and influencers.
Below are some of the reasons why your engagement on Instagram may have dropped.
Changes to algorithm
While there is very little we can do to impact the roll-out of the updates of the Instagram algorithm, often, it is the leading cause that affects engagement rates.
A few years back, Instagram started moving away from chronologically-ordered feeds to algorithmic machine learning.
What does it mean?
Previously, the posts were shown on users’ feeds based on the time that they were published. They were displayed from the newest to the oldest, allowing users to quickly engage with the brands and influencers they follow.
However, algorithmic machine learning took it away, and Instagram started pushing the content it thinks is relevant to the users instead. The newest or oldest posts became irrelevant, and even the newest posts that were deemed irrelevant by the Instagram algorithm were not even shown to the users.
The algorithm change aims to make your stay on the app longer by delivering content that you’re likely to find relevant, entertaining, and interesting.
Keeping up with the latest algorithm changes is a massive advantage if you want to minimize the impact when the updates are rolled out. By having an understanding of how these algorithms work, you’ll be able to come up with a better strategy.
How does the Instagram algorithm work in 2023?
Instagram uses multiple algorithms to decide the relevance of the post. Each of these algorithms plays a different role in the app, and they are “responsible” for different types of posts and the places posts appear.
It takes into consideration the likelihood of five main interactions when deciding how to rank a post on someone’s feed. These are:
- Time spent: Are you spending time on the post?
- Likes: How likely are you to like the post?
- Comments: How likely are you to comment on the post?
- Saves: How likely are you to save the post?
- Taps on Profile: How likely are you to visit the profile after seeing the post?
According to the Head of Instagram, the more likely you are to take action on a post, the higher the ranking of that post will be in your personal feed.
According to Instagram, determining what content a user will likely engage with is a very complex process. As a result, it continuously updates the algorithm to ensure that it stays relevant and produces the best suggestions for the users.
Instagram has introduced multiple ways to signal that the post isn’t up-to-users expectations. The most basic metrics that Instagram has started taking into account are the ability to mute accounts and unfollows.
Both could be causing more users to clean up their feeds so that they only see the content they want to engage with on a regular basis.
On top of that, Instagram has dramatically reduced the reach of the content it sees of low quality. It includes repurposed content that was published on other platforms (e.g., TikTok). Therefore, it’s never a good idea to publish content that was previously shared elsewhere.
In a nutshell, Instagram wants original content. The engagement on Instagram will be reduced for unoriginal content.
Finally, content that’s of poor quality (e.g., low-resolution videos and images) have also limited reach. Low reach directly relates to lower engagement, as such content doesn’t get as many views as high-quality content.
Therefore, if your content is poor, you’re likely to see a drop in your engagement on Instagram.
However, poor-quality content has been a big no on Instagram for years. Instagram is a highly visual platform; if the posts’ quality is bad, it’s a among the primary factors resulting in engagement on Instagram to drop.
It’s a well-known secret that there are millions of bot accounts on Instagram. In recent years, Instagram has been hunting down these accounts and removing them from the platform.
If you have noticed a sudden drop in your followers, it may be linked to that. Instagram has been removing bot and spam accounts in thousands. This may also impact the overall engagement drop, as these bot accounts were likely to engage with the posts to get a following.
Even though bots were always seen negatively, they contributed to engagement on Instagram. Now, when Instagram is working on removing them, it may also negatively impact your engagement.
Practicing illicit strategies
If you were purchasing followers and likes to grow your Instagram engagement, your engagement would definitely take a hit in 2023. The main strategy that Instagram employs now is to provide the best quality and relevant content to its users.
Trying to game the system with fake likes and followers will only result in penalties from Instagram.
Other strategies, such as follow unfollow strategy, are also considered against the Instagram community guidelines. Therefore, if you have previously engaged in such activities, you may now see a drop in your engagement on Instagram.
Your account is unlikely to be suspended if you haven’t received multiple warnings, but it may be shadowbanned. In simple terms, the content of a shadowbanned account isn’t exposed to other users (only the followers), which dramatically reduces reach and, therefore, engagement.
How to boost engagement on Instagram in 2023?
While Instagram engagement may be decreasing due to algorithm changes, new features and other updates introduced by Instagram allow brands and influencers to find better ways to improve their engagement and growth.
It’s now particularly important to have an Instagram strategy and stick to it.
Here are some tips to boost Instagram engagement.
The more often you post high-quality, engaging content that your followers like, the higher the chance for Instagram to display your content on their feeds. The more engagement you generate, the better reach your posts will be exposed to.
Therefore, continuously post content that your audience likes. Post stories, videos, images, and Reels to keep your audience continuously engaged. On top, ensure to actively communicate with your audience by replying to their DMs and comments.
However, you should also take one step further – take the initiative to interact with other similar accounts. Genuine likes, comments, shares, and saves help to show that you’re an active part of the Instagram community.
Being active is the most effective strategy to amp your engagement on Instagram.
Add value with your posts
It’s never a good idea to post for the sake of doing it. Think if your posts add any value to your audience. Your posts should be natural and valuable.
You can use social listening strategies to find out what types of content matter to your audience.
Remember that there are millions of posts shared every day. You want to make sure that your posts stand out, and they can do it by being valuable. Share personal insights, experiences, and new discoveries.
Content that adds value is also more likely to become viral and shared by many. Therefore, giving advice and helping your audience to solve their problems may directly result in increased engagement on Instagram.
Regularly post Instagram Stories
Many brands and influencers don’t see the value in Stories as they think that Stories are only for the followers. However, this isn’t entirely true. In fact, Instagram Stories are among the best ways to boost engagement on Instagram.
Stories are also discoverable by non-followers (to a lesser extent, though). Using geo-location tags can help to reach people who are looking at posts from a particular local.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the engagement generated through Stories counts towards the overall engagement of the account.
Therefore, it’s a good practice to start sharing Stories to boost the engagement of existing followers.
Write engaging captions
It’s nothing new that longer captions tend to generate higher engagement. Instagram has become a micro-blogging place where content creators can share their unique perspectives and experiences.
Captions also allow users to add calls to action, which can serve as a reminder that the user is expected to perform a specific action on the post.
Adding “Comment your favorite Italian dish” under a cooking recipe you tried for pasta or “Like if you also liked Paris” under the recent holiday trip to Paris can significantly increase engagement with the post.
Captions also allow you to share motivating stories and kick off conversations with your audience. You can use that space to ask thought-provoking questions and encourage a discussion in the comments.
If you need more tips on writing killer Instagram captions that engage, you may want to check my article “Engaging Instagram Captions: Breakthrough Strategies in 2023.”
Don’t overuse your hashtags
Hashtags have always been an essential part of Instagram’s growth. However, when done incorrectly, they can be harmful. Using too many hashtags may signal to Instagram that your account is a bot or spam. It will result in reduced reach.
I always advise my clients to use max. 15 most relevant hashtags. These hashtags should also be interchanged. It means you shouldn’t use the same set of hashtags for all of your posts.
A good hashtag strategy is to view each post individually and find the most relevant hashtags which align with your content. Posting travel Reels from Paris and hashtagging “baguette” isn’t relevant.
In fact, it will only reduce your reach as people who are interested in seeing “baguettes” won’t engage with your Eiffel Tower content.
Finding the right hashtags can expose your content to new users, increasing your likes, followers, comments, and overall engagement.
Instagram likes drop?
No worries! It’s a normal thing.
Over time, Instagram will release new updates, which may again negatively impact your engagement rates. It’s crucial to stay up to date with the latest algorithm changes and play for the rules.
The tips shared in this article are universal, and they will prevent you from facing huge drops in the future.
Understand your audience, keep adapting your content to keep your audience engaged and interested, and you shouldn’t suffer from big drops.
Remember that the rollout of the changes is to make Instagram a better place for brands, influencers, and users. So, if you are not violating any of Instagram’s rules, you won’t be penalized.
To make things easier for you, you can take a step further and schedule a consultation to discuss your existing Instagram strategies and ways to improve your performance. I’ve worked with hundreds of Instagram accounts and helped them build sustainable strategies for long-term gains.