10 Data-Backed Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement in 2021

Published by
Richa Sharma
8 min read

Are you looking for new ways to reach your target audience on social media? Do you want to connect with potential customers and convince them to purchase your products? Wouldn’t it be great if you could build a community of loyal brand advocates around your brand?

If it’s a yes to any of the above questions, then it’s time you start developing a concrete strategy to increase Instagram engagement.

With more than 1 billion monthly active users worldwide, the Instagram app has evolved into one of the largest social media platforms.

If you’re implementing a social media marketing strategy in 2021, chances are you’re already using Instagram. You’ve likely created an Instagram business account for your brand and are working on growing your followers.

Also, you regularly post interesting and useful content to attract your audience!

But building an Instagram account with an impressive follower count isn’t enough. You also need your audience to engage with your content. If your followers aren’t liking, saving, or commenting on your Instagram posts, it might be time to take another look at your Instagram marketing strategy.

The good news is that skyrocketing your Instagram engagement rate isn’t rocket science. You just have to understand what your audience wants and develop a strong rapport with them. Also, you can leverage the latest statistics about Instagram engagement to further engage your audience.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the most effective ways to boost Instagram engagement according to the latest data. But let’s first delve deeper into the concept and understand its importance.

What is Engagement on Instagram?

Simply put, engagement rate is a measure of how much your followers are interacting with your Instagram posts, Stories, Reels, and other content.

It refers to the number of likes, comments, DMs, saves, shares, and other reactions your content garners on Instagram.

If you’re developing an Instagram strategy for the first time, it’s natural to wonder why you should focus on improving engagement. Isn’t having a high number of followers enough? If you manage to attract more followers, doesn’t it automatically mean your campaign is working well?

Why Is Instagram Engagement So Important?

Here’s the thing – you could have ten thousand Instagram followers and still fail to achieve your goals if they don’t engage with your content. Think about it – between an Instagram post that’s got hundreds of content and another with a few likes – which one will grab your attention?

Unless your audience interacts with your content and shares it with their contacts, your Instagram content won’t find traction. Low Instagram engagement rates indicate that you’ve failed to grab your followers’ attention. This, in turn, means they’re less likely to interact with you in the future.

Moreover, you won’t succeed in creating a community of loyal and devoted followers. This, in turn, will take a toll on your brand’s credibility and trust. That’s why it is essential to use the right techniques to boost engagement on Instagram.

A higher engagement rate also tells Instagram’s algorithm that your content is being well-received. This, in turn, will compel the algorithm to further push your content into your audience’s feeds. Better still, it could make its way to the “Explore” section of relevant users. Ultimately, it’ll amplify your reach and help boost brand awareness on Instagram.

If you’ve converted your Instagram account from personal to professional (business or Creator account), you can access useful analytics to track engagement. From Instagram posts and Stories to Reels and IGTV videos – you can check engagement metrics for different types of content.

What is a Good Engagement Rate on Instagram?

Here’s the tricky part – there’s no easy way to define the ideal Instagram engagement rate. It depends on various factors, including your marketing goals, niche, and target audience. This is further complicated by the fact that Instagram hasn’t defined what it considers as a good engagement rate.

But a recent study by SocialInsider sheds some light on this subject. The study analyzed more than 100 million Instagram posts and found that the average Instagram engagement rate per post is 2.02%.

Also, it revealed that the average engagement rate has been plateauing since 2019 despite a surge in the first half of 2020.

Image via SocialInsider

Instagram Engagement Calculator Methods

Implementing the best strategies to increase Instagram engagement isn’t enough. You should also know how to calculate your Instagram engagement rate. Otherwise, you won’t know how your content is performing and whether it’s delivering the right results.

The simplest way is to calculate it manually using the following formula:

(Total number of likes and comments/Follower count) x 100

This is a pretty basic method of calculating Instagram engagement. It’s up to you to identify the engagement metrics that matter the most for your campaign.

You can tweak the formula accordingly to include other metrics, such as the number of DMs and saves.

Another effective alternative is to use Instagram engagement or analytics tools. For instance, if you use Tailwind’s scheduling tool, you get an in-built engagement rate calculator for Instagram.

It’s available under your Insights tab and regularly tracks your posts to update the engagement rate! Also, it provides you with other useful data, such as Reaction Score and total Engagement Score.

Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Instagram!

How to Increase Engagement on Instagram (10 Ways)

Amplifying engagement on Instagram isn’t just about developing a stellar content strategy and uploading eye-catching posts. Also, it isn’t as straightforward collaborating with influencers to host Instagram giveaways and contests (although this can be helpful!)

The key is to find what’s trending and striking a chord with your target audience. 

If you’ve been wondering how to get more engagement on Instagram, we’ve got you covered. At Tailwind, we’ve analyzed our own data from a plethora of our clients’ Instagram posts. Also, we looked into a few insightful studies conducted by the top social media thought leaders!

Based on our research, we’ve compiled a list of the most effective data-backed strategies to increase Instagram engagement.

Instead of including those generic tips, such as creating high-quality content and understanding your audience, we’ll focus on more actionable tactics backed by numbers.

Let’s get started!

1. Post More Instagram Carousels

Let’s face it – we’ve all felt the compulsion to swipe right on attractive Instagram carousels. There’s something fascinating about viewing multiple images together from your favorite brands and influencers on Instagram, isn’t there?

And the longer you spend viewing a post, the more likely you are to engage with it.

When it comes to Instagram engagement, the type of content you post is just as crucial as its quality. While it’s a good idea to experiment with different content formats and features, make sure you don’t ignore Instagram carousels.

These are particularly effective in boosting engagement for smaller accounts (10,000 followers or less)!

The SocialInsider study we mentioned above found that carousels deliver better engagement than single images and videos for accounts with less than 10,000 followers.

Image via SocialInsider

Likewise, they offer excellent engagement rates for accounts that have more than 100,000 followers.

Carousels receive the highest number of average likes per post, regardless of follower count!

This type of content also gets better impression rates on Instagram. In other words, the average engagement per view is higher for carousel posts.

This isn’t surprising considering that carousels are often delivered twice in a user’s Instagram feed.

Think about how many times you’ve come across the same carousel post showing a different slide while scrolling your feed. This creates an opportunity to grab your audience’s attention, and might compel them to like or comment on your post!

So, if you want to increase your Instagram follower count, it’s high time you start utilizing carousels. However, make sure the images and videos you use are related to each or convey a particular theme.

You can use Instagram carousels to create a narrative in your posts or even provide followers with step-by-step tutorials.


Related Reading 📚: How to Post Instagram Carousels with Tailwind


2. Mix Up Your Content Types Between Photos, Videos, and Carousel Posts

The key to boosting Instagram engagement is to experiment with different content formats and find what works best for your audience.

As a ground rule, you should use a combination of photos, videos, and carousels in your Instagram posts.

SocialInsider found that videos and carousels provide better engagement than single photo posts!

You can use carousels to combine photos and videos to create a narrative.

Make sure you break the monotony of single-image posts with eye-catching video content.

IGTV, Reels, Stories, posts – Instagram offers an assortment of options to upload video content you can leverage to reach your audience! Aim to use them all.

It’s worth mentioning here that you don’t need top-notch video editing or animation skills to upload Instagram videos.

You’ll find plenty of Instagram editing apps and tools online that let you trim and compile video clips and photos, as well as add quirky visual effects. You can even use an app, such as Pixaloop, to add an element of motion to still images.

3. Add Color to Your Feed

Colors play a key role in influencing consumers’ moods and purchase decisions (Color Psychology, anyone?)

You can also use colors to build a brand on Instagram (and make sure it’s immediately recognizable!) For example, adding bright hues to your Instagram posts can be instrumental in grabbing eyeballs.

An experiment by the Social Media Lab analyzed color and black-and-white photos on Instagram to analyze their engagement rates. Unsurprisingly, the results reveal that color photos receive nearly 24% more likes and 46% more comments than black and white photos.

So, if you want to hold your audience’s attention, it’s high time you start incorporating eye-catching colors into your Instagram posts.

Careful use of colors can even help generate specific emotions, such as pleasure, anger, happiness, etc., in your audience.

However, the type of colors you use will depend on various factors, including your niche, target audience, and brand messaging.

For instance, a 2019 study by Visit Carlsbad, Pantone, and Fohr dug deep into the colors dominating travel-related posts from travel influencers on Instagram, and found four colors in common:

How can you use this interesting discovery? Keep an eye on the top content creators, influencers, and brands related to your industry.

Check out their Instagram feeds to identify the colors they’re using in their content. But, before you overhaul your Instagram feed theme, make sure the colors you select align with other elements of your brand image, including the logo, website, packaging, etc.

Image via Instagram

4. Spend Some Time on Your Captions

Just because a picture is worth a thousand words, doesn’t mean your Instagram posts don’t need captions!

On the contrary, Instagram captions play a key role in driving engagement. There’s a reason why the platform lets you use 2,200 characters for each caption.

Instead of adding a few emojis and hashtags and calling it good, invest time to make your captions more compelling and engaging.

Social Media Lab experiment found that not writing a caption at all negatively affects the reach and engagement of Instagram posts.

On the other hand, including a caption amped up the number of likes and comments by 53.03% and 127.5% respectively in the test set!

Also, captions increased reach by nearly 29%. Thus, writing a good Instagram caption is a must for your posts.

Instead of describing the visual, use the caption to deliver increased value to your audience.

Work to also understand the right length for your audience when it comes to captions. SocialInsider found that posts with captions that contain less than 10 words get maximum engagement.

However, longer captions, comprising 30 words or more, work exceptionally well for videos.

It’s up to you to monitor your Instagram analytics and identify the optimal caption length.

Also, don’t forget to use relevant hashtags that are trending in your niche.

Make sure you include powerful calls-to-action (CTA) that’ll compel your followers to engage with your posts. Even simple “Save Now” or “Tag a Friend” at the end of the caption can be instrumental in boosting engagement.

5. Boost Your Best-Performing Posts

Boosting your Instagram posts is one of the best ways of amplifying reach and engagement. A recent Socialbakers report suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t affected clickthrough rates on social ads and sponsored posts.

This means that even though COVID has affected our in-person shopping experience, engaging with promotions on social media is ingrained in new-age users.

So, if you’ve been contemplating using Instagram ads, it’s high time you take action. Start by using Instagram analytics to identify your top-performing posts.

Also, make sure you precisely define your target audience based on their interests, online activity, purchase behavior, etc. Otherwise, your ads will fail to drive engagement despite getting plenty of impressions.

6. Create Save-Worthy Content

Likes, comments, shares, and reposts aren’t the only engagement metrics that deserve your attention. If you want to retain your audience and encourage them to revisit your posts, you need to publish saveable content.

And carousels aren’t done with their impact here, either! According to SocialInsider, larger accounts (100,000 followers or more) garner higher saves with photo posts, smaller profiles get more saves on carousels.

No matter the type of content you upload, make sure it drives your audience to hit the “Save” button. Including a CTA for the same is also a good idea.

Focus on creating useful tutorials, infographics, tips, and recommendations that your audience would want to come back to.

7. Interact with Your Audience on Instagram Stories

If you’re uploading new content on Instagram every day, chances are you’re already using Stories. They’re a great tool for keeping your audience hooked without investing a lot of time and effort in creating stellar Instagram posts.

You can use them to update your followers about new content, products, and offers. Or you can share snippets of an ongoing event to keep them posted.

The best part is that you can upload multiple Instagram stories throughout the day to boost brand recognition. In fact, SocialInsider highlights that brands should post up to 5 stories per day to improve engagement and retention. 

Experiment with using interactive stickers to host quizzes, polls, and AMAs. For instance, you can use the Instagram question sticker to let your followers share their questions, thoughts, and opinions about your brand.

8. Use Human Faces Whenever Possible

Novice social media marketers often make the mistake of putting their products front and center in every post.

However, research has established that photos with human faces garner more Instagram engagement.

In fact, such posts are 38% more likely to attract likes and 32% more likely to get comments.

So, adding a human touch to your Instagram posts is a must.

Sharing customer success stories and employee achievements is a good idea.

You could also implement an influencer marketing campaign to create personable content.

9. Inject Brand Humor Into Your Reels

Social media platforms have a propensity for pushing their newest features.

Instagram Reels being the latest feature on the app already boast a dedicated tab on the Instagram page.

So, if you’re yet to hop on the Reels bandwagon, you’re falling behind your competitors.

The latest Reel Algorithm Update also emphasizes the importance of creating fun and entertaining content.

Meaning, content with humor and entertainment value is more likely to be shown to more users on Instagram!

Keep an eye on the Reels tab to identify emerging trends.

Don’t hesitate to put your own humorous spin on these trends to create light-hearted, engaging Reels!

10. Be Quick to Respond and Engage in the Comments

As a thumb rule, you should make it a point to proactively reply to comments and DMs from followers.

It makes them feel valued and motivates them to engage with your new content.

It also helps you stir meaningful conversations about your brand and win your audience’s trust. Moreover, a post with a long thread of insightful comments is more likely to grab eyeballs– after all, everyone wants to see what the convo is about!

Conclusion: How to Increase Engagement on Instagram

From leveraging Instagram hashtags and Reels to publishing interactive stories – there are various ways to boost engagement on Instagram. Make sure you keep an eye on various engagement metrics to identify your top-performing posts. Also, don’t forget to utilize different content formats, including carousels and videos.

What techniques are you using to get more Instagram engagement? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.


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Richa describes herself as an avid dreamer and a curious soul! She is a certified Content & Search Marketing Specialist. She is in love with digital breakthroughs, content marketing, startup strategies and so much more!

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Published by
Richa Sharma

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