You’ve probably heard the term “Instagram algorithm”. In a nutshell, it’s a set of rules that govern how Instagram shows content (posts, videos, Stories etc.) to people when they browse the Instagram app. While Instagram doesn't disclose the sought-after details of how the algorithm exactly works, the company shared a few hints of its inner workings. It turns out engagement rate, or interactions with Instagram content, is by far the most important factor of how often your content is showed to people on Instagram.
It makes sense when you think a bit about it. Content views alone are superficial, since they appear in an infinite feed of Instagram users and it’s hard to tell whether the content was good enough. The best type of content, one that is worth showing to as a wide audience as possible, is the one that draws out reaction from people viewing it. In case of posts and reels, such content has usually not only a lot of likes, but also comments, shares and saves.
How do you define an engagement rate?
Engagement rate can be defined in many ways and each Instagram analytics service uses a different, in-house formula. That being said, the most generic definition specifies it as the number of interactions (likes, comments, shares etc.) divided by the number of impressions or profile’s followers. The higher the interactions or the lower the impressions, the higher the engagement rate is.
It’s hard to say precisely what constitutes a good engagement rate, since the exact formula is not commonly defined, even officially by Instagram. However, assuming the formula is:
ER = 100% * (likes + comments + shares) / interactions
a good engagement falls in the range of 2-3%, with 4% and above being great.
How does engagement tie in into the Instagram algorithm?
Engagement has a huge impact on what shows in a user’s Instagram feed. In particular, immediately after a post or reels is published on Instagram, the algorithm keeps track of the number of interactions (likes, comments etc.) with it. If it does well on that front within a short period of time (minutes to an hour), it gets shown to a wider, relevant audience. The peak of engagement is when the content earns a spot in the Explore pages.
What are the implications?
Engagement rate is a very important metric, because it measures peoples interest, brand popularity and, to some degree, authority. It gives you, as a content creator, a window into what your audience and prospective followers enjoy. Based on the result, you can adjust your content strategy, style etc. to better serve your audience.
Moreover, brands use various social media analytics tools to look up influencers core statistics, like engagement rate. Having high number of followers won’t cut it, since to brands, the interactions is what drives marketing and, in the longer term, sales. In a gist, to get better sponsorship deals, you should aim for as high engagement rate on your content as possible.
What can you do increase engagement on Instagram
There are quite a few things you can do to observe higher engagement on Instagram. Maintaining consistent brand and posting quality, media-diverse (posts, reels, Stories etc.) content regularly is just part of it. It’s, paradoxically, your engagement with other Instagram users and their content that can drive sky-high your own engagement rates. To give y ou a few examples:
- Reply to DMs,
- Reply to comments under your posts, especially right after publishing them,
- Encourage interaction from your audience in captions or though prompts (polls etc.),
- Interact with followers of other influencers (i.e. comment & like).
In the end, it does not matter how great of a content you produce and share. Without high engagement rate, it won’t reach too many people. This, in turn, will negatively impart recognition and sales associated with your Instagram brand. Make sure you put more time into interacting with your audience and supplement that with a healthy dose of marketing automation.