Wondering how to increase Instagram engagement in 2021? You’re not alone!
Up until recently, we looked at the number of likes on a post as a strong indicator of its performance.
But today brands need to look further into their performance metrics and track comments, saves, shares, Instagram Stories views, and even DMs to understand how their content performed.
With a shift in how we measure engagement, it’s only natural that we change how we try to improve engagement on our feeds. Luckily, it’s not as hard as you may think!
We’re sharing 11 ways that you can level-up your Instagram strategy and increase Instagram engagement in 2021:
11 Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement in 2021
- Create “savable” content for your feed
- Start conversations with Instagram Stories stickers
- Regularly test & analyze new content types
- Add an element of fun
- Create shareable content
- Open up about your brand and business
- Write longer captions
- Share data your audience will love
- Create more video content
- Discover your best time to post
- Pay closer attention to your hashtags
#1: Create “Savable” Content for Your Feed
How we measure Instagram engagement has changed since likes are now hidden on posts.
Now, Instagram comments, shares, and saves are more important than ever. So the best way to improve your engagement for this year is to create more content that encourages your audience to tap that save button!
“Savable content” is anything you know your audience will want to revisit at a later time.
For example, The Colored Girl shared this post about love languages and encouraged their community to practice self-care:
Using carousel posts to share valuable tips and information can lead to more saves, as your audience can refer back to the post when they want to act on the tips.
Similarly, travel content creators are seeing success from creating mini-blog style posts and sharing information about their destination:
When you’re brainstorming “savable” content for your feed, think about what’s important to your audience and what they’ll find value in. This can be anything from an infographic to funny memes or quotes that you know will resonate.
#2: Start Conversations with Instagram Stories Stickers
Over 500 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories every day, and that number is only set to grow in 2021!
Instagram Stories stickers are a great way to encourage your followers to chat and share their opinions and experiences with you, which, in turn, will help create a loyal following that feels connected to your brand.
Here are a few ways you can get started with stickers to increase Instagram engagement:
The Question Sticker
Nothing sparks conversation more than a good AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Instagram Stories.
And while influencers have been known to use the Instagram Stories question sticker to help their followers get to know them more, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same for your business.
It’s a great opportunity for your followers to get to know your brand better, or get more information about your products.
On the flipside, it’s a great place for you to ask your followers some questions. You could spark a conversation about your next season’s color palette, or what product lines they’d like to see more of.
It’s engagement, conversation, and customer feedback all wrapped up in one great post!
Get more ideas on how to use the Instagram Stories questions sticker here.
The Quiz Sticker
The interactive Instagram Stories quiz sticker lets you share trivia-style multiple-choice questions with your followers and track the results.
When one of your followers “votes” on your quiz, they’ll be able to see whether they got it right — and you’ll be able to see how many votes each option received and how each person voted.
Find inspiration on how to use the Instagram Stories quiz sticker for your business here.
The Countdown Sticker
If you want to pique the interest of your followers and get more traction with your events and sales, the countdown sticker on Instagram Stories is perfect for your posts!
When you share a story about an upcoming event (like an in-store sale, product launch, or special announcement), you can add a countdown sticker that counts down to the date and time you set.
Your followers can then subscribe to your countdown event, which will send them a reminder when the time is up and your countdown is complete!
This is a great strategy for engaging with your Instagram followers and getting your audience to opt-in to special events or promotions.
Get more ideas on how to use the Instagram Stories countdown sticker here.
Instagram Stories have released a ton of new features that can be used to your full advantage to boost your engagement and build a stronger community for your brand.
If you want to learn more, check out our free video training to find out how to successfully use Instagram Stories for your business!
#3: Regularly Test and Analyze New Content Types
Some of the best content plans on Instagram come from experimentation.
Testing out new forms of content can feel daunting on Instagram, especially if you feel like you’re onto a good thing and seeing good engagement on your current content strategy.
But trust us: trial, error, and content experiments are key to being ahead of the curve and having a stronger strategy.
For example, on Later’s Instagram profile, we’d previously been using workdays as our core posting schedule. But with a bit of testing, we realised that Sundays were our best days for engagement as we were able to hold our audience’s attention for longer!
So now we choose to share important content and tease out announcements on Sundays, instead of the work week when we know our audience will have other things on their mind.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a couple of ideas you can try out this month:
#1: Test new content types. Memes, quotes, user-generated content, mini-infographics or even a selfie-style video could be great on your grid or stories.
#2: Experiment with video types like Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, and IGTV. Some brands work well with long-form content on IGTV, while others still favor the short and snappy clips. Try something outside of your norm.
#3: Test out different Instagram Stories styles and see if they improve your engagement. For example, see if a chatty BTS resonates with your audience, or if they prefer weekly round-ups.
As you test different content types, don’t forget to regularly check your analytics!
With Later’s Instagram Analytics, you can see how your posts perform over time, and across several metrics like comments, likes, and engagement rate. Plus, you can also get Instagram Stories analytics and track up to 3 months’ worth of content.
Track and measure all of your Instagram performance metrics in one place with Later’s Instagram Analytics!
#4: Add an Element of Fun
Instagram posts take time, effort, and planning to get right. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun!
We’re seeing more and more brands add elements of humor and pop culture references to their posts by adding memes and trending topics to their content.
At Later, we’re actively injecting some fun into our Instagram Stories, and it turns out, you guys love it.
From including AR filters in our stories, to adding memes and GIFs to our feeds, our engagement rates increase when we post something quirky and fun!
Of course, you need to honor your brand’s overall theme and tone — if memes don’t fit in with your brand’s values, then it’s better to leave them out of your strategy and not compromise on your look and feel.
But if you can include some fun moments into your strategy, get ready to see some real returns in your comments, shares, and likes!
#5: Create Shareable Content
The ability for users to share feed posts to their Instagram Stories or DMs is a handy feature that will help you reach even more people.
The key is making content you know your audience will want to repost.
Similar to creating savable content, shareable content needs to be highly related to what your audience likes and needs. Think about infographics, data that could shock or spark intrigue, fun memes, or relatable quotes:
Plus, now you can track and measure how many times your grid post has been shared to stories, making it even easier to track and measure what content is performing the best.
#6: Open Up About Your Brand and Business
The power of authenticity on Instagram is huge — and it’s set to become even stronger in 2021!
We’re seeing tons of brands and businesses getting on board and showing a more honest, real, and vulnerable side to their brand and business.
A high level of authenticity can go a long way in building a stronger connection to your audience, which in turn encourages more engagement.
When you can showcase the good with the bad, the struggles along with the wins, your brand will be more relatable to your audience.
Later chatted to Sarah Nicole of @thebirdspapaya about how she naturally integrates long-form captions into her Instagram feed:
“The last couple of years have brought about a new way of me using Instagram as my creative outlet,” Sarah Nicole explains.
Switching her thought process to “caption first, and image second,” allowed Sarah Nicole to be more journalistic in her approach, while sharing more vulnerable and authentic moments of her life with her followers.
“I think we are craving human connection more and more,” she notes. “When someone else feels connected to something, they want to share it! So the combination of longer-form posts, and the ability for others to share those posts on Instagram Stories, helped me grow organically.”
And micro-blogging in captions has really paid off for Sarah Nicole — in under 2 years, @thebirdspapaya account has grown from 70K to 1.7M followers!
But it’s not just influencers getting on board with the trend.
Brands and businesses are taking to IGTV and Instagram Reels to share more about their company mission, their struggles, and why they do what they do.
For example, Cocokind’s founder Priscilla Tsai is frequently featured in video content speaking about beauty myths, her skincare journey, and how they keep their prices low:
And it’s important to remember that in this case, presence trumps perfection — lots of big accounts are relaxing their aesthetic to deliver a more authentic and “in the moment” post for their audience.
This year, you’ll start to see more business leaders and founders take to Instagram to share the inner workings of the company, host live Q&As or just pop in to say “hi”.
So now’s the time to jump on the bandwagon and start sharing more with your followers to increase your Instagram engagement.
#7: Write Longer Captions
Did you know that your Instagram caption can be up to 2,200 characters long? That’s a whole lot of space to share with your audience.
One of the factors that affects how your Instagram post performs in the algorithm is “time spent on post.”
So one of the easiest ways of improving your Instagram engagement is simply writing longer captions.
We teamed up with influencers marketing platform Fohr to crunch the numbers and determine just how much caption length impacted engagement.
According to Fohr, the average caption length has more than doubled since 2016, and those with longer captions got the most engagement!
And by 2021, our feeds will be filled with an average caption length of 405 characters — which averages out to be 65-70 words!
Not sure what that looks like? Check out how Knix has nailed the perfect caption length with the help of a strong call to action to watch their stories and a nod to a cute cultural moment that their target audience would love!
Now, we’re not saying that every caption has to be thousands of words long, but even writing a full sentence instead of just a few emojis could help you increase Instagram engagement.
#8: Share Data Your Audience Will Love
Posting personalized and data-driven content is a big trend prediction for 2020 and we think it will really help drive engagement too.
Brandon Perlman, founder and CEO of Social Studies, Inc. explains that machine learning and personalized content isn’t going anywhere:
“I foresee quite a bit more data-driven analyses and infographics being shared from real brand advocates, consumers, and fans,” Brian predicts.
A great example of this is Spotify’s Wrapped campaign — “it’s brilliant, informative, personal, utility-driven, custom, shareable, and just slick.”
Ready to try out the trend? Start by looking at your own data. For example, if you’re an online retailer, can you see when people like to shop the most? What made the biggest sale of the month? What percentage of your audience voted for a new product?
From this data, are you able to build a story about it to share with your audience or is there one key stat you know your audience will love?
While producing data-driven content does take some extra time and preparation to execute, it’s well worth the effort when you see your engagement rates rise!
#9: Create More Video Content
2020 was a big year for Instagram video — especially with the introduction of Instagram Reels — and it shows no sign of slowing down.
By incorporating more video content into your content strategy, you’re almost guaranteed to increase engagement on your Instagram profile.
But creating video doesn’t need to feel daunting — in fact, video content can be really easy to make.
For example, Later shared this video post:
By using the Enlight Pixaloop app, we created a video sequence of the clouds passing over the image. This simple tweak transformed a still image into a dynamic video which would get more traction on the grid.
And if you’re getting into Instagram Reels for 2021 (hint: you should be!), don’t forget that they’re designed to be fast and fun, and can be used to captivate your audience with educational content, like Jeannette Ogden’s recipes:
Instagram Reels is a great way to experiment with bite-sized content, explore a new creative video feature, and engage with your community.
Looking for more ways to edit videos for Instagram? Check out our favorite apps to use in this blog post!
#10: Discover Your Best Time to Post
Did you know that you could be limiting your Instagram engagement by posting at the wrong time, or just not regularly enough?
While there are a handful of ways to increase Instagram engagement, posting when your audience is most active is a quick win.
Instagram’s algorithm loves posts that generate a lot of engagement in a short period of time, and will often move that post to the top of your followers’ feeds.
To encourage this, spend some time monitoring and tracking your Instagram analytics to learn when the best time to post is for your audience.
Later’s Best Time to Post feature automatically calculates your 7 top posting times based on your best performing posts from the recent month:
Every Instagram account is made up of unique followers in different time zones, so it’s a great idea to find your personalized best time to post on Instagram. This way, you can reach more people, increase engagement, and grow your brand!
Later’s Best Time to Post feature is available on all paid plans. Upgrade now to find the best days and times to post on Instagram for maximum engagement.
#11: Pay Closer Attention to Your Hashtags
We’ve spoken about the importance of having a strong hashtag strategy on Instagram on this blog before. But are you paying attention to how they’re impacting your content?
If you want to increase your Instagram engagement, understanding which hashtags are driving more people to your posts is really important.
With Later’s Hashtag Analytics, you’re able to track the hashtags you use on each Instagram post. This way, you can see which posts generated the most engagement and the hashtags that accompanied them.
You can also filter your Hashtag Analytics by various metrics including likes, comments, impressions, reach, and saves. This is a great feature to help inform your content strategy, as you’ll know the hashtags to keep using and the ones to leave behind.
The stronger your hashtag game, the more impressions and eyes on your content!
TIP: Later’s Saved Captions is a great way to keep all your hashtags in one place, plus you can search for hashtags and see their popularity right in the caption editing box!
There’s no denying that Instagram is a competitive place, but there are still tons of ways that you can creatively increase your Instagram engagement.
So next time you’re planning and strategizing your Instagram content, try to incorporate these tips and see how your audience responds.
Ready to increase Instagram engagement in 2021? Sign up for Later to schedule posts, track your analytics, and more!
Nikki is Later’s Editorial Manager. She’s worked in digital media in Dublin, London, and Sydney and loves nothing more than hitting “publish” on a new post. When she’s not writing blogs with the Later team, you’ll find her outdoors with her dog, Arlie, or planning her next adventure — follow along on @nikkitravelled.