Understanding Engagement on Instagram

If you’ve ever spent some time perusing the internet for some help with Instagram, you have almost definitely come across the term “Engagement”. Whether you’re a business looking to grow your page or you’re an influencer wanting to work with brands, engagement is important to understand. Naturally, when we say engagement we aren’t referring to an agreement to get married. So, what exactly does it mean in the context of social media?


In this post, we’ll be explaining what engagement means exactly, and how you can use it to up your social media game!


So what is Engagement, exactly?

In a way, engagement has two meanings. 

  1. How much genuine activity you have on your page in relation to the number of followers you have- also referred to as an engagement rate. This is the definition that is more important for you if you want to grow your Insta (Ie. “Your account has a really high engagement rate”)

  2. How much you interact with other accounts (Ie. “If you want to grow your account, you have to increase your engagement”)


Why does engagement matter?

For one, engagement on your account indicates how many people are genuinely interested in your products or services. You can have 1000 followers, but if you only get 5 likes on each photo, it shows that you aren’t truly reaching your audience and they aren’t active members of your community. The more engagement a post receives early on, the more people the Instagram algorithm will show it to. By aiming for more engagement on your posts, you will have more people seeing the posts that you put so much effort into!


Secondly, engaging from your account (definition b) can help expose your page and build community around your brand which can help you grow your business. 

@righteousgelato does a great job getting their community involved on their Instagram.


What counts as engagement?

Virtually any interaction with a post can count as engagement. 

On a regular feed post, these are the actions that are seen as engagement:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Saves
  • Shares (using the little paper plane icon)
  • Length of time on a post (more time spent reading a caption or looking at the picture)

The buttons below a post are the main ways to engage.

On a story post, these are the actions that count as engagement:

  • Shares
  • Written comment
  • Reaction (the little emoji response you can send)
  • Response to stickers (questions, poll, quiz)
  • Rewatches
  • Watching all the way through a multi-slide story

@calgaryphotos.ca uses a quiz to increase Story engagement

The easiest way to improve your page’s engagement rate

The interesting thing about engagement is that there are TONS of ways that you can improve it. But the ABSOLUTE easiest one (although relatively time-consuming one) is to engage more yourself. 


You read that right! The easiest way to build and grow an engaged audience is to become an engaged audience member! 


EASY! And we’re sharing this with you right now because we are all spending much more time at home than normal, so you hopefully have a little spare time here and there.


Start by going to your followers list, and showing some of the accounts on there a little love! Give them some likes. Drop them a genuine comment or two. It’s that simple. 


This will encourage existing audience members to come interact with your page.


If you want to continue growing your account, search some hashtags or location tags that are related to your business and start engaging. Same as above, leave some likes, add a few valuable comments!


Keep in mind, we say valuable comments. Just leaving a heart or ‘nice pic’ generally appears spammy and can seem like bot behaviour. Try to mention something specific about the photo or relevant to the caption.


Another way to increase your engagement is by getting more eyes on your posts, check out some of our tips on our post ‘Get your Instagram posts seen by more people - Basic Techniques’.


Make your posts easier to find by using the right hashtags, like we outline in ‘Choosing the right hashtags for Instagram’ .


If you think it would be easier to leave your Instagram’s engagement in the hands of an expert, check out our Social Media Management Packages here!


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Michelle Pijanowski

Michelle Pijanowski, better known as PJ, is our go-to girl for all things social. Don’t let her love of gourmet ice cream and appreciation of craft beer fool you! She isn’t your average millennial whose experience starts and ends with an Insta account. A traveller at heart, PJ has always been excited by storytelling and connecting with people from all walks of life. Her passion for content creation started when she accidentally landed an internship in marketing that ended up leading her into the worlds of social media and journalism. Despite not even having a personal Instagram at the time, she immediately fell in love with helping brands grow a community through the power of the internet. She’s worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes, from hotels to restaurants to startups. After years of learning the ins and outs of different social networks and completing her degree in Communication and Media, PJ is stoked to help brands build a human connection with a virtual audience.

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