Why we need to stop taking Instagram engagement personally

You see your engagement down. You’re googling tips to increase your engagement. You’re spending your spare moments making sure you’re liking, commenting and engaging (authentically!) on the app, but nothing. You blame the algorithm but you’re not quite sure what you need to do to make a change.

Guess what? It’s time that we stopped blaming an algorithm we have no say in. And it’s definitely time we stopped trying to cheat the system.

Pro tip: you won’t “beat” Instagram’s algorithm, it’s an ever learning, and intelligent, machine. Try as you might you won’t outsmart it. 

The days of trying to outsmart the algorithm are over and instead it’s time to work with it. Let’s take a look at exactly what Instagram engagement is and why it is important to grow authentically. Also, why you need to stop comparing yourself to others who maybe aren’t being quite as honest as you would hope.

Engagement is a moving target

Instagram engagement is such a common question: How can I increase it and why does it keep dropping? So I want to share a little about the elusive Instagram algorithm. The Instagram algorithm is a learning machine. It’s about time we stopped blaming the algorithm for everything we don’t love and instead work with it. People often post about “beating the algorithm” and I am here to tell you there is no such thing. Whatever you do to “beat” it will become a learned behaviour, or even worse will be flagged as inauthentic engagement. So next time you see anything asking for likes for likes, beating the algorithm just scroll right past. 

Engagement is a moving target and it’s hard to diagnose why one post could be seen by thousands in your audience and another will barely graze 1000. It can be such a vast amount of reasons from hashtags, to timing. Don’t let a low engaged post slow you down, by all means look at what the post was about but don’t let it deter you from sharing your message. You are needed in this world and your correct audience will find you. 

Your audience might be changing

If you are changing in yourself or in your content then for a period of time you might have to take an engagement hit, while your audience either adapts or changes. When you change your niche there will of course people who won’t be interested and therefore might stop interacting and might unfollow you altogether.

Please don’t worry about people unfollowing you, there can be so many reasons why, and I always think about it as I would hate someone to continue following me if I made them feel anything but awesome and inspired. If they need to unfollow me for their own mental health then I appreciate that and I wish them well. Your audience is going to forever be coming and going and I urge you to steer clear from looking at that number too much – I know the illusive 10k is what everyone strives for and I know the swipe up is alluring but it really isn’t the be all and end all. Focus on a real, engaged community and serving that audience the best you can.

Growing pains can be common

It’s not unusual for me to get 500 likes on one post and the next one 150 and then 200, before up to 400. Engagement isn’t fixed so if you’re comparing yourself to an account that consistently sees the same amount of likes this could just be their normal. Or there could be an inauthentic reason behind this. The underlying cause isn’t easy to diagnose but something you can do is stop comparing yourself to other people on the internet. Focus on educating, inspiring and serving your audience and stay in your own lane. Cracking high engagement or growing your audience can’t be cheated. For those that are trying to have themselves caught in a trap. Instagram has recently updated and is cracking down big time on people using inauthentic means for their engagement, such as engagement pods or bots). Authenticity all the way and you will reap the rewards.

What you can do, whether your engagement is low or not

You have to be being social on Instagram. That means talking to the people who take time out of their lives to comment on your posts. Your audience deserves a couple of seconds of your time. They have gone out of their way to comment on the post. Especially a post that you probably spent great time and effort creating. The same goes for stories, if someone takes the effort to comment please reply back.

Commenting back is the creme de la creme

Often people go to great lengths to reply on a post and the account holder will just like it and move on. Liking is great but it isn’t enough and your engaged audience deserves more. Obviously conversations come to natural ends but please at least acknowledge that initial comment with a reply. The same goes for stories. If someone replies with a written reply please make the space to reply to them. We are all busy people so respect that time taken to comment on your content.

Not only is it polite but it goes some way to building long lasting friendships with your audience. Imagine you are consistently taking the time to comment on someone’s content and they consistently don’t reply. Over time you will probably end up not commenting anymore, because honestly what is the point, right? Instagram then see’s this and thinks that you don’t want to see this person. It will show their content less and less, until it will eventually disappear altogether. The algorithm is always learning. So see how engagement can start to drop? By replying you will keep your audience engaged. They will continue to comment and support your posts and feel valued. As by-product your content will continue to show up in their feeds. 

Moving forward

Eventually, by being authentic and engaging with your followers, you will start to see a community form. People can get so caught up with the vanity metrics, the likes and follows, but the real importance comes from the connections you create. Stop worrying about the things that don’t matter and focus on being authentically you. Before you know it you’ll have that thriving community you’ve been seeking.

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