How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement Levels Like the Pros


Engagement is key when it comes to building a following on any social media platform, and it is not just a one-way street.

Content creators need to be engaging with others just as much, if not more so than the amount of engagement they are hoping to receive on their account.

adidas instagram engagement score
Adidas‘ engagement score is average for an account of their size.

Everyone is trying to get the drop on how to keep their engagement levels high and keep their audience interested and absorbed in their content.

The above score was generated by Phlanx, a free tool that tracks your engagement levels.


What is an Engagement Score?

An engagement score is a simple calculation that takes into account any form of interaction on your profile.

Generally, it is worked out like this:

engagement formula

We don’t like to blow our own horn, but we have gotten some insane results for ourselves and our users, which means we have done all the hard work for you in terms of figuring it all out.

We have made the mistakes and tried all the tricks in the book so you don’t have to.


How to Increase Instagram Engagement

Let’s jump straight in.

Here’s our list of what we want you to focus on:

  1. Start conversations
  2. Give people the juicy details
  3. Experiment with content
  4. Write longer captions
  5. Schedule content

If you want to, you could stop reading here and just go away and get on with it, but if you want a bit more advice to help you get started then keep reading.


Start Conversations On Instagram

We say this time and time again, Instagram is a SOCIAL platform, so you have to socialise and interact with people within the community.

If you think you can throw up a few posts your work is done, you are gravely mistaken, unless of course, you are a celebrity or someone making radically new content.

You should be conversing with people everywhere, in the comments section, via Instagram Stories, via DMs, email, even in your Instagram bio.

Depending on how good your French is, you will see in the above post that the Instagrammer is doing a free give away, and to enter you simply follow 8 partner accounts and tag your friends.

This is quite a bold example of a follow to win prize, however, Instagrammers very often collaborate in this way in order to boost each other’s following and engagement.

Instagram Engagement
Here you can see this Instagrammer replying to comments.

People love to see creators popping up in the comments section of their own posts and the posts of others, regardless of the size of the account.

If you are a small to medium-sized account with say 5,000 to 10,000 followers, you are in a great position to build yourself up as a recognised figure amongst the community.

Get to it, start replying to Instagram stories, start asking questions via DM, just start ENGAGING with people, and you will be surprised how many engage back.


Give People Details and Be Honest

In case you hadn’t noticed, people have become increasingly interested in other people’s lives.

And we’re not just talking about the good bits, people want to see all the gory details that other people go through.

The embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, the drunken mishaps, the temper tantrums, the aches and pains, everything that goes into ordinary everyday life.

Especially if you can do it in a way that is funny and relatable, which makes people feel better about their own problems as they feel that they are not alone in their misery.

One of the easiest ways of making people laugh is to humour them at your own expense, so don’t be shy and start sharing all those forgotten memories that make you cringe.

Trust us, people will love them, and remember they are not always laughing at you, they will usually have experienced something similar and your anecdote might just help them relive that memory.

be honest

Experiment With Instagram Content

We know we have said in the past that it is important to develop your own aesthetic and feel to your content, but bear with us on this one.

Instagram channels can become predictable and slow when the creators become obsessed with keeping to their carefully crafted content style.

We think that some of the best accounts out there are not just a sterile collection of images with no variation.

We reckon a good account can throw in a few curveballs and show some daring content once in a while.

The beauty of this approach is that once you have done a few test pilot posts, you can build up an understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

An to tie in with our first engagement recommendation, ask your audience what they think of your new content and ask for ideas of what they would like to see.

Your audience is one of your best assets!


Write Longer Instagram Captions

We say this one all the time.

If you want to keep up with the pros on Instagram, you have to get your caption game on point.

Captions are more than just a story or a description.

Captions keep your audience’s attention, and they lead them through your content in a way that is user-friendly in a narrative way.

View this post on Instagram

“I just want to live under the same roof with my son and his mom. We’re living apart right now while I look for a place we can afford. But it’s been over two years now. It’s hard on our relationship. I hardly ever get to see my son. I work at the post office. That’s the ‘US Government.’ You think I’d be able to find a place for us to live. But you go to a handful of apartments, and you realize it’s all the same. They want credit this. Background that. But that’s not even the issue for me. It’s the rent. They expect your salary to be ten times the price of rent. It’s like c’mon, man. Only a certain class of people can afford that. You’re telling me who you want. And it’s not me. I tried to go the affordable housing route. But that’s a ‘wait list’ situation. I got one call back in three years—and I made $300 too much. So apparently you have to be dead poor or incredibly rich to find an apartment. We even thought about going the shelter route. Just go all the way under. Just to be together. But I didn’t want to risk it. It’s not safe enough for my son. So I just throw up my hands. It’s hard to know where to point the finger. It’s on me, I guess. I've got to figure out how to make as much as possible to provide the bare necessities. But I’ve tried everything in my power. I’m not sure what else to do.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Captions provide understanding and context, as well as provoking questions and encouraging people to share their experiences with the community.

If you want to get people commenting on your post, you have to show that you are engaged first, and the caption is what starts this conversation.

Please don’t overdo it, but make sure your captions consist of good, relatable and honest anecdotes or information that people want to read.


Schedule Instagram Content

We always abide by the five P’s:


Scheduling frees up your time so you can focus on creating great content.

And the same rule applies to your Instagram handle.

One of the easiest ways to consistently put out content that wows your audience and gets them engaging is to schedule your content.

Generally, people like predictability and post scheduling is a great way of reaching your audience at the same time every day, as well as working around Instagram’s algorithm.

Instagram doesn’t actually let you schedule content from the app, yet (hint hint Insta devs).

But thankfully there are a few great scheduling tools that make it incredibly easy to set up your posts for the next week, month, even year if you are so inclined.

schedule calender
Our IBF scheduler in Calendar View.

Of course, you do need to have a stash of content already in the pipeline, but really you should be doing this anyway.

Try scheduling on different days and see what kind of engagement you get, or if you are a daily poster, try to post at peak times.

Remember that times zones are a thing, and you may need to do some experimenting to determine your most effective time slot.


The Verdict

For the vast majority of Instagram users who achieve influencer status, Instagram is serious work.

It is not just snapping a few cute pics and away you go.

You have to put time and effort into the platform if you want to see results back.

Thankfully, IBF can do a lot of this hard work for you.

The clever IBF bot is like the Robin to your Batman, except it is actually much better than you at everything.

Well, almost everything.

batman duck