Feeling like things are a bit flat on Instagram right now? You are not alone. I polled my story audience on Sunday evening and into Monday (in late September 2021) and 93% of respondents said general overwhelm (life??), together with a flatness on Instagram were evident. They also opted for receiving more tips on increasing Instagram engagement than anything else. Does that make you feel a bit better? You are clearly not alone. Is everyone just exhausted with trying to keep up with it all?


What is engagement?

But first, what are we talking about when we talk about engagement on Instagram? It’s the action or activity that happens around your account. It’s comments, likes, saves and shares in posts and video content, it’s interaction with stories including use of the engagement stickers, direct messages and clicks out to more content or onto shopping tags.

So here’s the tips…

Ask yourself these questions about Instagram engagement.

1. Are you creating engagement worthy content? Are you giving your audience something to connect and engage with?


2. Are you helping or educating them? Giving them something that will make life easier? Are you inspiring them? Creating an opportunity for smiles? Are you bringing nods of connection, a sense of reality “yep it’s like that for me too” sort of stuff. Are you leaning into current trends, news?

Graphic showing 3 iphone screens, the first showing Reel of Sarah comparing herself to others, the second Sarah's Instagram grid to show making life easier and third, leaning into trends a reel created of Sarah leaning into video.

Stories are a great place to engage.

Here you have the opportunity to spark real conversation both on your account and others too.

    1. Use the engagement stickers. Quick easy ways to make the content interactive.
    2. Loosen up your content a little. This is your place to be totally you. This is behind the sparkly shop window and a foot into the day to day.
    3. Ask for input and ideas from your audience. Let them help you solve a problem E.g. what shall I call my newsletter? Shall we work on this new product or that one next?
    4. Dip into your broader content segments in stories. Here’s where you get to really connect with individuals. Share dinner inspiration, what you’re watching on TV, the books you read, the places you have been. Share flowers – they always get a lot of love. People are nosy and love to engage with real life. And don’t worry you do not need to open up more of your life that you are comfortable with. Just a touch.
    5. How about a quiz? A series of playful stories asking for your audience to pick an answer. Maybe it’s about your industry or maybe it’s about something topical right now… cue ‘petrol shortage fiasco’.

Increasing engagement on Instagram posts and reels.

My biggest tip would be to share other people’s posts (clearly crediting them of course). Content that is relevant and of interest to your audience. Share and you’ll be shared back, because as with everything, what you put out into the world usually comes back.

I’d like to say this has been a key strategy for me. It’s definitely been something that has hugely impacted my growth in a positive way but if I’m honest it wasn’t that well thought out. I’ve just shared great content along the way that added value to what I was already sharing. I know what you, my audience needs from me and if someone adds something useful or inspiring that I know will help then I share. Still it’s a great strategy and it’s effective.


What else can you do to attract engagement?

  • Be conversational.
    • Instead of trying to always focus on your product, teach or educate, simply ask a question and let your audience work out the answer together. I did this with the post I’ve shown below about whether Instagram grid designs matter or not and it encouraged some fantastic conversation. View post here>
  • Include a call to action.
    • Always include a note about what you would like the audience to do next. Invite conversation.
  • Respond to those who comment.
    • They’ve taken the time to add their thoughts. Make time to thank them, to reply or even to DM them. You could also hop over onto their account and comment on a post of theirs.

Be you. Totally you

There is no room for stuffiness or being stand offish. You have to get in there and be authentic. Just you. Even as a bigger brand, peel back the surface layer and allow your customer in. Give them something to connect with, to engage with. A person to connect with. I know I’d much rather support a business where I’ve connected with a person. They might have inspired me, made me laugh, educated me, shown me the love they put into designing their gorgeous products. The product or service becomes so much more. It becomes memorable, there’s a feel, an emotive story to hold.

It takes time and effort

I’ve said this many times. Social media marketing isn’t free. In place of funds, there’s time and as we all know time is money. Engagement levels won’t increase on Instagram just from opening the app and posting content. Arrive at the event, chat to people, show kindness and generosity and that is what brings engagement. Time and effort.

Who is doing it well?

I asked myself this question and there’s many beautiful businesses in my community I could speak of. Women who have made the effort to connect, really connect and to become something more than a member of my community. They are consistent in their support. They even send me ideas for content and workshops, tips for coping with my daughter’s meltdowns, an occasional thank you for the content I’ve created.

And in turn when I need mascara, I head back to Heather. When I need a gift I look at what Zoe has in store, when I have no idea how to make my office look nice I call Mary… you get the picture. Find your customer, know your customer, give them what they need and do something to truly connect with them.

A final thought

Try something new if everything feels a little bit stale . Take ‘one small step’ out of your comfort zone and try doing something a little differently.

For more tips on growing your Instagram community, connect with me on Instagram @sarahrichardssocial.

For help creating engagement worthy content, book a Content Power hour and let’s get started together.