9 (Free) Ways To Maximise Instagram Engagement

April 1, 2021

You want to increase your engagement rate on Instagram (who doesn’t?).

And we’re going to show you how.

A high engagement rate is one of the most important metrics whether you’re growing your own brand’s social media profiles, or looking to partner with an influencer for your next influencer marketing campaign.

More than proof that your brand is being seen and appreciated by a large audience, high engagement rates help drive interactions. From clicks through to your website to products flying off the shelves, the higher your engagement rate, the more opportunities there are for you to grow.

Here are 9 free ways to maximise your Instagram engagement (that don’t involve buying fake followers, using sneaky bots, or following thousands of accounts a day).

#1 - Avoid wasting time on vanity choices

You’ve just spent 45 minutes thinking up the perfect caption or choosing the perfect Instagram filter. This feels like you’re kicking brand goals...but is that time well spent?

While staying on-brand is important, these time-sucking tasks fall into the category of ‘vanity choices’. And spending your valuable time on these small choices can end up wasting time you could be spending building connections with your audience and growing your social media presence. While it’s nice to look nice, it’s staying in touch with your followers and building authentic connections that will help drive engagement.

The Influencer Agency Tip: Follow the 80/20 rule to be efficient with your time. Spend 80% of your time on Instagram engaging (ie. commenting, liking, following, and responding) and 20% posting. Tools like Plann can help you curate, plan, and schedule your posts to get more done in less time.

#2 - Ask your followers questions

Did you know that talking about yourself releases the same feel-good chemicals as a workout?

You can use this bio-hack to your advantage to drive Instagram engagement by asking your followers questions and encouraging them to talk about themselves. The more insightful and enticing questions you ask, the more engagement you’ll see!

For example, when captioning your next post, look to finish with an open-ended question rather than a statement. This could be asking people what they feel about the subject of your post, asking people if they have any relevant experiences, or asking people for tips on the topic. 

Asking questions is also a powerful tool for boosting engagement that you can leverage in your IG stories. Try adding a poll, quiz, or question stickers to encourage people to interact with your story. This is great for your engagement rate but also helps to build a community of followers who get excited when you post. Win-win.


#3 - Never ‘post and ghost’

Posting and ghosting is the catchy name for when you publish your latest content then close the app and leave your followers with nothing but radio silence. It’s a BIG no-no if you want to boost engagement because it removes you from the conversation at the most important time.


The 15 to 20 minute period after you post content is when your audience will start liking and commenting. If you’re not around, your comment section becomes a one-sided conversation that no one wants to be a part of. But, if you’re around to reply and spark conversation, your comment section becomes a hive of activity - and that’s great for getting your posts seen by the widest possible audience.

#4 - Become a DM Demon

Leaving your followers on ‘read’ isn’t just poor customer service, it’s also missing out on easy engagement wins. If your audience has reached out with a question or comment, you can showcase your authority and accessibility by replying. Obviously, this isn’t possible if you have thousands of messages a day or creepy requests in your inbox, but make time (or find someone to make time) to check for the most relevant and important DM’s.

This could be a question about your new product launch, a shipping order request, or feedback on your content. When you reply to DMs, you show your followers that you care about them. This makes them more likely to care about your brand in the form of likes, comments, and shares.

P.S It’s rumoured that the ‘gram Gods look favourably on users who respond to their messages, so make time to slide into your follower’s DMs to get your engagement rate rising.

#5 - Create a content calendar

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s definitely on a bumper sticker somewhere, but it’s also true. Posting randomly and expecting a spike in engagement sounds good in theory, but won’t work in reality.

A social media calendar can help you boost your engagement for several reasons. Firstly, you can create content around key dates to be part of the conversation. For example, in the lead-up to Christmas, any major holidays, or major cultural/sporting events. Secondly, a content calendar helps you see your social footprint from 500 feet. Stepping back and seeing the bigger picture will let you see what content is working, and what belongs in the bin.


#6 - Use Stories and ephemeral content

Not using the Story feature on IG or Facebook? You’re missing out on a seriously powerful engagement tool.

Over 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories...every single day! Although this content has a short shelf-life (known as ephemeral content), your audience loves engaging with them as 70% of IG users watch Stories daily. Better still, Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri, has confirmed that Story posts receive MORE reach than posts on your feed.

Keep in mind, you can’t post any old content and wait for a notification party. You need to post Story content that resonates with your followers. Staying on brand is half the battle, and the other half is driving engagement through creative strategies from interactive stickers (polls, questions, and quizzes), or even the new ‘chat’ feature which allows your audience to get in touch.

#7 - Start making and sharing videos

Did you know that video receives 48% more engagement than photos on social media?

Well, now you do. So start incorporating video content into your regular schedule. 9 out of 10 consumers want to see MORE videos from brands and businesses and IG makes it easy to embrace video content. Whether it’s using IG TV to explore long-form videos or posting short video content to your feed to catch attention, branded video content can help drive serious engagement.

The Influencer Agency Tip: You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg to create awesome video content. If you’re got an iPhone, you can start recording video. Get creative when coming up with ideas. Customer testimonials, unboxing reviews, behind-the-scenes access to events - if there’s a moment to be captured, capture it!

#8 - Be yourself (there’s no one like you)

Did you know that 91% of social media users say they’re willing to reward a brand for its authenticity with a purchase or endorsement?

That means polished professional photos and crisp HD video aren’t required to form lasting connections. You can build your audience (one that loves engaging with you) with real and raw content. The quality of the average smartphone means you can snap photos of your business, introduce your team, and film short videos without worrying it will look unprofessional.

When you show the REAL you (not the highly curated version that you think people want to see), you’ll start building loyal followers who appreciate and admire your authentic self.


#9 - Create AMAZING content

This may sound obvious, but brands often get this most important step wrong. If you want people to engage with your content, you need to make awesome, eye-catching content worth engaging with.

There’s no way to “hack” your way to engagement without putting in the work. Great content is the foundation, and the tips we’ve outlined in this article help amplify that content. Get this step wrong, and no amount of optimising or tweaking will help you.

But don’t let that intimidate you!. You’ve already got an awesome brand that people want to learn about. Now it’s time to capture that feeling and turn it into content that people will love. Whether it’s static images, video content, interactive content, or something else entirely, engagement starts and ends with making content that’s simply impossible to ignore.

Looking to create hype and engagement for your brand? Click here to learn how The Influencer Agency can help.

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