So, your Instagram engagement is rubbish?
Hi darlings, in celebration of what is possibly THE most instagrammable place I’ve ever come across (but also, with the least instagram friendly staff – typical! – we got told off within 3 minute of getting the camera out!) I thought I’d share some thoughts on Instagram engagement. I see a LOT of posts complaining about the algorithm, and yes, the algorithm exists and DOES limit your engagement and prevent growth like it used to (because Instagram is a business and wants you to pay to promote your posts) but complaining about it is going to do precisely nothing to help – sorry, but it isn’t!
Today, after a glass of rosé or two, I’m going to share my rather brutal thoughts on why your engagement might be low, what you can do about it, but also, quite frankly, why it’s really NOT the end of the world and not worth getting stressed about. Instagram is literally part of my job, but you’ll never catch me complaining about low engagement. Do I have the most fabulous engagement ever on my Instagram? Probably not, but I have never compared my engagement to others with a similar follower count, I’m personally happy with my content, my audience reaction to my content, and the collaborations that I’m working on, and that’s all that matters.
First takeaway from this blog post – don’t let it stress you out so much!! It’s really not the end of the world. It’s literally an app. Focus on other things, put your phone down. Put your energy into your blog, your YouTube channel, anything else! REMEMBER you don’t own your Instagram page, Instagram does, so don’t rely on this as your job / main source of income.
Brutal honesty aside, let’s talk numbers. Is your engagement REALLY that low? Let’s look at the average engagement rates across the various following numbers, according to FOHR:
1 – 5k followers // engagement 9.6% // 96 – 480 likes & comments
5 – 10k followers // engagement 3.37% // 169 – 337 likes & comments
10 – 25k followers // engagement 2.27% // 227 – 586 likes & comments
25 – 100k followers // engagement 2.98% // 745 – 2980 likes & comments
100 – 250k followers // engagement 1.68% // 1680 – 4200 likes & comments
250 – 500k followers // engagement 1.86% // 4650 – 9300 likes & comments
500k – 1m followers // engagement 1.71% // 8550 – 17100 likes & comments
1m+ followers // engagement 1.84% // 17k+likes & comments
If you’re below this, then yes, by industry standards your engagement is low, but how should you handle it?
The first thing you need to do, is create content that will engage your audience (duh!). Focus on creating something new; try to find a ‘winning’ piece of content to switch up the algorithm. What works well for you? Look at your best performing content and recreate something similar. Is it an iPhone photo? Is it in a certain location? A certain kind of outfit? Retrain the algorithm by creating a series of this kind of photo that will serve you lots of likes. I’ve found that less ‘professional’ imagery performs best for me. Personally, I don’t love the quality of iPhone photos, and yet some of my most liked photos include those super quick, taken in the mirror shots. They’re attainable, they’re quickly edited, and they’re showcasing the kind of image that everyone can create. Sometimes, if people can’t relate, they won’t engage. Not everyone has a photographer following them around to take candid 4k shots of them posing on a boat you know… (yes, I’m picking fun at myself, not anyone else – don’t worry).
STOP posting the kind of content that doesn’t get engagement. Are you doing dodgy ads for products that you’ve not tried before, or don’t sit well with your brand? Are you posting the same old bath photo or avocado toast flatlay? Switch it up! If you’re posting content that worked for you 3 years ago, chances are your audience is bored. Before you accept that ‘easy money’ campaign, think about whether your audience are going to be inspired by that piece of content? I know it’s not easy to turn down money, but if you’re in the position to do so, think about how these ads could actually hinder your growth and future earning potential. Create content YOU love, think about if it is going to enhance, or damage your brand? If it’s the latter, consider politely declining the advertisement opportunity.
I may get in trouble for saying this, but I have to say that the people I see complaining the most about the algorithm are those that post the most bonkers ads on their feed – please guys – don’t pose next to a pack of vitamins and then complain that your engagement is low.
People go to instagram for inspiration, not to be advertised to, so I’m glad I got that one off my chest, but the next point has to do with originality. If you’re posting the same content as YOURSELF from 3 years ago, that’s one thing, but if you’re posting the same content as someone else, that’s another. Copycats are rife in every industry, but on Instagram it’s just more public. Now I know, there are obviously ‘insta famous’ places that we all love to get a snap, and I myself have done this many times (Dubai Magic Garden, Provence Lavender Fields, and most recently Es Vedra in Ibiza), and it’s irresistible because these places are instafamous for a reason – they’re beautiful! But don’t create a carbon copy of an image that’s already been shot there. Shoot these places in your style!
There have been plenty of copycat scandals in the Instagram world, and these copycats will never become as successful as those they’re imitating, because the content they’re creating has already been seen before. The world doesn’t need another JosieLDN instagram page, or whoevers, so create your OWN content – something unique, and different and inspiring to your audience.
A final word on working with brands when your engagement is low.
If a brand approaches you to work with you, then you don’t need to highlight your low engagement. It’s their job to research! They’re probably looking at your quality of content or the sales you’re driving and have already decided that they’re happy to work with you. If you’re pitching yourself for campaigns, then you may want to address it, if your engagement isn’t what it was when you set your fees, perhaps highlight this within your pitch, and adjust your prices with a percentage discount accordingly?
Remember, brands don’t only work with you for your following number and your engagement. I know for a fact that most of my campaigns are because of my ability to SELL high volumes of product, and produce high quality imagery that brands like to repurpose, and not just because of the amount of likes and comments a picture will garner. Have pride in your brand campaigns, aim for repeat custom with a few of your favourite brands, rather than a new ad with a different brand every week. When you get a campaign with a brand you love, go over and above what’s asked of you. You’re probably already featuring the product organically because you love the brand, and now they want to pay you – hurrah! So create STUNNING imagery, do extra stories, include the promotional product in your videos.
Wow, I feel like I’ve got a lot off my chest here darlings, I hope you’ve found this useful, and interesting, and I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Should I write more blog posts after a couple of glasses of rosé?!