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[New Study] Instagram Engagement Is Down. What Next?

Instagram engagement is down,  according to a new study.

Is the platform dead, or do your ideas need refreshing?

Well, the good folk over at Later analysed over 81 million Instagram feed posts between 2021 and 2022 and delivered some answers to your questions.

A head’s up, though, Reels were excluded from the study – but in case you’re wondering, yes. You do need a Reels content strategy. Or better still, have an overall integrated one that factors in Reels.

Carousel posts are best for engagement

According to 44 million Instagram feed posts looked at between Jan 1, 2021, and Feb 28, 2022, carousel posts have a higher average engagement rate than all feed post types.

Interestingly, images also perform better than video feed posts (excluding Reels).

  • Carousel = 3.11% average engagement rate.
  • Image = 2.76% average engagement rate.
  • Video = 2.60% average engagement rate.

Although, that doesn’t mean to say that video doesn’t have the potential to drive high organic reach and impressions, as Meta recalibrates its algorithms to be video first.

Looking back to 2020, Later found that average engagement rates have dropped for all post types over the last two years. It also showed that carousel posts have always been the most attractive, so that’s where you need to place your attention.

At this point, it should be noted that Later defines its Instagram engagement rate as like plus comments divided by follower count.

What is to blame for lower engagement?

The good news is that it’s not your overworked social media manager’s fault that engagement levels have slipped! Results are down across the board, year-on-year. A reason for this could be Instagram Reels.

Instagram is placing such a massive emphasis on ensuring its TikTok clone is a success that any non-Reel post has been relegated to the back seat. It’s that simple!

Use more carousels

Carousels have consistently performed well over the last few years, and are still doing so, so that should indicate that you need to get on board with them.

They perform well because users will spend more time swiping through a carousel post than a single photo, thus increasing time spent on your content, and carousel posts often appear in a user’s feed more than once (which doubles the engagement opportunity).

As a bonus, they often appear more authentic and personable. Just see the rise in the photo dump trend for evidence!

Want to use more carousels but not sure how? Here are three recommendations from Later.

  1. Get friendly with user-generated content (UGC). UGC is a great way to boost engagement, promote products and increase brand loyalty. Do this by posting a carousel of the best posts you’ve been tagged in, which will help highlight your community and display your products in a more natural way.
  2. Embrace photo dumps. Photo dumps can be your chance to present a less polished, formal and corporate side to your brand. You should embrace it.
  3. Give followers a peek behind the curtain. Your users may be curious to see how your brand is run, so show them how you dream up new products and how you tackle your biggest jobs! Don’t be scared to be real.

Get back on track

According to the guns over at Later, if your engagement is off and you’re struggling to get it back up to old levels, here are five ways to counteract that.

  1. Reels, Reels, Reels. Don’t be afraid of Reels. Instagram loves them and loves promoting them, so the more you publish to your feed, the better you’ll do. Look to repurpose top-performing posts in Reels and get working!
  2. Get serious about Instagram SEO. If you want to improve your organic reach, you need to be showing up in Instagram’s suggested content feed. To do that, you need to increase discoverability by paying attention to the keywords you use.
  3. Remove spam followers. Instagram engagement is all about followers, so if you have inactive or spam accounts following you, get rid of them. A large following is only good if they’re engaged and it’s better to be small but loyal. Remember that.
  4. Use carousel posts. We’ve spoken about this a lot, but in case it hasn’t sunk in, yeah. Use carousel posts.
  5. Hit your audience when they’re most engaged. Study when your audience is the most engaged, and then hit them when they’re at that sweet spot! Your numbers will thank you.

So, there you have it. Engagement may be down, but it’s down for everyone and there are tools you can use to get it back up there. Happy Friday.

*Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash.

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