The Instagram Algorithm Decoded: How to Increase Your Engagement

As an avid Instagram user, you likely spend a reasonable amount of time curating your feed and posts to gain more likes and comments. While your number of followers is significant, engagement is the accurate measure of success on the platform. The Instagram algorithm favours accounts that can keep users active and engaged. The more likes, comments saves, and shares your posts receive, the more Instagram will push your content to new audiences. High engagement is essential for businesses and influencers to build a loyal following and gain new customers or clients. If you want to crack the code and have Instagram work for you through increased exposure and traffic, you need to start optimizing for engagement. The key is understanding how the algorithm works and the factors influencing how your posts are ranked in users’ feeds. You can boost your engagement and gain a competitive advantage by making a few simple changes to your Instagram strategy. In this article, we will explore how the Instagram algorithm determines what posts users see and several proven techniques you can immediately implement to increase your engagement and reach new potential followers.

How the Instagram Algorithm Works

To effectively increase your engagement on Instagram, it’s essential to understand how the algorithm works. Instagram’s algorithm determines what content users see in their feeds and the order in which they see it. The algorithm favours content that is most engaging to users.

The algorithm considers several factors when determining engagement. First, it evaluates the number of likes and comments a post receives, especially within the first few hours of posting. Posts with high likes and comments, especially from followers who often engage with your content, will rank higher in the algorithm.

Second, the algorithm considers the time people spend viewing your post. If viewers watch your entire video or spend time zooming in on your photo, that signals engagement to the algorithm.

Finally, the algorithm looks at how quickly people engage with your post. Rapid likes, views, saves, and comments indicate that your content resonates with your audience.

To increase your engagement:

  1. Focus on posting content that your followers genuinely enjoy and engage with.
  2. Create visually compelling photos and short, exciting videos.
  3. Engage with your followers in the comments.
  4. Run contests and giveaways.
  5. Collaborate with other influencers.
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Be authentic and consistent. Post at optimal times when most of your followers are online. Leverage popular hashtags to reach new audiences, but don’t overtax them.

By understanding how the algorithm works and optimizing your content and engagement strategy, you can master the Instagram algorithm and build a loyal following. With time and practice, increasing your engagement will become second nature.

Post at the Best Times for Maximum Engagement

To maximize engagement on Instagram, posting at optimal times is critical. By analyzing your account’s insights and industry research, you can determine the best times to post for your specific audience.

Generally, the most engagement occurs:

  1. During the workday, such as 10 AM to 3 PM. People check social media during breaks and lunch.
  2. On weekdays, especially Wednesdays and Thursdays. Midweek is when people are most active on social platforms. Weekends see a drop in engagement as people spend less time online.
  3. Within the first hour of posting. About 50% of likes and comments happen shortly after sharing content. So aim to post when most of your followers are online to get maximum visibility.

In addition to the time of day and day of the week, keep the following in mind:

  • Your audience’s time zones and locations. Post when your primary followers are awake and off work or school.
  • Your content type. For example, posts with eye-catching visuals often do best during the evening, while informative content can perform well during work hours.
  • Current events or holidays. Tie your content to trending topics or seasonal events to boost engagement. But avoid posting on significant holidays when many people are away from social media.
  • Your posting frequency. Don’t overload followers with too many posts at once. Space out sharing to 3 posts per day maximum to avoid flooding people’s feeds.

By posting strategically at peak times of high user activity and engagement, you’ll gain more likes, comments, and shares on Instagram. Monitor how your followers respond to find the optimal times unique to your brand and audience. Consistency is key.

Use Hashtags to Increase Discovery

Utilizing relevant hashtags is vital to increase your Instagram posts and profile discovery. Hashtags are a way for people to find content about topics they care about and for your content to be found by new potential followers and engagers.

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Carefully curate a list of 10 to 15 hashtags for each post that directly relates to the content or topic. Popular hashtags with millions of posts may get lost in the mix, so aim for a mix of large, medium and small hashtags. Check analytics to see which hashtags drive your posts’ most engagement.

Some tips for choosing effective hashtags:

  • Do some research on Instagram or a tool like RiteTag to find popular hashtags in your niche. See which ones your competitors or industry leaders are using.
  • Choose a mix of broadly popular hashtags (e.g. #interiordesign #homedecor) and more niche hashtags (e.g. #bohemianstyle #livingroominspo). The niche ones will be less competitive, so your posts have a better chance of appearing at the top.
  • Use a hashtag generator tool to get suggestions based on your keywords and then evaluate which seem most relevant.
  • Check that the hashtags you want to use have a substantial volume of posts to indicate popularity but not millions of posts, which would mean too much competition. A good range is between 10,000 to 2 million posts.
  • Use a mix of hashtags in captions and the first comment. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, so take advantage of them!
  • Be consistent and use some of the same hashtags on each post to build up their ranking and increase the chances of your posts appearing in the top posts for those hashtags.
  • Track your hashtag performance and adjust or replace the underperforming ones. You aim to get as much engagement from hashtags as possible to increase traffic and new followers.

With strategic hashtags, you can connect with new potential followers, increase engagement and build brand awareness on Instagram. Curate relevant hashtags, be consistent, analyze performance and optimize for the best results.

Engage With Your Followers in the Comments

Engaging with your followers in the comments section of your posts is one of the most effective ways to increase your Instagram engagement. Responding to your followers shows them you value their interaction and are an active community member.

Some best practices for engaging with your followers in the comments include:

  • Respond to all comments from your followers, especially in the first few hours after posting. Thank them for their comment or ask a follow-up question to continue the conversation.
  • Like and reply to comments from other followers as well. This shows you’re reading all comments and participating in the discussion.
  • Ask open-ended questions to spark conversation. For example, ask your followers their opinion about your post or brand.
  • Respond to both positive and negative comments. Address any concerns expressed in a professional, constructive manner. Your followers will appreciate your transparency and willingness to engage thoughtfully.
  • Tag other followers in your responses to bring them into the conversation. For example, if two followers have an insightful exchange, tag them both in your reply to highlight their discussion.
  • Use emoji, jokes, and a casual tone to match the overall friendliness of the platform. While responses should remain professional, a little personality will make you more relatable.
  • Thank new followers for their follow in the comments. Let them know you appreciate them joining your community. This personal outreach will make a solid first impression.
  • Promote engagement by liking and replying to comments on your followers’ posts. Show them support, and they will likely reciprocate.
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Instagram engagement, especially in the comments, is a two-way street. Put in the effort to actively and thoughtfully engage with your followers, and they will reward you with higher post reach and a loyal, invested community. Keep the conversion in your comments, and change as your followers become passionate brand advocates.


You now understand how the Instagram algorithm works and how to optimize your content for maximum engagement. You’ll boost your Instagram engagement by posting high-quality, attention-grabbing photos and videos, using relevant hashtags, engaging with your followers, and posting at the best times. With consistency and dedication, you can build a loyal following and turn your Instagram account into an influential platform. Increased engagement will open up more opportunities to partner with brands, gain media exposure, and connect with like-minded individuals. The Instagram algorithm may be complex, but you can make it work with the right strategy. Put these tips into action and watch your Instagram engagement and following grow.


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