Boost Instagram Engagement: 7 Tricks From A Marketing Agency

Mitchel White
February 12, 2019

I’m guessing you’re here because you know that engagement is key to growing your Instagram account.

So many people and businesses get blinkered into just growing their follower numbers when it comes to boosting Instagram engagement, but what you rather have? Millions of followers and 50 likes or 10k followers with 1,000+ likes? I know which I’d choose.

As a marketing agency owner you can imagine we get a lot of people asking us to grow their Instagram accounts. The first thing we do is look at what they’re posting, what they do to engage with other accounts and what their stats are like.

Usually it’s the same story – they post infrequently, they use the same hashtags all the time and they don’t engage with other accounts.

Most businesses using Instagram are using it as an advertising channel. They need to stop.

They’re posting their average looking content out to fake followers and hoping for the best. They don’t check their insights, they don’t respond quickly to comments and they definitely don’t know how to use stickers to boost engagement.

If you’re stuck using some of these bad habits, it’s okay. But stop. Please.

Use some of these tried and tested tricks and engagement boosting strategies we’ve honed over the past years working with brands across different sectors from fitness to interiors.

How can you boost Instagram engagement?

Boosting Instagram engagement starts by rethinking your reasons for using social media. The best Instagram accounts have great engagement because they focus on providing value to their audience.

How? By producing content their followers love. Using research and post insights, the best Instagrammers are able to grow and maintain engagement over time.

Don’t be boring: inject some personality

One of the key challenges we’ve seen over the years is brands trying to be like everyone else. Whilst using trends to make better content decisions is a good idea, your Instagram should be as unique as your brand.

If your brand was a person would it wear muted pastels or bright eye catching colours? What sort of identity does your brand have? Having a consistent palette of colours and imagery is a good way to create a unique look for your Instagram.

Write better captions

Injecting personality into your posts leads us nicely onto our second tip: writing better captions.

Whilst Gymshark can get away with one line captions like “Be A Visionary”, the chances of your brand being able to get away with the same are pretty slim.

  • Use longer captions

Use your captions to add value to your posts.

If you’re a fitness brand or influencer – you could post your workouts and breakdown of reps and sets. If you’re a services business give away a little bit of your process in a post people can save and look back at using Instagrams “Saved” posts feature (the little black bookmark icon).

To break up your longer captions use line breaks.

  • Ask questions and have a clear call to action

To boost the number of comments on your posts, ask a question and have a clear call to action (CTA). Even asking followers to leave a comment is a call to action.

Follow, like and comment on relevant accounts

The easiest way to boost your Instagram engagement? Engage with other people’s accounts and stop focusing on your own so much.

Real life relationships aren’t one sided – you need to pay some interest in what the other person has going on. The same goes for building brand relationships with Instagram.

Steal a part of the engagement process we use at Reward for our Instagram growth clients:

  • Search relevant hashtags: we search for hashtags in the client’s niche and follow those hashtags to keep up to date with the accounts using them in their posts.
  • Follow relevant accounts: once we’ve identified accounts using relevant hashtags, we filter out competitor accounts and follow accounts in the client’s target demographic.
  • Comment or like relevant content: without being too creepy, we engage with the newly followed accounts over time to build an awareness of our client. It might start with a like on the last post and then comments on new and previous posts.

Mix up long tail and popular hashtags

A lot of businesses we deal with have been using the same hashtags for years and wonder why their engagement has stayed the same. Switch up your hashtags and keep track of new ones.

Mix long tail (these are the longer hashtags like #fitnessgirlsmotivation) and more popular hashtags like #fitness to make sure more of your target audience see your posts. The chances of your content being seen in a search for #fitness are a lot lower than #fitnessgirlsmotivation.

When you type in #fitness Instagram will show you related hashtags – this is the ideal place to find hashtags that you’re more likely to be found in. Keep clicking through these suggestions until you find a hashtag with fewer than 100,000 posts.

Focus on finding hashtags that you have a chance of being seen in.

Monitor engagement

If you’ve already got content on your profile you’re not starting from scratch, you have data at your disposal. A simple look at your most liked and commented content will give you an idea of what people like the most, so post more content like that.

Tools like Iconosquare are great for monitoring engagement.

The best Instagrammers know what their audience want and give them more of the same.

A word of caution… when engagement starts to drop off, change things up. Constantly test and tweak to improve your content and make sure your audience is still enjoying it.

Find your best time to post

The days and times you post your content on Instagram can have a big impact on your posts’ engagement. Tools like Iconosquare will show you when your posts are performing better and when your audience is most active.

Although different niches perform better at different times, there are consistent times when Instagram’s user base is most active and when your audience is more likely to engage.

Here’s some data from Sprout Social on the best times to post on Instagram:

  • The best time to post on Instagram is Wednesday at 3 p.m., Thursday at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., and 3 to 4 p.m. and Friday at 5 a.m.
  • Thursday is the best day to post to Instagram.
  • Sunday is the least engaging day for Instagram.

Be more authentic with stories

Whilst your content and imagery needs to be consistent you can have more fun with your stories. This is your chance to go all out with engagement and forget being a perfectionist for a second.

Show your audience behind the scenes in your business, put your customers and employees centre stage. Show part of your process, show your warehouse or your working from home set up.

The biggest influencers use their stories to give their followers an insight into their life – your brand account can do the same. Use stickers, polls and countdowns in your stories to get people engaging.

The best brand conversations are happening in direct message (DM) conversations – a chance for you to answer any burning questions about your brand and build a genuine relationship with your audience.


Boosting engagement on your Instagram account isn’t as hard as some people might have you think.

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