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Instagram Influencer Marketing

Declining Instagram Engagement? Here’s What You Should Do

Here are our tips to help you “beat” the Instagram algorithm and improve your performance this year.
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The Instagram algorithm has long been an elusive beast that brands and creators have tried to conquer. But with constant algorithmic changes, many of us are left wondering why engagement seems to be on a decline no matter what we try. 

Fast Company recently reported that the median Instagram engagement rate for brand accounts has dropped to a mere 0.47% across all industries — which is about 30% lower than it was last year. And among the creator community, it’s been rumored that only 10% of their followers see their posts.

So, what can brands do to amend this? In this article, we’re discussing the “why” behind Instagram’s algorithmic updates and our tips for improving your engagement this year and beyond. 

The business of Instagram

At first glance, you may wonder why Instagram would change their user experience in the first place. 

Because the company wants to keep users on the app as long as possible, the Instagram algorithm is built to favor accounts and content that keep users active and engaged. This is key for Instagram to remain at the top of the social media food chain, and it’s what keeps the business of Instagram running. In other words, it helps Instagram monetize. 

This isn’t a new concept. Since the birth of social media marketing nearly 2 decades ago, social media companies have honed in on attracting advertisers to their platform — and it’s no secret that it’s become a huge business. In fact, the social media advertising industry is expected to reach a whopping $207 billion by the end of this year, with an impressive 4.53% annual growth rate. As a result of this growth, social platforms have started prioritizing paid ads in its algorithm. 

What does all this mean for your brand’s Instagram engagement? 

As Meta prioritizes paid content, you may continue to see a decline in your organic engagement as a whole — whether that be for posts on your brand’s Instagram page, or branded content that your influencers post to their accounts. However, this doesn’t mean you should give up on Instagram altogether. In fact, the platform remains the main priority channel for most brands and influencers, with 87% of brands and 90% of creators planning to invest more into Instagram in the coming year. 

Instead, it’s time to revamp some of your strategies. 

How to improve Instagram engagement

There are several ways to improve engagement, both on the organic and paid side. 

To improve organic engagement, try out some of these tactics:

1. Lean into Reels.

Like many other platforms, Instagram is going all in on short-form video content through its popular feature, Reels. In fact, Reels occupy twice as much space on the Instagram Explore page as image-based content. This means that Reels are not only a great way to capture the attention of your existing followers, but they also provide an avenue for people who don’t follow you to discover your content.

2. Post consistently.

As we mentioned earlier, in order to keep users on the app for as long as possible, the Instagram algorithm favors accounts that spur consistent activity and engagement. This means the algorithm heavily weighs how often people have interacted with your account in recent weeks. If you post too infrequently, your content can slip through the cracks and go unnoticed. In other words, consistency is key. 

Post on a consistent basis, whether that’s once a day or three times a week. Remember, you still need to take a “quality over quantity” approach to your content to keep your followers engaged, so post at a cadence that works for you. And make sure you’re posting at a time of day when your followers are most active to maximize your reach and engagement. 

As you roll out your posts each week, experiment with different types of content. You can:

  • Post a Reel to broaden your reach.
  • Lean into carousel posts to keep your followers interacting with your content for longer.
  • Leverage Stories to remain at the top of users’ feeds all day, without bombarding your audience with too many posts. 

3. Incorporate influencer-generated content (IGC).

Our biggest advice is to continue working with creators to produce your regularly scheduled, high-quality sponsored posts and keep an eye on the analytics. Once you’ve sourced some great  influencer-generated content (IGC), repurpose it on your own Instagram feed. Because IGC is already designed for social media, it seamlessly blends in with other content on users’ feeds, allowing your brand to provide content that truly bolsters engagement. 

IGC will also help you boost engagement on the paid end. Once you’ve identified some of your top-performing influencer posts, it’s a good idea to put spend behind that content to reach a broader and more targeted audience.

By leveraging organic IGC — rather than heavily produced studio-shot content — in your paid ads, you can drastically improve campaign performance. Why? 

  • Storytelling: Because influencers are master storytellers, they create content that feels authentic and relatable to their audiences. Their content tends to be less overtly promotional and more aligned with the influencer's usual style. So while they’re still advertisements, the actual content can better capture the audience's attention and encourage more engagement. 
  • Credibility: Influencers often have dedicated followers who trust their recommendations. By leveraging IGC, there’s an added element of social proof and credibility to your brand’s products and services, which can encourage more users to engage with the ad and consider your brand’s offerings. 
  • Diverse content formats: The variance of influencer content allows brands to reach audiences through multiple channels, whether it be a static image, Story, or Reel, which caters to different user preferences and behaviors. 

And while there are many ways of turning influencers’ posts into paid ads, we recommend looking into Partnership Ads for optimal success. 

Introducing Partnership Ads

In 2023, the most effective paid ads on Instagram are Partnership Ads, formerly known as Branded Content Ads. These are ads created from your partnership posts with creators, which run under the creator’s handle with the ‘Paid Partnership With’ label. 

Partnership Ads offer more functionality and integrity to both creators and brands, and perform better than account takeovers and allowlisting. Compared to ads that run under the creator’s handle without the ‘Paid Partnership With’ label, Instagram Partnership Ads see:

  • 82% probability to win for purchase outcomes
  • 3.9% lower cost per purchase
  • 2.4x conversion lift 

A new era of Instagram

In sum, we’re entering a new era of Instagram. In order to boost Instagram engagement, revamp both your organic and paid channel strategies. Create engaging content such as Reels and post more consistently to improve your ranking on the Instagram algorithm. Then, put spend behind your influencers’ posts and turn them into Partnership Ads. This not only guarantees better performance and increased visibility, but it’s also a great way to stretch the impact of the content you already worked so hard to produce. 

To learn more about Partnership Ads, watch our partner webinar,  Meta + Aspire Present: How To Lower Ad Costs With Branded Content Ads. 

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