Common Instagram Engagement Rate Issues And How to Overcome Them

Instagram engagement rate is an essential metric for any business to track. Your Instagram engagement rate is a number that gauges how much engagement (such as likes and comments) you’re getting on Instagram — in other words, how much your followers are interacting with the content you post.

It’s important to know your engagement rate because engagement is what Instagram’s all about. The higher your engagement rate, the more your followers care about your content. And the more your followers care, the more likely they are to make a purchase from your business.

Finding your engagement rate is simple. You can use the following formula to calculate it yourself:

Engagement = (Likes + Comments) / Followers

If your engagement rate is low (anything under 1% is generally considered too low), that’s a signal it’s time to take steps to improve it. In order to fix it, however, it’s not enough to just recognize that the number is low. You also need to figure out why that number is low.

We’ve identified a few common reasons that brands tend to have issues with their Instagram engagement rate. Here are the key factors to check and how to fix them, so your Instagram can get back up where it needs to be.

You Have Fake Followers

One of the most common Instagram engagement rate issues is that accounts have a large quantity of fake or low-quality followers. You might have hundreds of thousands of followers, but how many of those followers are real and how many are fake? Your Instagram follower count could be full of fake profiles — bot accounts created using computer programs, which means real people aren’t seeing your content. It’s also common for accounts to have low-quality followers; these followers aren’t completely fake, but they aren’t your ideal high-quality followers either.

A high-quality Instagram follower is a real person. They have a unique profile photo, plus lots of posts and followers of their own. On the other hand, a fake account created by a bot will most likely have a stock photo for a profile photo, lots of strange posts, and it often will be following thousands of people but may only have a few followers itself. How can you tell if your followers are high-quality without looking through every single one?

There are several platforms that offer an audit of your Instagram followers. Influencer Marketing Hub is an example of a website that has a fake follower checker. Tools like this can quickly give you a birds-eye view of your account, helping you figure out what percentage of your followers is real and what percentage is comprised of fake accounts.

You can also be proactive and stop this problem before it even begins by using a high-quality Instagram growth service, like Kicksta. Growth services like this boost your Instagram engagement rate because it targets real followers on Instagram — not bot accounts. When you sign-up and create your account, you’ll provide them with a list of your target audience that have followers you’d like to attract. Then they’ll like photos from each of those target accounts followers (these should be competitors, complementary brands, influencers in your niche, etc.) Soon, you’ll start to see organic follower growth, and if you post high-quality content there’s no reason for that growth to stop.

Your Hashtag Strategy Isn’t Optimized

Another common Instagram engagement rate issue might be your hashtag strategy. Having a solid hashtag strategy is essential for both Instagram growth and engagement; it’s important to use multiple hashtags on every post and to switch those hashtags around. Hashtag usage is constantly changing. Just because one hashtag worked well for you in the past doesn’t mean it’ll keep working. Small hashtags might grow in popularity, and as more people start to use them, your posts will no longer be visible. So it’s essential to revisit your hashtag strategy every so often and make sure things are still going well.

You can identify this issue by looking at your Instagram analytics and tracking your hashtag performance. If there aren’t many people finding your account from hashtags — or if you just know that you don’t consistently use a variety of hashtags on every post — that’s a sign it’s time to change things up.

Fix this issue by changing the hashtags you use. Find smaller hashtags (with just a few hundred or a few thousand posts) and use a greater variety of hashtags; don’t use the exact same hashtags on each post. This is the best way to be smart about your hashtag strategy and increase your Instagram engagement rate.

The Instagram Algorithm

The Instagram algorithm is another factor that can affect Instagram engagement rate in a big way. The algorithm controls what order users see posts — in other words, it dictates which of your followers see the content you publish and which ones don’t. How does the algorithm make these decisions? If someone regularly engages with your content or content that’s similar to yours, they’ll most likely continue to see all of your posts higher up on your feed. There are other factors that play into this too, but this is primarily how the algorithm works.

If you’ve noticed that your engagement rate suddenly went way down after the changes that were made to the algorithm in the last year, you weren’t alone. Lots of brands were impacted by the change. Get back on the horse by focusing on creating high-quality content. In a nutshell, Instagram explained, each user’s Instagram feed is based on the type of content they prefer and regularly engage with — so if you create great content that your followers are interested in, then they’re likely to interact with it, and your engagement rate will go up as Instagram makes your content more visible. Whether you focus on writing more engaging captions, running interactive giveaways, or upping the amount of video content you create, focusing on high-quality content can help you beat the algorithm and get more engagement.

Not Enough Video Content

Video content on Instagram is extremely popular, and it’s only getting bigger. Millions of users watch Instagram videos — including Instagram Stories, and video content in their feeds — each day, and sponsored videos receive three times more comments than sponsored posts. What’s more, 54 percent of consumers want to see more video content from the brands they support.

It’s clear that video content is an essential Instagram trend for brands to follow. But how can you gauge whether you need to be making more videos? Use your Instagram analytics to see which of your posts are performing well. Compare the performance of pictures you’ve posted and videos you’ve posted; are the videos doing better than the pictures? If so, the solution is simple — posting more videos can help your engagement rate go up.

Create high-quality video content that’s educational, entertaining, or both. You can make longform videos for IGTV, or share shorter clips on your Instagram Stories. Posting well-made videos on your Instagram grid will most likely have a positive impact on your engagement rate as your followers watch and enjoy the videos.

Not Posting At the Right Times

Creating high-quality content is great, but posting that content at the right time of day is even more important! The Instagram algorithm is no longer entirely chronological, but it still depends on timeliness to a point. So if your followers are most active in the evening and you post on Instagram in the morning, there’s a much smaller chance of your followers seeing that content and engaging with it.

Check your Instagram insights or use a budget-friendly, third-party analytics tool to determine what time of day your followers are active. Are you posting during that time frame? If you’re not — and if your engagement rate is low — start scheduling your posts to go out when your followers are most active. This is a hugely important way to get your content in front of more people, and to help your Instagram engagement rate go up.

Captions Aren’t Engaging

Captions are a hugely important aspect of your posts. A good Instagram caption is often funny or clever; it might be educational, further explaining what’s in the photo. The most important thing an Instagram caption should have is a CTA, or call-to-action. Your call-to-action might ask people to like the photo or leave a comment. Instagram CTAs also commonly direct people to follow the link in your bio.

If you’re worried your captions aren’t engaging enough, try switching them up and writing different types of captions than you usually do. Testing out a new kind of caption and then analyzing how your posts perform can be helpful as you figure out which captions work best. Need some fresh ideas as you craft your captions? Identify the best accounts in your industry — brands that are on top of their Instagram game and have high engagement — and draw inspiration from them.

Improve Your Instagram Engagement Rate

Instagram engagement is a crucial piece of your Instagram marketing strategy. If your Instagram engagement rate needs a boost, analyze your account to see if you have any of the following issues:

  • Low-quality followers
  • Poor hashtag strategy
  • Instagram algorithm not prioritizing your posts
  • Not enough video content
  • Posting at the wrong time of day
  • Captions aren’t engaging enough

These problems are common, but they’re all easy to fix. By taking them into your own hands, you can help your Instagram engagement and your sales go up!

Rafaella Aguiar is the Director of Marketing at Kicksta.  She specializes in content, social media, and email marketing.  You can find more daily marketing tips from her at

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