How to Increase Instagram Engagement: The Complete 2020 Guide

June 06, 2020

How to Increase Instagram Engagement:
The Complete 2020 Guide

Over 1 Billion Instagram Users Worldwide and 90% follow at least one business account.

How do you get your Page to stand out?

Getting your content across to the maximum amount of people and persuading them to engage with it becomes more difficult each day.

To make it easier, build a following with content based on these insights and tips we've curated just for 2020:

The COVID-19 Effect

While most industries worldwide have been debilitated by the prevalent pandemic, businesses deploying online marketing have seen an amazing uptick.

With users spending 61% more time on social media than before, this is the perfect time for traditional and modern businesses to revitalize by pivoting their marketing departments more towards digital engagement.

For this purpose of change, is there any platform better than Instagram; that's more Simple, Visual & Effective?

One example of transformation is the food industry that has been profoundly affected by the restrictions of dining-in due to social distancing; Hence, more and more businesses are now switching to Social Media for survival.

With their revenue coming solely from takeaway and delivery, brands are now using Instagram in creative ways by merging community building, public service initiatives, and online advertising. 


Source: Covid-19 Instagram Engagement Report &

One such example comes from this small bakery in California that took all those concepts and adjusted pricing according to recent financial constraints, persuading audiences to buy for supporting both their friends and this small business.     

Recently, you might've spotted Instagram's new #SupportSmallBusiness hashtags and Stickers on the App when they show up in Stories or Posts.



These are features introduced by Instagram that aggregate content from multiple local entrepreneurs and show each brand's content to all the individual followings of brands mentioned in these Stories or Hashtags.

With these, you can effortlessly access brand followings of competing brands and goodwill, if you also feature their pages on your profile.

If you're still wondering how to get more interaction on Instagram, you could also try the latest trend that even mainstream celebs can't resist: Instagram Live Sessions.

While these might seem unpredictable or intimidating at first, make a routine program out of these by featuring even the simplest of segments (such as chats with local change-makers, brand ambassadors, or influencers), and you'll surely see an increase in Instagram engagement.

Have these sessions saved on your accounts for the audience's later viewing, schedule releases of the best clips on Stories intermittently, and you'll manage to stretch the boost even further.

Instagram Stories

Short, fleeting attention spans during ad-saturated minutes of social media time have led to the rise of ephemeral content such as Stories.

500 Million Instagram users tap on the purple-outlined circles at the top of their apps every day and view Stories, making the idea of repeated and frequent engagement very tangible and attainable.

The recent, additional engagement is caused in part by the current pandemic that's shifted consumer attention even more towards online platforms and granted people extra downtime to casually explore Instagram.

Now, brands can make posts on the daily with #StayHome reminders, and users will probably not get annoyed by them due to the sheer amount of posts that they see from all accounts and the importance of the message.

Instead, your audience will feel that the brand is supporting them in their time of need. But what are the best practices that apply during regular times and are still relevant?

In the case of Stories especially, content needs to be engaging and memorable, considering it's only up for one day of viewing. The content's contrast and simplicity thus go a long way when there are only a few seconds before the carousel moves on to another slide or the user swipes right themselves. 



With this example from Prada's Instagram, we see a clear and striking message across the visual that instantly informs us their summer line is out, and if a user wants extra photos, they can come to the Main Page. Hence, within a split-second of attention grabbed by their visuals, they have attracted engagement onto their main Page and informed their audience of their latest offerings.

The only issue is: If most brands are already producing content like this, how does one stand out?


By toying with various features and design aspects of Instagram's Stories feature, you can land on a medium that carries your message and stands out visually by doing something different like McDonald's:


Source: Innovative Examples of Instagram Stories

To promote their McCafé line in this example, they couldn't do anything ridiculous because coffee has become a standard product, and food/drink photography can only take you so far. So, they synced this line of Arabica Roast beans with the timer of the Story, and it kept revealing new text as it went along, creating an element of suspense and playfulness.

The Swipe-Up link on this post led consumers straight to the McDelivery Website, where all this engagement could be directly and instantly converted into orders for the company. Within two months, this campaign reached 60% of its audience and tripled in-store sales of this product line. 

Storyboarding and User-Generated Content

For the uninformed, Storyboarding is the process of creating a graphical representation of your proposed campaign, Slide by Slide, in the case of Instagram Stories.

If you're looking to increase Instagram engagement on your Stories, developing a complete plot or narrative for them will significantly increase the chances of audiences getting hooked and looking forward to them, instead of getting annoyed by tangled content.

Either you take this fully controlled and simulated approach, or you leave the execution up to the people that are being targeted through User-Generated Content.

As prolific companies like GoPro do, using content from the audience greatly enhances credibility and word of mouth as there's no paid influence dictating the testimonial or experience. This gives an organic and reliable feel to the content, which no paid influencer or agency can offer.

Other than taking content from users, you can always populate your feeds from other credible sources (Engadget or Mashable, for Tech Pages) by RSS Scheduling Content from their Feeds, using tools like SocialBu.

Such a regular stream of content takes away the hassle of concept-building, posting, and gives audiences more opportunities to interact with your Page, one way to increase Instagram engagement.

Optimizing based on Analytics

By understanding the statistics involved in measuring the performance of Stories, you gauge the best ways to optimize your content, formats, and posting schedule.

For this, your primary tool will be Instagram's Discovery Section. 

This section can tell you the number of people that interacted with your Stories and how exactly they engaged with them.

Impressions count the number of views, while Navigation shows what the user did after seeing the Story.

Back and Forward are for individual Slides of the Story while Next Story and Exited show if users Swiped Right or Down to go to the next piece of content or back to the Feed.

The interpretation of these stats is key to optimizing your content, and here are specific ways to do so:

Tap Forwards on Video Stories might mean that the slides are too dull or repetitive, and users want to skip to the end. This means the content needs to be rejuvenated and made more concise for engagement. 

Tap Backwards can mean the opposite as audiences want to look at the Slide again and are interested, so you know to double down on this type of content for the future.

Exits might mean the Story got too long for their liking, and they quit the App or just that they got distracted.

Yet, Next Story paints an absolute picture by telling you that the number of slides got too much for users and made them lose interest.

Again, these are loose interpretations of audience behavior, and more direct interaction with them will be required to explore how you can best increase Instagram engagement rates.  

Stickers and Hashtags

While those are methods you can interpret Navigation Stats, what do you do to increase reach?

Instagram's Stickers are a great addition of features that can do just that by promoting sharing and engagement from interested users.

Questions and Polls Stickers such as the ones shown below invoke engagement by making audiences curious and hence, engaged.


Source : Creative ways to use Instagram Polls

Most audiences of individual pages related to fashion or royalty will look at this image, pick an option, and hope to find the answer instantly. When they don't, they'll be tempted to swipe up onto the website out of sheer curiosity and go to the main Feed or Website.

Such tactics targeting the curiosity of audiences can be easily implemented to boost conversion and engagement rates!

The other Sticker and Instagram Function that can also do this is Hashtags. One of the best ways to get your content in front of fans of a specific niche, Hashtags can be used in many ways.

If you're a local business (a club, in this instance) looking to attract foot traffic, use the locality's hashtag, and any tourists looking for things to do on Instagram will be brought to your Page.


Source: Instagram

Likewise, you can be even more specific by using the names of nearby landmarks (#BigBen or #LondonBridge are two examples) and associating your brand with them.

By using Hashtag Stickers on Stories, the competition is also reduced. That's because content only from the past 24 hours is shown, reducing the risk of content pushed to the bottom.

Hence, posting a Story early in the day will help you remain first in the sequence of Stories, increasing Instagram engagement rates.

Instagram Posts

All the design aspects, the importance of consistency, and innovations mentioned in the Stories section also ring true for Instagram Posts.

But, how does the content staying on a Feed forever differ from that which remains for a day? For Posts, an integrated campaign strategy is critical as all posts must serve a purpose, and there isn't as much room for error as there is in Stories.

An example from Krispy Kreme Australia illustrates how a cohesive strategy can boost a brand's performance in a short period. In this campaign looking to launch four new flavors of donuts, KK tapped into the running theme of the year: Nostalgia. 


Source: Krispy Kreme Instagram Campaign

By naming the donuts after games and launching their virtual arcade games on their main webpage, they started to promote them simultaneously, and by swiping from these sponsored posts, users were brought to the Krispy Website to play.

Incentivizing players with a leaderboard that offered free donuts for top positions, they promoted community-play and automatically boosted word of mouth.

Within five weeks, they managed to boost mobile traffic on the website by 50% through Instagram conversions and increased eCommerce sales by 30%. Only a campaign designed with an innovative and integrated process can achieve such results.

These guidelines and practices also govern IGTV Posts, but with a few additions:

Knowing the attention spans of audiences is key as IGTV Content is usually long-form, but your audience might prefer TV format twenty-minute episodes to an hour-long video. Thus, your engaging content should be optimized for this duration.

Cross-promote IGTV Posts by uploading snippets onto Stories with a link to the full post, promote the schedule of these regularly, and you'll see a definite increase in engagement.

The Role of Consistency

While consistency on Instagram does ping the idea of a routine upload schedule, it can also mean uniformity in design. Keeping certain design elements common in your content helps in the recall and positioning of your brand and the content.



With this example of Forbes' Under 30 Global Event, we see consistent use of the color yellow in the Story slides related to this event and in all other Under 30 Events coverage across all regions.

Considering yellow boosts recall psychologically, picking it as a central aesthetic and design element brings cohesion to the Stories of the Forbes Page and helps bring all their brand events under one umbrella.  

If they were all over the place visually and had no harmony in design or visuals, users might just get bored and swipe away, decreasing overall engagement rates.

But once you have the design elements of the content down, when do you schedule Instagram Stories, and what's the best time to do it?

The answer isn't the same for all readers.

While there are generic times, such as 1 PM (Lunchtime) or 10 PM (right before general sleeping times), each Instagram Page has a unique set of audience members and routines, which leads to variations in these phases.


To check on your audience's most preferred times of engagement, go to your Insights Section on Instagram and note the times where engagement seems the highest and try to schedule the time right before that for your content.

Or you could choose to schedule posts on dates that are important to your brand and audience such as milestones, occasions, and events (Valentine's Day plus the week before, for flower and dessert shops).

Dealing with so many special events and design elements every day soon becomes a daunting task for most account managers, and we have just the tool to help you cope.

With a powerful took like SocialBu, you can schedule both Stories and Posts using a convenient and straightforward Social Calendar that will visually show the layout of content schedules.

Schedule content in bulk for all your social media accounts weeks or months in advance so your campaign can be set, visualized, and modified all in one go! 

Parting Note

These were just a few ways you can maximize your Instagram Engagement.

Always remember:

Content is King, Audiences aren't dumb, and Rome wasn't built in a day.

Keep these principles and phrases in mind when developing your content and communities, and you're sure to be on the right track!

Let us know in the comments below if there are any more useful tips and techniques you use for increasing Instagram engagement. 

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Written by Abdul Basit Humayun
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me.

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