Have you noticed your brand’s engagement on Instagram is down recently? From fewer views on your stories to engagements on your posts and lower ranking on the explore page and hashtag feeds, it can leave you wondering “what’s wrong with Instagram?” and more importantly “What can be done?”. Here’s what we’ve learnt about engagement drops, algorithm changes and some things to try.
It’s the age-old question for influencers and social media managers alike! While many consider the Instagram algorithm as a singular concept, there are actually multiple algorithms at play. These algorithms work to filter and show content to users based on what it calculates will be more engaging and relevant to them. Instagram is constantly evolving and testing new algorithms, tools and media types which may impact your organic reach, impressions and follower growth.
Instagrams algorithms typically rely on three key signals:
Who: Whose posts are you interacting with? If you frequently like or comment on someone's content, you're more likely to see their posts in your feed. Conversely, if your content is engaging and driving comments and conversations, the better your reach.
What: What type of content do you engage with? For example, if your followers love travel content, the algorithm will continue serving that type of content to them. If there are a lot of players in the space, it may be worth looking at the top posts for key hashtags or within the niche and seeing what type of content is showing up and if you can be inspired by it and learn from it.
When: Is to do with timeliness, or when a post has been posted to decide if it's relevant to your audience. It also takes into consideration how often users scroll on the app — so it will pick and choose what to prioritize. Ensuring you have regular posts and are checking the insights for optimal posting times can be useful.
Having a social strategy with clear goals and KPIs can help to ensure that your content is always working as hard as it should be, but there are a number of things you may want to look at or try if you’re noticing a big drop in organic reach, impressions and engagement.
There are a few things you’ll want to check if you are seeing a sudden drop in your Instagram organic reach.
Sharing overly promotional content
If all organic posts are ‘salesy’ and designed to convert, your reach may suffer as the algorithm prioritises conversations and engagements.
Ads or organic content has broken community guidelines While this is unlikely for most brands that play by the rules, Meta and Instagram are known to reduce reach for community guideline violations. If you’re seeing a sudden drop, it can pay to have a second glance over community guidelines. Most common violations for brands occur when content is shared and you don’t own the rights to it, so it pays to ensure you share only photos and videos that you’ve taken, created or have the right to share.
Sharing poor content quality
If the image or video is low quality, such as when you screenshot User Generated Content and reshare instead of downloading a high res image, then performance may be impacted. Again, make sure you have permission to share!
Sharing content with watermarks and branding
Try to avoid using images and videos with watermarks, such as TikTok videos with the watermark on Instagram reels, or static posts with brand logos on them, as these can appear like ads in the feed which audiences are more likely to automatically scroll past.
Before you change up your social media approach, check that your account isn’t guilty of making these mistakes, or remedy them quickly!
Once you have done a bit of troubleshooting and are satisfied that you’re not breaking any rules, there are things you try to get the algorithm on side and your engagement back up.
Instagram announced that it would be tweaking its ranking algorithm to place more emphasis on original content. This change is being made in an effort to promote authenticity and transparency on the social media platform. Using UGC is fine, but you’ll want to try and ensure it’s balanced with original content.
2. Post consistently
Posting more consistently can also help with your Instagram engagement. When your followers expect you to post, they're more likely to interact and engage with your content. You'll be more top of mind and, thanks to the algorithm, top of their feeds too! Ensure to check your insights for the best time to post.
3. Include keywords, hashtags and meta descriptions
Treat Instagram like a search engine and be sure to optimise your posts and reels by including keywords in captions, a mixture of hashtags and adding meta descriptions which can increase your discoverability and make your content more accessible. Ensure you are not using the same hashtag set for every image or Instagram may see this as spammy.
4. Use new tools such as Instagram reels
With the platform prioritising video, video posts and reels can help to lift your reach and impressions. According to Instagram, brands and creators should create Reels that are entertaining, inspiring, or experimental and use creative tools like text, camera effects, or filters. Jump on trending audios and create reels that captivate.
5. Regularly share Instagram stories that encourage engagement
Instagram stories sit high in the view when you open the app, and are a perfect place to engage with your audience. Ensure that stories still play a key role in your strategy. Don’t forget to use tools such as polls, questions and quiz stickers to encourage audience interaction.
6. Consider how you use UGC
Resharing user-generated content the moment you are tagged in it often isn’t the most engaging way for your audience to consume that content and can mean people stop watching your stories altogether. Think about how you can group UGC together by theme, e.g. as seen on you, summer favourites, projects of the month etc. Mix this in with your regularly scheduled brand stories for a cohesive and engaging IG story experience for your audience.
7. Consider the content mix for blog amplification
While we want to be amplifying content by driving traffic to the website via social channels, the algorithms don’t always love this, as it takes people out of the app (and their goal is to keep people scrolling). It may be beneficial for a month or so while you’re experiencing a drop in reach and impressions, to re-consider how you share blog content with your audience.
Eg. instead of one post with a large text element that showcases the key points of the blog in the caption, you could turn this into a 10-slide carousel with a slide for each of the 10 reasons, and a short paragraph of text highlighting the main points. This kind of content is more useful to the reader who wants to stay in the app, as they can save it and come back to it later. Saving is a good signal to Instagram that your content is quality and can help to improve your reach and impressions.
8. Engage with your audience, and other accounts
Keep social media social, by replying to every comment and message, and dropping comments and likes on content that is shared by creators in your niche. Jump on the trending hashtags for your industry and spend 20-30 minutes engaging with the content you see under that hashtag. This signals to Instagram that you are engaged, and generally rewards you with engagement in return.
9. Learn from your insights
Your insights are invaluable when your reach and engagement start to drop. Dive in and pull out learnings, understand what content is most engaging and what content isn’t working, check the timing of your posts and more. You should ideally have a monthly social media report that measures key metrics and keeps a record of tests you are running across your channels so you can test and learn.
10. Keep your content mix varied
Variety is the spice of life, and a great way to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more. If your content mix has remained consistent (but a little predictable) over the past few months, it’s probably time to mix it up and try something new. Play around with sharing stories, checklists, memes, infographics and more.
There’s no quick fix to a drop in reach and engagement on social media, but it’s a useful reminder that in an ever-changing social media landscape, you need to adapt and try new things to succeed. Try to see temporary drops in your performance as an opportunity to improve and explore new content, and come back stronger than ever.
Hitting a wall when it comes to your brand’s social media content? Reach out to Reason! We can help in a number of ways, from running a social media content audit to reveal opportunities you may be missing, to a comprehensive social strategy that's informed by insights. Need a best practice playbook? We’ve got those too. Combat those drops in social performance with help from our content team.