I’ve been there, too. My Instagram posts suddenly went to 25% their usual engagement, and it seemed that whatever I was doing, I was doing it wrong.
Turned out, I wasn't! Now, breathe in... and breathe out.
Chances are, you’re not doing anything wrong. Maybe Instagram has tweaked their algorithm, perhaps your post has coincided with Super Bowl or the latest Trump scandal, or you just wanted to change up what you’re posting to your profile (and your followers are still not used to that).
But don’t worry, here’s a list of things to check whenever you’re in doubt about your engagement.
1. Which hashtags have you been using recently? Click on every one of them and see if they work.
Instagram can temporarily ban a hashtag if it gets compromised. Say that you get a lot of traffic from a #SmallButAwesomeHashtag. If somebody, suddenly, starts spamming that #SmallButAwesomeHashtag with any inappropriate content, Instagram can disable that hashtag altogether. Some also say that it can penalize EVERYBODY who used it, not only the offenders, but I find that unlikely. However, losing one source of engagement can quickly affect your overall engagement.
If you click on a hashtag and it shows only Top posts, but no Latest posts, it has been banned. Time to switch things up!
To stay on the safe side, don’t use the same hashtags for every photo. That way if some of your posts get affected by a compromised hashtag, the others can still perform fine.
2. Maybe some of the hashtags you use got too big?
To maximize the engagement, if you have a smaller account, it’s best if you steer clear from the hashtags that have over 1 million posts. An oversaturated hashtag means a lot of competition, and the more photos get posted with the same hashtag, the less time you’ll content will remain visible. Check how big are the hashtags you’re using!
3. Are you posting what your followers want to see?
On my photography account, the number of likes and comments is always better if I post photos of Amsterdam’s canals (and canal houses) or windmills, so when I plan my Instagram feed, I always try to include at least one of those motives per week.
On wonderlust.amsterdam, there are also types of shots that work better than the others.
Try locating what your top performing posts are and then recreating them! It might sound a bit boring, but it’s a great way to keep your followers coming back for more.
Also, make sure you’re posting at optimal times!
4. Are you participating enough?
To use the Instagram algorithm to your advantage, you need to be social! Don’t forget to participate! Commenting and liking other user’s photographs and maintaining a discussion in the comments to your photos will drive you a lot of new traffic. Try commenting on other people’s content immediately after posting your own, but make the comments sound genuine! If you go around leaving one or two words and an emoji as your comments, people will regard you as a bot and bots are usually not welcome.
5. Do you post clear CTAs?
Engagement brings you more engagement. Do you have a clear call to action in your captions? Try encouraging people to leave comments or tag other users in the comments of your posts. Ask simple questions or host giveaways!
6. Are you comparing yourself to other users too much?
Whenever engagement drops, it drops across the platform. You’re never alone in your struggles. Instagram continually tweaks the way it serves the content to its users, so everybody’s engagement is bound to fluctuate. The bigger your account is, the fluctuations may get more noticeable! So keep your head up!