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Instagram Engagement Rates: Do More Followers Lead to Better Engagement?

While there are various ways to grow your brand or business online, Instagram continues to be the leading platform to attract new audiences, gain brand loyalty, and stand out among competitors. 

But, how does your Instagram account compare to others in your industry? Do more followers lead to higher engagement? To understand how Instagram drives success for your brand, it’s important to know what variables factor into your engagement rate. 

What Are Instagram Engagement Rates?

Instagram's engagement rate quantifies the level of user interest and interaction generated by the content you post. Engagement rates factor in your number of followers, likes, comments, and saves on your in-feed posts or Stories. 

Instagram Engagement Rate % is calculated by totaling the number of likes, comments, and saves on a post then dividing that number by your follower count.

[(Likes + Comments + Saves) / Followers] x 100

With the culture surrounding visible engagement on Instagram posts is evolving, particularly with Instagram’s latest option to hide likes – follower count is becoming less of a focus on the platform. Moving away from vanity metrics creates an opportunity to conduct a more meaningful assessment of your Instagram's performance. Factoring in comments and saves into your engagement rate calculation can provide a more substantive way to measure the success of your Instagram strategy. 

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What's a Good Engagement Rate on Instagram? 

How do you determine if your engagement rate is reasonable or at least on par with other similar accounts? In general, the average engagement rate for all users on Instagram is 1.22% according to Rival IQ. 

After analyzing a month's worth of anonymous PLANOLY data, we uncovered the average engagement rate on Instagram for PLANOLY users is 2.93% – yes, you read that correctly!

So why is it more than twice the average of other users? For starters, consistently posting and engaging with your audience when they’re active helps increase your engagement rate over time. Consistency works to build connections and trust between your brand and target audience. In addition, using an Instagram scheduling and analytics tool like PLANOLY makes it easier to regularly post, know when your audience is most likely to engage, and connect with your audience. 

Related: Discover the benefits of premium PLANOLY features like auto-post, advanced Instagram analytics, and the best times to post features. 

Average Instagram Engagement Rate by Audience Size 

The average engagement rate will vary significantly based on your audience size. After analyzing 30 days of anonymized Instagram posts from PLANOLY users worldwide, we uncovered the average engagement rate for each tier of audience size. Each tier is based on the number of followers.

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While it’s important to be mindful of your engagement rate, remember it is only one metric of success within your overall strategy – other factors like community engagement or how often your Instagram drives traffic to your site are valuable measures of success. 

Why Do Instagram Engagement Rates Matter? 

Whether you're an influencer, business, or social media manager, engagement rates help track your audience's interests and your brand's relevancy in the industry. Engagement rates can also signal legitimacy to potential new followers to gain their trust. Your Instagram engagement rate allows you to:

  1. Assess audience interest in your brand or business. Periodically reviewing which Instagram posts have the highest engagement can help you identify which products, topics, or types of content garner the most interest from your followers. 
  2. Maintain social relevance within your industry. Monitoring your engagement rate over time can help you assess what's relevant to both existing and future followers. 
  3. Establish trust with target audiences. As new customers learn about your brand or business, they'll consider the engagement they see on your Instagram before buying your product or deciding to partner with your brand. If a quick scroll through your Instagram page reveals many likes and comments from happy customers, you've now signaled legitimacy to future audiences. 

How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate

  1. Identify your audience. Dig into your audience insights on the Instagram app to determine where most of your followers live, their age or gender, and when they tend to interact with your content the most. Assess if your current content mix resonates with your target audience.
  2. Leverage hashtags strategically. When you use the right hashtags to your posts, you can reach target and untapped audiences who might be most interested in your product or brand. Here’s more on how to research and leverage the best hashtags for your brand.
  3. Test new posting times. One of the easiest ways to increase your Instagram engagement is to publish your posts when your audience is most active. Not sure when they're most active? Check your insights in the Audience tab on the Instagram app. You can see both days and times when your audience is active. You can also use the best times to post feature built into PLANOLY.
  4. Identify high-performing content.  Monitor your weekly engagement rate to identify which posts tend to generate the most likes, comments, or saves. Reevaluate your content mix based on your findings. Don't be afraid to change up what you post each week. For example, if your product photos continue to go unnoticed, but your videos receive a ton of views, try posting more quick Reels to showcase how to use your product instead. 
  5. Include a call to action. The first line of your caption is the most important – use it as an opportunity to captivate your audience with your brand's personality or pose a question. 
  6. Engage with your followers. Respond to all comments on a post the first 30 minutes after a post is published to make your followers heard and signal that your content is high-value for the algorithm. 
  7. Consistently measure your analytics. Weekly, calculate your average engagement rate for all your posts. To reduce the manual work, check out tools like the Analyze feature on PLANOLY to view average engagement rates across all your posts for any time frame. 

How to Show Value to Business or Clients 

So you've tracked and calculated your Instagram engagement rates, but need to share the learnings with your team or clients. If you manage a brand or multiple accounts on Instagram, it's essential to monitor and share learnings to help meet your stakeholders' goals. 

How does your rate compare to the average rates shared above? Is it on par, better, or needs improvement? Here's how you show value based on your user type.  

Showing Value as a Social Media Manager

Identify what's most important for the client. Is it growing their following, increasing shares, building customer loyalty, or driving sales? Next, share ways you plan to sustain or increase the engagement rate if necessary to reach those shared goals. What if your audience size is small, but you identify that you're increasing in comments and saves from your followers week to week? Share with your stakeholder or team how that might be a more significant indicator of customer loyalty than just follower count. 

Showing Value as an Influencer 

If you're an influencer, you want to establish yourself as a strong asset for your partnerships. Identify your average engagement rate for both organic and sponsored content. If your sponsored content above average already, hats off to you! If your engagement rate is lower than averages, identify if or how you want to improve your rate. Other ways to show value to partners beyond just the engagement rate include how often you drive traffic to a site, receive direct feedback in messages, or have historically met the partner's goals.

Showing Value as a Business Owner or Entrepreneur 

As you continue to set Instagram goals for you and your business, know that engagement rates aren’t the only way to measure success in your marketing efforts. If you’re trying to reach new customers, consider influencer partnerships with nano influencers. Nano influencers provide historically higher engagement rates than most groups.  Most Instagram users are considered "nano," meaning they have less than 10k followers and have a highly engaged audience. 

Related: Nano Influencers: Who Are They and How to Work with Them?

Engagement rates are one of the key metrics to consider when evaluating and quantifying the success of your Instagram marketing efforts. Unlike mere likes and comments, engagement rate provides you with a  comprehensive view of multiple metrics and provides a more thoughtful, in-depth look at the health of your Instagram account.

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Tareen Alam

Tareen Alam is the Senior Manager, Content & Channels at PLANOLY. She is always thinking up creative ways to help brands stand out and grow their audience.

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