Long gone are the days of true organic social media engagement. As advertisements and boosted posts increase in user feeds and social media platforms shift their focus to monetize, having an active presence on your social accounts is a key component to successfully growing your brand. Now more than ever it’s important to use social media as a way to genuinely connect with your community and cultivate relationships to successfully market your brand online.

What Is Engagement?

Before you master engagement, it’s important to understand what engagement is. Engagement on social media can be determined by a variety of key performance indicators, such as likes, comments, follows and shares, that show how you engage online with your followers and how they interact with you.

Engagement is determined by both passive and active actions. Ideally, you want to focus your time and energy on active actions to make more of an impact with your time spent online. Passive engagement actions require the minimum effort. Impressions are a passive action. An impression would occur as users watch videos without interacting, or click “read more” on long post captions without interacting. Passive actions tell Instagram that the viewers were interested but not enough to fully engage. 

Active engagements require effort and intent; therefore, they have more of an impact on engagement. When users scroll through their feed and see an image they like and go out of their way to comment and leave emojis, this is an active action. Active actions rank higher for engagement because they add to the conversation and add value to the content — they are commented on, shared and saved, which increases post visibility on the platform.

Engagement Rate

While engagement is important, having a good engagement rate is even more so. Engagement rate measures the amount of interaction your social content earns relative to audience reach. How you calculate engagement rate will vary depending on your goals. For example, if your goal is to increase the number of likes on your content, engagement rate will be calculated by dividing total followers by the total post likes. To determine if your engagement rate is increasing overtime, you will need to check engagement rate on individual posts at the beginning and end of each month. Everyone’s goals are different, and depending on what they are, how you measure engagement will vary. 

The better your engagement rate, the better your content will do and the faster your social media will grow. Having good engagement means your content is connecting. What constitutes a good engagement rate can vary based on your brand’s industry, location, number of followers and quality of content, so do your research to determine how your engagement should range for your business. This year, Instagram has been testing a handful of important new key performance indicators that may change how engagement rate is determined in the future, such as removing likes and removing the “follower activity” tab. Until then, the best way to determine your engagement rate is to use the industry standard guideline for engagement rates:

  • Less than 1% = low engagement rate
  • Between 1% and 3.5% = average/good engagement rate
  • Between 3.5% and 6% = high engagement rate
  • Above 6% = very high engagement rate

The Importance of Engagement on Social Media

Any successful social media marketing strategy includes engagement. With Instagram constantly making improvements and adjusting its platform algorithm to make each feed unique to the user, there’s no guaranteed way to ensure growth without doing engagement. Instagram’s algorithm does its best to show users content that is similar to the content they engage with the most on a regular basis. The lack of organic visibility makes engagement very important. 

Quality engagement will increase visibility. Mastering engagement means you understand your competitors, your target audience and the content they enjoy the most. Quality engagement means you rank better with Instagram’s algorithm. When you rank well, Instagram shows your post to more people, keeps your content active in user feeds and increases visibility, thus increasing the chance of more post engagements while your audience is active online.

Success Takes Time

Actively engaging on Instagram plays a huge part in improving your overall engagement. Remember that not all businesses achieve the same growth when doing social media engagement. What works for one brand may not work for you. Sometimes it takes a little bit of trial and error to learn what works best and what doesn’t. 

Instagram’s algorithm wants to see that you’re responsive when people tag you in comments and send you direct messages. Turning on post notifications is a great way to stay up to date and get reminders when users are engaging and trying to connect with you. Take the time to check in on your social media notifications, even if it’s first thing in the morning or at the end of your day.  

It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re not immediately seeing the results that you want. Building a genuine connection, increasing brand awareness and fostering brand loyalty takes time. Don’t expect a quick fix and overnight results. Put in the time, stay consistent and be patient.