Social Media Manager

9 Killer Ways to Boost Engagement on Instagram in 2021

August 26, 2021

The unofficial poster girl for oat milk lattes, pinot grigio, and long walks down the aisles of Target.  

I’m also a wife, mama, and marketing junkie who turned my love of social media into a 6-figure business from straight-up scratch.
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Feeling like Instagram’s algorithm is personally out to get you? I hear ya! This is one app that changes so dang often it can be hard for even those of us working as SMMs to keep up — but I promise, making IG work is so much easier than it seems.

Believe it or not, the whole point of the algo isn’t actually to Regina George you, but to show users what they want to see so they’ll hang out online forever. And those data points are based on the kinds of content everyone is interacting with on an hourly, daily, weekly basis. 

Basically, the better your engagement, the more wins you’ll see on the ‘gram.

But what happens when you’re not making much traction and the people just aren’t flocking to the stuff you’re creating? It’s time to rethink the strategy and have a little fun!

Let’s throw away what isn’t working anymore and dig into what does with 9 of my favorite ways to increase engagement on Instagram in 2021.

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I know, I know, you’ve heard it now a million times, but guess what? Reels aren’t going anywhere! Given the most recent announcement from IG, you can bet that not incorporating video content into your strategy is hurting your engagement.

Whether you’re dancing, lip synching, creating a mini-skit or just talking straight on to the camera, make sure to throw at least one Reel a week into your posting schedule. You’ll see a major increase in your engagement thanks to the great reach. 

Quick Tip: People love short form pieces that are easy to digest + they love to be entertained so keep it upbeat and simple.

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2. Share On Stories

There’s no easier way to share than on Stories! You don’t have to think of some big ol’ caption or figure out how to be hilarious on camera within a 30 second timeframe — you just gotta be YOU.

Instagram Stories are a great way to help humanize your brand by allowing your audience a more personal look at your business and the people running it. You’ll come off instantly approachable which boosts their comfort in messaging and engaging with your stuff.

Share at least 3 times a day (remember: doesn’t always have to be your face or your space) and don’t forget to include story stickers for more interaction.

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3. Use Story Stickers

Two things you’re not doing enough of in your Stories? Including captions and using stickers.

Instagram recently included the ability to use their auto-generated captions for Story content that includes talking, but I still think writing them out is more helpful to your audience. Either way, it’s an awesome way to ensure everyone watching picks up on your message and feels included!

As for Story stickers, well, when you add a poll, slider, question sticker, etc. you open the door for more interaction from the people watching. Each time they engage with those stickers, the algorithm learns they’re interested in seeing more from you.

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4. Get People to Screenshot Your Stories

Yep, we’re still talking about Stories here (because these things are a gold mine for increasing engagement on Instagram)!

If you’re sharing something super valuable, ask the audience to hold and screenshot the frame. Like everything else we’ve talked about on this list, people screenshotting your IG Stories sends a signal to the powers that be (the algorithm) that they dig your stuff and want more of it.

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5. Start Engaging Before You Post

Want in on one of the simplest engagement hacks, like ever? Before you throw up a Reel, big Story announcement, or a post to the grid, spend around 10-15 minutes engaging with others’ content.

The more genuine interest you share on the app, the more likely folks will check out your account.  

Steal my method: I love starting from the end of my Stories feed to catch up on the accounts I’m interacting with the least so that I don’t miss out on what everyone is up to and keep those people engaged.

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6. Reply to Comments

If people are taking the time to leave a real comment for you, it’s a good idea (and just plain polite) to reply! We don’t want to forget that engagement = chatting and sharing with actual human beings.

Quick Tip: When you post a new post or Reel to IG, check back with your last 2-3 posts and be sure you’ve replied to comments (those people will get notified of your reply and are likely to visit you… and see your latest post.

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7. Carousel Posts

You’ve seen them all over the place, and for good reason — carousel posts on Instagram WORK! Instead of posting a static image to your feed, hit up Canva (#notsponsored) and give this one a try. 

How many slides do you need? It depends on the idea you’re sharing but anywhere between 4-6 slides is the norm. 

Not only do carousels offer a more dynamic experience for sharing valuable tips and tricks, but they also keep people on your account for longer and often encourage more sharing (with different slides resonating with different people).

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8. It’s All About the Reels Hook

You already know how crucial a good hook is in all of your messaging, but if you want to “reel” people into watching your Reels (#themomjokesaregettingworse) use TWO hooks. 

Say what?! Yes. You want to use two hooks. 

The first hook should appear as text in the actual video, while the second hook is the caption. The video is a teaser to getting more goodies in the caption — you need this because often, people forget to like and comment on Reels.

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9. Don’t Forget the CTA

Listen, we can’t talk about increasing engagement on Instagram in 2021 without mentioning the CTA. The last thing you want to do is leave people hanging and the call to action is your solution to that problem.

The whole point of a CTA is to get people to do something…like buy your thing, book a call, and in this case, engage with you.

Be sure to make the CTA super simple so the whole audience can weigh in on it (too complicated and they’ll avoid it completely)! Anything from “what was your fave tip?” to “are you team iced coffee or hot?” work. Just make sure it’s relevant to the caption or the photos shared!

Social media is all about being social. Yes, algorithms are used to track a whole bunch of things, but if you want to increase your engagement on Instagram forget about trying to beat it. Talk, interact, and have some fun with the people in your community and you’ll see a boost in no time.

Looking for more ways to simplify your social media game? Start here (and then come chat with me here)!


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hey there!

I'm Shannon! 

The unofficial poster girl for oat milk lattes, pinot grigio, and long walks down the aisles of Target.  

I’m also a wife, mama, and marketing junkie who turned my love of social media into a 6-figure business from straight-up scratch.

more about US

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