The rumors are true: Instagram engagement is down for traditional posts.
With the introduction of Reels, engagement has been declining year-over-year for carousel, single-image, and in-feed video posts.
And, suffice to say, users are not happy:
Are there any social media managers out there who have been experiencing a weird decrease in engagement on Instagram lately? Is this just the holidays? I’m crying send help.— kelly 🪴 (@i8urpenguin) December 15, 2021
The good news? Everyone is in the same boat.
We’re diving into why engagement is dipping on the ‘gram, and how to pivot your content strategy.
What Is Instagram Engagement?
In the simplest terms, Instagram engagement is the number of interactions your content receives on social media.
These interactions can be broken down into:
Interactions on Stories stickers (polls, emoji slider, question, etc.)
Typically, engagement rates for feed posts are calculated by dividing the number of likes and comments (and sometimes saves or shares) by an account's total number of followers.
FYI: Later’s social media scheduler is trusted by over 4M brands, small businesses, and marketers – making it a great tool for scheduling your Instagram content in advance. Sign up today, for free:
Why Has Instagram Engagement Dropped in 2022 for Feed Posts?
Instagram engagement rates have dropped for most accounts in 2022 due to three main factors:
Suggested Content in the Main Home Feed
Less Scrolling By Users
Reason #1: Instagram Reels
Instagram’s focus on Reels has meant that other feed formats have taken a hit in engagement.
After analyzing over 81M Instagram feed posts (excluding Reels), we discovered that average engagement rates have dropped over time.
So with traditional photos taking a backseat to Reels, it’s time to think about incorporating short-form video into your overall Instagram strategy.
Reason #2: Suggested Content in the Main Home Feed
There have been a lot of feed updates on Instagram recently — from the new Home feed views to the introduction of more suggested content in Instagram’s main Home feed.
With this change, some posts may not get as much exposure as they once did — leading to a potential decline in engagement.
However, you can use suggested content to your advantage by using specific keywords (more on that, later).
Reason #3: Less Scrolling By Users
According to Forbes, Instagram was the second most used social app in 2020, with users spending on average 53 minutes a day.
But in 2022, our Instagram usage has shifted.
Between the rise of TikTok and a general sense of social media burnout, there’s been a dip in how much time users are spending on the app.
According to Statista, the average time spent on Instagram in 2022 is 30 minutes a day.
And even further — TikTok is now leading the pack with an average time of 45 minutes.
While the number of people using Instagram continues to grow, the decline in time spent on the app does reflect a shift in how users are engaging with it.
Plan, schedule, and automatically publish your Instagram posts with Later — a free social media scheduling tool:
5 Things To Do When Your Instagram Engagement Is Down
First things first — try not to take it personally. Engagement rates have taken a hit for everyone, but it’s not all gloom and doom.
The future of Instagram presents new storytelling opportunities and ways to promote your business.
Here are 5 ways to adjust your Instagram strategy to increase engagement in 2022:
Share More Instagram Reels
Put Keywords at the Heart of Your Strategy
Audit Your Followers and Remove Spam Accounts
Experiment With Different Carousel Posts
Post When Your Audience Is Most Engaged
Tip #2: Put Keywords At the Heart of Your Strategy
Instagram’s suggested content relies on keywords to accurately categorize and recommend posts.
According to the platform, these suggestions are based on “posts from accounts like the ones you follow and posts similar to the ones you like or save.”
So with a strong Instagram SEO strategy, you can reach high-interest users who are more likely to engage with your content.
For tips on optimizing your content for SEO read this: Instagram SEO: 5 Ways to Increase Your Discoverability.
Tip #3: Audit Your Followers and Remove Spam Accounts
Your engagement rate takes into account your overall follower count, so if you have a ton of inactive (or worse — spam) followers, they could be doing more harm than good.
While Instagram does remove spam accounts, it’s a good idea to do a little spring cleaning too. Go to your profile, tap “Followers,” and manually remove them.
Remember: follower count is essentially a vanity metric. A smaller, more engaged community is often better for driving real results.
So, spend time focusing on your community — engage with their comments, the posts they tag you in, and strengthen those relationships.
Tip #4: Experiment With Different Carousel Posts
Traditional feed posts may not perform as well as they once did, but they’re not completely out of the picture either.
Based on a 2022 Later study, carousel posts have consistently outperformed image and video posts (excluding Reels) over the years.
You can use the carousel format to post behind-the-scenes content, tips and tricks, a round-up, or even experiment with different content types like a photo dump or memes.
Carousel posts are great engagement-drivers and can help increase the amount of likes, comments, and shares you get on your posts.
With Later, you can schedule your carousel posts in advance and they’ll publish automatically — no notifications required. Start scheduling today:
Tip #5: Post When Your Audience Is Most Engaged
Posting when your audience is most engaged is a great tactic for boosting engagement.
According to Later, the best time to post on Instagram is 6 AM — however, your own personal best time will vary based on your audience's behavior.
So, how do you know when your audience is most engaged?
You could manually track when you post on Instagram, and see how your content performs over time in an Excel sheet or Google Doc.
However, if you want to skip the experiments you can make life easier with Later’s Best Time to Post feature:
It automatically calculates your top posting times based on your best performing posts from the recent month — game-changer!
Later’s Best Time to Post feature is available on all paid plans. Sign up now to find the best days and times to post on Instagram for maximum engagement.
And there you have it! Instagram is constantly evolving, so what once worked for your account might not work in 2022.
However, with an updated strategy, you can still see a growth in engagement on Instagram.
Try these tips, check your analytics, rinse and repeat.
With Later you can save time and schedule posts for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok. Get started today: