Instagram Saves Are The Hot New Engagement Metric — Here’s Why
Goodbye likes, hello saves: Instagram saves are the hottest engagement metric that brands are tracking right now (and for good reason).
With Instagram testing the removal of likes, success metrics for Instagram feed posts are moving away from public likes in favor of the private “saves” metric instead.
Instagram saves are also a key signal for how the Instagram algorithm works: the more saves you get on a post, the more people it will be shown to in the algorithm.
So if you want to grow your account, you need to focus on getting people to save your Instagram post! Here are 6 top tips on how to increase Instagram saves:
What are Instagram Saves?
Instagram saves aren’t anything new. In fact, they first appeared about two years ago as a handy way to collect and save your favorite posts.
By tapping the “bookmark” icon in the bottom right corner of an Instagram post, that post gets added to your saved posts, making it really easy to find again.
Instagram also introduced Collections — the ability to categorize your saved posts by topic, look, or any other classification that you want to use to keep your saved posts organized!
It’s like creating a personalized library of your favorite Instagram posts!
But thanks to the intelligent Instagram algorithm, Instagram saves are more important than ever!
Now, the more saves your post gets, the more likely the Instagram algorithm will position your post higher in people feeds, or even on the Instagram Explore page!
How Does the Algorithm Use Instagram Saves?
The Instagram algorithm uses 7 key factors to determine how to rank a post in the Instagram feed, one being the engagement you get on a post (likes, comments, views, and saves).
It “reads” the number of saves an Instagram post gets as an indicator of quality: people saving your post is an indicator to Instagram that this is high quality content, so it shows it to more people in the feed.
In a nutshell, an Instagram save is like flagging an email as important — it gets pushed to the top of the pile thanks to the Instagram algorithm.
The more likes, comments, and now saves a post gets the better — especially if all that engagement comes quickly after posting.
Why are Instagram Saves Suddenly so Important?
ICYMI: Instagram is testing removing post likes from certain countries.
What started out as an experiment in Canada has now expanded to several other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand!
We’re currently running a test that hides the total number of likes and video views for some people in the following countries:
✅ New Zealand pic.twitter.com/2OdzpIUBka
— Instagram (@instagram) July 17, 2019
With this shift in mind, the number of likes a post gets is becoming less valuable to brands when it comes to tracking how successful a post is.
If likes can’t be seen by anyone except the account holder, the focus is more on overall engagement, including the number of comments and saves a post gets.
And to help measure this overall engagement, a lot of businesses have started to track saves as part of their Instagram engagement rate calculation.
Often called “true engagement”, the calculation includes not just likes and comments but also the number of times your post is saved.
And for influencers, a collaboration project with a brand could be measured in this way too.
While a simple like is a way for a user to tell a brand they’ve seen and enjoyed their post, a save is an indicator that this is of value to them and that they want to come back to this content at a later date.
“Looking at the posts that get the most saves (on your profile) helps you understand what your audience is most connected with,” says James in his A Drink With James video series.
Instagram educator and influencer Christina Galbato has also recently shared about how important Instagram saves are to driving more engagement and performing well in the algorithm:
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Ok, short 2-sentence Instagram captions are really cute every so often (and let’s be honest – they’re easy when we can’t think of what the fuck else to say), but here’s where the real gold is when it comes to captions: MICRO-BLOGGING. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Why? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Longer, value-packed captions keep people looking at & reading your content for longer, instead of scrolling on by, signaling to the ‘gram that people actually WANT to see you on their feed. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ AND… if the caption is valuable and/or inspirational enough, people will save your post for later or even share it with a friend. And these days, the ever-mysterious algorithm is valuing saves & shares more. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So how can you micro-blog? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1️⃣ Expand on a topic or teach something (like what I’m doing now). For example, if you’re a life coach, break down 3 ways you can overcome imposter syndrome. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2️⃣ Give a tutorial. For example, if your niche is beauty, write a tutorial on the best contour techniques. (and share that with me plz because your girl needs help 😂) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 3️⃣ Share a guide. For example, if your niche is travel, give a list of the best restaurants in a certain destination. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 4️⃣ Get personal with a story and a valuable takeaway. For example, a conversation you had recently and what it taught you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you try micro-blogging in an upcoming caption, tag me in the photo or send it to me! I wanna see what you do and share it on my page as an example 👏🏼
So if you want to see what your audience is really engaged with, it’s time to start tracking Instagram saves as a performance metric.
With saves being a strong indicator of your best content, plus the improved chances of appearing on the Explore page, it’s time to strategize on how to get more Instagram saves on your posts:
Get More Instagram Saves Tip #1: Create Infographic-style Images
While good quality photography will always do well on Instagram, if you want to boost your Instagram saves, you might need to mix things up.
Images that are educational, information-heavy or almost infographic in style are likely to be saved as people want to “save it for later,” so they can process that information in their own time.
Think of it as reference material that your users might want to to check back on, or save for a future date.
Check out how fitness and health influencer @lucymountain has created her feed with plenty of shots that have been edited to look like infographics:
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as that famous, profound quote of wisdom goes: ‘ch3ck yo self b4 you wr3ck yo self’⠀ ⠀⠀ (bare with me.)⠀ ⠀ Calling yourself out on your own bullshit in life is an important skill, albeit v uncomfortable at times. I think it’s generally good practice to do a bit of ‘unpicking’ on our thoughts every now and then.⠀ ⠀ This isn’t just figuring out the real trigger behind the sudden rage you had at the bald man whose card wouldn’t open the tube barriers quick enough this morning – but also how we're making food choices.⠀ ⠀ Being super #balanced with food is a pretty big trend at the moment, you’ll often see people talking about eating large plates of green food because ‘it makes them FEEL good ! ! !’⠀ ⠀ Whilst I’m certainly not here to shit on anyone wanting to get some more veggies in their life (salads *are* great) sometimes ‘feeling good’ is stemming from underlying guilt and shame.⠀ ⠀ When I was in the depths of my former-diet-self, my brain would have this clever way of telling myself that I felt GOOD.⠀ ⠀ Eating low carb would make me feel GOOD.⠀ Not snacking all day would would make me feel GOOD.⠀ Picking a chia seed avocado brownie over a biscuit and raisin yorkie would make me feel GOOD.⠀ Ordering a salad because I read in Heat magazine that Jennifer Anniston has salad every for lunch even tho I wanted a tuna mayo sandwich would make me feel GOOD⠀ ⠀ Because I had abided by this weird set of rules in my head created by a variety of external sources which would allegedly make me a healthy, thinner, happier person.⠀ ⠀ BUT LET ME TELL YOU.⠀ ⠀ If your behaviours and eating patterns are led by guilt and shame then it’s not adding to your health long-term. It’s cat fishing you. It’s a flakey mindset, further distracting you from getting to the mindset you really want to reach.⠀ Check yourself. Reframe the way you make your food choices. Chose foods for the *benefits*. Whether that’s nutrients or taste. And do enjoy your salads for gods sake. But not out of guilt. Because you actually like them.
Get More Instagram Saves Tip #2: Write Longer & Richer Captions
Gone are the days of a caption just being a collection of emojis — captions need to be crafted and share value with your readers!
And when it comes to getting more saves on your post, having a caption that reads almost like a mini-blog is a great way to do it.
When you share a lot of valuable and interesting content in your captions, your readers will be more likely to save your post to save it for later, or to return to when they want a refresher of the info you shared.
Take for example @laurathomasphd — her information-rich captions go above and beyond to educate her readers:
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HUNGER DIRECTED EATING IS NOT THE SAME AS INTUITIVE EATING// 👏 IT’S 👏 A 👏 DIET 👏 Ok folx, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this HDE situation – loads of people in my DMs asking me what the deal is. 🧁 I know everyone has been losing their shit over that GD cupcake book all over Insta and there seems to be heaps of confusion over its relationship to Intuitive Eating. And here’s the short answer: there isn’t one. 🤔 So WTF is Hunger directed eating (or HDE?). Well, it’s a concept that at the core suggests that you eat ONLY when hungry and has some other weird rules like eating the thing you like most on your plate first (which is cool if that’s what you prefer, but it’s also totally fine to save it for last!). 🧐 On the surface it might look like HDE and IE are the same, it seems as though the principles have been hijacked and coopted (without crediting the IE framework). 👉 The HDE book claims not to be a diet, but it literally says the words ‘thin’ and ‘skinny jeans’ on the front so it’s not really up for debate. You can roll shit in glitter but, well, you know… HDE is, ‘the hunger and fullness diet’. 👉 The HDE book is fatphobic and shames bodies – if your whole raison d'être is to shrink bodies and make them smaller, you are reinforcing the cultural thin ideal, you are saying (albeit inadvertently) that fat is bad (it’s not). It’s also selling the lie that once you reach some arbitrary dress size or number on the scale, that your whole life will be magnificent, you’ll be worthy, loveable, cool, and deserving. Well, like I tell my clients, even Beyoncé shits. Diet culture is designed to make you feel bad about yourself, prey on your insecurities and vulnerabilities and then sell you the solution. We have the choice to unsubscribe. 👉 This is critical because rejecting the diet mentality and the pursuit of the thin ideal is really the crux of the healing your relationship with food and your body. I appreciate this is a difficult step, but it’s also worthwhile remembering that we didn’t come out of the womb hating our bodies – we learned that shit, we can unlearn it too. 👉 Continues in comments…
Sony Alpha also likes to give its audience a little more info behind every post they share.
At the end of each caption, you can find the camera settings each photo was captured on, making it a great resource for pro and novice photographers:
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An epic sunset over the Pyramids of Giza captured by #AlphaCollective member @oveck 🙌 "Some memories of Egypt, an ancient magical land. I shot this during a trip to Egypt last year on the last day of the trip. I suppose it needed to be an epic sunset over the city with the Pyramids of Giza in the background for me to be stunt and wanna go back to this amazing country." | #SonyAlpha a7R III | 70-200mm F2.8 GM | 200mm | F4 | 1/640 sec | ISO 400 | #BeAlpha
Influencer @officiallyquigley is also a fan of long-form captions!
She gives her readers some added insight into her shots while letting her audience get to know her a little more — so it’s no surprise she’s built up a huge, loyal following with her posts and captions combo:
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WHY I ALMOST DIDN’T POST THESE PHOTOS: comparison. Read on… // When @jzobphoto and I went to Portugal, my ONE place I was dying to shoot at was Pena Palace. I’d seen @jacimariesmith @collagevintage @gypsea_lust and @tezza shoot there and I wanted so badly to get some shots that compared to theirs. We got to Sintra, and it was nothing short of MAGICAL. The town was straight out of a fairy tale… but as we made our way up to the Palace, clouds rolled over and a heavy FOG set in. We got to the top of the mountain and it was SO windy, so foggy that you could barely see anything. It took us almost a half a day to make the trek. We sat and waited out the weather… we wanted clear skies so you could see just how high up the castle is in the photos. Our sun and clear skies didn’t come, so we woke up early the next day (our last day in Portugal) and made the trek up a second time. We still got fog. We ended up with these photos… which took me over a year to post because of a subconscious level of comparison. I was completely and utterly blinded by my own perfectionism. // Today, I finally felt like I was ready to share them… and twenty minutes ago my friends @paigearminta and @taryndudleyphoto posted an image sort of similar to the first one in this carousel. My immediate thought was- “crap! Now I can’t share mine anymore today.” Their work was SO good I didn’t want people to compare mine to it. But that thought quickly came and went… because I know in my heart of hearts that MAKING ART IS NOT ABOUT COMPARING. There is room for all artists to succeed and succeed in their own way. I truly believe that I may have set out to get a similar “look” in these photos to some of my idols, but no one can ever do ME like I do. I decided to push past the fear today and be PROUD of my work. It’s your love and support that continuously help me to be vulnerable and transparent about my journey as a creator and for that I’m truly grateful. Infinite hugs, Quigs
Want to learn more about growing your Instagram from the pros like @officiallyquigley, @jasminestar, @instawithalex and more? Get your ticket to Later’s free (and *totally* digital) Instagram conference — LaterCon!
Get More Instagram Saves Tip #3: Create Evergreen Content
Instagram is a fast-paced world — the chances of your post being seen more than once by your followers are slim considering the Instagram algorithm values timely and new content above all else.
So you need to create content that your audience will want to come back to time and time again.
It could be a year-long calendar of events, a check-list, a 60-second workout video or tutorial — whatever the content, make sure it’s something that will be relevant for today, next week, next month, and even next year.
You’ll soon find your saves will go up!
At Later, our most-saved post of the year is this one — swipe left to find the best times to post to Instagram!
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The happy hour of Instagram: the best time to post. 🍹⠀ ⠀ Scheduling your Instagram posts for optimized times is proven to help you reach more followers & increase your engagement. ⏰⠀ ⠀ Learn how to find *your* best time to post on Instagram, plus we're breaking down the best times for each day of the week, globally (swipe left)! 👉⠀ ⠀ ⤴ Link in bio or in our Instagram Stories ⤴⠀ ⠀ 📷 @ananewyork ⠀ #instagrammarketing #socialmediamarketing #instagramtips #instagram101 #smm #socialmediaspecialist #socialmediamanager #planyourfeed #socialmediatips #instagramforbusiness #instagramstrategy
For our audience, this info is definitely something that’s going to be relevant to their strategy, whether they’re planning posts for this week, or at some point in the future!
Similarly, @GirlBoss knows what kind of information their audience loves. But it’s not all just relevant for today.
Their checklist of ‘6 steps for negotiating the salary you deserve’ post is useful for all their audience, whether that important meeting is tomorrow or at the end of the quarter!
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A 2015 study found only 38% of millennials negotiate their first salary. And of course, if you’re a woman, those numbers dip even further; 34% of women negotiate right out of the gate as opposed to 44% of men. This, despite the fact that 74% of employers in the same study said they’d allotted room for an increase. So what gives? Why aren’t more of us asking for a little more of the pie when it’s there for the taking? Cue the arguments about millennials being highly non-confrontational and having an egalitarian outlook. But that seems a bit simplistic, no? As with the gender pay gap and the confidence gap, there are a number of factors at play here, but here’s one that seems pretty intuitive: The notion of “entitled millennials” is so pervasive that in a self-conscious effort not to perpetuate that stereotype, we’re not asking for what we deserve. Hit the link in our bio where we catch up with two money and entrepreneurship experts on the issue: personal-finance guru and best-selling author @shindychen, and @tamaramellon, co-founder of Jimmy Choo and founder of an eponymous shoe and handbag company.
Get More Instagram Saves Tip #4: Create Instagram Quotes
Instagram quotes are not filler content — they’re a huge asset to your Instagram strategy, especially if you want to get more saves on your posts.
Why? Because viewers love having them to read back on, to share with their friends, and to save them away in a Collection.
Whether that’s inspirational quotes or funny quotes — they work!
Brands like @OldEnglishCompany use quotes to not only promote their products but also to engage their audiences:
Other brands and influencers use them sparingly to spark engagement and relatability with their audience. Check out how @aestheticsofjoy uses quotes in her feed:
Want to learn more about how Instagram quotes can strengthen your marketing strategy? Check out this blog post for 5 top tips!
Get More Instagram Saves Tip #5: Ask Your Audience to Save Your Post
A call-to-action (CTA) in your post caption can be a powerful thing when used correctly.
So if you’re going to use any of the tips above, don’t forget to add a CTA to save your post!
It acts as a friendly reminder to your audience that this is a post worth filing away for the future, while also giving that signal to the algorithm that it’s a piece of quality content, worthy of the Instagram Explore page!
Get More Instagram Saves Tip #6: Create Posts with Tips and Hacks
Everyone loves a top industry tip or trying out a new hack they’ve found online.
So unsurprisingly, this type of educational content can do really well on Instagram, especially when it comes to saves.
Beauty brand @gotoskincare has done a great job at weaving tips and tricks into the Instagram feed.
Their posts with beauty and skincare tips help users get to know their products and learn some skills along the way — it’s a perfect recipe for a saved post:
How to Track Your Instagram Saves
While it’s relatively easy to see how many likes and comments a post receives, it’s a little harder to track saves.
One way to do it is by looking at your Instagram Insights — under the Content tab, if you tap “See All” under Feed Posts, you can use the filter option to analyze your post-performance based on the number of saves it got:
Or if you use Later to plan and schedule your Instagram feed, you can also use it to get detailed insights into your post performance!
With Later’s Instagram Analytics, you can sort your profile’s post analytics by “saves” and see all of your top-performing content all in one place!
Plus easily compare engagement rates, likes, comments, and impressions!
Whether you’re looking to get more engagement on your post or earn a spot on the coveted Explore page, creating content that’s “saveable” helps.
Next time you’re planning your content strategy for your feed, think about incorporating a few of these top tips and you’ll soon see your engagement rates and your account grow!