Hello friend! When I first started my Instagram account, I had no idea what engagement meant. Instagram was a place for me to quickly share my outfit, make connections with like-minded people and get outfit inspiration. But now, because of the potential to make money, Instagram is becoming a somewhat ugly space where people are resorting to many (some unethical) methods to increase Instagram engagement.
My hope in writing this post is to simply raise awareness so that we all know what is going on. Furthermore, it may serve to level the playing field so that everyone knows their options on how to increase Instagram engagement. Please note that I am not an expert nor am I selling anything. I am simply sharing what I have learned and observed. You can read more in my Ugly Side of Blogging series.
Before we go any further, let’s discuss what engagement is. Engagement, in reference to Instagram, is a measure of how involved an influencer’s followers are in that influencer’s content. To calculate a specific number, it is the number of likes and comments on a post divided by the influencer’s number of followers. There are programs and apps that will give you your engagement rate and many other metrics.
A high engagement rate may be valuable to smaller influencers as a selling point to businesses. While they may not have high number of followers, they can claim to have a highly engaged audience. The understanding here is that the followers trust the influencer and are likely to purchase items that the influencer recommends. This in turn may convince the company to work with the influencer.
So now you can see why people are clamoring to attain not only a high number of followers (see Increasing Instagram Followers post), but also a highly engaged following. This has therefore led to a new phenomenon of influencers constantly seeking to increase Instagram engagement. Let us then look into the many ways one can increase Instagram engagement.
Like for Like to Increase Instagram Engagement
In its true meaning, a like for like is a benign way to increase Instagram engagement. It is simply providing a “like” on someone’s Instagram photo in return for a “like” on yours. This can be achieved in many ways. The simplest is of course going through and liking back everyone that likes your photo. As you can imagine this is time consuming and is only reasonable for those who have smaller accounts.
There are also those who use the hashtag #likeforlike or #l4l. This is with the hope/assumption that those who like a post under that hashtag feed will in turn get a like from all of those posters. I’m not sure how often the like is actually returned. But truthfully, I doubt that it happens at a high rate.
While I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with a like for like, I start to worry when it takes over someone’s reasons for being on Instagram. If you are only liking photos to get likes on yours, that’s insincere. It’s also not the purpose of what we do, I think! However, I know many others who blog as a job and perhaps it is different for them…
Like for Like Apps to Increase Instagram Engagement
Stemming from the idea of a like for like, companies have emerged to provide them. The ones I know about use an app. It starts with you earning points for liking other photos on the app. Then you can use your points to get likes on your post. The more you like, the more likes you can get on your post.
I knew someone who had tried the app and she showed me some of the fashion accounts on it. I recognized some of the girls. So it turns out this method is being used quite a bit. Now this was just one app and we recognized multiple people. So I can only imagine how much is truly going on.
I’m not upset or judging. Honestly, I am relieved to know how some are getting so many more likes than I am. Because for a while I thought it was my content that was failing. But now I know some are using these apps and that’s fine. However, I think people should be cautions. I have heard that Instagram does not like third party apps interfering with them. Therefore they may do something about it in the future.
Comment for Comment to Increase Instagram Engagement
Recently, I have noticed a natural “comment for comment” occurring. This is when one person returns a like and comment for one left on their post. I feel like this happens between bloggers. It’s almost an unwritten code of conduct. I have started to return the favor when I get a comment. I can’t promise it happens all of the time. But I do try to do so most of the time. I think it’s a show of respect and kindness to the person!
Comment Pods to Increase Instagram Engagement
Comment pods became popular after the start of all of the Instagram algorithm changes. Once Instagram changed from a chronological feed to this mystery algorithm, everyone wanted more comments and likes to get noticed quickly. I think new influencers also turn to comment pods a lot to get some engagement on their posts while they build their following.
The function of a comment pod is simple. Everyone engages with each other’s posts. While the specific rules of each pod are different, the concept is the same. You notify your group that you posted. The members then like and comment on your post. It is then expected that you like and comment when they post. It’s basically an “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” understanding!
I think comment pods are a simple and easy way to get some real engagement on your posts provided that they are done well. So how do you make a comment pod work for you?
- Get in a pod with active people who will actually participate! Some people join a pod but don’t really do the work. That won’t be any help to you!
- Encourage your pod to leave applicable comments. I’ve seen too many “great shot babe” comments. That kind of a comment just feels disingenuous.
- Don’t rely solely on a comment pod. If all of your comments are from the same people, that looks suspicious. Make sure to spend time building a real following so that you’ll have natural comments coming in as well!
Purchasing Likes to Increase Instagram Engagement
Now we get into the more questionable methods. First is to straight out purchase likes. You pay a fee for the number of likes you want on a photo. Then as soon as you post, the likes fly in (from fake bot accounts). The hope of this is to increase Instagram engagement quickly so that the post is deemed to be good by the algorithm. This in turn propels that post up to the top of the hashtag feeds.
Here I will give the same warning as for the like for like apps. While this method certainly works, you are putting yourself and your account at risk. No one truly knows how Instagram makes their algorithm. But most agree that they do not like “black hat” tricks (i.e. using bots and other programs). Therefore, be careful of how you go about all of this!
Comment Bots to Increase Instagram Engagement
The last method I know of is to use a comment bot to leave comments on other accounts. The bot spams a bunch of posts with the same comment. The hope of this is that the recipients of the comments will in turn like back, comment back or start to follow the account.
Because the bot uses the same comment on everyone, it has to be a neutral one. But it can still be obvious on some posts. I’ve seen posts when someone is discussing a sad topic and a bot has left a comment like “love this.” Another sign is when the bot is simply using emojis or single words like “nice” or “love.”
My take on this is to be careful. I’ve said it above and I’ll say it again. People are wising up to some of these tricks. Don’t let your desire to succeed get your account flagged by Instagram.
Stay Positive and Blog On
Before I end this post, I want to thank you for sticking through it! I also want to end on a positive note. Blogging and Instagram can still be a fun place. Let’s focus on the positive. There is room for all of us. Let’s lift each other up and not knock each other down.