After you take a break on Instagram, you might notice that your like count has decreased a lot comparing to how it looked before. When you stop posting, you disappear from people’s feeds, which can cause your followers to “forget” about you. In this blog post I will help you by sharing some tips on how to regain lost engagement on Instagram.
How do I know that I have lost engagement?
You can take a look at how your posts did a couple of months back. Did they have more likes+comments+saves? If yes, then most probably something has changed and it’s either due to Instagram algorithm changes, or your followers. This can also be due to your photos not being as good for your followers as previously. That doesn’t mean your content is bad, it’s just not as “wow” for your followers. For example if you gained all your followers while posting macro content, and then you switched to landscapes – this could cause your likes to flop.
But how much engagement rate is “good”? You can calculate it.
How to calculate your Instagram Engagement rate?
Since there are lots of methods on calculating your engagement rate, there is no correct or wrong way to do this.
You can use websites that calculate your engagement rate for you, or you can calculate it manually.
To calculate your Instagram engagement rate manually, you will have to know your average like count, average comment count, average save count (if you wish to include it as well) and follower count.
The formula to calculate your engagement rate = (likes + comments + saves) / followers * 100
A good engagement rate is 10%, since when you post – Instagram first shows your photo to 10% of your followers. But often your posts might not even get that big of an engagement, because your followers swiped past your photo, or didn’t scroll far enough to see your post.
Why is my post engagement so low?
You might have noticed entering home page, scrolling a little bit and the going to another tab (for example your profile). Afterwards you return to home page, notice a post that had loaded in your feed, but accidentally tap on “home” again, which reloads the page. The post is lost (unless you scroll far enough to find it again). This can happen to your posts as well. And after the one that you partly saw – could be more posts that loaded, but you didn’t see, because of you not scrolling that far. Those posts didn’t earn a like from you. To fix this happening to your posts, you need to make your posts appear higher on user’s feeds.
How to make your posts appear higher on your follower’s feed?
After a break, your followers have “forgotten” you. You haven’t posted, so Instagram have prioritized other people’s content over yours. You have to regain the “friendship” of your followers to have your posts show up in their feed again.
Your followers are the ones who give your post the starting boost, and only afterwards if the post did well enough – Instagram starts to show it to people who don’t follow you. That’s why you have to start with getting your own follower’s attention back as silly as it sounds. Instagram prioritizes people’s posts with whom the user interacts the most and show those at the top of the home feed. So you have to build up the friendship of the people who follow you, but don’t interact with your posts anymore.
Analyze your followers
Find out which of your followers are active, but don’t interact with your content. Like their content, leave comments under their posts and make them reply. Answer the questions they have in captions. Write meaningful comments. Make the user want to write more than just a “thank you” in return. This might give a sign to Instagram that the user is interested in connecting with you, and your posts might start to show more up in their home feed. You can also watch their stories, reply to them, or react to them.
Some people follow a lot of users and it’s impossible to see and like every user’s post. That’s why Instagram started to implement the home feed algorithm. It analyses each user’s relationship with you and prioritizes those users with whom there are the most frequent interactions. So if you message with a user a lot, like and comment on each other’s posts, you will see the user’s photos higher in your home feed, and so will the user (if you follow each other).
If a user follows lots of accounts, it’s very easy for the user to be an inactive follower to lots of those accounts. This is why “Follow for follow” can harm your account. You gain followers, which (after a while) don’t interact with your content anymore. I have even written a blog post about this topic.
A method that works
Another way is to go straight up and ask your inactive followers in direct messaging if they see your content, and why haven’t they interacted with it recently. I can tell you that this method works, because it happened to me. I follow lots of accounts (which I’m now trying to reduce). Often accounts with great content get lost in my home feed and I stop interacting with them. There was an account with very beautiful content that messaged me and asked if their content is showing up on my feed, because I haven’t interacted with it for a while. After the message, I started noticing the account more, made sure that I’m showing my love to all the beautiful pictures, and it now regularly shows up in my home feed.
What else can I do to have a better Instagram engagement rate?
Since after you post, Instagram shows your post only to 10% of your followers, having ghost (or inactive) followers can harm your post’s engagement growth. You can fix that by removing followers that you find being inactive, or that don’t interact with your content at all.
Removing inactive followers
You can take a look at your “Followers” list and open up some of those accounts. If you notice accounts without a profile picture, or “deleted” or something similar in the name, it’s worth taking a look. If an account had regularly posted content in 2019 and suddenly stopped, most probably the user does not use the account anymore and you can remove the follower. While in the “Followers” list, every entry has “Remove” option. Take in mind that this is anonymous, and Instagram does not tell the users that you have removed them from your followers.
Am account could also be a bot/spam account. One way to tell such accounts apart from the real ones is the username and followers-to-following ratio. If the username consists of scribbles and random numbers, it’s a sign. If user has only a few followers, but follows multiple thousand users, most likely it’s a bot account that’s unlikely to be interacting with your content.
How to tell if a user is inactive?
If you are unsure about the user being inactive or not – you can message the user. If you don’t get an answer in a couple of days, then most probably the user does not use the account that often to be a reliable follower of yours.
Another way is to search the user against each of your recent post’s likers. This might take a lot of time if there’s more that just a couple of people you want to search. There are also third party services that could offer telling you your inactive followers, but I do not suggest using them unless you really trust them. Lots of such apps also are against Instagram’s Community guidelines
How to find out how many of your followers are inactive?
Did you know that you can find out how many of your followers are active just by using Instagram insights? If you don’t have Insights, you might need to switch to Creator or Business account. Take a look at my blog post How to get statistics on your Instagram account for free? to learn how.
If you open your Insights and head to “Followers” section, on the bottom there is the “Most active times” chart. It’s set to “Hours” by default, but when you switch to “Days” – the truth reveals. Most probably the chart has almost identical numbers on all days, but that’s not the case. The number most probably is smaller that your total follower count. Do you know what that means? Your followers minus the number on the days = your followers who don’t use Instagram anymore (or use it that often not to be included in the chart). That means the number difference is people that just sit in your follower list, but don’t like your content, because they don’t use the account.
I have 15.7k followers, and only see 11.4k on the chart. Therefore I have 3.3k people that are ghost followers
I tend to remove followers whose last post is back in 2019 (or even 2018!). Of course, there might be a chance that they still use Instagram, but simply don’t post anymore, but most probably they don’t.
If you’re unsure where to start with searching for inactive followers, you can try the following: Open your “Followers” list and scroll all the way to the bottom. Those will be the first people who followed your account. You can take a look at the or accounts and decide whether they are still active, or their last post was back in 2018.
If you have some time to donate in exchange of poking your old followers a bit to get back their attention to your account, these tips should help you. Even just a little bit of your lost Instagram engagement can be recovered by spending a couple of hours on doing so. But if somehow you are unlucky with getting back the love of your own followers, you can always bring new people to your page. Take a look at the guide on how to grow your Instagram account, written by me. I’ve mentioned multiple practices that I use even now, to grow my Instagram account bigger and bigger.