Straight up, Instagram engagement is one of the most frustrating things, we as bloggers have to deal with.  Am I right?  At the end of the day, Instagram will always be Instagram, you just have to learn how to play the game.

First & foremost, I DO NOT claim to be an instagram expert, & reading this post isn't going to magically improve your engagement overnight.  I don't have all the answers, I can just share what works for me.  I would love to throw up a post and just receive thousands of likes, but my world doesn't work like that.  But let's be real, unless you've been around for a while and have a 100k+ following, it doesn't work like that.

The main goal is to be seen.  In order to do that you have to increase your reach, which is done by having consistently good engagement.  These are the facts.  So how do you do that?  Plain and simple, you engage with posts & stories.  This isn't about beating the algorithm, it's about being SOCIAL on a SOCIAL network. 

"They" say the easiest way to ensure engagement is to post at peek hours.  This is great and all, but personally I don't want to be tied down to a time.  Instagram is consuming enough without having to drop what I am doing at that moment to post at peek times.  I can't be the only one who thinks that is crazy.  So let's get to it...

These suggestions may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people don't do these simple, simple things.

RESPOND to people who engage with your posts.  This may seem like common sense, but you would not believe the amount of people I see who do not engage with their following, at all.  When someone takes the time to comment on your post, take the time to respond.  Same goes for stories.  IF the engagement is forced (giveaway, engagement group, whatever) -- respond anyway.  "They" say you should complete responding 2o minutes before uploading your new post.  I have no idea if this is true, but I do tend to do this.
ENGAGE with your feed.  You follow these accounts for a reason so show them some love.  This is a HUGE "SAME" for stories.  If you see an engagement sticker; poll, questions, etc.. use it.  I try to set aside an hour a day (doesn't have to be one sitting) to ACTIVELY watch stories.

Right before and immediately after I post, I scroll my feed -- liking posts and leaving comments.  Most of the time, these accounts will return the favor.  The more consistent you are with this, the more people will recognize your name, and the more likely they are to engage with your posts.
ENGAGE with your explore page.  Leave comments that stand out.  Do better than "so cute," "love this," and other generic comments that blend in.  You can't expect everyone to reciprocate the love, but a lot of people do.  The main thing here is you're getting exposure, which will benefit you in the end.  Also, Instagram sees that you are being engaging, and just maybe this will boost your reach. 
ENGAGE (no surprise there) with the hashtags you use.  So this is a little trick I learned somewhere on the internet, but it seems to work.  Not as much as feed and explore page engagement, but any little bit helps!  When you post using hashtags, engage with the people who also recently used these hashtags.  Sometimes they respond, but you're creating exposure and being engaging.

Since I brought up engagement groups (AKA pods) I'm going to touch on them for a minute.  Unpopular opinion, but I think engagement groups can be super beneficial.  If they're run right, they can be a great source of support and.. guess what.. CONSISTENT ENGAGEMENT!!  If you're not into the big 30 person pods, create your own with a group of blogger besties. Why not?  That being said, I have no idea if Instagram frowns upon them, and shadow bans because of them.

To wrap it up.. in order to get engagement you have to give it.  These tips aren't guaranteed to work, they are just what works for me.  Your engagement isn't going to skyrocket, but it will be more consistent.  Hope this helps!  If you have any questions, comment below or message me on Instagram, @katherinemarie.shops
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