Why your Instagram engagement kinda sucks right now

Feb 2, 2021

Rachel Reichenbach

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

Why your Instagram engagement kinda sucks right now

Feb 2, 2021

Rachel Reichenbach

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Back in November, Instagram reached out to me and asked me to schedule a call with them so a media expert from the Instagram Partnerships team could give me advice on how I could grow my account. I shall now share the results of my espionage with you.

For privacy reasons, I’ll refer to the person I spoke to as Mr. Ig. I got a ton of really useful information out of this call, and I will probably have to write multiple articles to cover it all. The most important thing I learned was that Instagram’s algorithm will either reward or punish you based on your usage of the app as a whole. There are over 500 different factors, but it takes much more into account than just the likes, views, comments, etc of a specific post. The algorithm ranks your specific post by taking into account your use of Instagram as a whole.

Think of it like the algorithm is grading you in a class. One test alone doesn’t determine your whole grade – there’s still participation points, homework, classwork, projects, and more. You’ve gotta participate throughout the class as a whole, not just show up for one test and get an A on it.

Here are the top 3 things I’ll cover on what you should be doing to make your Instagram engagement suck less:

1. Reels
2. Use all of Instagram’s features
3. Consistency

why things suck #1: no feelies, only reelies

Reels are a new Instagram feature, meant to be a competitor to TikTok. They haven’t been rolled out in every country yet. Reels are the current cheat code to success for Instagram right now. They are also one of the reasons why so many people saw their engagement tank this fall. This is because reels are currently boosted in the algorithm. Once the reels feature isn’t so new a few months from now, it will likely be downgraded to normal weight.

If you are not posting at least 1 reel a week, the algorithm is going to punish all your posts.


a) I post a reel on Monday. I make normal posts on Tuesday – Friday. All my posts for this week will see higher engagement because of this.

b) I haven’t posted a reel in 2 weeks. My engagement for this past week has absolutely tanked. Once I post a reel again, the posts that follow have a much better shot at seeing more engagement.

According to Mr. Ig, the Ideal™️ amount of reels per week is 4-7. Unfortunately, this is a bit difficult to do, thanks to the fact that a majority of people have lives outside of this app.

Mr. Ig: so do you think you could be making 4-7 compelling reels per week for the next month or so?
Me, a full time student and shop owner, laughing in disbelief: uh no not really

Who the hell has the amount of time and mental health required for all that?? not me binch!!! So, my advice to you as a human who enjoys keeping what is left of my sanity intact, is to try to do a minimum of one reel per week. If you’re feelin it.

Instagram currently has a team that is dedicated entirely to just finding good reels for them to promote. If your reel is chosen to be featured, they’ll choose to show it to more people for around a month, leading to a ton of views. But keep in mind that the promo team is Specifically looking at the back end for reels that were made using Instagram’s in app editor. which means no recycling tikt oks. You can still have recycled videos do really well, but this basically disqualifies you from being chosen by the team.

why things suck #2: Instagram wants you to use all their features :) a l l o f t h e m :) and use them often :)

aka “you will be graded for this class based on participation throughout the semester”

Instagram likes it when you are spending all your time on the app :) and using all of their available features aside from normal feed posts :) They like it when you post a combination of normal posts, reels, IGTV, stories, shoppable posts, etc etc. You know those little events they do in stories like the “I Voted” sticker? participate in that school spirit kinda junk. The algorithm likes it when you use the in app camera and filters, geolocation tagging, messaging, story buttons, all that stuff. use app more. have many different thing to offer you :) sell your soul :)

Instagram’s Highly Unrealistic Ideal Amount of Posts of Each Type Per Week:

  •  feed posts per week (reels & IGTV you choose to post to feed count here)
  • 8-10 stories per week, preferably 2+ per day
  • 4-7 reels per wee
  •  1-3 IGTV a week

Rachel’s Far More Realistic Ideal Amounts Per Week For People Who Don’t Want to Go Insane:

  • 1-2 stories per day, preferably of your pets, so that i can see more pets (please show me your pets)
  • 1 reel per week
  • an IGTV if you’re feelin spicy?? i personally do not want to go through that kind of effort
  • [REDACTED] amount of normal feed posts (check next section)

why things suck #3: consistency is key babeyyy

Mr. Ig confirmed that the algorithm encourages posting more often. but some of us still have a small sliver of mental health that we wish to keep, so he gave me advice for us weaklings who are actually human. And that advice is to be consistent over time.

Some examples he gave:

  • posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday every week
  • posting every other day
  • posting 3 times per week

Publish your posts consistently at the same time (during your follower’s peak hours) over a long period of time. The algorithm likes consistency and patterns. breaking that pattern make it mad :(

Following all of these instructions right away will not cause you to see instant success and growth. The key is to be consistent and persistent over time. and eventually. you’ll maybe get there :’)

In conclusion: algorithm sucks but I hope this makes it a little less suck

Please keep in mind that all of this is just Instagram’s Ideal™️, and Instagram does not care about your mental health and sanity!! But I do!! Please do not feel pressured like “oh god now I gotta come up with 7 reels a week just to get views on all my other posts otherwise i am subjected to Instagram corporal punishment :(“ because seriously, the amount they want from people is inhumane. Take care of your own mental health and sanity first.

There are so many other things that factor into growing your Instagram audience, and this barely scratches the surface. I have many more articles about it that I still need to write, especially since numbers and the amount of content you churn out isn’t everything. So please remember that all of this is simply advice, not a bible to live by. be realistic and kind to yourself. Or else.

About the Author

Rachel Reichenbach is a college student and frog enthusiast living in the Bay Area, California. She is a founder of Rainylune, producing super-adorable frog-inspired accessories. You can check out Rachel’s work on her website, Instagram, and Twitter. If you’d like to order some of the accessories, you can do it here, and also support Rachel on Patreon. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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5 responses to “Why your Instagram engagement kinda sucks right now”

  1. Lisa K Larson Avatar
    Lisa K Larson

    You know you don’t HAVE to keep up with Instagram or TikTok or Facebook or any of these platforms if it’s stressing you out!

  2. Adam Aldred Avatar
    Adam Aldred

    Unfortunately for some photography businesses it’s a necessity now personally Iv hated using it but every bride Iv spoke. To over the last years has asked for Instagram not my website

  3. W Douglas LeBlanc Avatar
    W Douglas LeBlanc

    Videos, reels, whatever. Must be captioned. Or FAIL end of discussion. You want me to see them include captions. We are Deaf in real life.

    I decide my content, and how much or not I post. I have a business to run. If you’re not ordering prints, asking for workshops, advice, or photo shoots, or otherwise paying me, sit down and muzzle it.

    All I want are some likes, shares and follows. Maybe potential sponsorships. It’s not a big ask. I don’t have ludicrous plans to become madly famous or rich. But some nice glass would be nice.

    Thank you my lovelies. ???

  4. Phill Holland Avatar
    Phill Holland

    This just re-enforces my view that Instagram algorithms are totally at odds with enabling a higher quality of content which takes more time to produce. Unless of course you turn your life and full time job into an Instagram professional, slowly etching away at anything good in humanity and replacing it with shiny endorphin hits and meaningless drivel of lifestyle lies.

  5. ShishkaBerry Avatar

    That kind of explains my engagement totally tanking in the past few months, I’ve never used igtv or reels haha.