How to engage your audience (aka Instagram is kicking my butt right now). - Part III

Two weeks ago I wrote the second instalment in my mini series on Instagram - more specifically, on how it's been kicking my butt lately with all the changes to its algorithm. Today, it's time for Part III! (You can read Part I here and Part II here.) 

Spoiler alert: It's a bit of a bummer. And I'm not super sure what to experiment with next so if you have anything you'd like to see me do, please hit me up with your suggestions in the comments below!

As last time, let's start with a look at the numbers.

FOLLOWERS:

At the time of my last blog post (May 22) I had 3,450 followers - a growth rate of exactly 1% over the four weeks before May 22 which was in line with my usual follower growth rate.

As of last Monday (June 5), I had 3,524 followers, with a weekly growth rate of 1% - again. (Sidenote: I chose Monday here because I always looked at the growth rates leading up to a Monday and I want to avoid any bias because of in- or excluding different weekdays.) Same holds true for the week between May 22 and May 29 - also a growth rate of 1%. 

LIKE HISTORY:

Now, let's take a quick look at the like history. If you recall my last post, the average number of likes I got on one day for all of my posts had increase slightly from 350 to 400. Still not up to my old average which was 500 in February, but better!

Enter the weeks from May 22 to June 5:

Like History from May 22 to June 5

Like History from May 22 to June 5

Da da da da. (Insert sad sound). The average number of likes per day is down to slightly above 300. BUT! Maybe there's positive news when it comes to the comments?

Comment History

Quick recap: The average number of comments I got on one day for all of my posts used to be slightly above 20 back in February, went down to below 20 before the experiment and picked up again to slightly above 20 in the first week of the experiment.

Now let's look at the last two weeks:

Comment History from May 22 to June 5

Comment History from May 22 to June 5

Again, lower than before. Lower than 20 comments, despite a huge outlier (hello anti-Trump post!). 

Argh. Clearly, the tactics I experimented were not working - or were they?

LOVE RATE, TALK RATE & ENGAGEMENT RATE:

Like History and Comment History do not take into account how many followers you have at a given point in time. This means that a change in these numbers might also be purely driven by an change in followers, and not by a change in engagement - but if you think about the fact that my follower growth stayed at 1% per week, this does not seem like good news:

Now, I'm cautious to show this graph because unfortunately I cannot adjust the time period for the Love Rate, Talk Rate and Engagement Rate on Iconosquare. This means this screenshot shows the numbers for June 1 to June 7 - but still, they show an indication of what we already suspected based on the other data: Love Rate and Engagement Rate went down. Oh no. 

What might have caused this? 

Let's look at what I experimented with in the last two weeks:

POSTING FREQUENCY & TIMING:

For the second week of the experiment (May 22 to May 29) I only posted twice a day, on the weekend once. This means one post less per day. My hypothesis was that this would drive up the likes and comments per post - but it clearly didn't, otherwise I would have seen an increase in the Like History in that particular week, not a decrease. 

For me, this means I'll go back to posting three times a day if I have enough to say to fill three posts. Clearly, posting less often does not increase your engagement - at least for me - which I think is intuitive: Instagram wants you to post often because it wants you in their app. Posting more might result in your posts being shown more often to your followers!

Hashtags:

After learning about Shadowbans (read my last post if you're curious!) I decided to try and post a few posts without hashtags at all. I did that pretty consistently during the week of May 22, and honestly - no change in likes or comments. Neither positive nor negative. Is it possible that Instagram is not even considering hashtags anymore when it decides how often to show our posts?

No Hasthag.png

I decided to go back to using hashtags, but a bit more mindful than before. I include less, and I include a few more popular ones and then a few less popular ones. So far, I haven't seen any changes.

Video:

The more I talk with people, the more I am convinced that using Instagram Stories (with video, not just with photos) and Live Videos has a positive impact on the visibility of your posts. As I wrote in my last post, I tend to do Instagram Stories pretty regularly, but I want to try and see what happens if I do more Live Videos again.

A few last thoughts:

The results from the last two weeks are kind of a bummer. I will get back to what I was doing in week 1 of the experiment because that seemed to work better than posting less and not using hashtags, and also start doing more Live Videos.

I'd be super curious to hear if you've recently tried something new with your Instagram? Or if you have any ideas what I should try next?