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November 16, 2023

How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement in 2024

Everyone on Instagram wants growth – a bigger audience, but that does not increase your Instagram engagement.

That’s like wanting more leads when your current clients aren’t even completing your program. It’s the quick fix approach of the online space, just like we see in health and fitness.

We love growth, for sure, grow the top of your funnel. BUT if you focus on driving interaction and increase your Instagram engagement from your CURRENT audience, growth will happen organically.

I’m Annie Miller and I teach you how to build a profitable and sustainable online coaching business without butt selfies or selling your soul to vanity metrics.

Prefer to learn on video? Watch here:

You might think you’re doing these Instagram engagement tips I’m about to share with you, or that you’re checking all the boxes. However, if you’re reading this blog, then it’s likely you’ve got work to do. 

Which is great, because you’re in the right place.

Some of these tips will make sense for you, others may not. Take what you need, discard the rest, or…use it in a different season.

Instagram Is A Social Platform – Not A Search Platform.

So because of this, the “community” is heavily used. Para-social relationships are weird because your audience absolutely should feel like they know you. 

But you don’t know them. It’s strange. But also awesome from a brand standpoint.

That is based on INTERACTION. 

As I said – para-social RELATIONSHIP.

Instagram without that interaction is rather pointless as a business. The point is to be social. 

If you’re showing up to post with the expectation that people will simply flock to your content and tell you how amazing it is, you’ve got another thing coming. 

Which will sound a lot like crickets.

And even if you do post a butt selfie and get loads of likes, those likes don’t pay the bills. 

Let’s Get You Some Engagement!

Today’s blog addresses engagement in two sections, because there are two places people can interact with you from – posts, and stories.


This includes static posts, carousel swipe posts, reels. Anything in the feed is a post. Opposed to stories – which are in…stories.

If you find that you post and it gets trash engagement or only comments from bots, pay attention, you likely need some fine tuning.

You may very well be “checking the boxes” – having a good hook (your first sentence / word to grab attention), and even a CTA (call to action) at the bottom of the caption.

It comes down to the QUALITY of the direction you’re giving your audience.

I want you to embrace the idea that YOU are the LEADER of your followers. What you do, and how you do it, can directly impact how your people respond. Which should be empowering AF.

Step 1: Stop The Scroll

That depends on the piece of content. Is it bold enough, different enough?

Don’t underestimate the power of white space and text. Twitter graphics perform very well in the engagement department.

Step 2: Call To Action

This is getting people to comment. 

If you’re doing a swipe graphic or reel and can get the call to action IN the piece of content DO THAT.

This way, if someone skips the caption, it doesn’t matter, the chance of them responding now goes up.

Here are some examples: 

Common mistakes I see in a call to action are:

  • Being way too open-ended
  • Lacking specificity 
  • Generally not fitting the post (the call to action doesn’t feel natural)

Try these CTA’s instead: 

1. Give them options. 

List the options and have them select one via commenting below.

For instance:

  • Do you prefer sumo or conventional deadlift?
  • Do you lift in the morning, midday or evening? 
  • If you had to eliminate one, which would it be? (could be an exercise, product, approach to fitness, food, etc)
  • Rate your current IG experience on a scale of 1-10, 1 being utter hatred and 10 being a vacation.

2. Ask a specific question with ONE ANSWER:

  • What time of day do you typically lift?
  • If you had to do one exercise for the rest of your life what would it be? Then share yours.
  • How old were you when you were introduced to weight lifting?
  • What is your favorite piece of workout equipment
  • Favorite brand of lifting/running shoes

A very lazy and low interaction way to get comments is to ask for an emoji. I’ve done it. It’s one approach, but it’s not fun and doesn’t leave any room to learn about your audience or continue conversations with them. It’s low value engagement.

The theme with high value engagement is to make your call to action EASY for the consumer. 

It should feel natural and take VERY LITTLE to any thinking on their part.

  • Make the call to action RELATED to the post content, but it doesn’t need to be DIRECT. 

You do a post on tempo – ask if they currently train on tempo or need to start.

You break down a conventional deadlift cue – ask if they prefer sumo or conventional.

I once described people by the time of day they workout and then asked which person they currently are. 

It remains one of my best performing posts to this day. It was a blast to create and to see people’s reactions. Here’s the link if you want to check it out

Tell a story, or your back story of how you entered into fitness – ask how old your audience was when they first touched a weight.

Post literally anything about resistance training – ask what piece of equipment they enjoy using most.

The process of selecting a high value call to action – one that feels natural and people want to interact with becomes easier when you actually give a shit about your audience. 

When you’re genuinely curious to see their answers.

Pro Tips: 

✓ If the call to action can be the hook (the first thing they see, do that). 

✓ If your caption is weak and loses their attention before they reach the call to action, it might not be that the call to action was weak … It may have been amazing, people simply didn’t MAKE IT to the call to action.

✓ Be sure to the best of your ability to work on your writing skills, leading the reader from one sentence to the next. Until they hit that call to action and WANT to engage.

Types Of Posts To Consider For Driving Up Engagement (Sharing, Commenting, And Yes, Liking) 

Keep in mind not all content is made for the same purpose.

Some posts are created for REACH, exposure, and growth. These may also get high engagement but the target is reach.

The engagement focused posts are for your audience – current followers. This doesn’t mean they can’t gain traction and get new eyes on your content, but that’s the driving factor.

With that, use these to spark some ideas if you’re in a bit of a rut, and check out my blog HERE on how to move past a creative content block if you’re currently struggling.

Tell A Brand / Personal Story

If you’re building a personal brand then I hope you’re capitalizing on the personal piece of the equation. 

This is where you can reflect, share your own journey, and provide helpful takeaways for those witnessing it.

The point with this one and why people may engage is because people love people. People connect to people. We want to see faces, hear stories, witness redemption and growth.

These types of posts feel connective and get us in our feels.

Therefore they tend to feel very NATURAL to respond to. 

This should NOT feel or be forced. Please do not construct some story just for the sake of driving engagement (ew). 

But do learn how to story tell, and take time to identify your brand story, your why, and the experiences that have led you to being the health and fitness professional you are today.

Here are some ideas for swipe graphics with points: 

  • 10 lessons from 10 years of weight lifting
  • 8 reasons women should lift weights
  • 5 mistakes you might be making with hip thrusts
  • 10 go to exercises forever and ever amen
  • 7 ideas for on the go protein
  • 5 ways to use tempo in your lifting

Then ask which one hit home for them, which was most useful, etc. Whatever makes sense for the post.

Share your opinion or take on something.

Generally ask for an opinion – ask if people agree or disagree?

This can be on a reel, long form video, any kind of post.

Content ideas are truly endless… As far as posts go, focus on ease for the audience and specificity from you. 

Logistically if the CTA can be IN the post or near the TOP of the caption, great. If not, don’t sweat it.

Stories / DM’s

Stories and DM’s are undoubtedly where the magic happens. 

Posts are for your audience, for sure, but also they have that shareability potential. This means posts can GROW your audience. 

Stories are where your warm audience comes to see you DAILY.

Take that in. 

Do you know how valuable that is?! 

If you’re not up in your stories every day in some capacity…I don’t know what to tell you. You’re sleeping on some serious real estate.

This is where we build trust. You can take people behind the scenes, provide further value and create knowability. 

These things are why someone will PAY YOU. 

And you’re using Instagram to establish your brand, that’s the ticket.

Put your consumer hat on for a second… 

I always encourage my FitsPRO’s to create content from a consumer perspective.

Same with sales – think about yourself as a consumer, as a prospect. 

  • Who’s stories do you always love watching? 
  • Who do you swipe by?
  • WHY!?
  • What makes their stories “sticky”? 
  • Why do you remain engaged? 
  • Get curious and apply that to your own content. 

So, how do you make your stories engaging?

Hot tip – it’s not by putting up a vague Q&A and expecting people to engage [crickets]. 

I know, you see larger accounts put up a question box and get hella questions so you think “yes, I should do this” and then NOTHING. 

It’s the worst. I know. Because you all tell me.

I get asked how to get people to answer question boxes on the weekly. 

Fact is, you need a base. 

People who have not interacted with you regularly are not going to just start inquiring in a random question box. That’s asking too much of them.

Start with VOTING. 

Lower the barrier for your audience. Don’t ask them to come up with questions for you. 

Just put up polls and keep them fun. Do this week after week. 

Then expand to question boxes. 

But when you do, just like captions…get specific. 

You might get less responses but either ask for an opinion on something: 

  • If you had to do one exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  • If you could choose one exercise to NEVER have to do again what would it be?
  • What’s your all time fav meal?

Then ask more specific questions: 

  • “Drop all form questions for any movements.”
  • “What fitness myths have you fallen for?”

Then you can dispel each one as they roll in.

The goal with this approach week after week is somewhat to train your audience to RESPOND when you put up interactive features.

When people see other people doing something, they’re more likely to jump on board. 

People will begin, over time, to know – when Sarah puts up a question box, people respond. 

It becomes an “if than” expectation.

But please stop putting up general Q&A if you have yet to build usual interaction with your audience. 

Drive Your Audience To The Dm’s

Outside of question boxes, polls are great, as I mentioned… And DM’s are the name of the game.

They’re the most valuable interaction someone can take part in, in terms of engagement on Instagram.

Especially while you have a manageable audience size, you should be driving DM’s like nobody’s business. 

Don’t FORCE DM’s, but when it makes sense, ask for people to DM you in response to your story. 

Share a scenario followed with something like, “Am I alone?” 

If you do a small training on something in your story – ask people to DM you an emoji if it made sense to them.

Keep an open mind.

Something that can be wildly helpful in stories is to create like you’re talking to a close friend. 

NOT in the sense that you share your deepest secrets with strangers on the internet, but that you’re laid back and natural.

I am biased for humor, and people are responsive to humor. 

Some of my most engaging stories have been me sharing something hilarious or embarrassing that has happened and I’ve decided to share. 

Because why not get some comic relief out of it?

I literally just posted a few months ago about the fact that I had to trim my chin hair that grows out of a mole under my chin.

I told my audience that there is something VERY NORMAL that they do and/or experience which their audience could be relating to them through. 

But they’re not sharing for “x” reasons. 

SHARE IT. See what happens.

A follower DM’d me that she posted about waxing her mustache and her DM’s have never been more flooded. Case in point.

Stories are a great place to be HUMAN. 

Not fake. 

Not curated. 

Just as you are. 

And of course, the extent of that is up to your discretion. It’s your brand, your business, so you make that call.

But I’d bet that the more fun you have in your stories, the more engagement you’ll get. 

Let’s Wrap This Up  

That was a lot. If you’re on Instagram for numbers, you’ll likely hate and even resent your experience.

As much as you can, give a shit. 

Be curious about the HUMANS who have decided to give you the time of day and be in your corner of the internet.

Check your boxes from that place and keep going day after day. 

I hope you enjoyed these educated gains and I will see you in the next blog. 

Stay Connected: 

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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The name's Annie & you're reading my thoughts. Let's get acquainted. 

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