You should focus on engagement

By Tiffany Nieslanik


As a creator, you can sometimes get caught up in your follower count. Instead of worrying about how many people follow your account, you should worry about how often they interact with you. Think of it as social media quality over quantity, like in most cases, quality wins. 


Meaningful engagements with your account show that your followers aren’t just seeing your posts, they’re connecting with the content. This helps you build an engaged community of advocates who genuinely love your brand and posts rather than a large audience that *sometimes* likes what you are doing. The bottom line is you don’t need more followers. You need more engaged followers. But what does engagement mean? And why is it so important? Read on to learn more.

You should know what social media engagement is and why is it important
Simply put, social media engagement measures how your audience is interacting with your content. And rather than just one number, it’s actually a collection of metrics that together tell you how well your content connects with your audience and how passionate your online community is about your brand. These metrics are comprised of things including comments, shares, link clicks, likes, saves, mentions, use of branded hashtags, DMs, and more.

Engagement is important because it indicates people are stopping to interact with your content rather than scrolling on by. It also indicates that something in what you posted connected with them. Those feelings are at the heart of true community building. 


Lastly, if your followers don’t engage with your content, it’s less likely to be seen by them in the future. When Instagram, for example, loads its feed, the algorithm aims to surface the posts a person is most likely to interact with, so posts from accounts and topics one regularly engages with are most likely to appear at the top of their feed. In short: The more engagement your content gets, the more likely your current (and potential) followers are to see it.


You should know engagement is the best metric

Without engagement on social platforms, you’re essentially talking to an empty room. Here are five reasons why engagement matters most.

  1. Higher engagement increases the algorithms to favor your content over other content because engagement is one of the important ranking factors for the algorithm. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook reward posts for having high levels of engagement by driving them to the top of the feed.

  2. Conversely, these algorithms will punish you for having more followers and less genuine engagement. It’s a double-edged sword for creators.

  3. Engagement builds trust, which has been proven to increase receptiveness and brand loyalty to an account. It enables genuine relationships to be built between the account/brand and the user.

  4. On the other side of the coin, low engagement is often a warning sign to potential new followers as it indicates a lack of trust and authority.

  5. Strong engagement makes your content more likely to be discovered by new customers, through shares or mentions. 


It’s worth noting that you can measure your engagement rate based on followers or based on impressions. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong choice between the two, but the impressions-based version shows you how many people interacted with your content based on people who actually saw it rather than the number of people who follow your account.


A word of caution – once you start thinking about engagement rates, it’s natural to wonder what a good rate is. You may be surprised to find that a good engagement rate on Instagram is just over 1%. But, more importantly, before you begin thinking about labeling your rate as good or bad, take time to think about why engagement is valuable to you. Then you can decide what your true end goal is rather than turning engagement rate into just another vanity metric. 

You should increase engagement authentically

The good news for creators is there is no shortcut or way to buy your way into good engagement. This means that big brands can’t win by throwing money at the effort. In this even playing field, the main focus for a creator or brand should be on growing your audience engagement and follower count authentically. Here are some tips to do just that:

  • Create valuable content that is timely, relevant, and unique

  • Use carousel posts as part of your content strategy, more time on posts = more engagement

  • Take advantage of trending audio across all platforms

  • Ensure content consistency with a regular posting schedule

  • Create content that keeps people wanting to know more by using posts that include a part one and two, scroll for more, link click to get the answer, and so on


It’s also good to note that you get out what you put in. If you’re willing to increase your engagement with your followers, you will see this returned in kind. By spending your time engaging with your current followers instead of chasing the followers you don’t have, you’ll find that your efforts will have a more lasting impact.

If you haven’t already, schedule some time in your day every week to proactively connect with your audience. It can be 20 minutes per day or 1-2 hours one day per week – it doesn’t matter as long as it’s happening regularly. (And if you’re unable to make the effort—like if you don’t have the time—consider hiring a team that can if you can make it work.)

You should know both are important

The truth is followership and engagement are both important metrics, but they’re most useful when they’re considered together. Having a large audience size means a larger potential reach, but the biggest audience is only as valuable as the level of interactions they have with your brand.

Social media is a social space, making it a place built to engage and connect with others. So next time you stress or feel pressure to grow your social media numbers, consider these points and shift your focus to value connection, organic growth and authentic interactions over vanity metrics.

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