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Why Instagram engagement is dropping and how to fix it



Concerned woman checking Instagram's engagement
Founded in 2010, Instagram has 1 Billion active users | Photo: Alexander Suhorucov

You don’t have to be on Instagram 24/7 to notice that engagement hasn’t been at its best recently. The time and effort you put into creating content may remain the same, but people are likely engaging with it less – even though we have all been online more than ever.

You could blame Instagram’s algorithm, which expects a combination of behaviours on the platform that no-one knows exactly how to master. Or try to find an explanation based on assumptions that it might have something to do with the performance of your business on Instagram. You can try and search for all manner of possible explanations. Unfortunately, most of the time these explanations won’t change the fact that your engagement, on Instagram, is no longer what it used to be.

So, what has happened to organic engagement on the platform that boasts over 1 Billion active users? And, importantly, is there a way to fix it?

I reached out to content creators and business owners who have been affected by engagement dropping on Instagram. Here is how they are managing to turn it around – one post at a time.


Leverage its newest tools and be of use

“Yes, Instagram engagement is down. I think the main culprits are fatigue by users who no longer want to comment or double tap, and the introduction of IG reels. Those reels, launched last year, are giving Instagram accounts a boost to be discovered by new accounts through the featured page and there’s always the potential of it going viral. However, the downside of reels is that, while they may reach many more people than a traditional post or story, people do not engage with them the same way. Watchers are less likely to comment or double tap on a reel even if they watch it several times. I also find that regular social media breaks are how many people are managing the pandemic at this stage. If your account isn’t helping people get through lockdown in some way, it is likely muted.”

Kathleen Porter Kristiansen – Full time writer and influencer at


Diversify your social platforms

“Instagram engagement is no longer the same because Instagram is owned by Mark Zuckerberg and is following the identical business plan that he enacted for small businesses on Facebook – choke reach until paid ads are the content creator’s only option.

There is no way around this fact, but that doesn’t mean Instagram is ineffective for content creators. It is still great for nurturing superfans who will network for your brand. For me personally, I now use other platforms to drive new listeners to the podcast. However, Instagram remains the place where I can show up personally, Live and in person, with my followers.”

Rebecca Hadeed – Content creator and podcaster at


You will have to take risks

Instagram engagement has dropped for two reasons. The first is because Instagram removed the ability to see likes. Out of sight, out of mind. The second reason Instagram engagement has dropped is the explosion of short entertaining mini videos (memes). These mini videos are largely seen on TikTok, which is a relatively new platform and less saturated with ads than Instagram.

Examine your Instagram strategy as it unlikely that sticking to what you are doing now will result in continuous growth in the near future. Brainstorm what you can do differently and take risks with your content. Take big risks, because in a saturated market small risks aren’t noticed. Also, remember to pump up your presence on other social platforms. People have been migrating to Tik Tok, LinkedIn and even back to Twitter.”
Sarah Hovind – Entrepreneur and micro-influencer at


Get influencers to help you
“Engagements on Instagram have been awfully difficult recently. Less people engage with our posts and the traffic towards our profile has been significantly lowered. For 2021, we decided to change our whole approach. We are showcasing more workout challenges, offering more giveaways, posting a minimum of twice a week, and also gathering influencers to join in.”

Lianne Sanders – Fitness expert and licensed yoga instructor at


Consistency pays off
“One of the biggest reasons why Instagram engagement has changed so much is that the platform has a ton of new accounts created every single day. There’s more competition than ever, with people and businesses having to conduct everyday life online. So, naturally, engagement goes down.

Having a dynamic and consistent content strategy in place for 2021 will help you reach your existing and potential followers. Followers will see a post (whether that’s on their main feed because they follow you or through a well curated hashtag) and they are likely to like, comment or sometimes even share. By posting consistently, we tackle one aspect of the algorithm by showing up on followers’ feeds multiple times throughout the week.”

Kathleen Byrne – Community Manager at boutique social media agency




Social media research threatened by new data limitations



The EU Digital Services Act, which came into effect in August 2023, will provide vetted researchers with access to large online platforms | Photo: Robin Worral

Academics around the world have warned of a threat to scientific research as major social media platforms limit access to user data.

Over the course of 2023, numerous social media platforms including X (formerly known as Twitter), TikTok, and Reddit made substantial changes to their Application Programming Interfaces, known as APIs.

Researchers have routinely tapped APIs for large-scale data on social media users into behavioural patterns at individual, group, and population levels. This work has included predicting where conflict may occur and allocating disaster aid; and understanding the impacts of online polarization or misinformation on voting patterns.

However, the changes to APIs have led to data access being drastically reduced, or becoming more costly due to increased charges, meaning that this kind of research is now much harder to conduct. It also inadvertently impacts app developers who have built their service on this source of information.

A new study outlining the implications of changes to how data is extracted and shared within and across social media platforms has been published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Dr Dirk van der Linden from Northumbria’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences was one of the contributors to the study. Dr van der Linden is part of Northumbria’s Social Computing (NorSC) group, which studies social technology and the idea that designing it requires critically understanding the people that use it, the ways in which they live and interact with one another, and the impacts that it can have on our behaviours and interactions with the world.

“It is ever more important to be able to study what is happening on social media networks, as so much of our lives are lived online”, says van der Linden. “It’s already complicated for scientists to deal with an increasingly fragmented landscape of different social media networks in use today, where much of the data is inherently ephemeral. But when the networks controlling this data further complicate matters with more restrictive terms and conditions, we risk running into situations where research skirts the borders of what is ethical, or worse (depending on your point of view), not done at all.”

The research team on the study, which was led by the University of Bath, said that the changes are adversely affecting academics who want to study the impact of social media on mental health, misinformation, political views and more.

“It’s critical that research on people and society can access these large-scale data sets as there can be policy implications and far-reaching consequences if we get it wrong,” said Dr Brit Davidson, from the University of Bath’s School of Management.

“Over time, we have many cases of where the lack of open science (sharing data, analysis, materials) impacts our ability to verify and check for science credibility. We’ve seen science discredited, which causes concern as to whether work can be reproduced or replicated.”

However, there are instances where changes to API access is necessary. For example, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal in 2018 led social media platforms to implement strict measures to prevent third-party users from gaining access to personal data without consent. They then enabled users to revoke app permissions, which gave users more control over their data to protect user privacy.

The EU Digital Services Act, which came into effect in August 2023, aims to provide vetted researchers with access to ‘very large online platforms’, with similar updates to GDPR Article 40. However, researchers are still waiting to hear more about what vetting means in practice and the conditions of using the data.

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X app may lose up to $75 million in advertising revenue in 2023



A man holding a phone displaying the social media app X, formerly Twitter.
Twitter, rebranded as X, was acquired by Elon Musk in 2022 for $44 billion | Photo: Julian Christ

Elon Musk’s next-generation craft reached space for the first time on November 18th. But when it comes to the digital world, Musk-owned social media platform X, formerly Twitter, could lose as much as $75 million in advertising revenue by the end of 2023, the New York Times has reported on Friday.

The entrepreneur backing an antisemitic post on the platform last week has led several companies including content giants Walt Disney and Warner Bros Discovery to pause their advertisements on the site – and these were not the only ones.

According to the New York Times, Internal X documents reviewed by the publication reportedly showed more than 200 ad units of major brands such as Airbnb, IBM, Coca-Cola and Microsoft that have either halted or considered pausing ad spending on the platform recently. On Friday X said that a whopping $11 million in revenue was at risk and the exact figure fluctuated due to some advertisers returning to the platform and others increasing their spending, according to the report by the Times.

After the backlash, Elon Musk said that X Corp. will donate any revenue the social media platform generates from advertising and subscriptions linked to the war in Gaza to hospitals in Israel as well as to the Red Cross in Gaza.

This is not the first time revenue at X had revenue worries in the past few months, with Reuters previously reporting that X’s ad revenue has declined at least 55% year-over-year each month since Musk’s takeover.

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Instagram now allows users to block the app from tracking what they do online



A hand of a man scrolling through Instagram on his mobile phone
Meta has also announced a way to transfer your photos and videos from Instagram to other services | Photo: Erik Lucatero

Social media users not wanting to leave a history of online usage can now turn off the Instagram’s ability to track what other apps and websites they use, and can see and manage which companies are collecting their data, Meta has announced earlier this week.

Meta will now let you block Instagram from collecting your data across the apps and websites you visit. The company has started allowing users to review which businesses are sharing information with Meta, disconnect specific activity, as well as clear the collected information.

The move, which has been welcomed by users sharing the news online, comes as a new report suggests Meta may move to a subscription model in Europe to avoid the EU entanglements around advertising and privacy; according to the New York Times, the  “pay to play” model would apply to Facebook and Instagram, but not WhatsApp. 

How to block Instagram from tracking what you do online

To find and enable the Activity Off-Meta Technologies, you can access Accounts Center on Instagram by heading to Settings and privacy and selecting Accounts Center. This menu is also present on Facebook and Messenger.

Previously it was available only for Facebook. Meta receives information from third-party websites that use its business tools, such as the Meta Pixel, which tracks users on the web and allows Meta to serve personalized ads on its platforms.

Meta also announced a few other features coming to the Accounts Center, including a way to transfer your photos and videos from Instagram to other services. Additionally, you can now download information from both your Facebook and Instagram accounts at the same time. Meta previously only let you download information separately, which you can still choose to do.

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