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Likes Aren’t Everything: the Instagram Engagement Metrics You Should Focus on Instead

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For some Creators, keeping up with the frequent Instagram algorithm updates can feel like a full time job.

Each algorithm change brings new ways that Instagram measures and boosts the reach and engagement of each post. Ever since Instagram started to let users “hide” likes, those coveted double-taps don’t seem to factor as much into feed ranking and algorithm prioritization as they used to. In fact, when Instagram first rolled out the “hide likes” feature, the platform said, “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your post gets.” 

If “likes” are no longer the determining factor of the quality or success of an Instagram post, what is?

Instead of likes, focus on these two powerful Instagram engagement metrics


Often one of the most overlooked engagement metrics, “saves” have become a key indicator of the strength and quality of a post.

“Saving” a post means a user plans to come back to it later, read it again, and engage with it more than once. While it’s easy to “like” a post in passing and then forget about it, a “save” tells Instagram that this content is worth revisiting.

In fact, some experts even call a “save” a “super like,” and the algorithm treats it accordingly, giving it a lot of weight. The more “saves” you get, the more it will be shown to users, and the better chance it has at hitting the coveted Explore page!


Like “saves,” “shares” also carry a lot of weight. “Shares” tell Instagram that this post is so good, it should be seen by other people.  

Think about it; aren’t some of your favorite Instagram posts the ones you send to your best friends, partner, or family with the message: “you need to see this!”

Not to mention, the more a post is shared, the more it’s seen by other users who may not already follow you, which means more eyeballs on your post, giving your content another algorithm boost.

How to get more saves and shares on Instagram

Creating content to be saved and shared on Instagram is a great goal. How exactly do you do that? Here’s a 3-step plan of action to get you started:

  1. Take notes about what inspires you: Turn off your “Creator” brain for a few hours, and just scroll through Instagram like every other content consumer. Ask yourself:
    • What posts are you saving and coming back to later? 
    • What do you DM to your friends? 
    • From the content you save and share, what do you find most inspiring? 
  2. Pull from your unique expertise: Now take those ideas that you find shareable, saveable, and inspiring, and consider how they might fit with the themes you explore. How can you tap into your specific knowledge to approach these topics differently, or with a new perspective?
  3. Use this content formula: Entertain + Inspire + Educate + Convince. This formula is often viewed as the 4 essentials of content marketing criteria for creating a shareable, saveable post. Make sure you double check that all your content ideas check off each box. The most saveable, shareable content solves a problem, helps a user, and provides inspiration that’s doable all while entertaining the audience. Most importantly, they have the potential to inspire concrete action users can take in their real lives.

Ultimately, Instagram’s prioritization of “saves” and “shares” points to the way the platform is changing to highlight content that encourages deeper engagement from audiences. And if you’re looking for other content ideas to engage your audience, here are 5 Instagram Story ideas that do just that.

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