Trying to get a grasp on Instagram’s algorithm might sometimes feel like you’re navigating a giant maze. Especially when every year arrives with a new set of updates making half of what you mapped out the year before irrelevant or mean something totally different. While it may be confusing or potentially frustrating, don’t give up! Learning how to keep your content in front of your audience and what is preventing you from doing so are crucial aspects of implementing a strong and successful marketing strategy.
Even though 2018 has brought about several changes to “the matrix” of Instagram, keep in mind that not all change is bad and the way of the sensei will teach you how to hack it to your advantage.
How Does The New Algorithm Work?
The Instagram algorithm uses several indicators when determining which posts will appear at the top of a user’s feed.
The algorithm attempts to present content that users will be most interested in, which takes into account the user’s relationship with the person posting, as well as how timely the post is.
Another purpose of the new algorithm is of course to advance Instagram’s company goals as a top social platform. They changed their algorithm after finding that people use the app more and spend more time on it when they see things they like on their feed. Naturally, the more time people spend in the app, the more ads they can sell.
Benefits of the New Instagram Algorithm
The primary benefits to the Instagram algorithm are increased engagement, longer lifespans for posts, and quality posts moving their way to the top.
With a longer amount of time on user’s feeds, posts continue receiving more comments and likes hours and days after posting. Now, users who check their feeds less often are being presented posts that are considered most relevant and interesting to them. Which allows for the quality of a post to increase the amount of time it stays relevant to your target market.
Sensei Tip to Hack the Algorithm #1: Hashtags and Location Tags
Hashtags are still the most simple way to gain more post exposure. Posts that have at least one hashtag are 12.6% more discoverable than those without. There are many best practices for using hashtags, like using hashtags in your comments, understanding the optimal number of hashtags, and using content and brand relevant hashtags on your posts.
Though still recommended that more is better, be aware that Instagram could “shadowban” you. Instagram hasn’t publicly acknowledged that this happens, but a shadowban is when your account is partially blocked: you don’t get any notifications and your posts stop appearing in hashtag searches or on the Instagram Explore Page. To avoid a shadowban, be authentic and only use hashtags that are relevant to your brand or content.
Before making a trip, people often search the location on Instagram to get a feel for where they’re going. That being said, location tags are another great way for you to reach your target audience.
Sensei Tip to Hack the Algorithm #2: “Sandwiching”
To overcome the obstacle of promoted content gaining more exposure than organic content, some brands have started “sandwiching”. This means placing promoted content between organic posts that your metrics forecast to have high engagement rates.
ABG (Authentic Brands Group), which owns 29 fashion groups (including Juicy Couture and Aeropostale) uses this tactic. Adam Kronengold, ABG’s VP for Digital Innovation, says that his team has found that posting a promotional post between a well-performing one and another engaging one the day after yields the best result for the promoted content.
Sensei Tip to Hack the Algorithm #3: Running a Contest
Hosting an Instagram contest or giveaway is a great way to get followers, comments, and likes in a short amount of time. If you’re a brand, you can partner with popular influencers in your niche to share your content with their audience. There’s also the possibility of teaming up with a number of companies and influencers to do a Loop giveaway.
A Loop giveaway is where everyone pools money or product for a mega prize. However, to be entered into the giveaway, people have to follow all accounts in the loop. In general, smaller loops are better as they ask less from users, who will, at some point, decide that the prize isn’t worth the effort. As part of registration for the giveaway, you can ask Instagram users to tag a certain number of friends, comment, or like your posts and page.
Sensei Tip to Hack the Algorithm #4: Create a Call-to-Action
A Call-to-Action or CTA is an effective way to encourage your audience to engage with your post. This is even more important now, given how these indicators are weighted by the latest Instagram algorithm.
A CTA can be as simple as asking your audience to comment, “double tap”, or tag a friend. It can also be asking a question and having them comment their answer below the post. In general, questions are a good way to both gather valuable input from your target audience and get them to engage with your posts.
Mastermind the Algorithm With a Social Media Growth Expert
While it’s certainly possible to create a master strategy and beat Instagram’s Algorithm yourself, a sure shot way to hack the system, amplify your brand, and give yourself more time to maximize your life is working with a social media growth expert.
Work directly with our team of growth specialists to craft a custom social media strategy tailored to meet your business objectives. We will research your competitors and target demographic to formulate a strategy using the ideal content being posted at the ideal times. We will provide a list of hashtags that are optimized for growth in the audience segment that you want to attract. As well as curate a list of potential social media influencers in your niche that you can collaborate or cross promote with.
Our objective is to ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of how to implement a strategy efficiently that will maximize growth.