Instagram Growth Hacking, Instagram Tips, Social Media Marketing

The Instagram Algorithm—How It Works

Are you smarter than Instagram?

If you’re crazy about beating Instagram’s algorithm, we hear you! Rumor has it that it’s difficult to get past the algorithm, especially with the platform’s ever-updating codes. BUT, and that’s in all-caps for a reason, it can be done. 

We’ve scoured the web and compiled a list of tips for you so you don’t have to do the hard work yourself. There are tons of tips, actually, but don’t worry, we’ve only picked out the best of the best.

So, what is Instagram’s latest algorithm?

First off, you have to know that with its new features—Stories, Insights, etc.—Instagram has also upgraded its algorithm. Plus, in some countries, Instagram is already hiding the number of likes a post gets, which has reportedly decreased engagement levels. It can be a real challenge to keep up with the ever-changing algorithm, but if you’re serious about growing your business on Instagram, then you have to. 

Here’s what you need to know about Instagram’s latest algorithm:

  • Instagram takes note of the posts that you like

You probably notice that when you like a certain type of posts, somehow, similar posts pop up on your feed. Well, that’s not a coincidence. Instagram does keep tabs on your engagement and shows you content that it thinks you might like based on your activity. So, your news feed is not in chronological order but based on the kind of content you like.

  • Instagram watches how you engage with your followers

It might be tempting to just ignore DM’s and comments on your posts, especially if you don’t know who those people are. But did you know that staying engaged with your followers is one of the best ways to grow your Instagram? When Instagram ‘sees’ that you frequently engage with a person on Instagram it automatically categorizes you under what other people refer to as the “friends and family” category. That means, they’ll be seeing more of your posts on your feed! So, whether you’re just starting on Instagram or you’ve already got quite a substantial following, you must continue to engage with your followers. The more you engage with your followers on Instagram, the more your posts will appear on their feed. Simple as that.

  • Instagram cares about the timing of your posts

If you have a Business account on Instagram, you’ll notice that one of the key data presented on Instagram Insights is the time when your followers are online. It’s important that you are aware of this and that you post accordingly because that will help put you on your followers’ feed at a time when they are also online. That increases the chances of getting more engagement.

So what do take away from these three points? If you want to beat Instagram’s algorithm, work on these two things: engagement and timing.

Now, let’s head over to some tips you could use to do just that.

  1. Post consistently

You don’t want your followers to forget you exist on social media. Posting on your feed consistently, and by ‘consistently’ we mean every day, helps keep your feed fresh and increases engagement. Quality snapshots or videos can go a long way to improve the aesthetics of your feed. And if you’ve run out of ideas for new posts, you could always reuse your old photos but we’ll talk more on that strategy later. 

2. Don’t just post photos

Sure, posting photos is great, but posting videos is usually a much better way to tell stories. So, why not take advantage of that? You don’t need to do a thousand edits just to post the perfect video. Sometimes, all you have to do is take a selfie video, and that’s all your followers need to feel connected to you in a more personal way. The more viral your video is, the higher the chances that Instagram would feature you on the Explore tab, increasing your engagement. So if you’re just starting on Instagram, we highly suggest that you invest in a device that can take great videos, because quality posts are crucial in making it big on the app.

3. Don’t snob comments and messages!

Remember how we briefly mentioned that interacting more with your followers on Instagram can do a lot to boost your ranking on Instagram? That’s the whole point as to why you shouldn’t be ignoring comments and messages. Take the time to respond to those who message you, and try your best to establish meaningful connections with your followers. It’s not just a strategy to become more visible on your followers’ news feed, it’s also about building trust with your target market. When Instagram sees that a lot of people trust your business, it will have more reason to prominently feature your content.

4. Keep your feed pleasing to the eye

Planning your posts so your feed is aesthetically beautiful motivates people to browse through the rest of your content. That doesn’t mean that your posts have to be monotonous, but your feed would look better if you maintain consistency in your editing style. You’ve probably found yourself scrolling forever through a feed just because the overall theme—the color palette and editing, just looks too beautiful to resist. Now imagine if that’s how your feed looks like to your followers. Think of how engaged they will be, scrolling through your feed. Plus, your followers would easily recognize your content just by the editing style. Now that’s what we call effective branding.

5. Turn on notifications

Again, this all boils down to what we said earlier—Instagram values engagement. But let’s admit it, it can be very taxing to keep track of what your followers are posting, especially because Instagram no longer shows posts in chronological order. So, here’s what you can do. You can turn on Post Notifications for the followers you want to engage with. That way, you don’t miss out on posts you could comment on.

But how do you create engaging content?

Posting consistently, replying to messages, interacting with followers in the comment section, sticking to a theme for your feed—all these are really good strategies for you to inspire your followers to engage. But that’s not all that you need to do if you want to beat Instagram’s algorithm. You can do all that, but without good content, to begin with, you can’t hope to see much of an improvement in your profile’s performance.

So having said that, let’s look at ways to create engaging content on Instagram.

  1. Be creative with your video posts

People generally spend more time watching videos than just looking at photos, which means having videos on your feed would greatly improve your ranking with Instagram. Now we’re not saying that you have to be a professional videographer (although it would be great if you are!) just so you could post videos worth watching. What you need is a dose of inspiration and a lot of creativity! If you think you’re not the most creative person on the planet, don’t worry. Why not try shooting a selfie video? You know, like a brief vlog or something but with a more personal touch as we have mentioned earlier. Or, how about posting some clips of your travels? The point is, give your followers more reason to stay a little bit longer on your feed.

2. Post content on Instagram Stories

If you want to beat Instagram’s algorithm, posting on Instagram Stories is NOT an option. It’s a must. When you post on Instagram, only 10% of your followers would most likely see it. But when you post on Instagram Stories, that’s when you appear on the top of your followers’ feeds. See the difference? Plus, you could make use of stickers and conduct polls on your Instagram Story, improving engagement as a result.

3. Use hashtags for your posts

That’s right, hashtags matter. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post, so if you could use that many hashtags, that could help you become more visible to users who are looking at similar posts. Your followers could also click on your hashtags to explore more content similar to yours. But, here’s the thing. You have to make sure that you’re using relevant hashtags. Using just any hashtag can hurt your reputation and make you look like you’re desperate for more followers.

4. Go for carousel posts!

Putting together a compilation of your travel clips or fun photos is a great way to motivate your followers to take their time while looking at your posts. And, it’s also a great hack for when you’ve run out of new things to post. This is how you recycle posts without making them look boring.

5. Upload content to IGTV

Instagram’s newest features may have meant algorithm updates, but they’ve also allowed us to be more creative with the way we reach out to our target market. Take IGTV, for example. IGTV allows you to post long videos, so you could add more depth to your content. And you could put a 1-minute preview of your IGTV post on your profile so your followers would know about it. Also, did you know that IGTV posts can also get featured on the Explore tab? So if you haven’t tried this feature yet, you better start soon!

6. Start microblogging on Instagram

Captions don’t have to be limited to one-liners. You can turn that section of your post into a microblog, where you could give your followers useful tips and other short but practical suggestions. No need to write a whole chapter for your caption—go straight to the point and keep your followers’ interest by writing a shortlist for your caption. For example, 5 Fail-Proof Instagram Hacks for 2020.

7. Grow your network on Instagram

When you expand your network of people who share the same passion as you, your post reach would also grow. So how do you grow your network? One way is by meeting up with influencers or bloggers. Then you could tag each other on your Instagram posts and Stories, that way a whole new set of audiences will see you. And if you make your posts interesting enough, you’d probably hook those people to your adventure so much that they’d follow you just so they could stay updated.

8. Pay attention to Instagram Insights

The great thing about having a business account on Instagram is that you get to have access to information about your followers. That includes knowing when they usually go online during the day, what kind of posts do they engage in more, and so on. Instagram Insights is your best friend when it comes to planning out your content and scheduling your posts, so make sure to check that regularly.

9. Be real

People appreciate it when they feel that there’s a real person behind your posts. So make sure your followers see the human side of your profile. Nothing beats adding a personal feel to your feed. One way you can do that is by letting your followers get to know you a bit more by posting something that’s a tad more personal—especially with your captions. Another way is by posting questions for your captions. That would encourage meaningful conversation with your followers and of course, boost engagement. 

So, how do I land on Instagram’s Explore Tab?

Now, this is the ultimate goal for anyone who wants to grow their business on Instagram. Unfortunately, and perhaps, as expected, getting on Instagram’s Explore tab is not that easy to achieve. But it can be done. By applying all the tips we have mentioned above, especially the one about using hashtags, you can build a great profile on Instagram. And who knows, maybe one of these days, one of your posts would finally land on the Explore page.

So, to sum everything up, here are the 14 things you can start doing now to beat Instagram’s algorithm:

  1. Post consistently
  2. Don’t just post photos
  3. Don’t snob comments and messages!
  4. Keep your feed pleasing to the eye
  5. Turn on notifications
  6. Be creative with your video posts
  7. Post content on Instagram Stories
  8. Use hashtags for your posts
  9. Go for carousel posts!
  10. Upload content to IGTV
  11. Start microblogging on Instagram
  12. Grow your network on Instagram
  13. Pay attention to Instagram Insights
  14. Be real

Now go start working on your Instagram feed!

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