Back in the good old days on Instagram, the newsfeed was in chronological order and as long as you posted at the right time, and had a great photo and caption, your followers would have an equal chance of seeing, and ultimately engaging with your posts. It was that simple. Now, you have to ensure that you have a basic understanding of Instagram’s algorithm to compete.
What Has Changed?
First, let’s talk about what’s changed throughout the years with Instagram. As you know, Instagram no longer shows posts in chronological order and they haven’t for a while. This means that when you upload a post, not everyone who follows you will immediately see it on their feed. It will usually be shown to followers who engage with you often, or have clicked on your profile recently. Those actions by your followers have told Instagram and they are interested in your content, so the app will prioritize showing them your posts.
Another thing to note is that Business Account posts also get shown less compared to personal accounts. While users may argue that it is because Instagram wants businesses to purchase ads in order for posts to be shown to more users, their reasoning is closesly related to the fact that they don’t want to ‘clutter’ users’ feeds with advertisements.
Today, businesses have to work hard to combat these algorithm changes in order to get their posts in front of their target audience, including their very own followers. Here are some tips and tricks to help your account come out ahead:
Get More Engagement
This is easier said than done of course, but something that’s absoutely necessary if you want your business account to succeed on Instagram. Engagement is the key to getting your posts shown to more people. Plus, the more that people engage with your posts, the more likely your future posts will show up on their feed. Get creative with your methods. Use call to actions like encouraging people to leave a comment or by asking a question. Polls also work great because users love to give their opinion. If you’re really hurting for engagement, try running a contest. Make sure it’s something that your target audience is very interested in so that you can maximize the benefits. When users never interact with your account, your posts will no longer show up on their feed and you risk them forgetting about you or even worse - unfollowing!
Use Boost Groups Cautiously
In the past, one way to get around Instagram’s non-chronological feed was to get more engagement. This led to users developing “boost groups” where users would gather a group of, say, 10 people. Every time one of the users in the group would post, they would announce it to the group. Each of the group members would then go like and comment on the post. Boost groups seem like a good idea and mutually benefical to everyone involved, but you should know that Instagram is on to this trend. Not to mention, if you are constantly engaging with these other 9 accounts, Instagram believes that your account is not only similar to these accounts, but also that you are most interested in these accounts. It could alter your own feed and place these accounts’ posts above other content you may actually be interested in. If you do decide to use a boost group to help with engagement, proceed with caution.
Using hashtags is one of the easiest (and free!) ways to reach a brand new audience, but you need to proceed with caution. Instagram is keeping closer tabs and how often users are utilizing certain hashtags, so if you use a certain hashtag for every single photo you post, and you’re posting at least once a day, your posts will likely get banned from showing up for that hashtag. Make sure that your hashtags are as specific for your post as possible, this way you can switch up the use of popular hashtags.
Actively Work to Grow Your Followers
You want to be active with your account in all ways, including growing your followers. The good news is that users who have recently followed you will likely be shown your latest posts as a priority since following an account shows interest. If you have recently gained a lot of followers, take advantage of this and pump out some great content to keep them on the hook and engaged. The more they engage, the more Instagram will continue prioritizing your account on their feed.
Engage with Other Accounts
One of the ways to get your account out there is by engaging with similar accounts. While this doesn’t necessarily mean your competitor, it could be an account that is in a similar field or also of interest to your target market. For example, as a hotel, you’re not going to be interacting with the hotel across the street. Instead, you may interact with local restaurants, attractions, and other small businesses. This will also put your account in front of their followers, potentially opening you up to a new audience.
Try to Get on the Explore Page
If you want to take your engagement skills to the next level, then try working towards getting your posts on the Explore Page. There are various tips out there on how to achieve this and it can be very difficult to do in general. Most of the tips advise receiving a certain number of likes within a certain amount of time after your photo is posted. For example, some people believe obtaining over 100 likes in the first 30 minutes gives you a chance of showing up on the Explore Page. While the exact paramaters are not known, it is believed to be something along the lines of receiving a high number of likes within a short amount of time Note - your account must be public for a post to show up on the Explore Page.
In the end, you always have to get back to the basics. In order for any of your effort to truly produce results, you need to start with excellent content. This means taking the time to be selective of photos, editing them, and ensure that they are inline with the aesthetic of your Instagram page.
Again, the exact details regarding Instagram’s algorithm are unknown, and the majority is speculation. Focus on continuing to create quality content that makes users want to engage.
Good luck and happy posting!