What’s your biggest fear? Spiders? Sharks? Clowns with red hair that hide in storm drains? All totally terrifying, but want to know what social media managers’ nightmares are made of? Easy. The Instagram Algorithm. It seems that every time we figure out a way to work around the ever-changing rules of Instagram, their pesky algorithm implements a new tactic that messes with our reach. And if Facebook’s dramatic decline in organic reach is anything to go by (RIP) I’m pretty sure that Mark Zuckerberg and co have some nasty surprises for us in the Instagram department too. It’s scary stuff, yes, but the good news is that for the time
we can still reach a large portion of our Insta tribe without relying on paid ads.
So instead of huddling in the corner in a being foetal position (my go-to tactic when a big hairy spider is on the loose) let’s overcome the fear of the Instagram algorithm once and for all.
And what better way to overcome a fear than to face it head on?
What is the Instagram Algorithm and how does it work?The algorithm is what Instagram uses to figure out what posts show up on your feed, or rather, what it thinks you want to see on your feed. Although we don’t know exactly how it works, here are 4 things we do know the algorithm takes into consideration when deciding which posts rank on your feed:
RecencyEarlier in 2018, Instagram confirmed that newer posts are more likely to appear on your feed first. This one is kind of obvious, but as we all know, the posts we see on our feed don’t necessarily appear in chronological order. That’s why, when it comes to hacking the Instagram algorithm, we need to take the other 3 factors into consideration too.
EngagementThe more likes and comments a post receives, the more likely it is to appear on people’s feeds. Engagement is SO important – not only because it boosts the post that is being liked and commented on, but also because it lets Instagram know that the liker/commenter is interested in your content.
RelationshipWhich leads us to
InterestsHowever, the Instagram algorithm doesn’t only do this with particular profiles, but also with the TYPE of content you interact with too. So, for example, if you keep double tapping photos of puppies, the algorithm will work its magic and make sure you see even more photos of puppies in the future.
20 Ways To Hack The Instagram AlgorithmSo now that we know how the Instagram algorithm works, we can work with it to ensure our followers see our content on a daily basis. Here are 20 tricks you can use in your biz to hack the Instagram algorithm and grow a community of engaged followers.
1. Know when your audience is onlineWe know that Instagram
The image above shows that on Mondays our best time to post at The Support Room is between
3pm & 9pm because THIS is when our audience is online.
2. Post frequently and consistentlyThat being said, while you may know that most of your followers are online between 3pm-6pm on a Thursday, that’s not to say that ALL your followers will be online then. That’s why it’s important to post frequently and consistently. We want to
3. Post IntuitivelyHowever, while consistency is important, content is still king. Product designer at Instagram, Christina d’Avignon confirmed, “The only way to get your content ranked higher is to produce great content.” Of course, Instagram uses a number of different ways to gauge what is and isn’t great content and one of those, as I mentioned earlier, is how much engagement a post receives. I am a firm believer that high quality, engaging content comes from a place of deep connectedness and creativity. I don’t believe in posting for the sake of posting, but posting intuitively and with intention. Learn how to post intuitively here.
4. Post when you have time to replySo we know that we need to be posting when our followers are online and ready to engage, but make sure you’re ready to engage too! Set aside an hour after each post, make sure your notifications are set to push and be ready to reply to any comments that come through. This will boost your post engagement because the algorithm takes every comment on your post into account – even your own!
5. Write long captionsYes, Instagram is a visual platform and
6. Make the most out of the first 125 characters of your captionHowever, people aren’t going to be interested in expanding your caption if what they see at first doesn’t intrigue them. Instagram only shows the first 125 characters of your caption until the user needs to click on “…more”. Use them wisely. Leave them wanting more.
In the example above, Kelly leaves us wondering: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON SHE’S LEARNT? You bet I clicked on “more”!
7. Tell a storyYour captions should tell a story. That means having a beginning, middle
8. Make it personalWe’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: YOU are your greatest brand asset! People want to know about more than your product or service, they want to know about the woman behind it all too. And guess what? When you start sharing about your life in a way that is RELATABLE, people are going to start commenting on your posts. People love to know that they are not alone, so when building an engaged community on Instagram it’s important to connect with your followers on a personal level. Seriously, this stuff works!
9. Post photos of yourselfSpeaking of getting personal, did you know that photos that show a human face get 38% more likes than photos without faces? Remember when I said YOU are your brand’s biggest asset? I wasn’t kidding! Jenna Kutcher did an amazing podcast episode where she explains how she doubled her Instagram growth in only one month just by posting photos of herself. I highly recommend listening to it – especially if the thought of posting photos of yourself on Instagram is even scarier than those spiders and sharks we spoke about earlier!
The image above speaks for itself. When we posted an image of my face alone, it received 85% more interaction than any of our previous posts. SO worth the initial awkwardness!
10. Join an Instagram podEven though you are your brand’s biggest asset, you don’t need to go at it alone! An Instagram pod is a great way to beat the Instagram algorithm. Simply put, an Instagram pod is a group of Instagrammers who commit to actively engaging with each other’s content every day. However, while this method is not technically banned by Instagram, it is frowned upon. Use Instagram pods to get your initial boost in engagement, but don’t rely on them in the long term.
11. Use hashtags correctlyHashtags are another way to boost your engagement as they help you reach people who have shown an active interest in the type of content you post. However, this only works if you use hashtags correctly! Using irrelevant or banned hashtags will do more harm than good, so do your research before posting!
12. Know the type of content your audience is afterAlways keep your dream client in mind. What does she want to see on Instagram? What gets her excited? What can she relate to? What does she need help with? How can you SERVE her? Before you hit that “post” button, always ask yourself: is this post providing real VALUE to my ideal client? If not it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
13. Establish 5 content pillarsOnce you know your ideal customer better than your bestie, it’s time to decide on 5 clear themes for your posts. Every single thing you post should fall under one of your content pillars. Why? Because you know, without fail, that THIS is the content your ideal customer wants to see. And when you consistently put out content they want to see, they’re going to keep coming back for more, establishing a relationship that won’t go unnoticed by the Instagram algorithm. Winning!
14. Make use of analyticsNow that you’ve clearly defined your dream client and content pillars, it’s time to narrow it down even more. Be sure to make use of Instagram Insights to monitor which of your posts is performing the best. Go to Insights > Content > Feed posts (see all) and make sure the posts are sorted by ENGAGEMENT. Other things you can discover using Instagram Insight is the hashtags that worked for you, which posts got the most reach and how many website clicks came from each post. Once you have this data on hand, you will know the kind of content that works with the algorithm instead of against it. Use this information to create similar posts in the future.
15. Don’t neglect FacebookEver since Instagram was bought out by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, the image sharing platform has been intricately linked to the original social media giant. So it’s no surprise that there are
16. Cross post to other platforms.And while you’re at it, don’t forget your other social platforms too. Posting your Instagram content to other social media profiles is a great way to drive traffic to your Instagram account – traffic you already know is interested in your content. And people who are interested in your content are more likely to engage… see where I’m going with this?
platform to cross-post to is Pinterest. Pinterest is an AMAZING tool for driving traffic – and not only to your blog, but Instagram too. Pin directly from Instagram and watch as your number of engaged followers grows.