Here’s what you need to know about the app heading into 2023.
Instagram has changed dramatically as a platform since its creation. It’s important to acknowledge the heftiest factors affecting a user’s experience on the app to better understand how to beat the Instagram algorithm.
Relationship (between the author of the content and the viewer)
Do you follow each other? Do you message each other or leave comments? Is this person a stakeholder, a customer, or a friend? If you have repeatedly interacted with a specific account in the past, you are more likely to see the latest content they post.
This engagement is particularly important for businesses. Active community management (including responding to DMs and comments) can improve a brand’s visibility on Instagram. If someone leaves you a comment complimenting your post, respond back to thank them! The same goes for direct messages. Responsiveness is good for engagement, even if it’s just acknowledging the message. This interaction will tell the algorithm that the person enjoys your content, and it’s more likely to be seen by their account when they’re on the app.
Does an account typically interact with the type of content you’re posting? When the Instagram algorithm recognizes that a user enjoys a specific content type or format, the app serves them more of the same. For example, if a person typically likes and shares video content, the app will show videos or Reels more often on their feed. Someone interested in tattoos or nature probably follows accounts that post the content they’re interested in, and Instagram takes note of that. If the content you are posting is not relevant to that person’s interests, it’s less likely to show up on their feed.
Instagram decides how “relevant” every piece of content is. This includes an analysis of where content fits with trending topics as well as the timeliness factor (recent posts are considered more relevant than old ones). How many Instagram stories per day are you posting? And what time are you posting them? If your account isn’t jumping in on trends or topics in popular culture or posting during peak times of your users’ activity, you’re going to lose out on engagement.
Some other notable factors affecting engagement can be an account’s frequency of using the platform, session time, and how many accounts that user follows. If a user doesn’t open Instagram very often, they will only see the most relevant content when they do decide to browse the app. This means that businesses might be crowded out of a user’s feed by family and friends. If a user spends little time in the app, they’re only going to see content from the accounts they interact with the most. The more accounts a user follows, the more accounts compete for space in their feed.
Now that we know the rules of Instagram’s game, here’s how you can beat it:
- Step up photo quality – quality photos taken with consideration for lighting and framing are a must.
- Publish consistent stories – these can be genuine, in-the-moment pictures that don’t have to be so polished. You can also add links to drive viewers to a new page on your site or an event you’re promoting.
- Publish more videos – there’s a reason TikTok is the fastest-growing social platform to date. Videos are what hook users nowadays. Even if you want to post a still photo or graphic, adding a small touch of animation is going to make that content appear more relevant to your followers versus a static post.
- Go live – and do it more often. Your followers will instantly get a notification telling them your account is going live, which puts you top of mind for the people who want to interact with you.
- Craft compelling captions (tag-a-friend or question-based captions) – this promotes engagement.
- Run a contest or a giveaway – to coincide with #5, hosting a contest or giveaway on your page can be highly effective for reaching new viewers. Ask participants to enter to win a gift card, a trip, a dinner, (or something else) by telling them to like the post, tag a friend in the comments, and follow your page.
- Harness the power of hashtags – you should be using anywhere from 3-11 hashtags on your content to get the reach you want. However, make sure they’re highly relevant to the post and don’t just look like spam.
- Post during peak hours – do your research and look into your page analytics with a digital marketing professional who can help you find out the best days and times to post!
- When in doubt, post more often – it can’t hurt.