Oh, Instagram. We love to love you. We also love to hate you. But more than that, us tech driven small business owners love to pick your brain and figure out exactly how you work. Why are we getting low engagement? Have we been shadow-banned? How come I’m only seeing less than half of my Instagram followers content? And, when, oh when are you going to bring back chronological order for us poor users?
I’ve been attempting to keep up with all the Instagram changes (there seem to be so many lately) so I’m not blindsided but the question still remains: how do we reach our followers? How do we make sure that our content gets to them?
After reading my friend, Lana’s, from Dalry Rose thoughts on Instagram and promoted posts, I decided to do some research. During that research, I found that Instagram’s reasoning for their algorithm is actually quite simple: figure out what the user is interested in and drive it WAY UP to the top of their feed.
So, here are some ways to make sure that your content is being seen by your followers:
You all know that I’m all about the engagement! It’s why I started blogging five years ago and it’s still what I love most about connecting with those online today. Instagram wants to show you content that’s engaging, right? This usually means content that will bring users value. Comments weigh a lot in the Instagram world so make sure that if you come across something interesting you leave a comment (and encourage your followers to do the same!). Likes are okay, but comments are really going to boost posts up to a users feeds. It’s also important to engage early, because an early high engagement rush will let the algorithm know that a post is worth being at the top of a users feed. This also means you need to know the right time to post to actually get that high engagement.
As annoying as it is to see a post from four days ago pop up on my feed, Instagram still (slightly) takes into account that us users want to see fresh content and things that are happening TODAY, which means it’s still just as important to make sure that you’re posting at the right time of day. My posts get higher engagement in the morning (so when people are getting up, sipping their coffee and catching up on posts that happened during the night or early in the morning), and at night, before my users go to bed. If you have absolutely no clue what time of day is good for you to post, feel free to get a hold of me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about doing an assessment.
The relationships that you have with the people on Instagram give the algorithm A LOT of clues about what you’d like to see at the top of your posts. Say you follow Beyonce, but you don’t necessarily always ‘like’ or comment on her photos, but you always engage with your neighbors photos, then you’re telling Instagram that you’d rather see that photo at the top of your feed instead of Beyonce’s even though she probably has more followers and people are probably engaging more with her than your neighbor.
Searching and Sharing
Searching for hashtags and/or users as well as sharing posts or profiles also gives information to the algorithm. If you’re sending a photo of a cute Dalmatian to your friend, Instagram is going to think that you want to see more Dalmatians and that’s going to be more readily available to you (I mean, who doesn’t love Dalmatians?). If you’re searching for #pumpkinspicelatte then you’re probably going to come across a lot of pumpkin spice latte’s under your Instagram “search” tab.
Hopefully that gives you some insight on the workings behind this not so scary Instagram algorithm. At the end of the day, it’s not rocket science, but the most important thing to remember is making sure that you’re always intentional about what you’re liking and what you’re commenting on.