There’s no denying that social media platforms, particularly Instagram, maybe a marketer’s best friend. It’s not only a terrific source of website traffic, but one of the best tools for engaging with your community. Instagram’s algorithm (or multiple algorithms, to be precise) is designed with one goal in mind – serving the user. The days of chronological feeds and a basic understanding of how social media networks work are long gone!
Instagram is always changing and evolving, but over the past decade, there have been particular updates that reflect changes in how Instagram focuses its efforts. The new algorithm makes this determination by using six factors, with three “core” ones:
Interest: Instagram is cleverly designed to predict what posts you may want based on your past behavior with similar content.
Timeliness: Recent posts will always have a higher priority over older ones.
Relationship: Frequent comments, and tagging in the posts of others will add them to your “friends and family” category.
Here’s the thing: no one knows for sure how the algorithm influences and how content is shown. Sure, Instagram occasionally revealed new features with a more or less extensive explanation. However, the majority of the algorithm’s minor adjustments are never formally revealed. But don’t worry: just because we don’t completely understand how it works doesn’t mean we haven’t figured out how to beat it. Here are some ideas on how to beat the Instagram algorithm and increase the reach and performance of your account:
Before we delve deeper into the tips on how to hack Instagram algorithms, first, you need to understand how they work. The Instagram algorithms stand for a bunch of rules that determine the type of content Instagram users get to see.
As advertising is the main source of revenue for Instagram, the platform is fully focused on keeping users on it for as much time as it can. In simple words, the more time you spend on Instagram, the more advertisements you can see, which ultimately leads to more revenue for it.
And Instagram accomplishes the goal of engaging the users with the help of the algorithms. Content is the lifeblood of Instagram and compels users to come back for more.
Similar to its competitors, Instagram wants to provide its users with the best content, and that’s exactly where Instagram algorithms kick in.
They track each and every action taken by you, be it liking, sharing, or saving a post. They even track the duration of you seeing a particular post. The ultimate objective of Instagram algorithms is to display the best content so that its users can stay on the platform for a longer period of time.
As you’ve probably assumed by now, the quality and performance of your content play the most important roles in deciding whether or not it gets heavily circulated by Instagram algorithms.
Although your page’s content can actually be seen by a small number of followers by default, if your content is truly valuable in the eyes of Instagram, it’ll be shown to a large number of your followers. So, when you create valuable content, you help both your followers or business and Instagram.
When it comes to creating great content, you need to ensure that it has high quality, retention, relatability, and engagement. Whenever you post a piece of content on the platform, a micro-test is conducted by the algorithms. The result of the micro-test decides whether it’ll be shown to a small or large number of people.
So, you have to make sure your content is considered useful by the Instagram algorithms. Here, we’ve curated a list of twenty-three tips to help you accomplish this goal.
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The Instagram algorithm makes one thing crystal clear: posts with high engagement rates appear first in users’ feeds. Because the quality of a publication’s performance appears to be determined within the first hour, achieving a significant level of engagement within this time frame should be one of your top aims. To accomplish so, you should make full use of your entire internet presence’s possibilities.
To expand your reach, share your post on your other social sites as soon as it is published, and perhaps even email a link to friends and family to encourage them to participate.
Research Your Hashtags
Hashtags are one of the most useful tools Instagram has to offer for photographers. Hashtags are your #bestfriends, whether you’re looking for inspiration, new people to follow, or simply want to reach a larger audience. To optimize your exposure without being spammy, you should have between 10 and 20 of them every post. Use dots to separate them from the text for better visual results.
Combine extremely popular tags with more precise ones to find the finest photography hashtags for your photographs. The enormous volume of posts on the most popular hashtags makes it extremely tough to find your content. Look at the most popular tags. Choose more precise categories that characterize your work and that may lead to you being promoted to larger accounts.
Make sure to switch up your hashtags on a regular basis. Otherwise, you risk being identified as a spammer, resulting in your posts being hidden. This should go without saying, but avoid using hashtags that are deceptive. Users can complain about your postings if they aren’t relevant to the tags they follow, resulting in your account’s reach being restricted.
Be Socially Active
This one shouldn’t catch anyone off guard. After all, it’s called social media, right? It’s understandable that the algorithm favors accounts that are socially active and interact with the community on a regular basis. Take the time to respond to comments left on your blogs, and set out a few minutes each day to communicate with other bloggers who share comparable content. Write genuine responses rather than just monosyllabic words while commenting on other people’s work. Despite how enticing it may be, bots should never be used. Not only will your audience be turned off, but Instagram will penalize your account if they identify any suspicious activity.
Use carousel posts with long, fascinating captions. It is suggested that you write up to two paragraphs, each with 3-5 lines. The idea is to get users to spend as much time as possible with your media. People who spend more than a second looking at your postings will mark them as interesting, and your content will be more likely to be pushed organically. Experiment with various types of content to see which ones are most effective for your target audience. Great content includes a short video clip, a carousel with a complete panorama, or a narrative of the photo.
Trying something new is always terrifying, whether you’re a photographer learning how to use Photoshop or a large organization unveiling a new feature for their mobile app. As a result, Instagram users that use the most recent features tend to profit. While stories don’t appear to have an impact on the order in which your posts appear in the feed, they do appear at the top of hashtag searches. Furthermore, unlike ordinary posts, stories allow you to be more creative and can help you enhance interaction. Let your imagination run wild with polls, calls to action, and behind-the-scenes films.
Instagram stories could be compared to live videos, which are community-focused versions of Instagram stories. They are displayed first in the stories feed, and your followers are notified as soon as you go live. Live videos provide a unique platform for creating a dialogue with your audience because viewers may submit comments in real-time. You should come up with a theme that will attract your followers, such as a tutorial, a Q&A session, or a sneak peek into your most recent project. You could wish to solicit their input ahead of time for better results.
Demonstrate Your Credentials
We often talk about Google’s E-A-T updates in the context of improving SERP rankings, but did you know that you can use these guidelines for hacking Instagram algorithms as well?
Basically, you need to provide your followers with a brief insight into your credentials. If you’re a thought leader, influencer, or entrepreneur, you may need to share your personal achievements to give your followers a reason for listening to you instead of another individual. If you’re a bigger brand, you may want to showcase your unique value proposition, mission, and values.
Regardless of the group you belong to, you need to prioritize exhibiting your experience and skills to hack the Instagram algorithms. Your ultimate objective should always be answering the question, why should your target audience consider following your account, be it your personal or business account?
While you may think of all these as showing off yourself or your brand, it’s similar to optimizing them for the SERPs. You’ve to consider the user experience first. So, focus on answering questions like, what makes your brand unique? What does it offer? What makes your brand relevant to your target audience?
Post Instagram Content When Most of Your Followers Are Online
Imagine you post a great piece of content on Instagram, and that simply goes unnoticed because most of your followers are offline. Will it be of any real help? As per Instagram algorithms, the answer is a simple “NO.”
Audience interaction acts as a vital signal across Instagram, and hence, your content needs to be posted at the right time and day to help you get the maximum organic reach.
Initially, your post will be shown to a small number of your followers by Instagram. If it performs better than your average post in terms of engagement, then Instagram algorithms are likely to prioritize it in user feeds. However, if it performs poorly, its priority will also be lower.
Therefore, if your content is posted at a time when just a small number of your followers are online, it’s quite unlikely that Instagram algorithms will place it higher on people’s feeds. On the contrary, if the piece is posted when the majority of your followers are online, it gets a much better opportunity of generating more engagement, which generally leads to more impressions.
Now, the major thing is, how do you pinpoint the time when most of your followers remain online? The following methods should help you do this.
- Take a look at Instagram analytics to understand the performance of your posts over the last few months.
- If there’s a specific span of time when you get the majority of your engagements, it could be the time when most of your followers remain online.
In addition to these, use common sense to identify the right time to post on Instagram. For instance, if you’re a B2C business, some of your consumers may browse the platform during business hours. On the contrary, if you’re a B2B company, most of your customers might be online after business hours.
Another effective way to identify the perfect times to publish Instagram posts is to use a tool. You may use Hootsuite to spot the best times to post according to your target audience’s unique behaviour.
Post Content That Relates with Your Followers
Audience engagement plays a major role in beating the Instagram algorithms, and your target audience is most likely to become engaged when your posts relate to it. Instagram has huge potential for creating and fostering relationships with your audience, which is why you need to post a mix of content to keep your followers engaged.
For instance, you can post behind-the-scenes content. Followers love this because it generates transparency that lets them feel like they’re discovering the “real” you behind your business. This helps to develop trust, and it’s certainly a refreshing change in their feeds.
If you’ve got a team, you can post content focusing on your team members. Content-focused on your team members or created by them helps people see the human side of the business, making it easy for them to relate to your posts.
Posting new business updates or information about product launches is another simple yet highly effective idea to keep your followers engaged. This also encourages people to follow you because everybody wants to stay up-to-date about the brand they love.
You can also share relatable news about your business or yourself. This could be becoming a new parent or receiving your 1000th order.
Don’t Just Try To Sell Something
Generally, you shouldn’t directly promote anything on any social media, but with Instagram, you need to use extra caution. It might be tempting to post lots of product advertisements or photos that you normally see on a website, but you should try to stay away from this with Instagram.
People typically come to Instagram to see striking, beautiful images, not just sales pitches. Even if you’re planning to leverage Instagram Ads (official paid advertisements of the platform), you need to ensure that your content is focused mainly on your audience and feels natural at the same time.
If you desire to boost audience engagement on Instagram, it’s a must to post creative content that your followers can relate to. If you just keep on trying to sell your products, it may not take much time for your posts to disappear from people’s feeds.
Make the Most of Trending Topics
Leveraging current trends can do wonders in helping you beat the Instagram algorithms. On social media, breaking news appears to be a trending topic at times. If you identify any such thing, see how you can benefit from it.
Generally, you can find a hashtag with a trending topic. Post content encompassing that topic while using that hashtag in your caption. If you can post some kind of funny content encompassing a trending topic, that’ll simply be great.
If you cannot craft such content, see if there’s a humorous meme about a trending topic. If you find one, you can often borrow and post that under your own account.
Fortunately, you can always find some kinds of trending topics that you can use to your advantage. However, you should try to find an innovative way to use them to promote your products or yourself.
Just be very sure not to use any kind of major social or political issues for this purpose. Or else, you may get into deep trouble. Also, even if you’re using one of the non-controversial trending topics, never make a statement or use a meme that may turn out to be offensive to some users. There’s no shortage of incidents where brands had to apologize for doing these things.
It’s a good idea to let a couple of different individuals see your Instagram posts first before you post them on your account.
On Instagram, both quantity and quality play vital roles in improving your engagement. If you post multiple times a day, this may look spammy to many users. Your posting habit can easily make them annoyed and unfollow you.
On the other hand, if you post once in a while, you’ll most likely have a poor engagement. This is because if the users don’t get to see your posts regularly, how can they become engaged with them?
Therefore, you need to strike a balance in your posting schedule to make the most of this platform. If you don’t have the time to post content manually on a regular basis, you can use a content scheduling tool like HeyOrca to automate the posting process.
However, it’s vital to note that the right frequency of posting varies from one brand to another. So, you need to find which frequency works the best for you.
If you want to do some experimentation, you can start by posting three times per week and see how it works. Then you may increase the frequency by adding another day to post and see its impact on the engagement. Basically, you need to adjust your strategy according to your overall engagement.
Finally, you shouldn’t post just to maintain the frequency. If you don’t have enough quality content, it’s always a wise decision to modify your schedule.
Hosting a contest is one of the simplest and fastest methods to improve your engagement on Instagram. However, some effort will be involved in the process of hosting a proper Instagram contest.
First, you need to determine the products and/or services that you want to include in the contest and whether there’ll be other brands in your niche participating in it.
For instance, if you produce leather accessories, you may offer the best-selling product as a prize. You may also include other brands in your niche to co-host the content and offer their own items as prizes. This will motivate more users to participate in it.
You can also run a solo contest by doing something like asking the users to become followers of your account, like your posts, and use the comments section to tag four friends to participate in it. Having your contest post reposted by the users is another effective idea to increase the number of your followers.
However, you must make sure that none of the parameters you use come under “engagement bait.” If Instagram finds that you’ve used some shady or spammy tactics, your posts’ visibility in the feeds will decrease.
Here’re some fun contest ideas that you may want to use.
- User-generated content contest: Ask your followers to come up with their own fresh content according to the rules of your contest. For instance, you may ask them to post creative videos or images using your product.
- Trivia-based contest: Inspire your followers to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by answering a fun trivia question.
- Photo caption contest: Ask your followers to caption an image and then decide on the best one.
- Scavenger hunt contest: Inspire users to get engaged with your brand. For example, you can provide them with a number of photo tasks completing which they’ll get a prize.
- Stories contest: These are time-sensitive contests and motivate people to engage quickly.
No matter the idea you use, come up with a special hashtag for the contest. Make it unique to your business and attractive enough to improve the brand awareness on Instagram.
There are some important things you need to remember when hosting contests on Instagram. These include setting your objectives, determining the rules, deciding on their duration, and determining how to inform the winner. Whatever contest you host on Instagram, it should be structured and well-planned.
Tailor Your Content for Instagram SEO
Instagram algorithms continuously interpret your posts so they can categorize the content and present it to the right audiences. Today, people can use keywords to search the platform, which means the algorithms are also processing caption semantics and visual content.
Here’re some simple yet effective ways to make your Instagram posts SEO-friendly.
- Use highly-searched, relevant keywords to write descriptive captions.
- Write alt text for all your Instagram posts manually. To do this, visit the publishing flow and tap “Advanced Settings” and select “Write alt text.” If you don’t write alt text manually, a description is automatically generated by the image recognition software of Instagram. As that often doesn’t have enough details or turns out to be inappropriate, it’s best to write it yourself.
- Incorporate up to thirty hashtags either in the first comment or post caption.
Leverage Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels are a game-changing feature of the platform, which you can leverage as a growth hack to encourage better engagement with your content. However, things aren’t as easy as they once were. There was a time when almost any content would do well on Instagram, including videos users shared directly from TikTok. But it doesn’t happen anymore. Now, the Reels algorithm actively deprioritizes content from other apps that have been visibly recycled, which means the ones containing watermarks or logos of those other apps. Even blurry or low-quality videos that make the Reels experience less fulfilling won’t be recommended to your followers. When sharing the best practices on @creators, Instagram has made it clear that they will make such recycled and inferior content less discoverable in the Reels tab.
Considering the above factors, you will need to craft unique, high-quality, entertaining, and engaging content right within the Reels editor. You can take ideas from the competitors or the brands you love and follow to create your Reels. Once you’ve finalized the content, you can record and edit 15 to 30-second videos. Try to shoot your videos vertically. Next, you should enhance these videos using texts, audio, filters, music, and special effects like speed controls, cleaner transitions, and more. Though your goal should be to post Reels 5 times a week, you can stick to another schedule if it seems difficult. You will just have to ensure you have a consistent posting schedule.
Add Strong CTAs to Encourage Likes and Comments
A key way to go one up on the Instagram algorithm is to add strong CTAs to your captions to encourage as many engagements as possible. For feed rankings, two of the most vital engagement parameters are likes and comments. To get more of these, your post captions should have a strong call-to-action to tell people to like and comment.
You may be inclined to believe that CTAs are too obvious, and people don’t need to be told to do something because they will do it in any case. However, the reality is different. With our declining attention span on social media, it’s important to say out loud what you want. And CTAs help you do just that.
You should refrain from overdoing it with the CTAs though. Using 5 or more CTAs in one caption is overkill for sure. Instead, you should aim to have 1 or 2 CTAs in a lone caption. Why? Imagine asking a person to do 5 tasks right away and another to handle a single task. Who do you think will do it better? You guessed it right – the one with a single task!
The key is to keep it simple by having strong call-to-actions in your captions. For instance, you can host a giveaway where anyone who answers your question correctly gets to win. This can encourage people in your community to like your post and tag their friends in the comments to help them participate in your giveaway.
Follow Community Guidelines
Instagram’s key community guidelines require you to share only the content you own or have the right to share. The guidelines also ask users to refrain from spamming, bullying, hate speech, abuse, and using inappropriate images and videos (like nude photos or videos depicting graphic violence). Additionally, Instagram doesn’t allow content that promotes misinformation, organized crimes, terrorism, sexual services, or self-injury. When you post on the Feed, Stories, or Reels, you should abide by the community guidelines. It also pays to steer clear of posting content that’s extremely political or contains potentially sensitive or upsetting information or even low-resolution media. That’s because the Instagram algorithm tends to limit their visibility, thus making these posts less widely distributed.
Create Longer Content
Instagram prefers content that can hook its audience and keep it on the platform for a longer period. This means you should craft posts that can hold your audience’s attention longer. Studies have found longer content like swipe posts perform much better on Instagram. Compared to a solitary image, these posts engage people better and hold their attention longer.
The secret of longer content performing well doesn’t just apply to posts. It’s valid for videos, Reels, carousel ads, and other media as well as your captions too. However, your content should be extremely engaging because no one prefers to read a dull, text-heavy piece. Even if you have such a piece, you can make it more digestible by spacing out your content or adding emojis to make the intended message appealing and engaging.
Utilize Content Stacking
This is all about leveraging diverse formats of content on Instagram to increase your views. For instance, to promote a recently published post, you can use Stories and include your post URL in it to boost engagement. Since engagement such as views, clicks, comments, shares, and likes helps, this could let you improve your results from the content you post on Instagram.
You can also use content stacking for IGTV, Reels, and other Instagram formats to get better circulation in the Instagram algorithm. Something as simple as mentioning specific content on your page can let you improve overall page engagement and enjoy enhanced ranking in the Instagram algorithm.
Leverage User-Generated Content
Instagram has more than a billion MAUs (monthly active users), while its daily active users stand at more than half a billion. This massive number of users makes the platform a goldmine of real people sharing real experiences. Such user-generated content is authentic and trustworthy. Nothing works better than real people sharing their realistic reviews, experiences, opinions, ideas, feedback, etc., with a brand or its services/products.
Leveraging such powerful content can be a result-driven solution for your marketing campaigns. Such content can help position you in the market as a trustworthy and influential business that listens to and acts on the feedback, experiences, etc. of its users. However, it’s crucial to remember that user-generated content is extremely diverse and vague. Thus, it’s necessary to define what type of user-generated content will be suitable for your brand. You need to choose content that aligns with your brand image and lets you deliver value to entice and engage your target audience.
Create Contently Solely For Instagram
Creating exclusive content for Instagram is a great way to leverage the platform. But planning and creating content that’s interesting, unique, relevant to your target audience, and also looks visually appealing could be a struggle. Does it mean you should give up? Definitely not! Even if you can’t click your own photos or don’t have the resources or time to create content from scratch, there’s nothing to fret and fume about.
You can find help with a little bit of homework on your part. From using pre-designed templates and high-quality stock images to mixing different content formats, a lot can be leveraged to create exclusive content. You could also search hashtags to find relevant content from other users or follow the Instagram accounts of brands with an audience resembling yours but who aren’t your direct rivals to get post ideas. You may even consider encouraging people in your community to create content related to a particular topic that can be posted to your feed.
Use Instagram As Much As You Can
Like other social media platforms, Instagram too is constantly evolving. The more you use this platform, the more you will understand how Instagram algorithm changes affect your content and know what works well and what doesn’t. You can even figure out the secret recipe to tweak an element here or use a particular feature there to create engaging content. It’s all about perfecting the winning strategy, and the more you use Instagram, the better positioned you will be in figuring out the secret sauce to hacking the Instagram algorithm.
Measure Your Results
Knowing how to improve is the only way to improve. Keep an eye on the performance of your Instagram account to understand what works best for your business and audience. The most common mistake that businesses make on social media is becoming obsessed with interaction numbers, which makes them as harmful as they are important. Always keep in mind that social media is a tool to help you expand your business, not the other way around. So make the most of the tools it provides you with, rather than getting distracted by less vital matters!
The number of followers you have, the reach and impressions of your instagram posts, and the number of individuals who view your profile and click on your website link should all be tracked. You can get access to them on Instagram by switching to a business account.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get more followers?
Here are a few simple Instagram hacks to gain more followers on Instagram:
1. Give a touch of your personality to your Instagram bio.
2. Find out the best time to post.
3. Be consistent with posting.
4. Learn about the working of the Instagram algorithm.
5. Experiment with content.
6. Create unique content.
7. Catch attention with great captions.
8. Use hashtags that appeal.
9. Engage with your audience.
How do I get more likes?
Active engagement is the key when it comes to getting more likes on Instagram. Here are some tips:
1. Find your target audience.
2. Research your competitors.
3. Collaborate with other creators.
4. Share more video content.
5. Promote paid ads.
6. Encourage comments.
How do I get more story views?
Here are some tried and tested tips:
1. Remove ghost followers.
2. Give preference to quality over quantity.
3. Publish more videos.
4. Use stickers to engage with the followers.
5. Polls are a good choice to increase the story views.
6. Feature your comments.
How do I get more IGTV views?
Follow these tips to get more views on your IGTV:
1. Stay on top of new trends.
2. Ask your audience what they want to see.
3. Share IGTV on your stories.
4. Share a preview on your profile.
5. Give a shoutout in Live.
Is Instagram worth it for marketing?
Instagram is a powerful marketing tool. The social media platform was found to be the most effective channel for brands to drive awareness, engagement, and conversions. For modern-day businesses, it’s almost mandatory to mark their presence on Instagram and reach out to their audience.
How important are hashtags in Instagram marketing?
Hashtags are the best way to use Instagram for marketers. They can help you find inspiration and new followers and reach a larger audience all in one place! To optimize your exposure without being spammy, just make sure that there are 10-20 hashtags per post.