We all know that Instagram is one of the largest social networks that promises to raise brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads, and boost business in general. After all, studies reveal that Instagram helps 80% of users to decide whether to buy a product or service.
But is the platform really delivering the expected results? We are afraid that the answer is “No” thanks to its mysterious algorithm that prevents 90% of followers from seeing your posts. A lot of business accounts see a major drop in engagement because of the recent changes in timeline preferences, so now the only reasonable question is: How to beat this algorithm and skyrocket our Instagram marketing once again?
Instagram helps 80% of users to decide whether to buy a product or service
If you are eager to learn it, keep reading this article as we are about to explain the logic behind the new algorithm and show you 11 tactics to outsmart it.
Instagram Algorithm: How Does It Work?
Instagram users publish more than 95 million posts and 500 million stories daily, which makes it extremely hard to push through and grab the attention of your target audience. However, new algorithms introduced by this social platform make it even more difficult to stand out and reach followers.
Back in 2016, Instagram announced that they wanted to improve user experience by showing “the moments we believe you will care about the most.” This is where the big change took place and it meant a couple of things:
- Personal interest becomes a critical factor
- Posts are rearranged so as to follow a highly customized order
The situation has not changed since 2016. As a matter of fact, Instagram just keeps upgrading the same algorithm and improving the current timeline preferences. The network developed a wide range of ranking signals, with the most important ones being these:
- Relationships: The number one ranking factor comes in the form of relationships. Instead of showing you irrelevant posts from users you don’t really know that much, Instagram recognizes the contacts you are close with and highlights their posts. This includes users who frequently send you messages, like your content, comment on your photos, or tag you.
- Interests: Instagram also pays attention to users’ interests. Instead of showing you irrelevant content, the network analyzes your behavior and serves the posts you are likely to enjoy. For instance, expecting women will see posts from mommy bloggers, businesses selling baby products, and resources for new moms.
- Timeliness: Due to enormous public pressure, Instagram still cannot neglect the reversed-chronological newsfeed completely. It takes into account the freshness of posts, thus forcing business accounts to stay active around the clock.
11 Tips to Beat the Algorithm
Now that you understand how the Instagram newsfeed really works, it is time to see how to deal with it and distinguish your content from the crowd of similar posts. It’s a complex strategy that requires a lot of time and planning, so we decided to split it into 11 segments. Let’s check them out one by one here:
1. Post more often
The first solution may seem too simple and easy, but it really works. Experience taught us that organizations and people who publish a lot of posts drastically improve Instagram visibility. Of course, there is a catch here – you don’t want to be too aggressive and pushy and you have to be able to create lots of great posts. This is by no means an easy task, but it’s worth trying if you are struggling to win back the audience.
2. Create high-quality content
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one. Namely, content quantity can never replace the quality of Instagram posts. Jake Gardner, a social media marketer at My Assignment, claims that the secret lies in finding the right kind of balance between the two elements: “It takes a large team of creative individuals to keep publishing amazing posts several times a day. But if you can’t keep the same level of consistency long-term, then I strongly recommend you to concentrate on the quality.”
3. Shoot more videos
Video content has been dominating the Internet in the last few years and Instagram is not an exception here. On the contrary, it seems like user-time spent watching videos goes up by 80% year-over-year, so you could certainly benefit from publishing more clips on your account.
Here’s a great example – Nike launched an Instagram campaign dedicated to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where almost half of the posts come in the video format. As one of the global marketing leaders, Nike definitely understands the importance of video content for Instagram visibility.
Nike Tokyo Instagram feed
4. Keep the Stories coming
Most marketers believe that Stories do not affect their positions in Instagram newsfeeds, but you should never underestimate the power of this format. We already mentioned that users publish half a billion Stories daily, so it’s hard to neglect or dispute their popularity. Besides that, Stories make an excellent way to distinguish the brand and engage followers on a daily basis.
5. Mind the peak hours
Successful marketers know that timing plays a critical role in Instagram marketing. The way your audience behaves online makes a strong impact on the overall discoverability of the content, which means you should focus on peak times.
These are the periods when your followers spend most of their time on Instagram.
Some studies claim that the best times to post on Instagram are Wednesday at 11 AM and Friday between 10–11 AM, but there is no general rule of thumb to help you with that. Instead, you need to analyze the behavior of your target group and identify their peak hours separately.
6. Don’t hesitate on going live
Live videos are yet another feature that doesn’t directly influence Instagram algorithms, but they do come with a very distinct advantage. Namely, users get to receive a notification from your account whenever you go live.
What does it mean to you?
Well, it means that you are going to evoke users’ curiosity with each live video. It is exactly why we recommend Instagram marketers go live as often as possible and enjoy the benefits of this content format.
7. Write compelling captions
A great photo can earn you a lot of engagement, but it will be even more effective if you pair it with a compelling caption. Interesting or provocative captions inspire users to like, share, or comment on Instagram posts, thus making your account look good in the eyes of Instagram algorithms.
There are all sorts of tricks and techniques that you can use to create attractive Instagram captions. You can rely on humor, questions, success stories, quotes, statistics, etc. Everything is worth trying as long as it works with your target audience.
Clever caption from Kate Spade New York
8. Use hashtags cleverly
You don’t have to be a social media marketing guru to know that hashtags are basically Instagram-focused keywords. In other words, hashtags are critical elements that can maximize the discoverability of your posts.
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post, but it’s more than enough to add up to 10 hashtags and make your content easily searchable. Of course, the goal is to find and use the right hashtag options relevant to your audience, your niche, and the brand itself.
9. Organize Instagram contests
This marketing strategy is almost as old as Instagram alone. They perform extremely well because users love to compete and enjoy winning free stuff. All it takes is a simple call to action and a small prize to encourage your fans to engage. Instagram will immediately recognize and acknowledge this kind of activity and give your account a brand new timeline boost.
10. Don’t forget to engage yourself
Instagram engagement is a two-fold process and you must not forget to take part in this game. If you want the audience to react to your posts, you need to evoke curiosity and motivate them by asking questions, answering their comments, and replying to direct messages.
This proves that you and your company are willing to learn more about followers. It shows that much-needed notion of appreciation and acknowledgment, so you can expect the same kind of feedback from your fans.
11. Invite visitors to turn on notifications
The last advice on our list is simple but very efficient. You should invite your audience to turn on notifications for your posts so they can learn about the new content as soon as you publish it. It will help you to reach more fans and improve the value of your account in Instagram algorithms.
Instagram – with its billion users – makes an epicenter of social marketing strategies for businesses all over the globe. However, recent algorithm changes turned what used to be the most engaging social platform into a low-performing communication channel.
It forces numerous brands to reconsider their Instagram marketing strategies and find a way out of the trouble. In this article, you could learn two things:
- What makes Instagram timeline preferences different in 2019
- How to overcome the problem using 11 practical tactics
The tips we discussed above won’t make an instant impact on your Instagram visibility, but they will help you grow the account steadily and reach the highest level of user engagement once again.