Ah, Instagram. The place where people go to see what their friends are up to while they aimlessly entertain themselves for hours on end. It's a community that's ripe with opportunities for businesses to expand their organic reach and spread brand awareness.
Are you curious about how to leverage Instagram to suit your growing businesses needs? Here at Kush Tools Marketing Group, we've done the dirty work to come up with 5 tips to help you outsmart the algorithm.
A Brief History of the Instagram Algorithm
Some of you may have noticed that your content isn't scoring the same level of engagement as it has in the past. This may have left you worried about the evolution of the algorithm and what it could mean for your business.
Firstly, we need to back up for a second here. In order to understand how to best utilize Instagram in 2019, you need to understand how exactly it operated in the past.
Instagram first announced that users' feeds would "prioritize the moments you care about" in a 2016 algorithm update. This set instagram up similarly to Facebook, rather than the old reverse chronological adaptation. This focus on meaningful content triggered the onset of a new era that created waves in the social media industry, leading other social channels to quickly follow suit.
In 2018, Instagram announced improvements to users' feeds that gives priority to recent posts. Fast forward to current day - in 2019, Instagram publicly acknowledged the growing public concern about its algorithm in a series of Tweets. If you haven't seen the Tweets yourself, the gist of it is that what shows up in your feed is primarily based on your own activity.
"What shows up first on your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc."
They then followed up with a secondary Tweet to reiterate the first:
"We have not made any recent changes to feed ranking, and we never hide posts from people you're following - if you keep scrolling, you will see them all. Again, your feed is personalized to you and evolves over time based on how you use Instagram."
Alright Instagram, I think we get the point. Now to the juicy stuff.. how then does one utilize Instagram to grow the reach and engagement of a brand? Well for starters, it's clear that Instagram prioritizes meaningful, timely content and it adapts to users' personal preferences. That being said, there are a few tricks up our sleeves that you can employ to appease the algorithm Gods of Instagram.
Tip #1: High Quality Photos and Video Content
Some of the most liked and shared posts on Instagram have one commonality: they tend to include high quality photography and videography. Since it is mostly a visual platform, it makes sense that users prefer content that optically stimulates them.
Videos are especially beneficial because they grab the attention of users as they're scrolling. This leads people to engage with your profile for longer periods of time, which tells the algorithm to showcase your profile to them more often.
Tip #2 Share Stories Frequently and Go Live More Often
Although Instagram asserts that stories carry no weight on the algorithm, we have a fair argument as to why you should still use them. They recently passed the 500 million daily user mark, which means they're an extremely popular feature. What better way to get people engaging with your profile than to pop up in their daily dose of stories?
In conjunction with stories, going live is something you should do whenever you have the chance. One main reason why is that when you go live, users receive an actual notification. Your profile also pops up prior the barrage of stories that often accumulate, putting you right in the face of your users even if they're not currently interacting with your profile.
Tip #3 Cultivate Interactions by Hosting Contests and Giveaways
We know that the algorithm favors meaningful content and engagement. The key here lies in cultivating interactions with users. There are a few ways to do this - firstly, you can encourage interactions by asking users to drop a comment, tag a friend, or answer questions. Secondly, you can draw users in by hosting contests and giveaways. You can even ask users to share your profile with others in order to be eligible.
Tip #4 Use #Hashtags as Part of Your Content Strategy
Hashtags are a great way to increase your visibility in a matter of seconds. Take a look at some of the most popular hashtags out there. You might notice that there is a rhyme and a reason to each one.
In order for hashtags to be effective, they should follow a 3-tier format. Include various hashtags that represent your brand, your product and your community. Doing so increases the likelihood of users that are searching for those relevant hashtags to stumble across your content.
Tip #5 Post More Often During Popular Times
Last but not least, do you ever wonder why some posts get more likes and shares than others? You think you have an intellectually stimulating, eye-popping post yet the numbers of likes slowly plummets it into being one of your least popular endeavors?
Researchers have discovered that there are peak hours when Instagram users are the most actively engaged on the platform. Time your posts to drop during these peak hours shown in the graph below to garner the most attention from the community.