Things I Learned – Social Media Series
Instagram’s algorithm decides what content to show on peoples’ home feed. Unfortunately, just because an account is following you doesn’t mean they will see your content. On average, you will reach just 10% of your followers. So what does Instagram want from you in order for your post to reach more people? In short, they want high quality content that people love (that way people are using Instagram even more).
Now you ask, how does Instagram determine high quality content versus low quality content? They do a “micro test.” Meaning they push it out to a certain number of your followers and then measure the engagement – remember that is views, likes, comments, shares and time spent on the post. If there are only a few followers engaging, then Instagram views as low quality content. If there are many followers engaging, then they view it as high quality content. So the key is to get as much engagement as possible in the first few hours after a post.
The most liked and shared content on Instagram is oftentimes visually striking. Bold colors, amazing landscapes, etc. Remember, there are a ton of apps out there that can help boost your imagery.
Outsmart the Algorithm…
SproutSocial gives us some great information with strategies to outsmart the Instagram algorithm:
Publish stories and regular posts – Stories, however, push your brand’s account to the front of your followers’ Stories update. It consistently keeps your profile popping up.
Publish more video content – Remember how you are trying to boost engagement? Time spent on a post is one of those things and since video autoplays on a person’s feed, what better way to get them to stop and watch. This doesn’t have to be a full blown video either, time lapse or boomerangs are perfectly fine.
Go live more often – This helps boost engagement because Instagram Live generates notifications to followers by putting itself at the top of your followers’ Stories feeds.
Craft more compelling captions – Again, trying to boost engagement remember? Likes, shares and comments are important. Tag-a-friend or question-based captions are a great way to do this. One word of advice, you definitely want to use engagement-based captions, but don’t go overboard.
Run a contest or giveaway – For many businesses, contests and giveaway posts are among their most popular and engaged. Make sure to do your research about social media contests and understand the ins and outs of them. Use these types of posts less frequently so that people will get excited about them when you have them.
Harness the power of your hashtags – The more people that see your posts, the better! Hashtags can help attract those people quickly. Make sure it is a combination of branded, product and community hashtags. SproutSocial also says that they found that 9 hashtags was the “magic number” although some brands post 15+ and still have a lot of engagement.
Post during peak hours – This is different for each industry and you can easily research the best times for your industry. SproutSocial gives us a great glimpse into the best times to post for the most engagement.
When in doubt, post more often!
This gives you a chance to also see which posts and what times are working best for you and your content.
Now that you have general information about the mysterious Instagram algorithm and these 9 great tips from SproutSocial, you can really start molding your Instagram posts and engagement. Don’t forget too, that you can use a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite (or others) that can really help you get organized and strategic with your posts.