If you're like me you've wasted approximately 547 hours reading articles that all say the same thing: how to grow your Instagram easily and overnight! Or, How to get more followers on Instagram right now. Or the classic: how to quadruple Instagram engagement! No one seems to talk about the real culprit in the room: the Instagram Algorithm. It's time to talk about the Instagram elephant in the room and learn how we can beat the algorithm. I'm going to show you not only how to dominate the algorithm, but nine ways to dramatically improve your Instagram.
You can beat the algorithm. You just need a better understanding and plan of action. So let's do this.
First and foremost the most important part of Instagram? Organic and real interaction. That means the “engagement groups” (aka comment pods) where Instagrammers get together collectively to comment and like each other's photos are out. Yes, they might help you boost your status but those people are not (likely) to stick around for the long run and they certainly are not going to buy from you.
How to Beat the Instagram Algorithm (And Get More Engagement Than Ever)
Before we get into the logistics here… think first why you're on Instagram. Are you on it for fun, to get people to read your blog, buy from your business? If it's to make money, land sponsored deals, or get people to read your blog then three things need to happen.
Three things you need to be doing on Instagram
- Post consistently. Yes, I know you know this but it needs to be said. And consistent is what works for you. That doesn't necessarily mean 3 times a day.
- Post pictures that your followers would enjoy or relate to. Nope, it's not just about pretty pictures. There are account with MILLIONS of followers that post awful, grainy pictures all the time. The idea is to have an understanding of why you're on Instagram and then you will better understand what to post.
- Create relationships. This is probably the most important.
So, why is there an Instagram algorithm you may be wondering? Well, the folks at Instagram decided that there was an influx of people using the app, advertisers who wanted to sell products, and Instagram felt that introducing the algorithm was the best way to ensure people stay on Instagram. Does that mean I agree with it? Nope. I personally liked the chronological newsfeed. But then again, I'm not a billion dollar company (yet).
How does the Instagram algorithm work?
In a quick and simple way it's like this: the Instagrammers' photos you interact with are the ones you are more likely to see. The likes and comments you leave drive what is presented on your newsfeed. That means you might not see your cousin Susie's pictures as much because she doesn't post as often. They are trying to show you pictures they think you're more likely interact with. The Instagram algorithm ALSO prioritizes those that have more engagement. That's not the whole of the algorithm, I'll get into more later.
How can you grow your Instagram with the algorithm in mind?
Ah, the most important question! Here are some surefire ways to grow your Instagram followers and engagement:
Use relevant hashtags
Are you using hashtags in the right way? You might know that you can use up to 30 hashtags, but are you using them in a way so that you're found by the right audience or when people are searching for them? The point of hashtags is to be found in the top 9 section on Instagram. This isn't easy to do. But again, Instagram has changed the algorithm on this. It's not just about the account with the most likes.
Also, don't used banned hashtags because this could make you wind up on the shadowbanned list.
Hashtags have proven to be even more important than ever before. Why? Now people can follow hashtags just like they follow a user. So if someone follows a hashtag, for example, #photosinbetween (hey! I came up with that one) then accounts using that hashtag (even ones you aren't following) will show up. More eyes on you = more interaction = more followers = more of what you want on Instagram.
Look at your analytics
So many people are scared of being a business profile on Instagram. If you want to make money on Instagram, gain a loyal following, have a brand, etc, you need a business account. Plus, the analytics are so valuable. I'm able to see how many people read my blog, clicked on my email, followed me from a specific post, and so much more. It's so revealing to see if I'm on the right track for my Instagram.
Show up on the Explore page
This is a HUGE deal that so few Instagram gurus talk about. Winding up on Instagram's Explore page is a guaranteed way to get more eyes on your photos. And leads to way more interaction and followers. One of the best ways to go viral on Instagram is by being featured here.
I had a post recently that was featured on the Explore page and that meant over 1,000 new people saw it and interacted with me. Take a look at the statistics:
Quite possibly the most important part of Instagram is now Instagram stories. Video is kind of king on Instagram. And social media. And in the digital age in general. So it's time to get on the bandwagon and join Instagram stories. I know it can be hard to think of what to post, when, and why. That's why I wrote this comprehensive guide.
But really, sharing and engaging is one of the best ways I get people to read my blog! With the Instagram Story's “Swipe Up” feature, I can link my post right inside of Instagram and people can read my post right from the app.
I referred to this earlier in this post but it bears repeating. This is one of the hardest to master on Instagram because it actually differs for everyone. Some accounts post multiple times a day, some once, some every few days. Guess what? They can all be successful doing this. The trick is knowing what works for you. Curious? Don't worry, I got you. Keep on reading.
Develop Your Theme
Creating a consistent Instagram theme isn't easy, but it's worth it. Think of it this way: Nike has their “Swoosh” symbol. Every time you see it, you think of Nike. The same goes with your theme. If you can develop your own unique theme or aesthetic then you become more recognizable. Remember Instagram is an extension of you. Creating your brand in a visual way is a great way to showcase what you're all about. There are a number of ways to do this. So don't get worried that you need to create an all white feed yesterday (like I thought I needed to!) this can take many different forms.
Run a Contest
A great way to encourage people to take action on your Instagram is to host a contest. This can be done in many ways and doesn't need to break the budget. It can be for something that's totally cost free to you: like a shout out in YOUR Instagram story. Or it can be something like a Starbucks gift card. The point is to get people to respond to you on Instagram. When you host a contest or a giveaway you're giving your audience a reason to come back for more.
Capture Attention with Captions
The value of captions isn't harped on enough. When you can effectively stop users from scrolling, read, and interact, then you've just conquered the Instagram Algorithm. The key is to use captions that engage your target users. Asking questions, giving valuable information, and telling a personal story are great ways to capture attention.
No, not physically. Well actually, maybe. Content on Instagram should illicit something in the viewer. Whether it angers them, makes them laugh, cry, comment, like, take action, whatever. If you really want to create buzz around your account you have to MATTER to someone.
Let me tell you this (it's sappy but I mean it) every single person on this earth has meaning and purpose. We are all unique and we can all relate to others. You have a purpose and opportunity to relate to someone else or encourage them in some way. Don't for one second think you can't. No matter what kind of account you have. Selling coffee mugs for the hustlers is encouraging them to keep caffeinated and keep going. Being a travel blogger showcases photos of places that others might not think or dream to go. Sharing your graphic design skills helps others with their own visions. Showing pictures of you and your child help others relate to the long days and stresses others face.
Why Does Instagram Matter?
Okay, let's get to the heart of it all: why does this all matter? Instagram continues to be one of (if not the most) important social media tool out there. They are constantly innovating and bringing you new options to the table (i.e. Instagram stories). Your target reader/follower/buyer is 100% on Instagram. There are millions of people using it each and every day. It's also one of the most engaging social media platforms. When people get on Instagram they actually look at your photo or video, read your caption, click on your link.
Instagram is my top 3 source for traffic to my blog. They are consistently bringing me readers and followers each and every day. This also equals more sales and more opportunities for growth.