Social Media

Seven tips to help you outsmart Instagram’s new algorithm

Sam Founda /

Instagram algorithm

Social Connection owner Sam Founda. Source: Supplied.

You’re likely reading this article because you’re just about fed up with the new algorithm and you’re banging your head against a wall wondering what on earth you’re doing wrong because your Instagram audience just won’t grow.

You’ve heard the word algorithm’ thrown about left, right and centre. And you’ve heard people complain tirelessly about ‘the algorithm’ hating them, not showing anyone their content, making it impossible to grow.

But what actually is this mysterious ‘algorithm’? And how does it affect your visibility on Instagram, and therefore, your ability to grow your audience?

The infamous ‘algorithm’

In short, the algorithm decides who will or won’t see your content. It does this by essentially stalking a user’s movements, and based on the content this user engages with the most regularly, Instagram will then decide which content they believe the user wants to see, giving that content more visibility, and then either pushes the rest down their feed or filters it out.

There are three significant factors the algorithm considers when determining the visibility of a post.

1. The relationship

What your relationship is like with the user and how regularly they engage with your content will determine how often they see your content. This is why posting regularly and encouraging engagement on your posts is vital.

2. Their interests

Depending on the type of content the user generally engages with, this signals to the algorithm what they like and are interested in. For example, someone who regularly engages with sporting content is likely to mainly see sporting content on their feed and explore page. The same goes for content related to travel, fashion and food.

3. Recency

As you’d be aware, the good old days of the chronological feed have sadly departed, though timing is still a strong predictor of post visibility. Recent posts are more likely to appear at the top of the feed, while older ones will get pushed down.

So, what are my top seven tips for increasing post visibility and, in turn, beating the algorithm?

Post consistently

If you don’t want your audience getting bored (and possibly unfollowing you), and if you want a higher chance of being seen by potential new followers, you need to ensure you’re posting relevant and engaging content every day (or at the very least, every other day), while ensuring you don’t run out of content at the same time.

The timing of your posts is an important factor to consider as well.

Find out where the majority of your audiences are based by reviewing this in your Instagram analytics. I would highly recommend posting either between 8-11am or 6-9pm (their time zone).

Get comfortable with Instagram Stories

Instagram loves an Insta-Story and it’s time you jumped on the bandwagon. You want to be posting regularly, but don’t be spamming!

I would suggest posting stories every hour rather than consecutive stories in a row. If you post every hour, your story will continuously appear at the start of the story train.

Instagram Live is another way to get your story to the front, so I encourage you to do these regularly too.

Create engaging content

Think about what you’re posting and how to make this more engaging. This means posting aesthetically pleasing photos but also captions that bring value to the viewer.

Engaging captions with questions or food for thought are likely to keep the user on the post for longer and stimulate conversation, which then signals to Instagram the post might actually be worth showing to others.

Make your stories fun and use the available features such as questions and polls to engage the viewer, as this again sends the message the story is popular and will help increase visibility.

Engage, engage, engage

At the end of the day, Instagram is a social platform.

To be social, you need to connect with others and develop relationships. With this, Instagram is more likely to see your account more favourably.

With rumours going around that Instagram is only showing posts to 10% (and some say, as low as 7%) of your followers, it’s important to engage on your post and on Instagram for the first 60 minutes after posting.

Not only liking and replying to comments on your post, but also liking and commenting on posts of others to hopefully motivate them to come and do the same on your post.

The higher the level of engagement you have on your post in a short space of time, the more likely Instagram will show it to a larger audience.

Use the right #hashtags

The benefit of using hashtags is so your content can be seen by a much larger audience.

Without hashtags, you’re only getting the attention of your existing followers. And I’m assuming the fact you’re reading this blog post is to grow your platform, so I can’t stress the importance of using hashtags more.

The amount and type of hashtags you’re using is important to consider.

You don’t want to only be using hashtags with millions of existing tags, such as #summer or #love. You will see your post move down the list very quickly and very few users will see it. You’re essentially competing against people who have millions of followers using the same tags and you will go unnoticed.

Use hashtags relevant to your niche and location, and use Geotags, because this again will increase the visibility of your post and hopefully attract new followers.

I would also suggest not using the full 30 hashtag allowance as Instagram now considers this to be spammy.

Use Facebook Ads to boost your posts

With Instagram significantly limiting the reach of posts now, another way to help visibility of your posts and account is using Facebook Ads.

The mistake most people make, however, is boosting posts through Instagram directly, rather than doing this through Facebook.

By promoting posts on Instagram using Facebook Ads Manager, you’re actually allowing a more targeted reach, as you have more control over who specifically you want to gain the attention of and therefore an increased chance that people will view your page and follow you.

From doing my own research, I have found my posts get almost double the amount of reach when using Facebook Ads rather than Instagram Ads.

It’s also important to consider posting Instagram Story Ads as another means of gaining the attention of potential new followers. You do need to ensure the ad is unique and engaging and explains why people should follow you, with a call to action to ‘swipe up’ which links back to your profile. Posting an ad does cost money, but it doesn’t have to be a huge cost, as you can start from as little as $5 a day.

Cross-promotion

Working with other brands or influencers who can complement (not compete with) your business can be really beneficial (to both parties), which is a good selling point when approaching them.

You do have to consider some will request payment, and this is something you need to think about when setting aside a marketing budget. I suggest offering fun and exciting giveaways that will get users following your page.

At the end of the day, Instagram wants you to be as active as humanly possible. It’s not an easy task and it is time-consuming, but if you want to see that consistent growth, committing time and effort is crucial.

NOW READ: “You’ll have to invest more”: As Instagram hides likes, businesses face disruption

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Sam Founda

Sam is the owner of social media agency Social Connection and coaching business Digital Mastery Coach. He has more than 10 years of digital marketing experience and is the author of 10x Your Brand Using Instagram Marketing.

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