First things first. When I say “beat the algorithm” I don’t mean use illegal tactics that go against Instagram’s terms and conditions. I mean how do you, as a genuine user, get the algorithm on your side to grow your account organically?
Let’s get back to basics for a moment. Before Facebook brought Instagram, the platform would show you posts from people you followed. Simply because if you followed them, it must be because you wanted to see their content.
But with the huge expansion and popularity of the platform, it’s not possible to show all posts of everyone you follow all the time.
A Basic Understanding Of The Algorithm
Let’s say on Facebook, you are friends with your two cousins. One male cousin loves motorbikes, but you have never been on a motorbike let alone wanted one, and your female cousin shares your love of cats. Based on your search history, who you follow & what you react to on social media, Facebook will probably show you more posts from your cat-loving female cousin than the motorbike fan of the family.
This is the same with IG – the posts you see are based on your previous internet history, not who you follow, necessarily.
Which is why, as a business, you need to be super clear about who you are, what you do and who your target market is. So that not only are your potential clients going to understand, but the Instagram algorithm will know what you are up to too. If you haven’t already checked out my blog post on how to craft the perfect Instagram profile, check it out here.
This is the first part to understanding the Instagram algorithm. But how do you beat it?
Use all of Instagram’s features.
Instagram (and other social media platforms) make their money through businesses advertising. Other than the actual entity of advertising on Instagram, there’s no real benefit of advertising on the platform – for example when your campaign ends, the algorithm isn’t going to give you extra points just because you advertised at one point.
But if Instagram make their money through advertising, that means they want as many people to be using their platform as much as possible and for as long as possible. So where they DO start rewarding you is when you do things on Instagram that engage your audience and keep them on Instagram longer. So this list could include:
Post engaging posts that are relevant to your business and audience so that you gain likes & comments. These need to be consistent and preferably at similar times each day – once a day is preferable
Use engaging captions in your posts where you ask questions, or get people to tag their friends in. Competitions are also a good way to boost engagement
Use between 11 and 30 relevant hashtags that show Instagram what you are posting about and who it should show your content to. Don’t worry about using 30 hashtags each time, it’s not spammy. But what is spammy is using the SAME 30 hashtags for each and every post.
Use stories – the word on the ground is that you need to post 3 stories a day and using a variety of functions within stories is preferable – such as live streaming, videos, stickers, location buttons and hashtags. Using stories will keep your account popping up. If you are a local business, using geotag location sticker is the most important sticker to use for literally every story
Follow people regularly (although not too regularly because this tends to look like your account is a robot)
Use highlights to categorise your best stories
Respond to engagement on your account by liking and commenting on other people’s comments and adding any stories you have been tagged in to your stories
Watching stories has also reported to be healthy for your account’s engagement rate too
Posting video instead of photos in your feed. I know it feels like you have less engagement with them as it doesn’t show the number of people liking the post, but videos are far more engaging than photos, and that goes for all social media platforms. Some times a simple 360 degree shot of a product, or a timelapse of something going on is the simplest and most effective form of videos for your feed.
The Changes in 2019
It’s the end of February, and we haven’t had any algorithm changes yet in 2019. It’s still the same; keep people on the platform by producing engaging and relevant content.
So are you ready to beat the Instagram algorithm? Or are you feeling like you have so much more to learn about the online business space? Check out the social media bootcamp here where you will learn the 5 core fundamentals of running your online business.