The Instagram Algorithm: Everything You Need to Know About Succeeding on Instagram!
You awake from a night of tossing and turning.
As you open your eyes to daylight, you notice that something seems different.
You are a little unsure, but are comforted with the thought that everything will be carry on the same as it always does.
You login to your Instagram app and… GASP!!!! Everything has changed!!!! Your likes have dropped significantly, your followers haven’t moved a smidge, and the posts at the top of your feed follow no logical order!
PURE CHAOS HAS UNFOLDED.
You’re not having a nightmare… this is real life.
In the past year, one of our favourite social media platforms, Instagram, modified their algorithm in such a drastic way that business accounts began to struggle. Instagram decided that they didn’t want their platform to be a popularity contest, so they changed things around to ensure that if you wanted good engagement and followers it meant you would work hard to earn them. No shortcuts. What does that mean for the Instagram small business users of today? It means we have to put in a bigger effort, follow the rules, and do our damn hardest to increase our brand awareness.
Not sure what rules to follow? Thankfully, there are social media managers (like ourselves) who have done the research and dug deep into the algorithm to understand what has changed and how we can work WITH it! Here is what you need to know about mastering the Instagram algorithm, and everything you need to succeed!
When Instagram first began, it was easy to catch up on what you had missed. All of the photos were sorted in chronological order, and as you scrolled through, you could go back to the image where you left off the day before. NOW, the Instagram algorithm changes show you content based on what Instagram thinks you would like to see. They monitor what you ‘like,’ what accounts you search up, favourite hashtags, and your browser history, with a mixture of paid ads too. Instagram now influences what you see by showing you similar things to those posts that you have engaged with in the past.
Honestly, we know a lot of people are upset about it, but we are pretty excited about this change!! Although it means you won’t see posts as they are released, the new changes make it easier for your target audiences to find YOUR business – so long as they are liking content similar to that of which you are putting out. Much warmer audiences if you ask us!
How to Succeed: Post exciting and relevant content REGULARLY that your audiences will love and want to engage with!
Posting Consistency Changes
POST, POST, POST! Instagram loves seeing you on Instagram! The more you post, the better, but that doesn’t just mean posting 16 times a day. It means that you are posting consistently on Instagram (once a day is amazing, even twice!) with content that is AUTHENTIC, RELEVANT, and can be ENGAGED WITH!
When it comes to quantity or quality, quality is still the best. If you are just posting generic content each day just to post, guaranteed it won’t be engaging enough to receive comments or likes, which means that Instagram will not show it off in people’s feeds.
How to Succeed: Create 1-months’ worth of amazing content at the end of the previous month, and schedule it to go out consistently once a day or every second day! Then, do stories as often as you can!
When it comes to Instagram success, engagement is key. The more time that you spend engaging authentically (no spammy “❤️🔥 👍” comments!), the more that Instagram will reward you by sharing your posts on user’s news feeds.
The algorithm considers how much time you spend talking with your followers, new users, and also considers how quickly you respond to comments and messages. And yes, this means that if someone comments on your post: “❤️🔥 👍”, you should still reply to it! (A great example reply would be “Thanks for the love! We are so happy that you liked our post!). The faster you do this, the better Instagram will reward you.
How to Succeed: Engage consistently with users, reply to all comments, and respond to messages and comments quickly. Check your analytics every month to see if your current strategy is working for you. If not, change it up!
What began as a race to use as many hashtags as possible, has slowly transformed into a strategic use of fewer hashtags. The limit for Instagram hashtags per post is 30, but you no longer have to be trying to find 30 hashtags every time. Instead, the Instagram algorithm prefers to see you using NEW hashtags every time that are relevant, popular, and innovative.
The new changes have also made it critical that you change your hashtags EVERY TIME. No more copying and pasting the same hashtags for every post. You need to do your research. Repeating hashtags too often could lead to Instagram penalizing you and therefore reducing your post reach. This includes branded ones! (Yes, even we have to be cautious of how often we use #jumpingelephantsarethebestelephants! (JK: Our branded hashtag is #JEsocial))
How to Succeed: Use 12-16 DIFFERENT hashtags for every post that are relevant, have hits, and are engaging.
Does the thought of spending time on Instagram to find an abundance of hashtags overwhelm you? Our 150 Hashtags service will be your saving grace!
Bonus Tips on How to Succeed on Instagram
- Post REGULARLY and CONSISTENTLY.
- Edit as LITTLE as possible – if you go back to edit a post, Instagram will penalize you. So spell-check the first time (when you are creating your calendar in advance).
- Tag whenever possible (content and image).
- Use a strategic Instagram layout to make your page visually appealing.
- Follow relevant hashtags and engage with users of them.
- Use emojis sparingly – but use them (if on brand)!
- Engage with new users who don’t follow you.
- Spend at least 10 minutes a day checking in on your page.
- Reply to EVERY comment.
- Find a time or two during the week to do some heavy liking, commenting, and sharing.
- Use Instagram stories daily (multiple times a day ideally) to further increase your engagement.
- Use 15-20 hashtags for each post (these hashtags MUST be different each post!).
- Use Instagram highlights to showcase more of your products/services and business.
Now we have taught you the basics of what you need to know, young grasshopper. Now it is your turn to go out and explore the Insta world with your newfound knowledge! Consider the many Instagram algorithm changes as you create content and engage and you WILL succeed! And if you still can’t figure it out, give us a call! Our herd would love to help.