Mastering Instagram Algorithm for Better Engagement

Well, if you are like me then you too, must have shifted a bit uncomfortably in your chair when you first read the topic. Relax; it is not as complicated as it sounds.

When someone says ‘Algorithm’ in context of Instagram, it means that they are talking about how Instagram chooses to showcase your content depending on how your followers interact with it.

Over the years, Instagram’s algorithm has undergone quite a few changes. And as a business account owner (or even as someone trying to establish their brand through Instagram) it is mighty important for you, how your posts are shown.

The reason behind this rapidly changing algorithm is that the parent company, Facebook has decided to implement the same strategy that it has been using for Facebook. And that is, taking the follower’s activity into consideration.

An ever personalizing experience:

As a company providing social media services, it tries to prioritize the user. That is why, the more the interaction with a particular account, the higher up it is shown.

I feel you here; business pages are going to get hit by it the hardest. The user engagement rate is not as high for their pages as it is for personal accounts.

You might have also come across the Twitter discussions that say that as of now, Instagram only showcases your posts to just 7% of your followers. To dispel the myth, there is no truth behind that statement.

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It is just a portrayal of your (business accounts) engagement rate. If you check it at your analytics, you will get to know that the user engagement rate is similar.

All of this, the algorithm shuffling business, started back in 2016, when Instagram said that it is going to prioritize the people and the moments that they cherish the most. From then, they have been trying to get the right mix of posts into feeds.

The change in algorithm, again, has led to a massive shift in the exposure that posts used to receive then versus now. And as a business investment, it is a pretty steep price to pay.

The guide to beating the algorithm (or rather giving it exactly what it wants!) is here:

Videos to the fore!

Most people won’t associate videos to Instagram. Agreed, it is mainly a photo sharing platform but in light of the recent development, videos have gained a lot of importance.

Since engagement in videos is mostly about who paused enough o get through the entire length, videos might be the key to increasing the interaction and engagement that you have with your followers.

On top of that, it also makes for an excellent content for your page. As a business account, you focus is on letting people know who you are. What better way to do so than to give an insight?

The added advantage is that you have many tools at your disposal to edit the video and make it interesting. Photos vs. videos, all of us know which option to go for, for creativity.

Add to that the fact that videos are played automatically. Although, no priority is given to them over photos but having the auto play option does work to your benefit.

The more the time that a follower spends on your content, the more are the chances that they are going to see it on the top of their feed. Even if you are not ready to invest too much into your videos, boomerangs and small clips are plenty capable of pulling it off nicely.

Lights, Camera, Action!

At a time when everything is edited heavily, reality is numero uno priority for followers. Go live on your page more often. If you have never done it, this is the best time to start.

And no, unlike videos, these do get a priority over pictures. You would have noticed it being at the top of your feed, when someone you follow is live. And there are other benefits to it too!

Unlike videos, or pictures as posts, there is no pressure on going live. You don’t have to put in effort for going over the top with it and having polished content. You can go live just to share an experience and generate notifications.

It is a nice way to go about creating something good for your page. If you are a brand owner, you can go live to share a detailed experience about your product, or to share user responses when you are in conversation with them.

Along with everything else, going live is also an excellent option to interact with your followers and gain on the algorithm. You an answer direct questions (host and easy Q&A session), or showcase your part of the world (yes, as simple as that).

Add a personal touch to your account

Instagram stories have always been a popular content on the platform. As of the last reports, Instagram stories have crossed the significant threshold of 500 million daily viewers. That data alone can show you the importance of it.

And the reasons are obvious too. They are easily the most favorite part of the app. It allows you to be creative and generate interaction (in form of comments and queries) from your followers.

Most of the successful brands on Instagram use this feature to provide unique insights and a personal (human) touch to their pages. It is a nice way to let people know that the page is not a robot (figuratively!) and has actual, caring and fun loving people behind it.

Post about between work things, or a candid capture during fun times, or a brainstorming session. People love having a deeper look into the function of brands, at what goes on behind the closed doors.

Think of it as flash marketing, if your stories are interesting enough, they will automatically draw attention to the content you post. Stories are shown in top row of the page, above all other incoming feed.

Use the content that you know your followers to see. With better visibility, you have better chances of increasing the interaction/and engagement rate and once again, gaining one on the algorithm.

(Picture) Quality over (picture) quantity

To quote straight from the textbook of algorithm abiding guidelines, great content will make for better ranks in your follower’s feed. This one is pretty obvious, right? Except that nobody knows what the exact definition of a “good content” is.

The reason behind this is easy, every viewer is different. Everyone is looking for different things. While some may adore your page for its abstract value, others might not like for the acute absence of a central theme around all the content.

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Although, what you can do easily is pay attention to the things that everybody agrees on, picture quality, detailing, bold colors, etc. These are the sure shot winners.

All this will require ringing in some investment into your hardware. Good quality camera and proper lighting equipment will make for a better picture. Though, the investment does depend on the size of your business and your financial position.

If you are not in a position to commit financially to your project on such a large scale then you can go for the use of other tools. There are many apps available on the store that helps with providing a “professional” look to your photos.

With the help of these apps, you can add class and distinctiveness to your posts.

Creative captions

Imagine yourself walking down a lane, there are cafes on either side, and you are looking for a bite. Which café are you more likely to walk into? One that is boring, flat text or one that has creativity spelled all over it and makes for a much more interesting stop?

Of course, you will choose the latter. While scrolling through a seemingly never-ending feed, it is the same with your followers; you need to be worthy (not Thor style worthy). But eye-catching, your captions should be crisp and worth remembering.

For example, a picture of a sunset from a window is beautiful, but is it going to get more likes and comments if you mention the story behind it “…and when you finally reach their home through a narrow, winding passageway!”

Witty and charming are not just words but an excellent strategy too! You need to have something to work for you over the post, and the caption can do it if written right. Although, do not make it too long to read at a glance.

Even Instagram doe’s not like too long captions, after the third line, you have to go on show more to read the entire piece. For someone who is scrolling through a whole lot of them, they are not going to take time out for it.

Strike when the iron is hot

Having a great content is not enough; you also need to have the right timing to post it too. All this effort, all these tips, they are for making your content more interactive. But none of it is going to make any difference if you are not visible to your target audience.

Get to know when they are most active, plan your posts accordingly. And don’t try to follow the timing slots that other brands are after, that is already taken. Go for a tie when your followers are logging in. when they are checking their accounts in the mid of a day, or during lunch.

Those are the slots that you want. Those are the timings that are going to keep you on the top of the feed. This, the timing of your post, it has got no effect on the algorithm, so it is not going to win you any favors. But you do get brownie points for it!

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You will be visible when the attention of your followers is at the highest and the chances of taking notice and commenting/interacting are the best. For up and coming businesses who are paying for paid advertising, this is the way to the top.

More is in, less is doubt

It happens to all, it comes to all. Every once in a while we are doubtful about the posts that are going to go up on our Instagram page. And in that confusion, we ignore it all together and create an unplanned break.

That is exactly what I am going to tell you to avoid. Doubts are nothing out of the ordinary; everybody doubts the quality of their work. You want it to be top notch but sometimes, it is going to fall down to a slightly lower level (law of averages!).

Don’t get yourself into a knot over something trivial, instead post more. Add another post with it, add as many posts as you can to your page. It is the sheer advantage of numbers! The more the posts that you have on your outgoing feed the higher are the chances of visibility.

You might have noticed this trend on pages of movie stars and popular consumer brands. They don’t club together their posts but upload them in sequence. It is better that way, taking up more space on the feed.

Not only will you have a greater span of attention from the viewer but also initiate better interactions.

Hash tags

It is a fact that people do look up to Instagram for creative inspiration too. They search for posts through surfing through hash tags. And that is why it will be to your advantage to use them in all your posts.

Not only are they going to attract the right kind of eyes (those looking for something specific) but also generated better interactions. When someone deliberately comes looking for something, it is not often that they don’t interact or engage.

A few times, even being out of the visibility, like with some old posts (but with the right hash tags) can create engagements. Your posts might just turn out to be inspiration for someone looking the right way.

There is a debate on what the actual number of hash tags should be that you should be using per post. But the debate is never ending, for no two groups are going to agree on a common number. Either it is going to be too less or too more.

As a rule of thumb, you are going to do good if you remain somewhere in the vicinity of using ten hash tags per post. Although there are brands which use even more per post, but there are none who use lesser.

To gain the maximum coverage, use only the best hash tags. Avoid using unnecessary ones, they deplete your brand value and undermine your product. In addition to which, you end up looking like a spammer rather than an entrepreneur.

Everybody loves a freebie!

Giveaways are one of the best ways to increase your user interaction. As said above, everybody loves freebies when they come their way. And custom merchandise can serve as a very lucrative bait to catch new users.

Not only do they increase your popularity but they also promote your merchandise. And with every successful giveaway venture, you will notice that the next one is an even bigger success. This is why even big brands host regular giveaways on special occasions.

User generated content is one of the most loved themes of such contests. Not only you get increased responses but you also get free ideas from enterprising followers.

The only caution you need to exercise here is that you shouldn’t overdose on these types of events or they will lose their relevance. You want to capitalize on their popularity and build them up, not lose what value you had and squander your initial investment.

Before getting started with such events, make sure that you are well equipped to handle them. Instagram has certain legal conditions for a page to hold such events, make sure that you are familiar them.

Grabbing the bull by its horns!

So, with such an effective arsenal, are you ready to take on Instagram?

Here is a little something for you: Instagram is not anti new businesses but is, rather, working to find new ways to increase accessibility of its services to people and make it an all the more engaging option.

The new algorithm is nothing to be afraid about. Work with a single minded intention of making your product better than those of others and you will see that your product speaks for itself. New users will flock to your channel and your popularity will skyrocket.

Yes, there are certain restrictions on the platform when it comes to taking advantage of the image sharing giant, but there is still plenty that brands can do to get along with the new algorithm and engage customers.

Make your content diverse and you should do just fine when it comes to grabbing the attention of the people.

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