It’s no secret that the Instagram algorithm is a tough cookie to crack. Recently, Instagram announced yet another change to its algorithm (in response to the temporary popularity of Vero, perhaps?). The change, as quoted by Instagram states that they are “testing a “New Posts” button that lets you choose when you want to refresh, rather than it happening automatically (you know, when you’re scrolling in the feed having a good ol’ time and then it suddenly springs up to the top and you lose your place – yeah, that’s going. Finally).
Secondly, Instagram also said they are making changes so that newer posts are more likely to appear first in your feed. Which is pretty vague if you ask me. It’s not exactly the ‘see posts in order of the time they were posted’ change users were hoping for. (Again, see Vero).
Therefore, the question still remains: how do you optimise your reach and impressions on Instagram? Organically keeping up these metrics – not to mention engagement and a steady follower growth – couldn’t be harder with Insta deciding who sees what and when. So what can you do when posting and using the app to help? Here’s five quick tips.
This post was brought to you by our social media expert Annabel Claire. When she's not busy with her social media marketing gig or writing for us, she is running her blog and chasing her passion on www.annabel-claire.com. You can also find her sharing her awesome adventures on Instagram and Twitter.
1. Use stories with location tags and a relevant hashtag
Stories are one of Instagram’s most competitive features (I mean, does anyone even use SnapChat anymore?). They’re great for “new post” updates, asking questions and running polls, and showing your followers what you’re doing in a more authentic way than just in your feed. By using the ‘tappable’ location tags and a relevant hashtag, your story will likely feature on the location’s or hashtag’s story and therefore reach more viewers. More viewers = more profile visits and a potential increase in engagement and followers. The verdict? You have virtually nothing to lose by using this feature as much as possible.
2. Use stories for shout-outs
This one is tried and tested. I recently saw another ‘grammer posting a string of their favourite photos by other accounts in their story. The story began with a “Let’s play a game – reply to my story via dm and I’ll post my favourite photo of yours in my story.” I thought it was an awesome way to reach more people, so I replied and got invited to the game. Sharing other epic accounts on your story in exchange for them sharing yours is a great way to increase reach and impressions. By doing this, I gained over 50 followers in 24 hours. Plus, I reconnected with some amazing accounts I forgot I was following due to the pesky Insta algorithm.
3. Don’t ‘Edit Post’ after publishing a new photo
This may or may not be a rumour, but apparently if you edit the caption, or tags, or anything really of a recent post after publishing it, you could drastically alter your reach and engagement. Which makes sense. You shouldn’t be posting a picture with one caption or a lot of tags, allowing it to gain traction and then changing the messaging. It’s a bit inauthentic. Carefully plan your captions and tags before you post. Check for spelling errors. Make sure @handles are correct. As a tip, I draft my captions in the “Notes” application on my phone before posting. Then I copy and paste it into Insta when I’m ready. Voilà!
4. Use fewer relevant hashtags AND switch them up constantly
In an attempt to reduce spam and bots, Instagram is monitoring accounts that use the same hashtags over and over again (hello – anyone heard of shadowbanning?). In any case, it’s important to switch up which hashtags you’re using for each photograph to make sure you’re showing up in those hashtags and increasing your reach and impressions that way. In addition, Instagram seems to favour posts with fewer hashtags. Try five or ten instead of the allowed 30 and see if it makes a difference. And lastly, check to make sure you’re not using a banned hashtag, as Instagram recently banned 60,000 of them!
5. Engage, engage, engage
You’d think it was obvious, but you can’t get good engagement or growth on Instagram if you aren’t willing to give it back. The key is to be as active as you can (while still actually living a life away from social media – I know, it’s hard). But it really helps. Comment on people’s pictures with over 4+ words so that Instagram doesn’t think you’re a bot, talk to your favourite accounts, tag people in things and use the platform to the best of its ability.
Of course, I must stress the fact that beating the Instagram algorithm requires a bit of guesswork. Not everything on here is an absolution. But there are some proven tips and tricks to help increase overall reach and impressions (aside from just having absolutely amazing content) that are worth giving a go.
The key with Instagram is to think of new, fresh ways to boost content. The creation of story templates, for example, has significantly boosted some Instagrammers fame. Simply because they thought of something new, the press picked it up, people followed suit and soon it was an epidemic. It’s how the social game works. Keep working at it, keep creating amazing content and stay tuned for any updates on how to optimise your Instagram! (Word on the grapevine is a new repost feature that will allow users to re-share another user’s post directly to their story with embedded links to the original post, so stay tuned for that).