Everyone wants to beat Instagram’s algorithm, but does anyone really understand it? This question is particularly relevant when our business’ brand depends on our placement in the news feed.
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After that, Instagram has offered some answers, and they aren’t what we expected. With a little know-how, you can figure out how to hack the algorithm and get your posts on top of every feed.
1. The algorithm knows what you are likely to interact with.
For the algorithm, the most important interactions are:
When you browse your Explore Page, the algorithm is paying attention. If you have a tendency to reshare memes, suddenly your explore page will be full of memes.
Instagram knows the interests and types of images that every user is likely to interact with, and they will put the type of content that you personally like at the top of your feed.
One of the things you can do to promote your account is notice which of your posts get the most of those four engagements listed above, then repeat similar content, because that’s what people like to see. For example, if you post a photo of a New York skyline, and suddenly see a surge in likes, then let that dictate your next post. You might have just found a niche for your account.
2. The algorithm knows who you are friends with in real life.
A software engineer at Instagram named Thomas Dimson shared that, based on how you use Instagram, the app can figure out which people in your life you care about most.
The algorithm takes a lot of data, including,
- What profiles you search for,
- Who you DM the most,
- Who you are tagged in pictures with, and
- People whose content you like and/ or view consistently.
That might mean your best friends, and it also might mean someone from work who you think is cute. But when you search for a name, Instagram notices.
The good news for businesses and professional accounts is that if someone sees your content consistently online, they start to view you almost as a friend. One of the things you can do as a business or brand to compete with real-life close friends is post consistently. If someone sees you every time they log into their feed, they might start to search for your content.
Another way to hack this algorithm is to meet a need. That might mean making fitness videos, or informative posts, or sharing personal stories in the caption. The more consistent you are, the more likely it becomes that people will expect your content, and seek it out of they do not see it immediately.
3. The algorithm rewards those who are consistent.
If you want to maintain an Instagram marketing campaign, should you post every day? Not necessarily. The most important thing isn’t posting as much as possible, but rather posting consistently.
For example, if you feel motivated and you post every day in one week, that might help you get to the top of some feeds temporarily. But if your posts suddenly drop down to once a week, your engagement will suffer greatly. However, if you decide from the beginning to post once a week, and you schedule and plan your posts in advance, then one quality post per week will bump up your engagement significantly.
The key is not posting often, but rather choosing the number of posts that you can reasonably maintain.
4. The algorithm notices loyalty.
Try thinking of each post as a conversation. In your captions, include a call to action. The means you call on your followers to engage with the photo or with your profile. This could be something like, “Comment what languages you speak below,” or “Do you have brothers and sisters?” Instagram can be very one-sided, but people like to talk about themselves as well, and they will probably enjoy commenting and contributing to the conversation.
Once the comments start rolling in, don’t ignore them. At the very least, like each comment, and if you have time, respond to your followers.
A conversation will make them likely to come back to the same post, and the algorithm notices. Soon, all your posts will start showing up at the top of their news feeds.
Overall, instead of focusing on getting one or two awesome posts every once in a while, try to maintain relationships over a long period of time. This will benefit your profile, especially in the long run.
5. The algorithm considers how long ago you posted.
You might be old enough to remember the days when Instagram always posted the most recent posts at the top, and the oldest at the bottom. While that is no longer so strict, Instagram does consider how long ago you posted. That means that maybe there is someone who would like and engage with your photo, but they don’t see it because they aren’t online right after it was posted.
The best way to handle this is to switch to an Instagram business account, which allows you to view your metrics. In your metrics, you can see what time of day your followers tend to be online, and you can use that data to time your posts perfectly.
Remember to consider the day, not just the time, because your followers’ active Instagram time might be very different on Saturdays as opposed to Tuesdays.
The algorithm is programmed to constantly change as it gets more data, but at its roots, figuring out the algorithm has to do with figuring out people. Engage your followers, ask questions, pay attention, and you’re on your way to hacking the Instagram algorithm.
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