How the Instagram Algorithm Works | Make the Most Out of Your Posts
Instagram’s top priority is to increase the amount of time you use the app and to keep you coming back for more. How do they accomplish this? By prioritizing content that you want to see and showing it to you first and foremost. Essentially, what they “sell” to advertisers is your attention and time on screen. The longer you’re there, the more money they make. Let’s discuss Instagram’s algorithm and some tips to help you create the perfect Instagram post.
The algorithm used to determine how appealing your content is, is based upon the amount of engagement it receives. To Instagram, engagement = attention = money. Instagram’s algorithm to analyze your content works as follows:
- Your post is shown to a small percentage of your total audience.
- Instagram measures how quickly and how much that portion of the audience engages with that post via likes, comments, shares, and saves.
- The engagement of this new post is compared to engagement of your previous posts on similar days and time frames.
From there, one of two things can happen…
If your post is getting less engagement than your average post, it will be shown to a smaller percentage of your audience and will be featured farther down on the home page.
If your post is getting more engagement than your average post, it will be shown to a larger percentage of your audience, will appear higher on the home page, and will have a higher likelihood of being featured on the Discover page.
Bottom line, the more engagement you receive, the more likely you are to be seen. This is more important than ever as Instagram rolls out its new “Recommended for You” feature which will show you posts liked by accounts you follow directly in your home feed.
Get Focused on Engagement
Instagram takes a little more effort than its social media counterparts. This is because Instagram is image based and while finding a consistent voice on Facebook could be a breeze for you, sticking to a common theme on Instagram is a little harder.
There are a few different ways you can ensure that the content you are posting will reach the biggest percentage of your audience possible.
Be Easy on the Eyes
Picking a color scheme for your Instagram can really help present a clean and organized look overall. This could mean using the same kind of filter on almost every post, or choosing a color to feature in each image. While this may seem daunting at first, once you find something you like, it will be easy to stick to it!
Take advantage of editing apps outside of Instagram. They have a wider variety of filters and other editing tools to choose from and can help you stand out from the crowd. Make the rule of thirds work for you. Try using the grid feature to align the subject of the photo in two-thirds of the frame. This makes the image more attractive to the eye.
Attractive images will attract engaged users. However, be sure not to become repetitive. Consistency, not repetition, is key.
Keep Captions Short and Sweet
Instagram is almost strictly visual. Images and videos are what will attract an audience to a post, not necessarily the text that accompanies it. When crafting a caption, try to stay relevant, keep them simple, and be clever if you can. Also try to be engaging in your responses to comments, and avoid pushing sales. Stay conversational and approachable!
Timing is Everything
One of the key components Instagram’s algorithm takes in to consideration is how quickly your post receives engagement after being posted. Posting at random times during the day when fewer of your followers are active will almost guarantee a drop in engagement.
The fix? Pay attention to when your audience is most active.
- Typically, posts on weekdays between 6PM and 7PM see the post engagement.
- On weekends, the best time to post is between 10AM and 12PM.
However, these times are not set in stone. You may find that your audience is more active in the mornings on weekdays. Pay close attention to when their posting, liking, and commenting to find the perfect time to hit send!
Don’t Be Afraid of a Little #Hashtag
Instagram is the one place you can go #hashtag crazy. Posts with 11+ hashtags tend to see more engagement than those with less. Their intended purpose is to help categorize content on social media and make it easier for users to find content relevant to a certain topic.
Look for trends within hashtags. Is there a hashtag that you have had some success with already? Browse through some posts and see if there are other hashtags commonly used in conjunction with that one. Could they also be added to your hashtag repertoire?
Hashtags also serve to target a specific consumer base in that using a certain combination of hashtags can help attract a particular audience. Different combinations of hashtags will get you more engagement than others, so don’t be afraid to mix it up.
In order to choose the right hashtag(s), one place to start is by examining what hashtags your competitors and the related industry marketers are using. This can help you find new ones to add to your list, or maybe help you realize how you could differentiate from them by using a different set of similar hashtags.
Use Instagram to its fullest! Instagram’s new feature which allows you to follow hashtags will make it easier for your content to be found. Pick one hashtag relevant to your business and be sure to feature it in every post!
Don’t let a fear of low engagement keep you from posting something you feel is relevant to your business. Work smarter, not harder and make Instagram’s algorithm work for you! With the recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm, it is changes will likely trickle down to Instagram in the near future. The major of the foundations we presented are ways to keep consistent even when changes come. With so many ways to use these kind of tools for your business, it is always best to be able to budget the time and effort to use it effectively for your goals first and foremost.
Need help making Instagram work for your business? Stone Road Media has a team of dedicated social media professionals to help your company keep up with the latest trends and strategies. Contact us today!