Before the fateful days of 2016, Instagram’s simple reverse-chronology display meant that businesses didn’t have to think twice about post exposure. Back then, you could guarantee that your audience would find your latest update every time they scrolled.
But, in an attempt to overcome this ‘mindless scrolling’ mentality, Instagram introduced its fateful algorithm. Seemingly overnight, businesses had to scrabble and adjust to ensure their efforts reached even a basic audience.
According to Instagram, though, the algorithm led the majority of companies to enjoy 50% more exposure on average. The but here, and it’s a big one, comes in the fact that the algorithm can pick and choose the businesses it likes. So, while increased exposure is on the cards, it’s an incredibly fragile goal to achieve.
The good news is that, much as it might seem like the algorithm hates you, this basic computer program can’t discriminate based on anything other than the facts. The bad news is that this total lack of discrimination can make it tricky to know where there’s room for improvement.
But, whether you take care of your Instagram account in-house or entrust a marketing and advertising agency to tackle this for you, there’s clear evidence that some things most definitely get the algorithm on board. And, we’re going to consider those tactics here.
Let’s Get Engaged
Everyone loves an engagement, don’t they? Well, the algorithm does. Much like basic SEO concepts, Instagram is in the market of putting power behind sites that offer true value, while simultaneously attempting to bury spam/invaluable content.
What sets those two things apart in the eyes of a machine-learning-led programme is levels of engagement. With that in mind, any business looking for Instagram’s seal of approval needs to take ample time to engage. On a basic level, this means replying to comments, etc.. But, a wise business will take engagement even further by commenting on other people’s posts, sharing quality content, and generally acting like a human being, rather than a robot going through the marketing motions.
Does It Interest Them?
In keeping with this ‘proving you’re a human’ theme, you also need to prove your worth by keeping consumer interest in mind at all times. After all, at its most basic level, the algorithm aims to ensure consumers are interacting with content that’s in keeping with their interests/activities, especially where home page discoveries are concerned.
This is good news and is a feature that’s largely to thank for that 50% increase in business account interactions these past five years. That said, interesting is an objective term, meaning that it’s all too easy to slip up here and fall under the radar when it matters most.
The solution? You simply need to prove who your posts are liable to interest and why. Namely, you need to use hashtags and categorisations that even a computer program can see value in. As well as helping the algorithm to warm up to your Insta efforts, this addition to your future posts guarantees that the people who see your uploads in future are searching for your specific services. That creates not only engagement but also leads that are far more liable to turn into conversions.
It Just Felt Like the Right Time
We all like our Instagram feeds to feel relevant, meaning that more recent posts will automatically take the algorithm edge. This is good news in an eggshell, but it also means that you could miss your audience altogether if you upload at the wrong time of day. And, for obvious reasons, the resulting lack of engagement could see you falling out with the algorithm even more.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, it’s always worth finding the ‘right time’ to post. The trouble is that the right time will largely vary depending on your audience and their habits. Surveys generally reveal that the best time for overall engagement tends to be around lunchtime, but this is obviously going to vary depending on who you want to reach. Moms, for instance, are more liable to scroll during the early afternoon nap, while full-time workers may only head online past five.
Ultimately, then, making friends with the algorithm in this respect is all about testing the timing waters. By spending a week or more posting at different times and tracking your analytics, you should have a much better idea of when is the right time for your specific people. By posting at this period in the future, you can thus both improve engagement upfront and increase your chances at algorithm favoritism at last.
The USP of UGC
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Any brand operating in the modern market understands the importance of influencer mentions for helping to increase traffic. After all, many people now trust big Instagram names more than their own friends, with countless brand mentions leading to significant sales increases. But, while these boosts do tend to sway Instagram coverage through direct links, they don’t necessarily impress the algorithm.
After all, paying for mentions doesn’t prove your worth, and that’s really all Instagram cares about. Luckily, there is a unique selling point that allows you to enjoy influencer benefits and befriend the algorithm all in one, and it’s known as UGC (user-generated content).
Effectively, this refers to influencer mentions that are garnered without the addition of payment/products for mentions. Rather, UGC centers around people who simply love your product enough to tell their followers all about it and tag your business organically, thus proving the value that Instagram is after.
The bad news here is that the organic nature necessary to make UGC successful also makes it a difficult goal to tailor. That said, by creating the best products possible and making sure they reach the right audience, you should find that UGC finds you. Creating catchy hashtags and encouraging customers to post about you doesn’t hurt all that much, either.
Friends At Last
Get these key pointers right, and the Insta algorithm should be your friend at last, at least until the next update…