Getting your content in front of your audience on Instagram isn’t as easy as it used to be. Since Instagram no longer shows users posts chronologically, you must put in extra effort to maintain visibility on the platform. Here are 5 hacks to beat the Instagram algorithm and get your content seen.
Before we get to the specific hacks to beat the Instagram algorithm, let’s first discuss how the algorithm works. Similar to the complicated Facebook newsfeed algorithm, Instagram ranks your post higher for your followers based on:
- Timing: How recent your photo or video was shared
- Engagement: How many likes and comments your post received
- Interaction: How often the user interacted with your posts in the past
This means that feeds will no longer be organized based on time posted, but instead will be prioritized based on what Instagram thinks the user is interested in most.
Now that we’ve established how the algorithm works, the next question is, what are some ways to maximize your chance of being seen by your targeted audience?
5 Hacks to Beat the Instagram Algorithm
1. Focus on Quality Content
Before Instagram instituted an algorithm, a lot of accounts gained followers by posting numerous pictures or videos per day. This will no longer be as effective since Instagram now prioritizes posts based on individual likes and interests. So, if you spam your users with invaluable, uninteresting content, it will most likely be pushed back on their feed.
The main key to quality content is to make your pictures and videos look tailored specifically for your audience.
With 12.8 million followers, Starbucks is one of the most successful brands on Instagram and their feed is definitely worth checking out for inspiration. They share the famous Starbucks cup in different backgrounds and occasions, and many posts feature fan submitted pictures. This encourages fans to engage with the brand.
The brand also incorporates seasonal color themes into their images to make their page more visually pleasing. For example, during the holiday season, the color red dominated their pictures, while during summer, the photos have bright and vibrant colors.
Setting a theme for your photos is a great way to increase the quality of your brand feed and bring more attention to your posts. By having a theme, your page looks more organized and consistent. Your audience is also sure to notice the extra effort.
2. Cross promotion
After you create quality content, you have to get that content in front of interested users by directing them to your profile. Keep in mind that the first hour after you post is the most important time period. The more likes and comments you received during that first hour, the higher your ranking factors, and the higher your chance of making the explore page.
One way to maximize likes and comments in this first hour is to cross promote your content. This means that you will promote your Instagram post on your other social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, or even Snapchat. For example, to motivate people to view an Instagram post, you can create a snap with a message that directs followers to visit your Instagram feed.
By promoting your Instagram account on different social media profiles, you can leverage your visibility on other platforms to work around the Instagram algorithm and drive traffic to your profile.
3. Call to Action
A call to action is also very effective for increasing audience engagement. Popular Instagram CTAs include “tag your friend if…”, “double tap if….”, or “comment your favorite…”
By asking the audience to interact with your post, you are increasing your chance of having your post featured higher on their feeds because they have engaged with your content. The algorithm reads people engaging with your content on a regular basis as a signal of interest and will show those users more of your content.
In addition, the more likes and comments on your post, the more visibility you gain.
Here is an example of how Forever21 uses a call to action to engage their audience:
One of the easiest hacks to increase post visibility is to use hashtags. Now that an algorithm is in effect, it is more important than ever to utilize the right hashtags for your posts to make sure interested users see your posts.
Currently, there is no penalty for using hashtags, so use them wisely but make sure they are relevant. For starters, include about 4 or 5 hashtags per post, all of which must align to your specific content.
You also want to have one specific hashtag that is exclusively or strongly associated with your brand. For example, Herschel Supply Co uses the hashtag #Welltravelled for their travel pictures, and it immediately became one of the most popular hashtags for travel posts.
You can also add industry specific hashtags like #startuplife #musthave or #healthyliving on your posts depending on your specialty to target specific communities. This can expose your brand to users exploring those hashtags. Find more hashtag ideas on this list.
5. Influencer Strategy
Lastly, influencer marketing is a viable option for brands looking to expand their reach. Influencers are crucial for two reasons:
- It has been shown that people tend to believe brand recommendations from people that they are familiar with.
- Posts from influencers are also more likely to show up higher on the feeds because they are engaging people that already share similar characteristics and interests.
Here’s an example of how an influencer can promote a product:
Keep in mind that influencers don’t necessarily have to be famous celebrities, bloggers, or YouTubers with millions of followers. They simply have to have the attention of your target audience.
What are some other hacks to beat the Instagram algorithm? Do you have any other tips to reach more users? Let me know in the comments below!