How To Beat The Instagram Algorithm
Instagram's algorithm is likely the reason you are struggling to build an engaged audience on the platform, especially if you know your content is high quality and you are using the right hashtag strategy. The algorithm changes constantly and is difficult to keep up with, but there are some set rules it generally seems to follow, creating a similar pattern each time it's updated. This means there are ways to tweak the algorithm to work in your favour, more on that later.
Breaking Down The Algorithm
The algorithm can be broken down into 4 main stages:
1. Your post is shown to a small percentage of your total audience within the first hour of it being posted. This includes your followers and people who follow the hashtags you have used.
2. Instagram measures how fast and how often that group of people engages with your new post.
3. It compares this engagement rate against the rates of previous posts made at a similar time, usually on the same day or at around the same time.
4. The better the post performs in comparison to your previous posts, the more people it is shown to, the higher on feeds it appears and the higher the chances are that your post will appear on the coveted explore page.
In essence, if your post performs better than average it's going to get more exposure and has a higher chance of going viral. This is especially great if you are overhauling your content and each post is going to be better than the last therefore being exposed to more people should your engagements reflect the quality of the content. However, it does mean if you have one incredibly performing post, any other content posted at that time on that day may not perform quite as well.
Beating the Algorithm
There are a few ways you can use this algorithm to your advantage, certainly in the short term. The first: ensure your content is constantly progressing and improving. Not only will this ensure your content is always growing in engagements, but it's an ideal way to retain your current audience as well as growing your follower numbers. Add new, interesting filler content or add a weekly engagement opportunity like a Q&A or competition.
Competitions are great ways to ensure people have a reason to engage with your content but provides a one-off solution to a longer term issue. If you need a quick boost, think about what prizes you could give away without losing too much profit. It may also be an idea to collaborate with another relevant brand on a competition to tap into their followers.
Ideally, you should be getting people to click onto your content within the first hour. Smaller businesses should ask friends and family who wouldn't usually engage with content to give their post a like, or get their team to share the post on their personal Instagram stories. You may have noticed more companies teasing new posts and encouraging their followers to give the post a like, it's a shameless plug but they are attempting to beat the algorithm, much like yourself, and if you can't beat them, join them.
The Ever Changing Algorithm
The Instagram algorithm will never stop changing in order to make it harder to use manipulation tactics in order to gain more exposure, also to keep the platform interesting. It is likely that Instagram will follow Facebook within the next 12-18 months and begin to start squashing the exposure of businesses in order to get them to pay for ads, so NOW is the time to start employing more tactics in order to build an engaged audience ready for when this happens. If you need help building your Instagram audience, or need any further advice, drop me a message and let's chat.