If the average number of likes, posts, and comments has decreased for you, fret not. Instagram’s organic reach has been a downward spiral for a lot of publishers and the new algorithm is largely to blame for that. But it is not all pure evil per se.
The new algorithm just promotes the new game rules. If you want to succeed, you need to strategically follow them. However, with all the new features and constant changes, it’s really hard to keep up, right?
This post breaks down how the Instagram algorithm operates in 2018 and what you can do to have your posts seen by a larger fraction of your followers. So let’s get started!
INSTAGRAM FAVORS INTERACTIONS WITH YOUR FOLLOWERS
While some very recent rumors indicate that we may experience the chronological feed come back to the platform, it’s still too early to count on that. So for now, you should still focus on getting the most interactions and engagement for your account/posts in order to be seen by more people. It’s already known that Instagram assesses the number of likes, comments, saves, views, shares, and DMs to determine the post’s rank in a user’s feed.
Here are a few simple strategies to maximize all of those metrics:
- Treat the comment section as a conversational space – reply to your follower’s comments in a timely manner and prompt them to interact with you further by asking them additional questions.
- Experiment with longer post captions and call-to-actions – back up your stunning visual with a short story, ask your audience questions, encourage them to share their opinions and converse with you – rather than just “like” your stuff.
- Be creative – invite your audience to participate in a real-time challenge e.g. a competition and DM/tag you in their entries.
- Stories interactions also count towards ranking all of your recent posts higher. So try including fun “polls” or “Swipe Ups” to entice more clicks and action from your audience.
THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM ACCOUNTS FOR THE TIME SPENT ON VIEWING YOUR POSTS
To determine the post’s popularity, Instagram will “count” how much time the user spent reviewing it. That’s why writing a great post caption is essential to keep your engagement higher. Go beyond using two different smileys and try the following strategies instead:
- Prompt some action – For example, instruct your followers to; check your new blog post linked in the bio, save a post for later as it is evergreen content/resourceful info, tag a friend, answer a question, share their opinions as a reply etc.
- Make the first few sentence count – Instagram captions are capped at 2,200 characters. However, they will be truncated after three to four lines of text. Those clicks to “More” are also calculated as engagement by Instagram.
- Use 1 to 3 #hashtags max in your caption to avoid it looking spammy. You can always add a few more in the comment section.
- Post some videos – typically those are viewed longer, meaning higher engagement!
- For the same reason, experiment with carousel posts.
THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM SUPPORTS AUTHENTICITY
It may be tempting to artificially inflate your engagement through the so-called comment pods and like exchange platforms but don’t.
The platform’s algorithm is smart enough to distinguish genuine comments from automated “Great pic!” ones and random smileys. It will also quickly spot some unnatural “like frenzy” happening all of a sudden, even within a popular account.
Be authentic and build up a rapport with your audience!
USE ALL THE PLATFORM’S FEATURES
Instagram spent so much time developing and introducing new functionality. Of course, they want users to engage with it, instead of whining about how the “old Insta” was so much better.
Take the time to at least explore all those new additions such as:
- Instagram live and shared live-streams.
- Polls, GIFs and, Type Mode in Stories.
- Follow some hashtags and create a branded one for your account.
- Include a few stories highlights on your profile.
USE INSTAGRAM ANALYTICS TO KNOW WHAT’S WORKING AND WHAT’S NOT
Instagram success isn’t just about doing all of the above with no certain agenda in place. You should always analyze the complete picture of your audience behavior over time. That’s exactly what Instagram Analytics tell you.
You shouldn’t be tracking the engagement of a single post or video, but rather track the key engagement metrics (likes, views, saves etc.) over time and see how that correlates with the types of content you post.
By delivering the right message, at the right time, you can generate consistent engagement and make Instagram your darling again!