Are you wondering how you can beat the Instagram algorithm in 2019?! Thankfully, you’re not alone!
Instagram is definitely the popular kid in the world of social media right now, and it’s not hard to see why. With over 1 billion monthly active users, and 50% of which who follow brands, Instagram is the space to be in. Instagram is one of the best places to market your brand online, build a loyal, engaged following, and build an online community to support your brand.
How Does The Instagram Algorithm Work?
Instagram’s introduction of its ultra-smart algorithm has been leading to challenges related to reduced engagement rates and organic reach. Their introduction of the algorithmic timeline has impacted the reach of organic marketing campaigns, leading to many conspiracy theories that surround how exactly the algorithm works.
Here’s what Instagram has to say:
What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.
— Instagram (@instagram) 22 January 2019
So, the Instagram algorithm uses your relationships and how you interact with accounts in order to determine what content to show you first. This means that you can be following the exact same accounts as someone else, but your feed will look unique based on how you interact with the users you follow. But this can’t be it, can it?!
Why Has There Been A Decline In Organic Reach?
Because Instagram will never reveal how exactly their algorithm works and what factors contribute to where your content will land on the feeds of your followers, there has been lots of speculation and conspiracy theories that attempt to explain what’s happening.
Need for Advertising Revenue
Although one can never know for certain, some have speculated that because Instagram and Facebook run as a business where advertising dollars are a huge revenue stream, Instagram wants businesses to pay to boost their posts in order to increase their reach and visibility.
Instagram is Fighting Bots, Fraud, and Bots
Others state that Instagram is attempting to fight fake followers, inauthentic engagement, and fraud. Influencer fraud has been a hot topic in recent months, with Unilever’s Keith Weed calling on the ad industry and platforms like Instagram to help control bad practice in the space, such as fake followers, bots, fraud and “dishonest business models”.
An algorithm update may just be a step they’re taking to combat it. When a user posts something to their newsfeed on Instagram, the algorithm will sample a size of their audience. Depending on the level of engagement that this post receives, Instagram will organically show the post to more and more of your audience. Now, if a user has an audience that consists of 80-90% inactive users or bots, and Instagram samples these initial “people”, then their content will be deemed by the algorithm to be of poor quality and will have lower reach overall. By doing this, Instagram limits the organic reach of users with a high percentage of ghost and/or bot followers, while users with highly engaged communities actually benefit. Again, this has not been officially confirmed by Instagram and are only speculations.
How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement in 2019
Despite these changes and setbacks, the best way to beat the algorithm and increase engagement is to be proactive about it. With this said, here are 8 tips for how you can bring your Instagram strategy to the next level and increase your Instagram engagement in 2019.
Your Guide To Increasing Your Instagram Engagement in 2019
Use Instagram Stories
Over 300 million people use Instagram stories every day, making it a very powerful tool in boosting your engagement. Use your stories to share your latest posts and encourage your audience to check it out. You can include a sneak preview of the actual post and use stickers and GIFs to spice it up. We also recommend including an @ mention to yourself so that they can get to your feed as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Optimize Every Instagram Story
Did you know that you can include up to 10 hashtags in all of your Instagram stories? If you’re bothered by the way they can look, you can change the colour of the text to match your background or even place a sticker on top of it. Location stickers can also be added to each story, which means that your post may show up in the Instagram location story. These are great ways for users outside your network to discover your content and will further the reach of your profile!
Start Conversations with Instagram Stories Stickers
Re-frame the way you think about Instagram engagement! It is no longer solely based on the number of likes and comments that you get on your posts. It also takes into consideration engagement from your stories!
Instagram’s stories stickers allow your audience to chat and share brand experiences with you, which humanizes your brand. The goal here is to foster better relationships, connections, and loyalty to your company and brand.
The options here are endless– incorporate question and answer scenarios, share opinions, use poll stickers, and even re-post user-generated content! Get creative and we promise your efforts will pay off.
Schedule Your Content Around Follower Activity
It is so important to ensure you’re posting your content when your followers are the most active. After all, we want to show the algorithm that your audience is enjoying your content from the moment it is pushed live. To do this, ensure your Instagram profile is set to a business account so that you can have access to tons of audience insights provided by Instagram. Use this data to monitor and track your audience analytics to learn when the best time to post is. It will provide you with information related to when your audience is the most active by day and by hours. Use this information to your advantage and post accordingly!
Add an Element of Fun
We’re seeing more and more brands add elements of fun, humour, and pop culture references to their Instagram content. Again, this humanizes your brand and allows you to better connect with your audience. If doing this doesn’t necessarily align with your brand, try showing behind the scenes or “office life” material, so your work culture can be highlighted instead!
Use a Call to Action
Here’s the thing– your audience can’t give you what you want if you don’t tell them what it is! A simple “like this post if you agree!” or “leave a like if you’ve experienced this before” can do wonders for your engagement. It may also help to switch it up depending on the content you’re posting, though it’s important to do this where it makes sense. Perhaps “tag a friend” or “leave a comment” can work? You can even use these call to actions to drive traffic to your link in bio, IGTV episodes, etc.
Use The Right Hashtags
Using strategic hashtags can do wonders to your Instagram engagement as it is still a very effective way to get more eyes on your Instagram posts. If you want to increase your Instagram engagement, start by researching what Instagram hashtags are already being used by your audience, competitors, and industry leaders. Avoid hashtags that have already been used millions of times and use tools to help you determine which hashtags are bringing in the most impressions and engagements. Keep testing different hashtag sets and see which works best on an ongoing basis.
Host a Giveaway
Giveaways are a fantastic way to build goodwill in your audience and it’s mutually beneficial, allowing you to gain likes and followers while allowing a follower of yours to win a cool prize! When doing this, it’s important to keep your barriers to entry low, as many people usually won’t go out of their way to enter a contest with many steps. A simple “like this post, follow us, and tag a friend” is sometimes all you need! Contesting efforts will also be more successful with a small paid amplification budget, as it will boost the reach to tap into an audience outside your network that you would otherwise not have access to.
And there you have it! There’s no doubt that Instagram is a competitive place, and even more so now with its ever-changing algorithm. This means it’s more important now than ever to ensure your Instagram strategy reflects one that prioritizes high engagement levels, too.
The next time you’re planning your social media strategy involving Instagram, try to incorporate some of these tips, or even a combination of them, to see how your audience responds best.