Ahh, the great Instagram algorithm that’s making every small to medium sized account scratch their head in confusion. “How does one generate new likes and followers with this ridiculous algorithm? Nobody even sees my posts. How am I meant to drive traffic to my account?” Well, I’ve got good news – all is not lost.
“Instagram is hard work.”
My Instagram has been suffering too, a lot. I gain followers just as fast as I lose them, which has resulted me being in the 1,340 – 1,350 follower mark for months. Instagram is hard work. It can be extremely frustrating when you put so much effort and time into creating the content for it not to even be shown to most of your followers. So, something has to change. As a recent Marketing graduate, I was intrigued. That’s why I investigated further to understand what this new algorithm is really about. Let’s start with some basics…
1. Firstly, this Instagram algorithm is all about engagement, believe it or not. As you have probably seen, many influencers have said “like my 9 recent posts to make sure you still see my future posts in your feed”. Well, they’re not wrong, but the reason for this working is that this shows the Instagram algorithm that the user wants to engage with the content. But that’s not all.
2. Instagram shows posts to users when the posts are liked or commented on by the people they also follow. So, for example, if I post a photo and my friend Debby likes it, but a follower of Debby’s also follows me, they are more likely to see my post.
3. Also, Instagram shows posts to users who use or search for the same hashtags you use on your posts. This is why the power of hashtags is incredibly important with this algorithm. You also have to take into account any “broken” hashtags. The maximum number of hashtags per post is 30, and I have created packages for different types of posts in my Best Instagram Hashtags for 2018 blog post, so check it out and feel free to copy the packages for yourself!
4. Another important element is when you post. Yes, the feed is no longer chronological, but since this algorithm tracks and compares the amount of likes and comments you get on your posts in a short period of time, you have to ensure that you are posting at your prime posting times.
So, now that you hopefully understand this silly little algorithm a bit better, here are some guidelines to help you get through it…
1. Use Appropriate Hashtags
Using generic hashtags can work to get some new likes on your posts, but they generally don’t retain these people on your account and ensure they continue engaging with your content. Instead of trying to come up with very specific hashtags to your picture (i.e. for a picture of green tea, just popping the hashtag #greentea and getting it over with), you’re going to have to think further. Think what your audience would use and look for, while still relating to the post. Maybe try to segment your audience and find out their interests. For example, even if you mainly blog about beauty, are your readers generally vegetarian, cruelty-free, fitness lovers or maybe even bookworms? Then, find out the best hashtags to use, and maybe do a bit of light stalking and see what kind of hashtags the people who normally like your posts use on their posts! It’s all a massive circle of engagement.
If you’re struggling to find the 30 most perfect hashtags, then I’ve created some hashtag packages to help you out: click here! Make sure you don’t use more than 30 as otherwise they won’t work!
2. Post At Your Prime Posting Times
As I said, posting at your prime posting times is so important with this algorithm to ensure that you get all the likes fast. The faster, the better, because that will ensure your post will come up at the top. Find out when your posts get the most amount of engagement during the first 30 minutes of posting. This can be tracked either via some analytic tools or applications (such as UNUM) or by just experimenting! It is so important to get this right.
3. Engage With The Right Posts
Don’t with anyone that takes your fancy. Funny cat videos and foodgasm accounts might just be your fave (they sure are mine so send me your links, please), but make sure they match the content you’re also putting out. I know, it’s pretty annoying, but that’s just how the algorithm is. If you put your focus on content and people that do not match your posts, the algorithm might think that your content relates to those instead, therefore not showing it to your followers who might not be into that. Of course you can still like the pictures your grandma pops up on Instagram, but make the related themed posts the ones you put most engagement in.
4. Engage With Your Targeted Followers
Go down your follower list as often as you can to like and comment on photos of your followers that also match the style and hashtags you’re putting out. This increases the clarity of your account’s theme and they might even return the favour and give your posts a little like or a comment. Your post will then show up in their followers’ “following” activity section, and if their followers like your post, they might come over and drop a follow and a like too! It’s all a massive cycle, I know. I’d recommend doing this as often as possible if you want to be seen by your target market!
5. Tag Similar Accounts
The more you mention various accounts, the more likely it is that you’ll appear in the recommendation areas of Instagram! For example, you can mention your new followers by doing a weekly post on your feed to thank some recent follower. Just think of any innovative names to increase the engagement on your page! The more people you mention, the more the algorithm will realise that you are engaging with a certain audience.
6. Follow Similar Accounts
I do not mean the follow-unfollow game that’s been massively increasing with this new algorithm. I know that the times are desperate, but trust me, it won’t help you gain followers that are actually interested in you and the content you provide. However, don’t feel like you should only follow a small amount of people to look like a big “influencer”, that’s just silly. Follow any people that are similar to you, with similar amounts of followers and similar content. This will again show the algorithm you are engaging with a specific type of account, and you’ll get to see pretty pictures of things you’re interested in! If you don’t like the account, don’t follow them to get a follow back and then to unfollow them later. It will not help.
7. Post a Contest/Giveaway
Of course you do not have to do this but it is a great way to get people attracted to engage with your content! The rules you set can also determine the type of followers that will engage with your account. For example, you could do a UK-only giveaway if your primary target market is people in Britain. You could use only beauty related hashtags to get the right people engaging with it. It would be great to add a rule that requires people to repost the photo on their story and tagging you, as this will, again, show the algorithm that these people are engaging with your content.
This is all I’ve got for now. I’ll be creating some updated hashtag packages for different types of bloggers as well as adding new packages for the existing types! Check out my previous hashtag post and let me know what types you’d like to see next.
Be kind, be humble.