Understanding The Instagram Algorithm For Small Businesses
Instagram is a funny place. It is singular among other social media platforms because of its focus on images and visual content, and the Instagram algorithm determines what posts appear in your audience’s feeds. Successfully growing your brand through Instagram is absolutely possible, but you need to understand the algorithm and make it work for you.
What Is The Instagram Algorithm?
Instagram wants to make sure its user’s feeds are full of interesting and relevant information so that people will continue to use the platform. It’s as simple as that! Every post gets run through an algorithm to determine how relevant it is to any given user, then places and ranks it in each feed accordingly.
Here’s some of what the algorithm looks for when deciding what to display in a particular user’s feed:
- Whether it thinks the user will like the information based on what that user has interacted with in the past.
- How recent the post is.
- How often the user interacts with the account the post originated from.
There are many digital marketers who will try to ‘beat’ or ‘hack’ the algorithm but if you understand how it works, you can actually make it work for you instead of you trying to get around it.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you will be rewarded the most for genuine, authentic interaction and engagement, so plan your content accordingly!
Instagram Algorithm – Relevance To User
Whether it’s recipes, fashion advice, how-tos, or any other category of post, each user has a favorite type of content that they like to interact with. Instagram keeps track of what kind of posts a user likes, shares, and comments on in order to make sure they have a wealth of similar content to enjoy.
An interesting fact here… when the algorithm is filling up a user’s feed, it will include some posts from accounts that the user doesn’t follow if it thinks that the content is something they would like. This is done to encourage branching out and the discovery of new accounts to follow.
Making It Work For You
This is fantastic news for Instagram marketing. It means that your posts can be seen by users who don’t even follow you! How amazing is that?
To get your posts seen and make this work for you, posting helpful, quality content is key. In addition to product posts and your other daily posts, you need to be posting longer, well thought out informational posts as well. Providing value to your audience is the name of the game here!
Instagram Algorithm – Timeliness
How recently you posted something factors into where it ranks on a user’s feed. The algorithm shows the most recent relevant content first. Posts that get a large amount of engagement right after they are posted (as in the first 30 minutes) will be shown on more user’s feeds because the algorithm sees this as content worth sharing. This is called reach. The more engagement you can stir up for a post right away, the further your post will reach!
Making It Work For You
Timing your posts is essential to making this aspect of the Instagram algorithm work for you. This will require a bit of research on your part though. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ best time to post because different demographics are online at varying times of the day.
Figure out your target audience, then do some research on when they are online and post accordingly!
Instagram Algorithm – Relationships
Instagram doesn’t want its users to miss posts from friends, family, or anyone else who is important to them. When a user regularly interacts with a particular account, their posts will get ranked higher in that user’s feed. Now, the interesting thing about this is that it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s a business or personal account!
Let me say it again because this is important… The more a user interacts with a particular account, no matter if it is a business or personal account, the more that account’s posts will show up in their feed.
Making It Work For You
Getting people to interact with your content will ensure your posts continue to show up in their feed. Ask questions on your posts, get people talking! A word of caution here, this does not mean asking people to like and share your content. Ask real honest-to-goodness questions or ask people to comment on something specific. Begging for likes and shares is an outdated strategy and will actually turn people away.
Other Factors To Consider
When you put all of this together, it actually feels like simple common sense. Post useful content at the right times and encourage people to interact with your posts. Easy, right? Despite the resistance and predictable gnashing of teeth that occurred when Instagram initially implemented this engagement algorithm, it is intended to provide their end-users with a better overall experience.
Here are a few more tips to help you increase your engagement by utilizing this algorithm:
- Instagram likes to promote its features like Reels and Stories, so they do lend some weight to posts that use these.
- Post a variety of content. Longer posts, shorter posts, videos, stories, etc. This way you will get the most reach for your account!
- Think of your hashtags as SEO for your Instagram account, and keep user intent in mind. When selecting hashtags, think of it from the perspective of “What would someone who wants to find this information search for?”
- Interact with your follower’s content to encourage them to interact with yours.
- Use a tool like Canva to create stunning graphics for your Instagram posts. While Canva does have a paid ‘Pro’ version, the free version is extremely useful, and it’s crazy simple to figure out. Remember, quality content gets ranked better, and nothing says quality like custom graphics!
- Upgrade your Bio with a link app so your followers can access all of your content in one place.
Instagram can seem exclusive and intimidating to the uninitiated, but it is actually a great place for small business owners to grow their brand.
What If I Don’t Have Time For All This?
We get it. Busy business owners are well… busy! Keeping up with everything running your business entails doesn’t always leave a lot of time for social media. $99 Social is the solution. You tell us what kind of content you want to post and we make it happen! We have Instagram packages that fit into even the smallest marketing budgets. Contact us today and get started building your following on Instagram!