You’ve noticed a change in your Instagram account, haven’t you? Instagram refined its algorithm in 2016 and since then users’ feeds have not been the same. In order make the app more “user friendly” (that’s the company’s perspective… from the users’ side, the jury is still out) Instagram started displaying content based on a user’s preferences and interests, instead of a chronological feed displaying content based on the time of its posting. This change has created challenges for Instagram influencers, bloggers, and Instagram based businesses. When an influencer, blogger or a virtual business posts content on their Instagram account, they are looking for engagement. The new algorithm has actually led to a decrease in engagement as followers don’t get to see the post or the space is too cluttered for the followers to pay attention to your post. And FYI, this is happening over on Facebook (which owns Instagram) as well. So are we all now stuck with pay to play? Not quite - while viewer engagement is becoming difficult, here are some tried and tested tricks to beat the IG algorithm:
Step 1: Post Quality Content
Instagram is all about interaction, and your followers will not interact with you if the content you post is weak in quality. By quality content, what we mean is content which makes sense and aligns with your purpose and theme (or your account’s purpose & theme). People do not like random images, stories, or videos that do not relate to your account theme. Instagram is a direct engagement platform - which means your followers will most certainly be a like-minded crowd. Imagine a “bookstagrammer” randomly posting about high street fashion on his/her account. Their audience isn’t going to like this post as they aren’t looking for this and cannot relate to the post. What’s worse is this may hurt the engagement for future posts too! With 12.8 million followers, Starbucks is one of the most successful brands on Instagram and their feed is definitely worth checking out for quality of their posts and engagement ability. Here are some examples from their account:
Step 2: Post Consistently
We cannot stress this enough! No matter whether you post three times a day or once a week, be consistent with your posting habits. This is the golden rule for Instagram success! Also, post knowing how the current algorithm is going to “throttle” your post - right now it will only show your post to 10% of your followers… and if those first selected followers engage to the “magic threshold”degree within a specific amount of time, your post is then released to the rest of your followers. FYI - we have seen evidence of similar throttling over on the Facebook platform too - both in business and personal profiles. So “evergreening” your posts to some degree, and saving upcoming event notifications for the Event modules of the both platforms, needs to be kept in mind. As always, posting something with great content about an event after it happens is evergreen - it reminds your followers that you’re active outside the SM world and they can come see you at an event in the future!
Step 3: Use Relevant Hashtags
Had enough ##### yet? Hashtags can prove to be game changers for your post. You know that you can use a maximum of 30 hashtags, but are you using the correct ones to describe your post? What does your following say about the number of your hashtags too? The objective of #tags is to feature in the top 9 trending topics within your “space” - ie: cooking, fashion, fitness as a part of your post to increase your visibility on Instagram. This is easier said than done, who has time to go look back and run an analysis when you have to be busy creating great content ?!? This is where QMocha comes to your rescue, saving you hours of rabbit-hole research! QMocha’s AI will analyze your posts in just a few minutes and deliver the answers to your burning questions of how many hashtags to use, and which ones work the best for you. Stop guessing, and use what works! Or, if you’re heading in a new direction - say you are in fashion and showing instances of Pantone’s Color of The Year - hashtag the color name (#LivingCoral), and within a few posts Qmocha can tell you if the new color is going to fly or flop with your following. Where else can you find a tool to do that?
Step 4: Run Contests and Giveaways
A call for action is the mantra for driving engagement. When you run a contest, or ask people to tag someone or ask them to enter into a giveaway by commenting on a post, essentially you are asking them to participate and thus increase your engagement. But don’t forget to engage back, with just a simple like - it goes a long way to establishing continued interaction. And plan your contests or giveaways around the throttling we mentioned above - you might have to get creative. For example if you were in the food space, instead of doing a giveaway only on National Chocolate Day, be fun in your post and say it deserves to be celebrated all month long with a contest. But if you are a big enough influencer, sometimes just a follow back is enough - Forever 21 does a good use of this strategy by asking their followers to caption a post picture, here’s an example:
Step 5:Choose Apt Captions For Your Posts
When your followers look at your post, they are interested in knowing the story behind the post. Use a relevant caption or describe the story behind the your post. Answering the “why” through your captions can make the follower more emotionally invested with your brand and thus will lead to deeper loyalty and usually increased engagement.
With constant change in the Instagram algorithm, IG engagement is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. QMocha can help you stay on the top of the game even when the rules are constantly changing in today’s social media world. The depth of QMocha’s Insights can give you great feedback on what is working well and increasing engagement, as well as what is falling flat - and do it very quickly. With so many elements that can go into a single post, today’s social media world requires an analytic tool that goes layers deeper than just likes and follows, instead analyzing what elements might be driving the engagement. The elements factor is why the one size fits all social media analytics tools still leave you guessing. By following the best practices we have covered here, and adding QMocha to your recipe, you will start to brew up a profile that delivers more engagement!