How to outsmart the Instagram algorithm

Not getting as many likes on Instagram as you used to? Don’t worry, you are not alone.

Instagram has recently changed the way in which its algorithms work, which means best practices that have worked in the past, aren’t as affective anymore.

Why? Well, it’s down to money.

This way Instagram hopes you will eventually spend more money to stay with them.

But if you’re a small business using social media for the free marketing aspect, then you may want to know all the ways you can change your game organically, without stretching the wallet.

So to help you out with your Instagram marketing, here’s a few things you can do to get your content seen…

Keep your hashtags relevant

Since Instagram allowed you to follow hashtags, they made them an even bigger deal.

This is because users now have the power to mark your hashtagged content as something they don’t want to see by selecting the “Don’t Show for This Hashtag” option – to mark the content not interesting or not relevant.

Which means having too many of your posts marked in this manner could potentially raise a red flag on your account and negatively affect all of your other content as well.

So keep all your hashtags relevant, and don’t try to trick the algorithms by hashtagging something that is not relevant to your post.

Avoid spammy behaviour and switch up your hashtags

Copying and pasting the exact same list of Instagram hashtags into every single post won’t just impact your engagement, but it can also make you look spammy!

The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding what hashtags to use is that you’re being intentional – using hashtags that your target audience is actually searching for and following!

And avoid gimmicky hashtags, and ones that have been used over 1M times – while they might get you a few extra likes, they aren’t going to help you grow a highly engaged, targeted following.

Instead, try looking for niche community hashtags that are specifically relevant to the content you post – and don’t forget to use your branded hashtag whenever it makes sense!

Use third-party tools to find the right hashtags for your business

There are many (paid and free) third party tools that offer help with your hashtags – these platforms can also help with scheduling and other ways to format your posts.

Here’s a few examples of third party tools that you can look to:

  • Hashtagify
  • Hashtag Expert for IG
  • All Hashtags
  • Seekmetrics
  • AutoHash
  • Webstagram
  • Display Purposes
  • Sked Social

Use the right amount of hashtags

The age old debate about how many is exactly the right amount… essentially, the jury is still out!

Some people recommend using the maximum number of hashtags allowed by Instagram, which is thirty, others would say use five key hashtags to punctuate your post – quantity not quality.

Personally? I think it’s a game of trial and error until you find the sweet spot.

The most important thing is that they are relevant.

Follow hashtags on Instagram

Following a hashtag works just like following a user’s profile.

When you find a hashtag you’d like to follow you simply open the hashtag page and tap on the follow button.

For brands and businesses, this opens up a great opportunity to regularly appear in a follower’s feed.

You can also use this new feature to keep a close eye on competitors and even discover potential partners by choosing to follow industry-specific hashtags.

Add hashtags into your Instagram stories

Adding hashtags to your story is a great way to give your content an added chance to be discovered by new audiences. When people search for a hashtag on Instagram, if it’s popular enough, they’ll be able to view active, real-time stories on that hashtag’s page — including your own.

And if they like what they see, they might even tap follow on your profile!

Add hashtags into your bio

Including your branded hashtag in your Instagram bio is a fantastic way to drive engagement on your posts!

Including your branded hashtag in your bio is also a great way to get your followers in the habit of posting with it.

Be more active

Instagram wants to see that people are using its platform, and will (sadly) favour those that are using it more.

This means you need to get to grips with not only posting in your feed but also Instagram stories and Instagram lives and TV.

Keep your publishing to stories consistent – not only do they make you more visible in the home feed (appearing at the top of the page) but they are also a way to create engagement with your followers.

More engagement = more active = Instagram likes you.

Play around with your content

Use Instagram’s third party apps like Hyperlapse, Boomerang and even just plain old video content to show that you are using all their platforms, and posting a variety of content to keep your audience interested.

Post regularly

One post a day is a good way to get seen – with the change in algorithms, only 10% of your audience is actually seeing your posts in their feed.

Therefore posting regularly and consistently gives people more options and chances to see your posts – meaning more options for engagement, and puts you more in Instagram’s favour.

Post at the right time of day

Instagram will favour a post that gets a lot of likes once it is first posted – therefore if your post is a hit from the word go, it has more of a chance of getting bigger – and being seen by more people.

For this reason your really need to think about when you are posting – pick the times of day when people are most active on social media to give your post more of a chance to be seen.

Keep up with your community management

If someone comments on your post, Instagram likes it if you reply to it straight away.

Facebook is building a community – so it wants to see that all its platforms act that way, and remember they want to see you are ACTIVE.

Turning notifications for your app ON will alert you when someone has commented and allow you to reply as soon as you can.

The quicker you respond, the more instagram will like you, the more your post gets favoured by its algorithms… and the more it will get seen.

You get the point, right?

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