When Instagram first popped into the digital space in 2010, it was just like any other social platform. It was filled with selfies, pets, and pictures of food. Fast-forward to today, and Instagram has transformed from a simple photo-sharing app to a full-on marketing channel!
Even with all of the other social platforms that are increasing in popularity, Instagram still remains king. This is because the app has evolved over the past few years specifically and extended its purposes to be a main hub of video sharing, personal stories, and even eCommerce.
Because of this evolution, it can be difficult to crack the code of Instagram’s algorithm and figure out how exactly to increase your reach on the platform.
However, there are several ways you can leverage the unique features and intricacies of Instagram in order to find success!
Here are 9 ways to befriend IG and maximize the algorithm.
1. Sign up for Instagram for business
First and foremost, if your Instagram hasn't flipped to a "business" account yet, you may want to start there. Business accounts give you extra analytics to help you improve your Instagram performance.
The data you have access to includes:
- Your follower's locations
- Your follower's gender
- Your followers age ranges
- What days and times your followers are active online
- Insights into specific posts to see which worked best
These kinds of insights are critical to understanding how your account is performing and how to improve your account.
Along with these beneficial features, you will get a more professional look, a "contact" button on your profile, and access to ads. If your goal is to drive Instagram followers to your website, these are major wins!
2. Mix up your content
Instagram started as a simple place to share photos but has expanded ever since then. You now have stories, reels, videos, carousel posts, ads, and highlights. By the time you read this blog, there are probably even more options!
With the variety of content types and constant changes, Instagram doesn't want users to churn out the same old thing, day after day. Mix it up with videos, graphics, and pictures of real people! If you post the exact same thing every day, people can lose interest.
It is worth noting that Instagram currently prioritizes videos over most content. Also, your followers likely interact with videos, stories, and reels more than static images. Because of the variety of video types, there are endless ways you can use video to spice up your content. However, make sure to keep your content fresh overall.
3. Use all of Instagram's features.
Instagram's algorithm actually prioritizes accounts that use all their tools - like polls, Stories, highlights, reels, video, carousels, and more.
It makes sense that Instagram does this: it is constantly innovating, updating, and improving and it wants its users to do that too! They wouldn't spend all that time and money developing new technology if they didn't want you to use it! The more you can use these different features, especially when they first roll out on the app, the better your engagement will be.
Using these features will also help you to mix up your content and encourage interactions from your followers. The features in stories alone are great for engagement, gauging your followers’ interests and values, and driving traffic to your profile.
4. Share video content
Instagram has many ways to share video content; there are stories, reels, IGTV, and short videos for your grid. This should be a clue that video is the future of content on social media! Video generates more engagement on average than other post types. Let’s go into more detail about each of Instagram’s video types.
You can keep your content at the top of everyone's feed, literally, by posting stories. These short 15-second clip videos show up right there at the top of the app the moment you launch it. So even if users don't see your posts on their timeline, they'll spot it up top.
Stories are short, engaging, and a quick way to highlight things on your profile to your followers. Stories are only available on your profile for 24 hours unless you decide to archive them in your profile highlights. Highlights appear at the top of your profile and enable your followers to refer to old stories you have posted. These can be organized by category to make it easier for your followers to find the content they want.
On the flip side of the temporary, single stories are the videos that are posted directly to your profile feed. These videos include reels, IGTV, and shorter clips. These videos, unlike 24-hour stories, are permanent (unless you choose to delete them). Because these videos are more permanent and longer, they will require a bit more effort in getting them right. These are perfect for:
- Event announcements
- Anything you want people to come back to and share
IGTV videos are longer videos that have a specific tab on your profile. These videos are great for sermons, longer tutorials, and more.
Reels are 15-30 second video clips that feature unique filters, effects, and audio. These are meant to be much quicker and for quick entertainment purposes.
Both these two video formats have their own tabs on your profile but can be shared in your grid as well. There will be a short preview of the IGTV video and the entirety of the reel. Videos posted directly to the grid cap at 1 minute and don’t have all of the extra features and benefits of reels, stories, or IGTV.
You'll probably want to use all of these video formats semi-regularly. And which you choose for a given post will depend on what you hope to achieve.
5. Don't post and ghost
When you post may not matter as much as how you post!
Once you know what time you're going to post, it's important to jump on the app a couple of minutes beforehand and engage away! Liking and commenting on other people's posts helps develop and engage your online community. And it doesn't hurt that it will help you get engagement when your post goes out, either.
We've seen that the Instagram algorithm responds positively to posts that get quick engagement. If your audience likes and comments when it's first posted, that alerts the Instagram robots that it's quality content. And once that happens, there's a better chance that that post will appear in more people's feeds, which means even more engagement.
In addition to helping your relationship with the Instagram algorithm, it will also boost your relationship with your followers. This will facilitate an ongoing dialogue which will in turn affect your effectiveness on Instagram.
6. Post the right number of times
How much is too much? And how much is not enough?
We've said before that Instagram is all about connecting and being social, which means it is important to show up for the people who follow you.
The reality is that you cannot post once a week and expect anybody to pay you the slightest bit of attention! But you also can't post an absurd number of times and hope to see consistent results. Posting too little underwhelms and reduces your impact. Posting too much overwhelms and makes you just another repetitive voice online.
There is a balance to how often you should post, and the only way to find the right balance for your brand is to test it. We recommend starting with posting at least every other day and reevaluating from there.
7. Use polls in your Stories
Polls have a direct and easy call-to-action for your followers. You see a poll and just have to tap one of the two options!
The innate need to tap a button leads to higher engagement. Everyone wants to share their thoughts and opinions! Plus, followers who vote in your poll are now invested in the outcome. They want to pay more attention to your account to see the poll's final result. And this can increase the rate at which followers watch your stories the whole way through.
One simple poll question you can re-use over and over is "Which do you prefer: x or y?" It can relate to the season you're in, the songs the band plays on Sunday, or pure fun like choosing between cats and dogs.
8. Use strategic hashtags
On Instagram, hashtags have become very valuable. But you can't just rely on the most popular ones. If the hashtags are too vague, the tag will be inundated within seconds. You need to research relevant and trending hashtags for your target audience. What are they searching or looking for on Instagram?
Have your hashtags planned for the post. Once your post goes out, copy and paste it into the comments below. And remember, only use 30 hashtags per post!
9. Listen to your community
Instagram is ultimately a social network. You can't post, post, post and expect to see the followers and engagement come flying in. You need to invest time in your audience and in building a community if you want them to invest their time in you!
By listening, you have a much better chance of reaching your followers and finding new ones. What matters is understanding what's important to them. Consider their values, needs, and wants and do your best to meet those.
Instagram is one of the most diverse and intuitive platforms we have among social networks. There are so many different ways you are able to share content and connect with your audience. You don’t need to be fearful of Instagram’s algorithm but can instead embrace the features of the app and do your best to befriend it!
Do you need help turning Instagram into a friend for your church?
Our team at Pro MediaFire has the experience and skills to transform your Instagram presence and increase your engagement online. Contact us today so we can help you ignite your growth!