We’ve seen it time and time again: A B2B thinks they’ve figured out a social platform, they’ve mastered engagement, and they’re getting seen… and then the algorithm changes, and they have to start all over again.
It’s everyone’s least favorite part about being in social: Figuring out a way to make your mark while competing with calculations from a computer. And with 59% of U.S. adults using Instagram daily—and 500 million accounts using Instagram stories daily—that’s a lot of eyes and a lot of competition.
But don’t fret; we have a way to hack the Instagram algorithm.
Much like the Facebook one, the Instagram algorithm is a proprietary blend of items that helps the platform decide what content should be prioritized and what can be bumped to the bottom of a user’s newsfeed.
Add to that that while the algorithm impacts the default feed, in 2022, Instagram also reintroduced the ability to see your feed chronologically and the ability to view a curated list of recent posts from your favorite accounts.
It’s a lot to juggle through—but we can help suss out the noise.
When it comes to Instagram’s algorithms (yes, plural), they use a variety of classifiers, functions, and processes, each with its own purpose. In 2021, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri broke it down for users, explaining that they “want to make the most of your time, and we believe that using technology to personalize your experience is the best way to do that.”
But what does that mean, exactly?
Every time you open the app, the Instagram algorithms instantly comb through all the content that’s available and uses special recipes to decide the following:
- What posts go to the top of the newsfeed, and in what order
- What order Stories, Live videos, and Reels show up in the feed, in their tabs, etc.
- What posts are featured on the Explore tab
We know. It’s a lot—and there’s even more to it. So let’s hack the Instagram algorithms, shall we?
Each section of the app considers details about your relationship with your followers, how relevant your content is, and how timely your posts are. But the specific factors that tailor your Feed and Stories, the Explore tab, and Reels are all slightly different.
Related read: 6 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Matters for B2B
Each section of the app takes into account:
- Your relationship with each follower: Did they search for you by name? Do you message each other or leave comments? Do you tag each other in posts? Do you follow each other?
- Relevance: Instagram tracks each user’s affinity and figures out what is in a given photo or video to serve up content people want (puppy videos, obviously).
- Timeliness: Newer posts always take priority over older ones.
Let’s improve your ranking on Instagram users’ feeds. Of course, you must continue posting quality content that entertains, interests, and informs your audience. To grow your reach and prompt the latest algorithms to push your content, do the following:
Seven Useful Tips to Hack the Instagram Algorithm
1. Schedule for optimal times.
Audience engagement is a powerful signal to Instagram algorithms. But if you’re posting content at 2 a.m., you likely won’t get a lot of eyes on it. Post your content at the right time, which can significantly impact your reach.
The folks over at Hootsuite analyzed over 30,000 posts from all kinds of businesses. The result: They came up with the overall best times to post on Instagram each day of the week. They are:
Monday, 12 p.m.
Tuesday, 9 a.m.
Wednesday, 11 a.m.
Thursday, 11 a.m.
Friday, 2 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m.
Sunday, 7 p.m.
These times are optimal, so keep them in mind next time you’re going to post for your business.
2. Use Reels to your benefit—and as part of your marketing strategy.
For some reason, Reels gets more engagement than regular Instagram videos. (See: the aforementioned puppy videos.) So posting on Reels can help you increase your visibility on Instagram. Seems pretty obvious, right?
Even though Instagram works within a variety of algorithms, Instagram’s creators account recently revealed that Reels has actual human beings combing through them to serve up the best ones.
To get your Reels noticed, do the following:
- Post your videos in a vertical position.
- Use all the added features, like music, filters, camera effects, etc.
- Keep your Reels short and fun.
- Don’t use low-resolution videos.
- Don’t recycle watermarked Tik-Tok videos.
Related read: How to Get the Most Out of Instagram Reels?
3. Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag!
While Instagram’s algorithms can’t appreciate and understand photos of cute kitties or puppies (like adorable Muffin the Corgi trying to swim upstream), it can understand hashtags, like #dogsofinsta in the post. When you add descriptive and accurate hashtags, it’s an effective way to increase your reach. If the algorithm can recognize what your post is about, it will share it with people who are interested in that topic more easily.
But you must use hashtags correctly—not merely using #instagood or #followforfollow on your posts. When you research posts in your niche, you can use hashtags that actually describe your post and earn more eyes on your content.
Related read: How To Hashtag Like A Pro
4. Develop a love of stickers.
No, we don’t mean those fun sticky images you used to plaster on your notebooks as a kid. With Instagram stickers, you can increase engagement—and that’s really important for the algorithms. You can use Stories, emoji sliders, polls, and question stickers to ask your followers questions and share their opinions. You can engage and encourage conversations with the caption—or within the post itself. And comments are the best way to show the algorithms who’s boss. (Hint: it’s you!)
As an FYI, good engagement on Instagram is somewhere between 1 and 5%. But the average engagement rate on Instagram for businesses in 2021? A mere 0.83% engage on the average business account.
5. Post. A lot.
You want to see your business grow, right? If you want to boost engagement, grow your follower base, and increase your reach, you need to post—a lot. Businesses typically post almost two posts (1.6) to their feed daily. So posting engaging content is enough to grow your account.
But the aforementioned CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, previously stated that just posting two feed posts a week and two Stories a day is enough to build your following. So don’t stress about posting that much; consistent, quality posts are key.
6. Respect the rules.
Every social media platform has rules, but you’re likely to reduce your visibility if you don’t respect Instagram’s community guidelines. And if your posts spread misinformation of any kind or are poor quality, your content may not have as broad a reach as you hope.
What’s one of the best ways to find favor in the sight of the algorithms? Track and monitor your performance! When you understand what’s working and what isn’t, you’ll be able to fine-tune your social media marketing strategy and save time and effort in the future.
You can measure your performance on Instagram with an Instagram analytics tool like Instagram Insights. There’s plenty out there that aren’t branded to the platform, though. With a good analytics tool, you can go beyond vanity metrics and understand more about your audience and the sort of content they want. With an analytics tool, you can determine when your audience is online, which posts are getting real engagement, and which hashtags are performing well.
If you’ve noticed any big spikes or dips in your stats recently, analytics are the first place to go to determine if something has changed in the Instagram algorithm so you can start tweaking your strategy accordingly.
We know; it’s all a lot to master. Want help conquering your Instagram presence? We can help. Reach out.