Instagram: it’s the platform we all love to hate, right? Especially now that the Instagram algorithm changes are no longer published on their blog, meaning that you have to dig through their help section for details on all the changes.
What was once the fastest-growing and most engaging social media for most of us has, after one-too-many algorithm changes, quickly become a source of stress and far too many rules for almost every type of blogger or influencer.
And, January marks yet another update, with more and more rumours circling of what is and isn’t likely to get your engagement up, how to avoid shadow-bans, and whether your followers are even able to see your posts…so, it’s Fran here, and I’m rounding up the best tips and tricks for the latest updates, as well as some general ways to improve your engagement.
1. Use those stories
One of the biggest changes Instagram have made lately is the changes to how stories are displayed in your feed, with story suggestions not only being much larger than they were previously, but are also now showing up mid-feed. What does this mean for you? There’s now even more reason to add to your stories and keep them updated! Instagram counts story views as engagement in their algorithm, meaning that if someone watches your story often, your posts also show up higher in their feed – win/win!
2. Hashtag wherever you want – but do it fast
There’s a lot of debate all over the web as to where you should hashtag – in your caption or in the comments – but the truth is, the actual location of the tags doesn’t matter as much as how quickly you do it. The reason some people prefer to hashtag in their caption is because it means that your post appears in the hashtag feed, at the top, as soon as you post it, whereas if you post in the comments, you’ll appear in the feed, but your order in the results will depend on when you posted the picture, not when you added the hashtag (source: adweek). That means, if you post a picture at 6pm, then don’t hashtag it until 7pm, you’ll show up in the hashtag behind all the other people who have posted their photo in the hashtag in the last hour – not great if you’re posting in a packed hashtag, as it means you’ll spend no time at the top of the tag page.
If you’re posting your picture and then commenting straight away with the hashtags, however, it probably won’t make a massive difference.
3. Respond to your comments
If you’re anything like me, you probably forget to reply to Instagram comments
all the time occasionally, but that could be why your engagement is suffering. The more likes and comments you get on a post, the more your followers are likely to see it in their feed – so if you’re getting one comment, that’s great – but if you’re getting that comment, responding, then getting a conversation going, your post is doing even better by the Instagram algorithm standards…! Get chatting!
4. Get yourself a business account
We’ve already covered the benefits of your Instagram business account on the blog before, so we won’t bore you with too many details if you’ve already read it – but if you haven’t, or if you’ve got a business account and aren’t sure if you’re using it as well as you could, have a read – you’d be seriously surprised how much having all those extra stats and analytics can help your engagement sore, weird Instagram algorithm or not.
5. Stop spamming
Okay, so that’s a little harsh – we’re sure you’re not actually spamming anyone…at least not deliberately. It’s a not-very-well-kept ‘secret’ that Instagram’s algorithm tends to view any comments under 3 words as spam – meaning not only does it flag your account if you’re leaving comments like ‘so pretty!’ or ‘that’s cute’, but it also doesn’t count them towards your engagement if you’re receiving comments like that. Your best bet is to leave slightly longer, more specific comments on others’ posts, and hopefully get some in return.
Bonus: have fun!
Whilst there are definitely a few tips to take on board to help defend your feed against the Instagram algorithm changes, everyone knows that engagement is hard to get – brands aren’t necessarily all caught up in the numbers when they’re looking for influencers and bloggers to work with, and as long as you’re producing great content and having authentic conversations, you shouldn’t be, either. Don’t let the algorithm get you down!