So last year, Instagram told us that they were going to be changing their algorithm to begin showing posts to users in a new way. Rather than seeing posts in a chronological order, like they have always done, users now see them based on who they interact with the most, or so they’ll “see the moments they care about first.” This is super Facebook-ish of them (and since Facebook owns Instagram, this doesn’t surprise anyone), but is obviously irritating to anyone that had been using the platform before, and maybe to people that prefer to see posts as they show up, like Twitter, versus whatever the machine learning tells us we want to see.
With all of that said, I wanted to share this post to give you some Instagram tips, including how I “trained” the algorithm to show me posts in a more chronological fashion over the course of a few days.
Some Instagram History
When you go through your feed on Instagram, now, you’ll see whatever posts are coming from the people are you interacting with the most, just like on Facebook. If you begin favoriting more posts from certain users, they will begin populating in your feed a lot more often compared to other users’ posts. Just like Facebook.
Facebook apparently thinks this is the way people want to interact with social media platforms, so I’m just hoping they don’t acquire too many more. :/
The issue with all of this, if it wasn’t obvious to you, is that when you post something, now you are having to beat the algorithm. Just. Like. On. Facebook. Businesses have been posting and the chronological feed would show your posts without an issue and your fans would see them depending on how many accounts they already follow and how far down the feed your post ended up. That issue was basically fixed when you posted multiple times a day or used the hashtags they liked to follow.
Now, however, with posts being shoved in every which way, it’s not a guarantee that users that are following you will see the posts, unless they interact with your posts and your page on a regular basis. Just. Like. Facebook.
Back before Facebook changed their Edgerank to do this very thing, which affected pages drastically, we would ask users to “follow” the page, and thus Facebook was given a signal that people wanted to see every post. Unfortunately, people rarely did that, and organic reach plummeted as people began to ignore all but the wittiest and most entertaining of pages. This was the beginning of the end until organic reach was a joke and in order to get anyone to see your content, you had to buy ads. This is going to happen on Instagram. Mark my words. Facebook has already allowed businesses on Instagram to change to a “business account” so they can access analytics. This happened on Facebook. Now the algorithm has changed to show people more of what they interact with. If they can’t see your posts, they won’t interact with them, eventually working your posts out of someone’s feed. Facebook and Instagram are already tied into the same advertising platform, so that’s just going to be an easy jump, once businesses decide to use more advertising dollars to increase their Instagram reach.
Once upon a time, if you added hashtags to your caption even days later, your post would show up fresh and at the top of the feed for that/those hashtag(s). That hasn’t worked for sometime.
So as you can see, I’ve been around long enough to have experienced all of this first hand, so that is why I wanted to share these Instagram tips with you today. Maybe you’ll be able to use them before we’re sucked into the Facebook advertising void on a new platform.
Instagram Tips for Your Business
So let’s go over a few Instagram tips for your posts:
- First things first, if you haven’t already changed over to a business Instagram account, do that first, so you can begin getting the insights on your posts.
- Next, you’ll do some research on the hashtags you’ll want to use on a regular basis. You can do this by creating a post that you don’t really intend on posting to start typing hashtags and when the auto fill pops up, you’ll get to see how many posts are attached to that hashtag. I personally go for hashtags that have 200,000 or more posts at a time, plus local hashtags such as city names. You can add up to 30 in one post. There are also apps that allow you to use hashtags that are supposed to be popular depending on industry or topic.
- And now you’ll have to figure out how to set your account apart from the other posts in your followers’ feeds. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the easiest are going to be by color, filter, something in the photos, or a way to edit the photos to make them match. Here’s an article on that. Here’s another. Here’s an article of accounts following a color themed Instagram to give you some examples. When I rebranded, I began using a tint to my Instagram photos to stay in line with the new brand colors.
- Actively search out other posts that are using hashtags that your customers would use, and follow accounts that look like your customers. Many times, people will follow you back, especially if you’re sharing content aimed at them.
How I “Trained” Instagram
Similarly to when I tested Edgerank, I did the same thing to Instagram. I didn’t personally enjoy the new algorithm change and as you can see, I saw posts in my feed that were from anywhere from days to hours ago. I decided to “rebel” and only favorite images that I enjoyed that were only from up to 24 hours ago.
Anytime I saw a post that showed up beyond that timeframe, I ignored it, scrolling past. I didn’t have to wait long, as I only spent a few minutes at a time going through the feed. I might have only done this 4 times total and I was super surprised by how quickly the algorithm responded to my rebellious behaviour. As you can see below, I began seeing posts that were very recently posted. These still aren’t in chronological order, but they are much closer to what they used to be.
Although this helps me see more recent posts, it ultimately does not show me every post from the accounts I follow. The algorithm will still only show me posts from accounts I either search out specifically, interact with on a regular basis, or that Instagram thinks I’ll want to see.
Instagram tips for your business: Get a business Instagram account. Research hashtags you’ll be using regularly (based on your strategy). Develop a way you’ll make your photos stand out from competitors.
Training Instagram: Go through your feed and only favorite posts that come from a recent timeframe to teach Instagram’s algorithm to show you more recently shared posts.
You’re going to need to keep up with popular hashtags and hashtags that are appropriate for your photos to continue to earn new engagement. You should be actively searching out other posts that are using hashtags that your customers would use. You should also be using high quality images/posts to garner more favorites and comments. Encourage comments and favorites by asking a question or using emojis in your caption and commenting on other posts.
I’ve managed to get 45 “likes” on average for my posts since starting my Instagram business account by using these tips in only 12 posts. If you use some research and planning, you can successfully manage your Instagram business account and earn some great engagement even if the algorithm is working against you (for now)!