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How the new Instagram algorithm works

The elusive Instagram Algorithm: Right when we think we’ve solved it, it changes again. Instagram claims that newest changes are here to improve user experience, prioritizing moments we care about the most.

What we know is that Instagram posts are no longer getting the amount of exposure they used to. Now, it’s estimated that only 10% of your audience is actually seeing your posts. Instagram gauges the interest of your audience to determine whether or not it should be shown to the other 90% of your followers. How do you reach the other 90%?

With the new Instagram algorithm, quality reigns supreme and is all about engagement. The most important thing you can do is create quality content that resonates with your audience in a truly authentic way.

Read on to decode Instagram’s new set of rules and Instaforce’s guide to increase your exposure and get ahead before your posts get buried and unseen.

It’s All About the Content

If your audience is regularly liking, commenting, saving your content, or watching your Instagram Stories, your posts are more likely to be shown to them. By creating a consistent brand story through your Instagram aesthetic and account, you can turn those casual visitors into devoted, engaged followers.

Think of Clever Ways to Engage Your Audience

“DM me for a direct link to this product!” is a great way to drive people to your inbox, and build relationships with your followers. Doing polls, contests, content marketing and valuable advice, or asking direct questions for people to answer are all fantastic ways to connect with your audience.

Use Live Video

Much like the previous suggestion, Instagram Live videos are another way of engaging with your followers. The video is bumped up in the Stories feed and your followers might also receive a notification if they opted in. No one will be expecting high-quality live videos. Your followers are watching because it’s live and because it’s about you and your brand.

Live video is a great way to engage with your followers and make your followers engage in your brand even more.

I Love It When I Catch You Looking at Me

The Facebook algorithm looks at the length of time you spend interacting with content, and it’s no different with Instagram. The Instagram algorithm uses the amount of time spent viewing your post as a factor in determining its popularity.

If you have an engaging caption, people are more likely to actually read it or click the “more” button, which increases the time spent on your post.

That extra second that someone spends reading your Instagram caption has the potential to make or break that Instagram post for you, so spend time on your captions!

Schedule your posts ahead of time and write your captions when you have your creative juices flowing to capture your audience before they scroll past. (Pro hint: rumor has it, editing your caption within the first 24 hours is also a ding in the algorithm, so get it right the first time.

Instagram Stories

A great way to connect with your followers is through Instagram Stories. In 2018, you can expect Instagram Stories to continue to dominate and become an essential part of your Instagram marketing strategy. (Note: The Instagram Stories that appear on the top of your feed are affected by the Instagram algorithm as well! The Instagram Stories that appear closest to the beginning of the row are from accounts that you engage with the most, whether that may be through the users posts or Stories!)

The more that a user interacts with your Instagram Stories, the more likely your posts will show up in their feed.

Communication Goes Both Ways

Instagram prioritizes posts based on your engagement with your followers. stay on top of your incoming comments, especially within the first hour of posting, otherwise, your posts’ visibility may drastically decrease.

Think of comments like a conversation. You wouldn’t ignore a friend if they asked you a question or gave you a compliment. So, don’t ignore your readers either! If the comment doesn’t require a response, show them some love with a heart!

A good tip is to shout out to other bloggers/brands/ambassadors in your stories- when they message you back & you interact, it shows Instagram you are authentically engaging with people.

Instagram wants you to interact more like a real, live human so don’t just post and log off, remember to comment on other people’s creative as well. Pro hint: In order to count as engagement, comment with 4 words or more.

Up Your Hashtag Game

Instagram’s algorithm has always favored the use of specific and relevant hashtags, so spend the time creating more unique hashtags, mixed in with popular ones. Pro Hint: You will have better luck with 5-10 super specific hashtags than 30 generic ones.

Now you have the ability to follow Instagram hashtags, which means instead of users having to scroll through a feed to discover your tagged content, your posts could show up automatically in the feeds of potential new followers.

Followers can also unfollow Hashtags as well so make sure you are not using the same hashtag as companies who post SPAM. Be very specific with your hashtags so that Instagram doesn’t see it as spam.

Note: Hashtags that you post in the comments of your post will no longer display under search results. You must now include hashtags in the body of your caption.

Experiment with New Features

Frequent engagement and activity are favoured by the Instagram algorithm. Since the Instagram algorithm rewards users for using all its features, it’s important to always keep an eye out for new updates! Not only will you grow your reach, but it will also keep you one step ahead of the trends!

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Choose Your Time Wisely

Not only does the algorithm care about how much engagement your Instagram post gets, it also cares about how quickly you get that engagement. If you post at a time when most of your followers are online, you give yourself a better chance of getting more likes, and fast.

To increase your chances of higher engagement, schedule posts when your followers are most active. If you don’t have an idea yet, you can take a look at this post for best times to post on Instagram.

New Feature

Explore Feed is a specially curated collection of posts from people you both follow and don’t follow. It’s shown to you specifically based off of your interests that Instagram picks up from your hashtags, who you follow, posts you like, and your searches. Instagram is now rolling out an addition of these posts to your regular feed. A quick heads up: you might see strangers’ posts popping up in your feed. 

Use your analytics to beat the algorithm

Although the Instagram algorithm changes seem to be frequent and ever-changing, it’s possible to stay on top of them by better understanding how they work. Look at your Instagram analytics and get a better understanding of what’s working (and what’s not) to fine-tune your strategy.

Pro Hint: many changes are no longer being regularly announced on Instagram’s blog, but rather just being updated in a buried folder in their Help Center

Stay informed (read: NOT overwhelmed) by all the changes and how the Instagram algorithm works and increase your chances of “beating” it and driving more engagement on your posts.

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