If you’re aspiring to grow on Instagram but don’t know where to start, or have gotten lost a million times along the ever-changing algorithm, you’re not alone. The matter is fascinating- it is no longer as simple as post and go. In a world where even love is exploited on Valentine’s Day for economic gain, it doesn’t come as a surprise that social media has become another business. Yet, it isn’t impossible to have genuine connections and growth on the platform- if you know it well. Here are some tactics I’ve come across and put into practice in the past year, some of which are actually quite fun.
I know we hear this jargon all the time, but what does it actually mean? It certainly doesn’t mean attempting fake relationships. Rather, engaging becomes easier when you already follow accounts that you are interested in. For instance, try following other accounts in your niche or community. Engaging with others on Instagram increases the likelihood of your own posts showing up for similar users.
Now, which actions does Instagram recognize as engaging? Legend has it that simply commenting emojis on someone’s content isn’t enough. So, words. Use words. Instead of heart eyes, for instance, try using “I love this ___!”
Engaging also means replying to comments and messages in a timely manner. The more unread and unanswered, the less engagement and the less your posts will be shown. Major hack: try to answer as many comments and direct messages as possible about 30 minutes before making a new post.
2. Use Instagram’s new features.
It’s been noted that it seems as if Instagram favors users who use their new features. For instance, on stories, using the “layout” feature can nearly instantly get your story posts to have significantly more impressions. Mix it with the poll feature (for example, post two photos in layout form, one on the right and one on the left, and then use the poll feature to have viewers choose). This is a personal favorite of mine, as it’s fun to both create and participate in. Tip: try doing themed games (i.e. “this or that” style edition) on a somewhat regular basis.
Let’s talk reels a bit. They’re not super new to the platform but are still playing a significant role. Not Tik-Tok significant but still significant. It’s often been the case that a user’s first reel will get significantly more views. Possibly to motivate you to make more. Or, also possible, because we tend to use the “popular” music when first making our first few reels, resulting in the reel being seen by more pages. Reels have also been given upgrades, as there are now new ways to edit them and an entire button on our Instagram home screen is dedicated to accessing only the reels page (like Tik Tok’s younger sibling). So, the use of them, per tip #2, would be extra appreciated by the algorithm.
4. Use hashtags.
A classic that has been debated for what feels like ages. Do they work? Do they not? How many should be used? Where should they be placed? Which ones should you use?
No worries. There are answers. Firstly, yes, they very much do work- if used properly. The #1 tip is to use hashtags specific to your post and your page. For instance, #instagood or #love won’t do much. Why? Because they are too broad with billions (yes, billions) of posts under the hashtag. How would anyone find your post (or any post for that matter, when every second there are thousands of posts being added to each of these hashtags)? Yes, maybe have a few hashtags ready that apply to your content or niche in general like #collegeblogger or #pinterestaesthetic, but also customize the rest with each post. For instance, if you’re a style blogger and wearing chunky boots in a photo, use #chunkyboots. If a clawclip, use #clawclip.
Use all of them. Yes, all 30. Each hashtag used is a different opportunity for others to be exposed to your page when searching for the hashtag or automatically pop up in their feed if they “follow” the hashtag.
It seems as if it doesn’t matter much where they are placed, although it’s not very aesthetically pleasing to have them directly after your caption. Here are some ways you can go about it: add a few spaces under your caption and then place the hashtags; comment the tag emoji and then, in response to that comment, comment the thirty hashtags. Personally, I find it to be the cleanest way.
Other than using specific ones, take a look at the pages you admire within your niche(s). If they’re working well for them, odds are they’ll work well for you (if appropriately used). Check out which hashtags they use and give some a try. Play around with a few until you find the ones that you like to use/suit you best.
5. Create interactive stories.
More interactions = higher engagement = being liked by the Instagram algorithm a little more. Quizzes, polls, questions- these are the best ways of evoking interaction. Of these, quizzes and polls are probably the best as they are more easily interacted with, increasing the likelihood of someone doing so. The more “reactions” to your story (i.e. quiz answer clicks; poll answer clicks; questions submitted; replies), the more your story posts will be boosted to be seen by more of your followers.
I hope this helps. It might just be that the algorithm will have changed again by the time this is published. There’s no doubt, however, that genuine creation and community far outlast any algorithm.