There’s no question about it, Instagram posts are no longer getting the amount of exposure they used to. Now, it’s rumored that only 10% of your audience is actually seeing your posts in their feed AND on top of it, most users on Instagram don’t even SEE 70% of their feed!! Meaning it’s extra difficult to be seen by your customers these days.
This can be extremely frustrating for businesses hoping to reach new customers, and even worse for influencers whose business model depends on their followers seeing their content. The thing is though, if you understand how the algorithm works, you CAN beat it.
Here’s what I’ve learned about the Instagram algorithm in 2019 from my own research, experience, and conversations with marketing strategists, plus some top tips to get the new Instagram algorithm working on your side and improving your posts’ visibility and engagement:
The algorithm predicts how much you’ll care about a post
Your Instagram feed isn’t just based on who you follow, it’s also based on who and what you like. The more they think you’ll “like” that post, the higher it appears in your feed. This is based on “past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post” (statement released by Instagram). So, when a post receives a ton of likes and comments, this signals the Instagram algorithm that your post is quality, engaging content that more people will want to see.
This explains how viral content spreads so quickly on Instagram, but it doesn’t mean you need thousands of likes to get the Instagram algorithm working on your side. You just need to focus on providing quality content your current, and future, audience will enjoy and want to engage with!
When Instagram announced the algorithm, their statement about it was: “The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”
The algorithm is a direct focus on improving user experience, to prioritize the moments your audience and Instagram users care about the most. Makes sense, right?
Tip: Spend More Time Posting Consistently To Instagram
When you post consistently good content to Instagram, you’ll not only improve your engagement but it’s a signal to the algorithm that you’re a quality account! The more frequently and consistently you post, the more likely your audience will see and engage with your content. When it comes to how often you should post, your ideal posting frequency will depend on you and the amount of time you can dedicate to Instagram.
Social media expert Neil Patel explains, “If you make a habit of posting several times a day and then transition to only a few times a week, you will start to lose followers and generate less engagement per post. This means that the best posting frequency for Instagram is the posting frequency that you can consistently maintain for the rest of your natural life.”
If you have trouble posting regularly, check out apps like Plann (what I use) or Later to help schedule ahead your posts! These apps will also help you track engagement on individual posts! I know for me, I can knock out a week’s worth of posts while I’m breastfeeding my baby, schedule them at specific times that I know will do well with my audience, and then focus the rest of the time on getting work done, engagement, and stories!
The Instagram Algorithm Determines Your Relationship with Followers
It’s now believed that Instagram not only prioritizes posts with high engagement, but may also restrict exposure based on your relationship with your followers. If you comment on a lot of someone’s photos or are tagged in photos with them, this signals to Instagram that they probably fall into your “friends and family” category. So both commenting on other profiles’ posts, and responding to your own comments and DMs, is super-important if you want to grow on Instagram.
Tip: Treat comments like a conversation
You want to make sure you’re always replying and engaging with the comments on your feed to alert the algorithm you have a “relationship” with your follower. And if the comment doesn’t require a response, show them some love with a heart!
Tip: Improve Relationships with a Consistent Instagram Brand and Aesthetic
If you engage with a particular account regularly, you’re telling Instagram that you like that account’s content. This is probably why you see your best friend’s or favorite influencer’s Instagram posts at the top of your feed. If you’re a brand and your followers are regularly liking, commenting, saving your content, or watching your Instagram Stories, your posts are more likely to be shown to them. So it’s more important than ever to take the time to build a consistent Instagram brand and aesthetic. Followers are much more likely to convert into fans when they know exactly what they can expect from your feed, and continue to see the same consistent, quality content from your account.
The Instagram Algorithm Factors in Timeliness
Not only does the algorithm pay attention to how much engagement your Instagram post gets, it also determines how long ago the photo was posted. The Instagram’s algorithm is starting to care a lot more about when you posted, instead of just the content or engagement on the post, because it always want to serve you the latest and greatest posts. This was brought up around the holidays when a lot of people were still seeing Christmas posts even though it was past New Year’s.
If you post at a time when most of your followers are online, you give yourself a better chance of racking up those likes — quickly!
Here’s a rough idea of overall best times to post:
- Between 8-9am EST (avoid 3-4pm). Think about it, people are usually commuting or wrapping up work in the late afternoon. Most people’s first thing they do in the morning is scroll through Instagram!
- Posting a video around 9pm gets 34% more engagement – people are more likely to be scrolling their feed before bed and looking to watch something!
But my biggest piece of advice with all of this?? TEST IT OUT!
When are you on your phone the most? When is your customer going to be on his/her phone? Not everyone’s peek times are going to look the same. Make adjustments and constantly be tweaking and analyzing!
Need more help with Instagram? Check out my course Instagram for Creatives!