Before, we talked about Twitter and how to grow a following on that platform. This time, we’ll talk about Instagram marketing, which is a whole different animal. From the outside, it may seem like finding success on Instagram is similar to finding success on Twitter, but looks can be deceiving. Leave previous notions at the door. Twitter is a platform based on putting your thoughts into words, supplemented by visuals.
Visuals are what Instagram is all about. If you try to treat Instagram like any other social media site, you’re doomed to fail. But we don’t allow our clients to fail here.
How does Instagram marketing work now?
Instagram originally launched using a chronological feed to show people content. In 2016, they decided that it would be better to try and show people the most relevant content before anything else. This means that there are a set of metrics and criteria that Instagram’s algorithm uses to decide what appears in the feed of their users.
This led to brands and businesses seeing more success on the platform than individual users. What posts and accounts garnered the most interaction, saw even more impressions. This led to the majority of its user base upset that they were unable to grow their own accounts and see everything they wanted to see in their feed. This led to Instagram changing up its algorithm to what we have today.
Now, Instagram’s algorithm decides what to put in its users’ feeds based on five key criteria.
Having followers is good, but conceptually similar to Twitter, just having a lot of followers who don’t interact with you isn’t the success many think it is. You can build up a lot of followers and then hit a wall because you haven’t been creating content that gets likes, reshares, and views.
Instagram wants to see interactions, they want to help people view things they actually, you know, view. You want to create content to target likes, and to grab attention. Don’t measure your success by the number of followers who scroll past your content. Measure your success and create your content based on the posts that get the most engagement.
This is what Instagram’s algorithm looks at first.
#2. Frequency & Usage
How often you post is very important. Youtube may allow a channel to post one video that gets lots of likes and views, wait a few months before posting another, and then boost that next video, but Instagram is not like that. Active accounts are successful accounts.
Being active is more than just periodically posting and turning off the app. You likely don’t even make posts from Instagram but from an outside source, like Hootsuite or Buffer. These don’t up your usage meters, which means Instagram can’t always know how often you’re using it. Using it yourself to like and view other people’s posts, is how you find success.
This factor is constantly being worked on by the Instagram team. When a user posts has had varying effects on Instagram feeds. When it started, the feed was chronological, showing you the posts of those following you, and similar posts as they came out. Then it became about showing you the most relevant posts, with little emphasis on when it was posted.
Now, relevant posts are showing up in people’s feed in mostly chronological order with rumors of changes still being worked on. To best utilize this algorithm, take advantage of how, at the end of the day, it’s still coding. There are tricks to it, and one of them is posting when most of your followers are online.
You’re already relevant to them as someone they follow, then you’ll be pushed to the top as the most recent thing. If you get a lot of engagement then, it’ll push your posts naturally to the followers of your followers, and followers of accounts similar to yours.
#4. Following and Followers
Having a lot of followers is great, but following people is just as important. Like with Twitter, this social media platform is a two-way street. You need to follow other accounts, like their posts, and reshare their posts, just like you want to do yours.
Not only that, you want followers who are active like your account, as well. If you have a lot of followers, but a lot of them aren’t doing anything, remove them. Having a lot of followers who follow you without saying anything, can seriously tank your ranking with Instagram’s algorithm.
Instagram’s algorithm isn’t simplistic, it’s quite intelligent. It can figure out which accounts are likely friends and family based on how we interact. It tracks:
- What content people like
- Who people send direct messages to
- Who they search for
- Who you know in real life, based on who’s tagged in posts
This factor is possibly the hardest of the five to leverage to grow your Instagram following. Liking other people’s content is easy, but opening up personal DMs (direct messages) is risky for any business. Do so with caution if you want to attempt interaction with your audience.
You can’t necessarily control when Instagram users search for you. This number rises as you leverage other factors. You can tag people you know in real life, sort of. Does your business ever do employee outings? Take pictures and tag them. Do you have a physical storefront? Post and tag each and everyone you can. Use your popular customers to build an audience that will help you gain new customers.
Getting into Instagram
First, we talked about Twitter, then we talked about Instagram. We’ll help you maximize your reach across every social media platform before we’re done. This is what we do for our clients. We’re not only trying to learn more about social media and their algorithms, we’re helping our clients learn too.