A few months ago, Instagram announced that the days of its chronological feed were over and it – like many other social networks – would be using an algorithm to determine what would show up in a user’s feed.
The announcement said that “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 Instagram algorithm is good news for users, who will get to see the things they like, but bad news for marketers who need to work harder to increase engagement and interest, and to get their content seen.
Don’t lose hope! There are plenty of things you can do with your content to tell Instagram you’re awesome and your posts should get priority in the news feed. I run the social networks for Constant Contact and I’ve noticed 8 best practices that have worked for us to keep up the engagement and interest we were getting from followers before the Instagram algorithm was put in place, and I’m happy to share them with you:
1. Create an editorial calendar
People like to know what to expect from the brands they follow on social media, so it’s important to be consistent with the content you’re sharing on Instagram. Create an editorial calendar with different themes for the days of the week. You could share quotes for Motivation Monday, tips on Tip Tuesday, or pics from the past on Throwback Thursday. If your audience expects certain content from you, they’ll notice it when they scroll by in the feed, and you’ll have a better chance of getting engagement.
Take a look at what’s been working for you so far – what types of posts have gotten the most engagement? Keep sharing the content followers like and avoid the posts that haven’t gotten any attention.
Here’s an example of a post we share every Monday – a Monday Motivation quote:
2. Use hashtags
Instagram users will click on or search for hashtags about the topics they’re most interested in. Increase your chance of getting engagement and getting found by using relevant hashtags in your Instagram captions. If you have themes for your Instagram content, do some research and create a list of relevant hashtags that you can use every week. Don’t be shy about using multiple hashtags. According to Quicksprout, Instagram posts with 11 or more hashtags get the highest engagement.
We share an Instagram tip every Tuesday and typically include 13 hashtags with the post:
3. Watch your timing
While the news feed is no longer based on when content is posted, timing does factor into the Instagram algorithm. Keep track of what times and days have worked best with your past content – you can check your publishing and engagement metrics in Agorapulse to evaluate your frequency. Then use Agorapulse to schedule your Instagram posts and publish at right day and time.
4. Use your branding
Create a consistent style for your content and be sure to use your branding colors and logo. This is a great visual reminder for your audience. They’ll easily find, recognize, and engage with your posts in the Instagram feed.
You can see our logo and consistent branding colors and icons in this facts and stats post:
5. Show your people
Try sharing images of you, your employees, and your customers on Instagram. Posts containing faces are more popular than other types of content, according to a study by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs. Photos that have faces are 38% more likely to receive likes than photos without. And they’re 32% more likely to attract comments.
Here’s an example of an employee profile series we’re doing to introduce our followers to the people behind the scenes at Constant Contact:
6. Share graphics
Add variety to your Instagram content by creating quotes, facts, stats, tips, or infographics with tools like Canva or PicMonkey. Although research shows that images with people do better than other content, it might not work for your business. At Constant Contact, we’ve found that our graphics get much more engagement than our photos with faces. Test both types to see what your audience prefers.
This example is from a monthly infographic on holidays and timely content ideas. We take a portion of that infographic, and resize it for Instagram. You can see by this screenshot that it received a lot of engagement!
7. Tag users
If you’re featuring another person or business in an Instagram post, be sure to tag them in the image and the caption. Anyone who is tagged will get a notification, and they’ll be more likely to engage with your post. They might even choose to regram it and share it in their feed.
We host free marketing education events across the United States and Canada. Tagging the speakers in these posts always helps to get engagement:
Tagging works well with regramming, which is reposting an Instagram post originally published by another user. (Note: when you regram, be sure to give the original user credit and tag them in the image and caption.)
This post was a regrammed screenshot from nonprofit marketing expert John Haydon who originally shared it on Twitter. When we reposted it to Instagram, we made sure to tag him in the caption:
What tips do you have to increase engagement and beat the Instagram algorithm? Let us know in the comments!