I’ll be the first one to admit that Instagram is a tricky beast. One of the questions that I get asked over and over is how to grow an audience on Instagram; the followup question usually revolves around how to outsmart the algorithm. And my answer is always… you can’t. You’ve just got to work with it.
But never fear! There are some solid strategies that you can apply to your business, blog, or just your personal feed to get your photos ranking higher in the algorithm, so that more people see them. Read on for five ways to work with Instagram’s algorithm.
Come From Love
I know that this sounds a little woo-woo right off the bat, but hear me out. After speaking to literally hundreds of people, from colleagues to friends, experienced influencers to new users, one of the most common themes I hear come up is frustration with Instagram. Frustration that our followers don’t see our photos. Frustration that we ourselves don’t see photos from people that we follow. Frustration that it’s tough for a new business to gain traction. And frustration that the game has changed so drastically from Instagram’s inception.
Hear this. As much as it’s tempting to be angry about it all, you have to embrace what it is. At its heart, Instagram started as a place to share beauty. And that is something to love. Sharing beautiful moments and beautiful captures. So if that is the basis of everything you do on Instagram, you’re already on the right track.
Do your best to release expectations of and entitlement to likes, comments, and all of those metrics that can start to rule your life. Put your work out into the world with love and let it be.
Give a Clear Call to Action
That being said, I hear what you’re thinking. Come on girl, give me an action to take! Okay action lovers, here it is. The number one way I get more engagement on my Instagram images? I ask for it.
Yup. You just ask people to talk.
And when people engage with your images by commenting or participating in conversations, the algorithm loves you for it.
So how do you get people to talk? Give them a call to action! Include something in your caption that they just can’t resist responding to because it’s so fun/thought-provoking/genuine/surprising/quintessentially you. I’m not encouraging you to get all fake or click-baity here, I’m talking about starting authentic conversations. Ask them a question that you’re truly searching for an answer to. Ask for their opinion or their experience. Give them an opportunity to share themselves with you. Because those types of comments are the ones that truly connect people, way more than “Cute photo!”
Share Your Best
No-brainer, right? You’d think so! But I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of posting just to have something to post. I’m going to say it once, and here it is:
If you don’t absolutely love it, don’t share it.
I can almost guarantee, if you’re sharing an image that you don’t feel strongly about, no one else will feel strongly about it either. And when an image falls flat on Instagram, the algorithm takes notice and serves that image to even fewer followers.
But, when you’re sharing an image that you’re so jazzed about you just can’t wait to toss that bad boy up on your feed, you’re automatically off on the right foot. Chances are your enthusiasm will show in your caption and in the way that you share it, and people will feel that (either consciously or subconsciously), and the whole thing will snowball into something really wonderful on your feed. Those double-taps and comments will start to add up and the algorithm gods will smile down on ya.
Give the Thing You Want
We all want engagement, right? We want that magical dust sprinkled on us that collects likes and comments and boosts us up the rungs of the algorithm ladder to Instagram heaven. Well honey, if you want engagement, engage!
Instagram is a community. A community full of people who appreciate other people, who appreciate beauty, who are sharing themselves openly, and who are looking to connect. If the members of that community just keep posting photos into a void where no one is connecting, what’s the point? So be a connector. Be a community member who genuinely and authentically reaches out to other members of the community.
Don’t just scroll. Like.
Don’t just like. Comment.
And don’t just comment. Comment thoughtfully and intentionally, to add value to someone else’s experience on Instagram.
If you put this tactic into practice, I promise that you’ll be rewarded by creating connections with other likeminded people. And it’s a good bet that those people will invest in you in return, after they see all the good juju that you’re spreading around.
Avoid Tactics that are Too Good to Be True
Please, please, for goodness’ sake, steer clear of all of those tactics that desperation tries to talk you into trying. These include but are not limited to: buying followers, buying likes, Instagram pods, follow-unfollow (this one is particularly icky), hashtag spam, and more.
Say it with me: if it seems too good to be true, it is. Sure, you could go to a shady site right now and buy a thousand followers, but who would that benefit? Not you, because those followers wouldn’t be real people who were genuinely interested in what you have to say (they wouldn’t be people at all). It wouldn’t benefit Instagram to flood their numbers with fake accounts. And in the end, those fake accounts just weigh you down in the algorithm.
Stick to the straight and narrow here, gang. Engage with real people in a real way, and leave it at that.
Working with Instagram’s Algorithm
Is any of this ringing true for you? Are you sitting there nodding like crazy because you’ve felt some of this before as you’re trying to piece together your Instagram feed? You’re not alone. Implement one or all of our strategies and come back to let me know how it’s going for you. And have fun! xoxo