Instagram. You love it, you need it. It’s your favorite platform for business. But that pesky algorithm keeps changing on us, and with every change comes new strategy tips. Use enough hashtags but not TOO much! Your caption shouldn’t be too long but ALSO not too short! Like other people’s photos but especially if they’ve posted within the LAST EIGHT MINUTES!
Oh gosh, seriously?
All the experts want you to follow all these rules to game the system, but no one talks about the one thing you need to do to beat the Instagram algorithm. And that thing is …
POST GREAT CONTENT.
Okay yeah, I can sense your eyes rolling from here. But hear me out.
Instagram is a platform that was built to share authentic photos. Photos of what you’re up to, what you’re doing, what you’re looking at.
It was never meant to be a platform used to market our businesses with perfectly curated photos and 30 hashtags in the first comment. But, that’s what it turned into.
So now people think they can post whatever, follow all the algorithm-busting tricks, and their account will soar. And then they get frustrated when nothing happens.
You can try to trick the algorithm all day and all night, but if your content sucks it’s all for nothing.
Now I realize that posting great content is easier said than done, so I’m going to give you a few basic pointers. Keep all of these items in mind before you post on Instagram.
How to REALLY Beat the Instagram Algorithm
1) Is your photo good? Is it pretty? If you saw it in your feed would you double-tap it? Is the photo easy to understand, is it clear and bright, does it make sense? Above all, your photo has to be good, if not great. (If you need help editing your photos, click here.)
2) Does your photo speak to your audience? This is where things get a little complicated. Do you know your target market? Are you posting content that relates to your ideal client?
I’ll give you an example … I could post the most beautiful photo of my lunch that anyone has ever seen. The lighting, the composition, the colors, it’s all perfect. But, my audience loves Disney, so they don’t care about my food photos. However, my friend who is a food blogger could post the same exact photo and get hundreds of likes and comments on it.
3) Does your caption tell a story? Don’t just drop an emoji and your hashtags and run. Ideally your picture should speak for itself, but use the caption to share a bit about what the photo means to you, and engage your followers. Ask them a question, or give them a bit of inspiration or motivation. Don’t be a passive Instagram poster!
4) Use Stories. Instagram is putting a lot into their Stories platform and I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a couple years, Stories is the “main” platform while “regular” Instagram takes a backseat. So start using Stories, and interacting with other people’s Stories. (Get some Stories tips here.)
5) Above all, be authentic. Don’t use the same string of hashtags on each photo. Don’t post at the same exact time every day. Don’t engage with other accounts by commenting “Cute!” all their photos. Don’t just upload photos to Stories without doing some live videos as well. If you act like a robot, Instagram is going to treat you like a robot. Instagram rewards users who use their platform in an authentic way. Instagram is watching you, and they see eeeeeeverything.
Bottom line? Post good content and be authentic; it’s the only way to beat Instagram’s constantly changing algorithm.