3 Ways to Make Instagram’s Algorithm Work for You in 2020

For marketers and business owners large and small, the word “algorithm” sends chills down the spine. From Google to Facebook to Instagram, whenever the algorithm changes, it sends the internet into a tizzy because it means strategy and goals for organic reach have to change.

Instead of trying to figure out what type of content will perform best based on the current algorithm, give Instagram exactly what it wants: high-quality, high-value, meaningful content that is evergreen and can withstand any algorithm changes.

Then, use these three strategies to make Instagram’s algorithm work for you to grow your engagement and followers.

1. Level Up Your Caption Game

Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes posts with high levels of engagement up in the feed, and engagement starts with a well-written caption and a call to action (CTA). If you’re micro-blogging in your captions—think posting instructions for a new product, a recipe to go with a beautiful photo, a step-by-step guide—your fans and followers will save those posts for later reference, which gets the attention of Instagram’s algorithm.

Also consider tagging other businesses or influencers you’re working with in your captions, as well, which can encourage them to comment, repost, or share the content to their Stories. It will also get the attention of their fans, who may become followers. Just don’t go overboard on this tactic, because Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, keeps a very close eye on engagement baiting.

Don’t forget hashtags in your caption! SproutSocial suggests that nine is the magic number for hashtags, but the number doesn’t matter so much as quality and relevance. Don’t max out your hashtags, however, or Instagram make think you’re spamming for reach. Make sure you pick a good balance of branded, localized, and trending hashtags so that when people search on Instagram, your posts show up in the results. Here’s some inspiration from @boosted_social for picking a good blend of hashtag types:

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2. Post Every Day—or More Frequently

Although it’s not clear whether Stories have a direct impact on the Instagram algorithm, there’s no reason not to post to both on the daily. In fact, when you post Stories every day, your profile will be popping up consistently, which means people are more likely to hit up your profile and grow your organic numbers.

Also, posting regularly to Stories as well as to your feed means that you’re delivering content to the right people the right content at the right time, because some Instagrammers don’t watch Stories, while others ignore the feed entirely in favor of Stories. Posting in both places means you’re more likely to reach more people wherever they like to digest content—and you don’t want to miss out on those 500 million daily active Stories users worldwide.

One more thing: Don’t be afraid of posting more than once a day—as long as you’re posting high-quality content that is relevant to your brand and your followers. Don’t go crazy reposting memes because you think they’re funny, but you can’t go wrong posting more content that will help your fans solve their problems or motivate them to buy or engage with your brand.

3. Leverage All the Video Options

Video will always speak louder than pictures and words—as evidenced by the explosive growth of video marketing and platforms like YouTube, SnapChat, and TikTok. But you don’t have to have a full-blown production company on payroll to create videos for Instagram. Try posting a quick behind-the-scenes video of what’s happening at the office or a teaser to a product launch using Boomerang. Or, make a longer video and post it to IGTV, which you can post directly to your feed and share in your Stories.

You can also create an IGTV Series and collect videos there on an ongoing basis. Think a series called “Meet the Team” where you interview your crew or “Paying it Forward” where you highlight the different nonprofits your company works with or donates to.

Better yet, embrace Instagram Live. Although it’s unclear whether Live video affects your organic reach, when you go Live on Instagram, your followers do get a notification to tune in, which can increase your reach and engagement rates. Just remember that when you go Live, you need to give followers and fans a few minutes to tune in, so don’t give up after the first 30 seconds if no one has tuned in.

PRO TIP: Don’t forget captions! Forty percent of Instagram videos are viewed with the sound off, so make sure you’re captioning your video content to be accessible for all.

Don’t Forget the Data!

Remember that the trend on all social platforms right now is engagement. Social networks are prioritizing quality over quantity, which means brands have to get creative in engaging their followers. Whether you create an AR filter and share it out to your audience or host a contest or giveaway, make it all about your audience.

Lastly, instead of spending months throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, review your Instagram engagement analytics on a weekly basis to see what is working and what isn’t. Then, duplicate the types of content and engagement tactics that are performing well and watch your Instagram engagement soar.

Action Items:

1. Review your content calendar and write rich, action-oriented captions for all of your posts.
2. Add content ideas for your feed and your Stories to your posting calendar.
3. Experiment with using video, including IGTV and Live, to see how your followers engage.

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