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Social Media Ninjitsu | Growth-hacking The Instagram Algorithm
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Growth-hacking Instagram

GROWTH-HACKING THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM


As with it parent company Facebook, Instagram’s algorithm has been rapidly evolving and tightening. In just 2 years from 2015 to 2017, Instagram went from 300 million to 700 million users. Our reach got smaller, and our likes and comments dropped precipitously. Many Instagram marketers are panicking. Not so with younger users.

Take a cue from the tweens, as they rule social media today. Tweens recognize that likes and comments on posts are important. Many will delete a post within minutes if it’s not getting the engagement they desire. They are truly, truly onto something. Let me explain…

Liking and Commenting Doesn’t Cost a Thing!

**A note about commenting on posts. It’s not enough just to comment for the sake of it. Make sure your comment brings value to the conversation. Instagram only pays attention to your comments if it is at least 3 words, and emoji’s don’t count. Yes – you heard that right! We are living in the age of Artificial Intelligence, where Instagram’s algorithm can “read”, “interpret”, and “evaluate” just what kind of value that your comment brings to the conversation. Don’t believe for a moment that they can’t. A low-value comment is no better than spam and Instagram will recognize it as such. The moral of the story: Make your comments count, and make your comments thoughtful, and ideally insightful or funny as well if you can.

Respond to Comments on Your Own Post

One of the reasons for this should be obvious. Responding to users is the very meaning of what makes it a social network, and same rules of social etiquette apply. There’s also another reason why this is beneficial. Instagram makes no distinction (right now at least) between your comments and those of your followers. Let’s say you have a post that has 5 comments. Responding to each comment just doubled your engagement where comments are concerned, and that does matter.

Encourage Tagging

Encourage a friend or two (more if you can) to tag a friend in the comments. You can say something like, “Tag a friend if you can relate to this.”

Sounds great right?

Here’s something even better: If your friend is going to tag a friend anyway, why not ask them to tag someone in comments?  It adds to your overall counts for post comments, further elevating your ranking in the algorithm. In addition, tagging will increase your visibility to others who may not be following you – at least yet.

Tagging other users on Instagram is a classic example of building engagement on your own post.

The same engagement strategies work on Facebook. I have a separate article I wrote on how to drum up engagement on Facebook. Read it here.

Cross-promotion strategy

It’s not enough to simply post your Instagram photos on your other channels like – say Facebook or Twitter. One way to drive traffic your way is to offer exclusive photos on Instagram not available on your other channels. If you are an art gallery, you may save the choicest photos for this. It can be a contest and special promotion. You can post an image on Facebook, for example, and let the user know that they can view more by going to your Instagram page.You can also make a pre-contest announcement, and also mention that the details and actual announcement will be available on Instagram.

Turn On Notification for Posts from Key Influencers in Your Industry

Now hold tight – there’s more to this than just catching posts from key influencers. The reason for this is, once you receive a notification that a celebrity let’s say who you are following just posted something on Instagram.

The important trick here is to be the first person to LIKE it, or at least near the very top of the pile of likes. Leave a comment too. This give you visibility to other people will be liking and commenting on the same post farther down the line.

Hashtags Hacks

You should certainly use hashtags in the caption, and those should be limited to those that are directly and immediately relevant and meaningful to your post topic and caption.

Store Your Hashtags on the Notes App on your iPhone or EverNote on Android. Use industry-specific hashtags for this one. That way you can easily copy and paste the hashtag into your Instagram caption. I recommend pasting these hashtags not in the original caption, but in the first or second comment.

Try also to use at least 1 trending hashtag in your post. Doing this even after posting, it will reposition your post in Instagram’s feed, and make it viewable by more people. It can be spammy, so I recommend deleting this hashtag a short while later. You can simply go into “edit” mode on your post and simply remove the hashtag.

Instagram allows up to 30 tags. You also have the option of editing the post after the fact, although the image can’t be changed. It’s actually a great idea to experiment with different hashtags after it’s been posted. That may mean taking out a hashtag or more, and adding others. That means that if you add a hashtag that you didn’t include originally, your post will now show up on the feed for that particular hashtag, thus extending the reach of your post. If it is a top-performing post for that hashtag, you may even get on the Top Posts or even on the Instagram Explorer (which is everybody’s dream right?).

Although you can use up to 30 hashtags, it’s also important not to stuff hashtags on your post. Spamming hashtags can get you flagged on Instagram, and get on their radar. IMPORTANT: Avoid using banned hashtags. You can check out an informative article on avoiding Instagram’s “shadowban” here.

Also check out my post on how to beat the Facebook Algorithm.

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