If you’re looking at Instagram as a tool for showcasing your brand online and building a community that supports your business, there are four key factors that dictate engagement, and therefore performance.
The algorithm that Instagram uses ranks your account and posts on interest, recency, and relationship and how you use the tools. Understanding them is the key to achieving more eyeballs for your efforts.
All the trimmings
Instagram’s algorithm prioritises accounts that use all of its features and tools. And it makes sense – it wouldn’t spend all that time and money developing new technology if it didn’t want you to use it! How? Use different content formats, including stories, videos, carousel posts, ads, and highlights. And try out the new features as soon as they come out, and you will be rewarded in the algorithm. And if we had to prioritise one of these formats, we’d suggest using Instagram Stories daily.
Interest refers to how much Instagram believes a user will like a post. This relies heavily on a user’s prior history, because Instagram can only judge activity and predict behaviour based on what has happened in the past. So according to the algorithm, users who regularly respond to the same type of content, like cute dogs and yoga poses, will have a lower propensity to suddenly embrace suburb reports and property photos.
From there it’s on to recency, or how fresh your post is. Fairly obviously, it means a post made today should be higher in the feed than a post made a week ago. A regular posting schedule to improve your chances of being seen is absolutely key.
The final main factor is relationship which, as in real life, requires the most effort! Instagram rewards content which promotes conversation. Someone regularly commenting on your pictures is much more likely to see them in the future. Hence the ‘let us know in the comments’ school of thought. By encouraging engagement, you’re more likely to build that network of active followers.
There are three more things that influence what a user sees:
- The frequency of how often someone opens the app. Instagram strives to show the best posts since a user’s last visit.
- Following a lot of people means a user will get exposed to less of any specific person. This is an attempt by Instagram to cast a wider net and increase diversity.
- Usage. Browsing in short bursts means a different algorithm is applied compared to those who deep dive.
To filter or not to filter?
Because there are companies who study this stuff, we know that ‘Clarendon’ is the most used Instagram filter worldwide. One of the reasons for this is that ‘brightness’ is shown to be the key to attract viewers and more important, likes. Instagram has a lot of filters to choose from, so feel free to experiment before deciding on the one that you feel defines you and your business the most – just keep in mind that brighter is better.