I’ve seen a lot of people complaining that their instagram engagement has hit the floor. Posts used to show up as oldest to newest, so you’d be able to scroll through your timeline and look at the most recent posts. But now, Instagram wants to show people the most ‘meaningful’ content.
How does Instagram decide what is a meaningful post? Well it looks at things like:
- How quickly people respond to your posts.
- How much time someone spends looking at your posts.
- How many comments, likes and shares your post has.
The new changes in the algorithm reflect the new way people use Instagram. When Instagram was first created, it was kept as a way to share photographs only. Facebook was the place where you shared photo albums and private thoughts with your family and friends and Twitter was the place you engaged in debates, conversed with people you didn’t know in real life and shared your more controversial opinions.
Instagram has evolved, and so the algorithm has had to evolve too.
As we grow more comfortable in sharing our lives online, and as technology improves, people now use Instagram to ‘micro blog’ (keeping Instagram as a public diary of sorts). We can share an entire day out in one post using the gallery feature. We can share ‘behind the scenes’ snippets of text, video and photographs on Instagram stories.
10 years ago the idea of sending free goods to people who weren’t celebrities would have been laughable. Now, people are charging hundreds of dollars per instagram post because their following and engagement level is as high as, or higher than, celebrities.
Instagram has stopped being a place where we share the odd arty filtered photograph and become a place where we can showcase our lifestyles to a group of like-minded people. We can share the ups and the downs of being a fashionista, a fitness addict, a mother, an artist or a business owner.
Here are some ways you can increase your engagement levels on Instagram, making the algorithm work for you not against you. Take advantage of it and know that if you can play by the rules and play ball, you can get your posts seen by a LOT more people than you could with the simple ‘new posts first’ algorithm. Since the new algorithm, and by using these techniques, my instagram engagement levels have increased to a much higher level than pre-‘meaningful content’ algorithms.
You’re not a celebrity, you’re a member of a tribe.
We attract similar Instagram users who not only want to follow you on your journey, they want to be a part of your tribe. Users aren’t following you as they would Beyonce, to get updates about your latest pregnancy or album drop. Make people feel like a member of your tribe by responding to their comments, asking them their thoughts and feelings and engaging with their content in turn. A friend of mine gets hundreds of comments on her posts, and she responds to as many as possible. Even just ‘liking’ a users comment has a huge impact in making your followers feel valued. If they’re ignored by you, there are many other Instagram baddies who will appreciate their time.
2. Be real.
Sharing something vulnerable about yourself is a great way to get people to like you. The moment we share something that we struggle with, we compel others to share something about themselves. Ask for tips and advice, the comments you get back will show Instagram that your posts are ‘meaningful’. Use Instagram stories to show people the ‘real’ you. (But not too real, nobody needs to see you drunk-crying over your ex.)
3. Write long captions.
Ah, the magic of long captions. A long caption which includes a ‘read more’ will get people to click on your post (more engagement) and spend a longer time digesting your post (remember Instagram sees this as ‘meaningful’). Gone are the days of one sentence, descriptive captions. Give us some juice. A lot of people aren’t going to read them, who cares, you’re after the ones that will read and respond.
4. Ditch descriptive hashtags and don’t overuse them.
Hashtags are a great way to get your content seen (and many people scroll through hashtags getting like happy). There are communities of people on Instagram who operate within certain hashtags. Like #effyourbeautystandards (for plus size ladies) and #blackgirlmagic. Hashtags like #coffee #red #trees might be well posted, but are they really well used? Don’t go for spammy #likeforlike hashtags and don’t use the same hashtags too much. It’s a fast track to get shadow banned.
5. Use Instagram stories for good not evil.
When posting a main board post, you don’t have to post EVERYTHING. Only post the pictures that look great. The bad posts? Scrap them, don’t use them for your stories just because they aren’t good enough for your main profile.
Use Instagram s.t.o.r.i.e.s to tell a story. Use hashtags so people can find you on search. If you have over 10,000 followers, use them to share your links. Create a sense of exclusivity with unique content and behind the scenes action – not content that just wasn’t good enough to hit your main page.