Beat the Instagram Algorithm-- just by being friendly!
No one knows how the algorithm works, it's one of the best kept secrets of the last few years. With the frequency it changes, I’d be surprised if even Instagram really knows what was going on.
No matter how the next update shakes out, Instagram is forcing us to be authentic and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Unfortunately, It’s also tying one hand behind our back, making it almost essential to spend advertising dollars to reach your niche. But what if you don’t have an ad budget?!
An Abridged Guide to Organic Engagement
Instagram is a social media platform so, as you might expect, it behooves you to be social. This sounds so obvious right? Yeah, well you’d be surprised. The key to beating the algorithm is engagement and is, as you might have guessed, a two way street.
Engagement: likes, follows, comments
Your photos are more likely to show up in people explore feeds and trend in hashtags with more engagement.
You can always buy instagram ads which have worked pretty well for me in the past and can be relatively inexpensive. If you don’t want to spend money on ads, and don’t want to sink so low as to send in the bots, there are a few sneaky ways to boost your engagement organically:
Instagram Pods are instagram message groups, usually of 10-14 users who commit to a like for like economy to boost each others posts. Pod members are committed to liking and commenting on each other's photos in exchange for likes and comments from other group members. It’s pretty cut and dry, plus you get a little more of a boost for engaging in accounts you’d likely be interacting with anyway. Reach out to some bloggers and instagrammers similar to you and start your own!
If you look at users like Kylie Jenner, you’ll see thousands of comments that just say “lb” “first” “lb row1”, like some kind of weird insta-lingo. Well, it kind of is.
Lb- like back
First- like my first photo
FB- follow back
Lb row1- like all the photos in my first row
These are short hands for a 'like for like' economy primarily used for teens to boost engagement on their photos. Commenting “lb” on a photo of Kylie in her underwear might get you more likes but they aren’t necessarily getting you likes from people who care about what you are posting. It's also a little spammy and I'm sure annoying for Kylie but, it does work, just sayin'.
Hashtags group your photos together with similar photos and allow users to search for photos. Posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag.
Some hashtags are more popular than others, for example #flowers has 90,000,000 posts while #pdx has 4,500,000. Use a mix of high activity hashtags and smaller niche tags to catch people already in your demographic and pull new users in.
When I start with a new client, maybe some one who doesnt know social media very well, I always suggest checking out the Later Blog. They are one of the best resources for Social Media professionals and beginners I've been able to find!
I don’t want to give away all of my secrets because well, then I would put myself out of the job but, long story short, its social media so, go be social!