How to Outsmart the Instagram Algorithm in 2021?
The Instagram algorithm is ever-evolving. It’s a hungry criminal trying to steal more and more app time from people sitting online. This ensures that online users periodically view ads which help feed its enormous revenue. So in simpler words, any account or user that helps the algorithm gain more user time will benefit the most. It could be from engaging content, reels, carousel posts or even IGTVs. Methodically anything that keeps your followers engrossed and instigates a higher interaction rate with likes, comments, shares and saves will do the trick. But what exactly should you be doing differently to get its attention? And how do you find yourself a cozy spot in its oh-so-creamy featured list? Before we look into that let’s understand the types of users and basic statistics involved.
Instagram started its journey 11 years ago and till this date not once has it seen a decline in their user statistics. With 2020 finally coming to its fateful end, the app witnessed a staggering record of 1.074 billion users engaging in the platform every month. Talk about a grand ending to an otherwise disastrous year. But that’s not it. It is also said to be the 6th most visited website in the world, considering the fact that Instagram is technically a mobile app. These facts showcase how simple yet equally competitive it can be to garner a steady income. As someone who is looking to grow their reach and business through Instagram, adapting to its latest trends along with its intricately designed algorithms should be of key essence.
Lifestyle and fashion influencers, celebrities, online stores, culinary pages, travel and photography accounts are a few out of the hundreds of categories existing in this large ecosystem. The unnerving pace at which this platform is growing in addition to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic is thrusting more and more people to believe in this sort of preconceived pseudo living. So if you’ve got a creative head (or not, it doesn’t matter- anyone can win here!!) and the latest algorithm hasn’t been nice to you then the following few changes will surely help liven things up at your end.
But outsmarting the latest Instagram algorithm in 2021 isn’t a child’s play. There are levels to it so make sure you follow till the very end to get the best results. Okay, here we go:
1. Reels are the new norm
Reels or #Instagramreels were released at the peak time of the pandemic and almost instantly flared up. These 30-second minuscule videos involve more creativity and content than anything else on Instagram right now. Essentially, the Instagram algorithm works by studying user interests based on their likes, engaging content and interaction between other users. It monitors the amount of time spent on the app and develops a virtual profile of each user to cater accurately to their needs and interests.
Reels can be anything from challenges, DIYs to dance snippets, food/ travel videos etc. It entirely depends on your niche. If your reels are quite successful and gain a lot of coverage then you have a higher chance of being featured on the explore page. Coverage would mean likes, saves, shares, comments etc. This will do the job of finding more like-minded people and create a huge (I repeat) HUGE influx of followers. Make reels every day or at least every 2-3 days to ensure your followers regularly engage with you.
2. Engaging stories.
Stories, as we all know are the go-to for anyone to share day to day stuff with other users online. It’s that sweater you never throw away even when you know it’s been used too much. Instagram stories are a great way to interact with your audience as the algorithm actively monitors your comments and dm’s (direct messages). Plus, stories are a great alternative to posts and show a higher percentage of user engagement. Ads usually appear while transitioning between different stories. When you post a string of stories, it keeps your followers glued to the ‘gram and any account that helps IG increase more user time, like I mentioned earlier would be amply rewarded.
In addition to occupying users, it also creates an active persona of you/your page online. This will aid in more reach and steadily convert your audience. So, the key takeaways are post stories frequently if not daily. It doesn’t need to be creative. Being relatable sells off more than creative so be you and post without a second thought.
3. Interactive IG handle
Have you noticed that once you start interacting with a particular user online, it instantly shows you more of that page/person everywhere?? This is how it works. When you network through stories via reactions or replies, the algorithm keeps track of your interaction and creates a pseudo friend circle believed to be your close friends. So automatically anyone with whom you have engaged the most will be prioritized. Their content (be it posts, stories or reels) will always be shown first when you open the app.
Now we want our followers to interact with us at least in some way so that our content shows first on their feed. There is only one way to do it. Respond back to those ghosted dm’s, comments on your posts, reels and IGTVs, people. It’s a tedious task but holds a lot of value. Remember to also reply/comment on fellow user pages. Once you start doing this mechanical process, the algorithm will develop close circles for your followers as well as yourself. This essentially paves the way for more user interaction on your page.
4. Establish your niche
A key breakthrough for small content creators or small businesses was that they all had a specifically curated niche. With the end of 2020, there has been a massive boom in the online retail and e-commerce category on Instagram. The number of small businesses has skyrocketed to an extraordinary level with addition of new features like Instagram local business pages, shopping etc. It’s a cut-throat competition out there. Chances are there is already someone else online who is selling the same product/service as you. So in times like these when everyone is trying to make their mark, it is of utmost importance to establish your niche.
It can be something of a cultural, ethnic or vintage background. Focus on that part of your product/service and advertise it to your maximum. Nowadays consumers are in search of products that are unique or long forgotten. We can simply refer to the current situation where vintage fashion is making a huge comeback along with corsets and baguette bags as such in the realm of fashion. It is an evident fact that the Instagram algorithm favors all those who use their latest features. So make abundant reels, posts and stories. Occasionally offer tiny discounts to attract new users and you will without a doubt be able to beat that sly algorithm.
5. Micro-blogging captions
When we refer to influencers, the first thing that comes to our mind is their active page. Have you noticed that most of those travel, food and lifestyle influencers that you follow have very long captions under their posts?? This is known as micro-blogging. It’s a form of communication which ensures that users spend more time on their content which indirectly leads to more time on the app. So, brush up those writing skills and start investing more time in micro-blogging. Create long, relatable captions for alternative posts that go up on your page. It can be a simple morning routine or the collaborative process behind your captured picture. You could even share your thoughts over certain non-political topics and ask your followers take on that. Keep it simple and catchy.
6. Carousel Posts, IGTVs
Another feature that made Instagram more user-friendly was the inclusion of carousel posts. If you don’t know what carousel posts are then it’s technically a set of maximum 10 photos that the algorithm allows you to upload in a single post. This is yet another trick that grips more and more people to stay on the app. With catchy captions and carousel posts, you are bound to achieve a higher user engagement rate on your page.
7. Timing is everything
Even with all the aforementioned key points, small and big creators on Instagram struggle with reach and followers. This is because of 3 facts: timing, consistency and frequency. Instagram users are said to be more active at particular hours during the day. If you post at a time other than the peak hours, your content is bound to get lost in the sea of other posts and will never receive the reach you aimed for. So find out the majority of your followers peak timings online and post exactly in those hours. Jackpot! Even if it’s a shabby post, it will receive a certain threshold of likes, views, shares and comments.
8. Consistency is key.
Last but not the least, stay consistent as it is the key to any area in life. If you don’t post daily or at least alternatively, you will lose all the hard work.
So keep in mind that an active page is a flourishing page. You got this!
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