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Social Media 101: What Makes Instagram's Algorithm Tick?

Posted by Ann D'Adamo on Dec 4, 2017 7:00:00 AM
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Less political than Facebook and more user-friendly than Snapchat, Instagram has emerged as one of the most compelling social networks for both consumers and brands. Internationally, the platform boasts more than 800 million active users who post over 100 million photos every day as well as more than 150 million daily active story users. Although the platform has a passionate audience, marketers often want to know why their posts aren’t generating as much organic engagement and blame Instagram’s algorithm for suppressing organic content. Recently, we had the opportunity to participate in a conversation with Eva Chen, Instagram’s Head of Fashion Partnerships, who answered our questions about Instagram’s algorithm and offered advice on increasing engagement and refining your social media strategy.

How does Instagram’s algorithm work?

Instagram’s algorithm uses a variety of signals to determine which posts appear at the top of a user’s feed. The idea is to make sure the user sees the posts that they’re most likely to care about and prioritizes the content the user engages with most frequently. That’s why you’re likely to consistently see posts from the people or brands you engage with the most at the top of your feed.

What is engagement?

Instagram views engagement in three ways. Most marketers measure success by likes and comments, but there’s a third metric that also impacts the algorithm: dwell time. Dwell time consists of how long a user gazes at an image or spends reading the caption. Marketers can increase dwell time by using video or posting longer captions. 

How do I increase engagement?

Take a mobile-first approach. Pictures and video created on a mobile device yield more engagement than professional images. Take your followers on a journey. Go behind the scenes and give followers access to what happens in real life. Add value to posts and increase dwell time with captions that offer value to the reader. For example, a makeup brand might offer application tips, a skin care brand could spotlight an ingredient, or a food brand could include entertaining tips or recipes. 

What type of content is trending now and how do I stand out?

The trend is toward less polished content and more “real” moments. Create content that feels authentic and shows off your brand’s personality. Create a visual signature and carry that through every post. Think about ways to make your content exciting, compelling, and engaging to your community.

Why don’t videos get as many likes as photos?

The primary metric of success in video is not likes, it’s views. Because video is often more engaging than still photography, users often watch the video and forget to like it and continue scrolling through their feed.

What are best practices for video on Instagram?

Frontload with your best content, put that gorgeous moment at the beginning. Use tools such as Boomerang, slo-mo, and hyperlapse to make your loop friendly, mesmerizing, and compelling.

How important is the grid?

Get over the grid! Once a user follows you, most people don’t go back to your profile. Optimize for the scrolling experience, not your grid.

What are best practices for Instagram Stories and Instagram Live?

Keep it mobile and organic. If you use pre-produced video, use stickers and other customization options to make it feel organic.

How many Stories should I post each day?

Optimize the Stories feature by posting five to eight Stories per day.

How long should my Instagram Live features be?

To maximize viewership, go live for a minimum of 10-15 minutes. This works for long-form content such as fashion shows, beauty tutorials, or cooking demonstrations.

I don’t have time to create content for every feature! How do I prioritize?

Your feed is built for permanence, it’s your “golden” content. Think of Stories and Live as “silver” content, it’s ephemeral, so it should be fun and scrappy.

How do I get more visibility?

Hashtag! Hashtags are the keywords of Instagram, so take a similar approach by using hashtags that are targeted to a very specific audience.

How does Instagram help indie brands?

Instagram is a platform built for discovery. More than 200 million consumers on Instagram check out a business profile each day, and two-out-of-three of those visits are from non-followers. Forty-five percent of small businesses on Instagram say the platform has helped them increase sales and one-in-three built their business by integrating Instagram into their social media marketing strategy.

At Women’s Marketing, we believe that social media is foundational in growing brands and reaching consumers. Our marketing services include social strategy, paid social, content strategy, and influencer programs for every goal. Contact us to learn how we’ve helped countless brands achieve their social media goals through strategic social marketing.

Contact us today!

Source: Instagram for Business December 2017

Filed Under: Digital