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Instagram: Posting Tips + Hacking The Algorithm

There are a billion Instagram tips floating around the internet but today I’m keeping it super real with you! I’m sharing the REAL tips and truths straight from the horse’s mouth a.k.a. Instagram.

Here’s the Instagram tea I’ll be spilling today:

  • How to Optimize an Instagram post (hashtags, posting times, etc)
  • Tips for Instagram Stories & IGTV
  • “Hacking the Algorithm”
  • The Verification Process (what does it actually take?!)

Wondering why you should trust me?

Welp, in addition to blogging on the side, my 9 to 5 is in the digital industry and I recently attended a Q&A session with Instagram for work!

Also, SUPER IMPORTANT side note, Instagram is constantly changing and evolving. These tips and insights are based on what’s actually happening with the platform RIGHT NOW. That means that in 6 months or a year things could be very different.

Because of that, it’s important to take note of what is and isn’t working for you as you grow your online presence. Just because something has ALWAYS worked for you, doesn’t mean it ALWAYS will. Be open to growing and evolving as a creator! I believe in you, you can do this!

HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR INSTAGRAM POST

GEO-TAGGING
Always geo-tag your posts! Even now in 2019, this is a great way to get discovered by others on Instagram.

HASHTAGS
Believe it or not, Instagram does not treat a post differently whether it has 3 or 30 hashtags. Also, posts with hashtags perform better!

What does this mean for you?

First, use all the available hashtags to help others discover your account but not just any hashtags! Aim for ones that are midsize. You don’t want to go as broad as #Food or as specific as #CheeseburgerWithNoPicklesOrTomato. You can see how often a hashtags are being used when you type them in the caption. I aim for hashtags that come in near or below 500,000.

Secondly, any negative response you feel you’re getting based on having on tons of hashtags is based on the way people not Instagram is responding to the way they look in your caption. Hard truth coming your way: No one like the looks of a billion hashtags!!

So either hide your hashtags in the first comment or make sure they are hidden below the fold if you add them to you caption.

And thirdly, based on what I said above, hashtags in the comments vs. hashtags in the first comment = NO DIFFERENCE! It’s all about making your post aesthetically pleasing.

POSTING DAY/TIME
You can stop stressing because this has never mattered as little as it does right now in 2019. As you know, Instagram feeds are not in chronological order.

I know this sounds awful and everyone complains about it but this actually gives creators like you much more freedom to post when they feel inspired versus following a strict schedule (day & time).

FUN FACT: There’s a 2-3 day window for your post to “live” in. So if, for example, one of your die-hard fans doesn’t get on Instagram for a day and then logs in, it’s likely that they would be served your post.

There’s a lot of factors at play here but in general, you can stop obsessing over when to post and focus more on the content you’re creating and engaging with your followers.

NUMBER OF POSTS A DAY
I love that Instagram got tactical with this question!

The answer to “how many times should I post a day?” depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Aiming for overall growth? This is best achieved via multiple posts a day (mostly because it gives new people a chance to find you)

Want the best Individual post performance? Less is more! This is important to keep in mind when you’re planning to share a sponsored post. It’s best for you and the brand if the post performs well so be sure to space out your next post!

So why does is work like this?

Well it isn’t because of anything Instagram is doing, instead this is based on the experience you’re giving your audience. Back to back selfie posts aren’t very engaging from a viewers perspective! Too many posts in a row is just annoying and will likely lead to more unfollows than likes.

STORIES AND INSTAGRAM TV

STORY SOUND
Most people watch stories without the sound so keep that in mind when creating content. Add text to your video and/or focus on visual storytelling since most people aren’t listening
IGTV PREVIEW
Holy Moly, this has a HUGE affect on the views your IGTV video gets. If you want to get the biggest number of eyes on your video, you’re going to need to send a preview to your feed! Luckily, you can easily do this from the app!

IGTV MONETIZATION
Is it coming? Yes! Do we know when? Nope! My best advice is to just be prepared so you’re ready when it happens a.k.a make a game plan: create a sample release schedule, brainstorm video ideas, etc

HACKING THE ALGORITHM

2019 REALITY
OMG GUYS… Don’t let anyone ever sell you that B.S. that you can “hack the algorithm” (especially if they are trying to sell you their online course or new ebook). You can’t hack it. In the early days of Instagram there were workarounds and shortcuts but the app has advanced and it’s really hard, if not impossible, to manipulate it.

DIVERSIFY YOUR CONTENT
Just because you can’t “hack” Instagram growth doesn’t mean you can’t follow the best practices and give yourself the best chance for being discovered and growing. So what’s one easy thing you can do today? DIVERSIFY your content!!

Videos, photos, IGTV, stories…. Mix up the formats you use! I’m so guilty of not doing this but it’s important.

Why? I wasn’t given specifics but the Instagram rep highly recommended that creators diversify their content if they’re looking to succeed on the platform.

DO IT FOR THE PEOPLE
So many of us are concerned about “the algorithm” that we are completely forgetting about the #1 thing affecting our Instagram accounts…PEOPLE! Real human beings who are seeing, reading, and responding to what we do.

A low performing post doesn’t mean Instagram hates you, it likely has more to do with how that content was received by your audience.

Instagram’s goal is to give people more of what they want. So if people are responding to your content and interacting, Instagram is going to want to make sure they get more of what they love. Remember that!

WHY THAT PERSON’S STRATEGY WON’T WORK FOR YOU
Like I mentioned before, you can’t “hack the Instagram algorithm” anymore but you can be aware of the different factors affecting your account so that you can implement the right strategies and best practices.

So here’s what you need to know. Your instagram account is unique! (And I don’t mean that in a “we’re all special snowflakes” kind of way. Although, I do think you are all beautiful and unique in your own way.)

Your account is unique because EVERYTHING you do affects EVERYTHING else. The accounts you follow, how many accounts you follow, what you like, what you repost etc. All of these things play a role in the type of content you see, who sees you, and so much more!

Because of this, it’s important not to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, even if it seems to be working. Their account is also unique and those same strategies aren’t going to work the same way for you.

You’re best bet is to follow the most up to date best practices and pay attention to what works FOR YOU!

HOW TO GET VERIFIED
Here’s the deal, Instagram has not officially released ANY public information on what the requirements are to get verified. So don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
They might have the inside scoop (highly unlikely) but I’ve also seen a few scams going by people who claim that they can get you verified. Don’t trust these people!

The only thing Instagram did confirm was that verification was not strictly based on follower count. They also hinted at the importance of public notoriety.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

I hope this helps shed some light on what’s really going on with Instagram in 2019. This is a new type of post for me but if you loved it and want more posts like this, let me know in the comments!

Takeaways:

  • How to Optimize an Instagram post
    • Always geo-tag your posts
    • Hashtags matter: midsize + aesthetically pleasing
  • Tips for Instagram Stories & IGTV
    • Stories: Focus on visual storytelling since most people don’t have the sound on
    • IGTV: Always use the feed preview feature! Prepare your content plan for monetization
  • “Hacking the Algorithm”
    • You can’t hack the algorithm so stop trying, follow best practices instead
    • Diversify your Content: photos, stories, videos, live, IGTV, DO IT ALL! MIX IT UP!
  • Do it for the People: Create content your audience loves, don’t do it for the algorithm
    • Copying other people’s strategies won’t work because every account is unique
  • The Verification Process (what does it actually take?!)
    • Follower count doesn’t matter but public notoriety does
    • No official eligibility requirements have been made public

2 Comments

  • Michelle | A Geek Girl's Guide
    May 25, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Great tips!

    Reply
  • Dogmama65
    June 6, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Awesome tips!!! Thank you for being so willing to help us all understand the works of I stagram so much better!! I really learned A LOT from this!!! 🤗👏🏼💗

    Reply

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