Nine ways to outsmart, outplay and outwit the Instagram algorithm

Would you believe Instagram engagement is 70% higher than that on Facebook? It cements Instagram the B-O-S-S of engagement.

Due it its high brand engagement rates, it’s time to take a look at what you’re doing with your account and adopt some techniques to beat the Insta algorithm.

There are seven areas the algorithm focuses on from your audience’s perspective:

Direct Shares: Whose posts are your sharing?
Engagement: How popular the post is
Profile Searches: Which accounts do you check out?
Relevancy: What kinds of content you like and have interacted with?
Relationships: Which accounts do you interact with?
Timeliness: How current your posts are
Time Spent: The period spent viewing a post

There are a few ways to play on these key factors, so this week I give you nine areas you can work on to boost your Instagram presence.

Regularly post Instagram Stories

Take advantage of every opportunity to increase your engagement and don’t just post to your account’s feed. Stories provides the chance to be a little more fast and loose with the curation of content, and even includes polls now. Instagram’s algorithm takes looks at every form of engagement such as responding to a Story or direct messaging a Story to someone – higher the engagement, the better than chances your posts will show up in the feed.

Use Instagram Live

Again, you need to capitalise on every opportunity to increase your engagement with your followers. It will be pushed further up the Stories feed, and the people that follow you will get a notification when you go live.

Run a competition

Another clever trick is to run competitions via Instagram regularly. Listeners love scoring free stuff, so if you want to build some brand awareness and amp up your engagement, then give this a crack.

Write engaging captions

Captions that ask questions or provide a call to action can help start some conversations with your followers. But don’t stop at asking the question – be sure to reply to comments and continue the conversation. Otherwise, your followers might stop engaging.

Jump on trends

Big events, holidays or any trending hashtags – strike when the iron is hot and get onto them ASAP. Time is not on your side and you need to act quickly in regards to the Instagram algorithm. Don’t try your hand at everything, just content that is the most relevant to your brand.

Publish during your highest traffic periods

It’s very important to be across what times of the day your listeners are most active and what days that you drum up the most engagement. Post at the optimal times to increase engagement and outwit the Instagram algorithm.

Make it personal

Professional shots and over-produced videos are a dime a dozen on Instagram. If you offer your listeners something different – like a behind-the-scenes look or have some fun with captions – they are more likely to engage. Be real and honest. Don’t make your captions and wording just another promo or ad. Your followers are a lot smarter than you realise.

Utilise user-generated content

Tap into your target demographics’ interest and recognise them by using republishing their content. The algorithm also identifies user-generated stories. Instagram Stories are extremely important when used to engage with listeners. If you utilise their content, it creates a sense of community, breaking down the barrier between your brand and your audience.


Using hashtags is an easy way to increase following. If you aren’t sure what to use, think of any keywords that may relate to your brand or network. Trying to target a specific area? Use location-specific hashtags. Remember to limit your hashtags to about four for algorith optimisation.

Keep in mind that if you post relevant, creative content, you’ll be able to work on building higher engagement and the Instagram algorithm will reward you with more visibility.

Social Scorecard is compiled exclusively for Radio Today by Jess Frangelli and is brought to you by Social News Desk.

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