Eleven Instagram Secrets You Need to Know
By: Christine Weimer
If you’re looking to uncover the Instagram algorithm secrets you need to enhance your engagement, keep reading. We’ve got eleven of them for you, plus a bonus at the end! Need more? Read our Guide to Staying InstaOptimized and the Social Media Marketing Strategy You’re Missing.
What’s the deal with increasing Instagram engagement as an aspiring author, anyway?
Let’s cut to the chase.
Whether you’re an aspiring author or creative entrepreneur, you’re probably breaking your back to build your social media platforms, hoping to generate a greater community of creatives. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc. There’s a slew of pressure to have an online presence.
While I don’t believe marketing and brand awareness are solely based on one’s ability to gain a massive following on social media, it’s highly beneficial to the process. And there are ways to do it that don’t feel totally inauthentic and as though you’re giving in to an algorithm that doesn’t actually care about you.
And I’ll say it: the algorithm doesn’t care about you—yet. It’s your job to make them care.
I’m going to let you in on a few Instagram algorithm secrets you need to know when promoting your business or establishing the author brand that will help you grow. I bet lots of these will be new to you, but I can guarantee all will be useful.
1. The more you engage, the more your account becomes visible.
This is probably the most important one we’re going to touch on, and it integrates with other tips and tricks in this thread. Instagram is all about give-and-take. The more you engage with other accounts, the more others will see your account. Instagram is all like: “Oh, this person is scrolling on our app and using our features correctly? Let’s give them a little boost.”
Suppose you’re not interacting with people on your feed by liking, commenting, saving, and sharing their content consistently. In that case, Instagram will not give you the honor of being more visible amongst your potential viewers on their feeds.
But DON’T just spam-like posts or comment on random things. It’s not going to create a community. FIND YOUR TRIBE and support them. Keep it authentic. We like that shit.
The save button is one of the ultimate ways for Instagram to know who is creating content that people want to see. So, consider creating bookmarked folders for content you enjoy. (It helps your friends, and they’ll help you in return because you’re going to share this blog with them, so they know what’s up.)
2. Hashtags are a multi-purpose feature that requires strategy.
Just because a hashtag seems like it’s in your niche doesn’t mean it’s the best fit to grow your platform. I highly suggest you search your hashtags before generating your post. If you have under 3K followers on Instagram, don’t choose hashtags with over 500K posts. You’re crushing your chances of being seen in that competition. Choose hashtags that have between 1K-100K posts. These hashtags are more intimate in providing visibility for smaller accounts. Check the hashtag to be sure it’s actively used and displays content that fits the theme of what you’re looking to post.
Plus, hashtags are a great networking tool. The hashtags you choose for your posts are the places you should browse for new readers and writers to interact with. Instagram knows where you’re hanging out. If they see you’re using the hashtags properly by going into them and interacting with other accounts using them—guess what? You’ve just earned yourself more points for your content getting seen on more feeds. Give-and-take, remember?
3. Your post has literal minutes to generate enough traffic for Instagram to promote it.
The first half an hour after posting on Instagram is crucial. You’re in an Instagram Beta period where they’re sitting there saying: “Okay. The new post is up. Let’s see how this does in a few minutes, and we’ll decide if we want to make it more visible to others.”
This is where timing is critical. You want to interact and engage on other posts just before you post and just after your post goes up. Being active on the platform at the same time you’re posting new content helps Instagram help you better. They’re awarding you for using their site while you’re trying to generate traffic to your feed. If your post does not receive enough traffic to Instagram’s liking within a small window, you will automatically drop the chances of getting noticed.
4. Respond to your comments right away.
This reiterates lots of the notions I mentioned above but responding to the comments you receive on your posts promptly will make a difference. Every time you comment on someone’s reaction to your post, it gets a notch up on the ladder—especially when you respond right away. The longer you wait, the less chance you have of Instagram helping you out.
5. Instagram has an ALT-TEXT feature you’re probably not using.
Alt-text is a feature you can use when posting that allows visually impaired people to identify your content. They act as keyword search terms that enhance your visibility and broaden your audience views. It can be used as an SEO feature for your Instagram feed. This brings me to my next tip:
6. Create captions that would help you rank better in search engine queries.
Just because it’s not a formal blog or personal website doesn’t mean that Instagram is not searchable on the internet. While rare, generating captions that pay attention to search engine optimization can only help your visibility on both Instagram and google searches. Use keywords for your niche that will help your desired audience find you. Plus, it’ll only make you a better writer.
7. Video content matters—Hello, Reels!
Look, I know that making reels may seem awkward for most of us, but we must get reel that people appreciate the genuine connection between viewer and poster through visual content. Plus, we want face-paced, to-the-point, quick-and-easy, digestible content.
Instagram is pushing its reels hard these days, and it’s because it’s what the people want. It may seem trendy, but it’s also a top way to get your account seen on other feeds and explore pages. Not to mention, it can all be recycled for TikTok—but that’s a whole other thread.
8. Make shareable content.
Consider content that people would want to share in their stories. Instagram loves story shares! The more people share your post to their stories, the more buzz it creates about whatever it is you’re discussing/selling. Effective content establishes brand awareness and gives people outside your network a chance to see your work. When generating content relevant to them, they’re only going to want more and then tell all their friends about it. Also, MEMES. Everyone loves memes. Consider making your own. I’ve grown to enjoy it.
9. Use Instastories.
As I said above, people want easy-to-digest content that moves along quickly. Instastories are an excellent way for viewers to know more about you and what you’re into in candid, relatable moments. There are tons of filters and graphic features that let you get creative to stand out amongst viewers scrolling endlessly through content. Plus, Instagram now allows you to add links to your stories. We are so stoked about this.
And don’t forget, it’s a great way to engage with others. Sharing their content to your story helps you (the one using the platform correctly) and them (the one who gets the affirmation of a job well done).
10. Instagram’s insight features are your best friend.
When your Instagram is set up as a business, you gain access to loads of helpful insights about your page and all its happenings. This feature will tell you all you need to know about your demographic, when they’re most active on Instagram, and how much they’re interacting with your content. It’ll show you your profile views, the number of shares your posts get, and even how many people click on your website through your bio link.
Utilizing his helps you know when you should be posting, what type of content works best, and how to best connect with your audience.
11. Be authentic. If you build it, they will come.
Look, I know this all sounds like a lot of work, but it’s all about perspective. Social media is a way to create community and surround yourself with like-minded people while also being awarded the opportunity to gain authority in your field and/or increase your book’s visibility. It’s a beautiful chance to grow if you have the right mindset about it.
I, for one, have met some of the most incredible women through social media. Yes, I’ve been using these tips, but I’m doing so while being authentic to who I am and genuine in the way I treat others. I only share content that I truly believe in, and I am honest about the ups and downs of my writing journey. I comment and interact with women who I want to encourage and support. I’m grateful social media lets me do that.
BONUS SECRET: More followers do not equate to higher engagement.
That’s why the whole “follow-for-follow” and “like-for-like” things don’t work. Consistent engagement rates depend on the number of likes, saves, shares, and comments your posts get. But if you have 10K followers and only an average of 100 likes per post, your engagement rates are going to be super low as opposed to someone who has 400 followers and gets 100 likes per post. And if you think audiences aren’t going to catch that–you’re wrong.
Oh, and be mindful of the number of accounts you follow. While this is not scientifically part of the algorithm, it is a vanity statistic that rings true. Others will be more reluctant to follow accounts that also follow thousands of pages. It makes them question whether their posts will be seen on your feed in the midst of all those people. Plus, it leads them to believe you’re playing the “follow-for-follow” game. Only follow accounts you plan to genuinely support.
Let us know when you see an improvement in your engagement now that you’re in the know on Instagram’s happenings. Get to know them, so they will want to get to know you.
Be sure to read our Social Media Marketing Strategy: The Step You’re Missing and our Instagram for Creatives: A Quick-and-Easy Guide to Staying InstaOptimized for more valuable information on how to keep consistent on social media.
And keep in mind, social media is not the only means of marketing your business, brand, and/or book.
Until next time, writer friends.
Christine Weimer is an entrepreneur, creative copywriter, two-time published poet, and writing mentor from Queens, New York who sought an innovative way to amplify women’s voices and advocate for their stories. In 2019, she co-founded Our Galaxy Publishing, a one-stop-shop press collaborating with aspiring authors and entrepreneurs to instantly improve their storytelling and accomplish their creative desires. Learn more about her here.