Once upon a time, posts on Instagram were organized in reverse-chronological order, allowing you to see the most recent posts first when you opened the app. Marketing was also pretty simple for people using Instagram to promote their brand. Finding the right time to post was a simple matter of figuring out when your followers were online. But now, it’s gotten a bit more difficult. Instagram decided to introduce an algorithm that changed everything.

Instead of the reverse-chronological order, an algorithm is at play organizing what we see everyday in our feeds. Because of all the content that gets shared, many posts never manage to make it in the feeds. This algorithm was developed to deal with that issue and make sure that users get to see everything that they care about. While the idea was great, many brands started noticing dramatically lower organic reach on their posts. An outcome absolutely no one wants to experience. Getting to increase your organic reach may seem like a mystery for some, but it all can be boiled down to understanding how it actually works. From there, you can learn how to work with it and get your account back up to the successes you’re used to! So let’s break down all the factors that determine your reach now.


Engagement

If you think about trying to get your post seen on Facebook by as many people as possible, we hope that the first thing that popped into your mind was gathering tons of engagement. If people are liking and commenting on your posts, this tells the Instagram algorithm that they’re enjoying the content. It sort of speaks for itself. But, level of engagement on your post isn’t the only thing that gets considered. It also matters when you post; the faster people engage with your post, the more people will see your post. So let’s say that you post something at 12:00 and that within an hour, it gets 1000 impressions and 800 engagements. In this example, 80% of users found your content to be amazing, so this indicates to the algorithm that it would be a good idea to show it to even more people.

This has a few implications for your brand. The first is that you should plan your posts around a good time to ensure that you get the initial engagements that you need as quickly as possible. If you have a business account, you can use Instagram Insights to let you know when the majority of your followers are most active. Or you can use Preppr’s ‘best times’ feature to smoothly plan, schedule and automatically post your images and videos at the right time.

The second is to form your posts in such a way that entices people to interact! If you want people to comment under your posts, simply ask them to. Some options to get you started are asking followers to tag a friend, share tips and feedback with you or answer trivia questions. You can even go for hosting a Q&A session. Let followers know that you’re there for the next __hours and all set to answer any question they may have. The time sensitivity in this one could be exceptionally great at getting a burst of activity right away.


Relationships

Another factor that gets taken into consideration by Instagram’s algorithm is the relationships that users have with each other. If a user repeatedly likes posts from their best friend, well, all the posts of that best friend is going to be served to them in the future. Repeat likes indicates to the algorithm that you’re into what they post, and want to see more of it. We like to think of this rule to be based on favorite accounts; and as a brand, you want to ensure that you get into this little group.

The best advice you can be given though is to post the right content. To make that happen, the first thing you need to do is perform research into what your followers like. With that knowledge to support you, you’ll be much better equipped to properly position yourself to consistently create content that they will like, comment or save. Once they do this, the likelihood of them seeing your posts skyrockets. Hello organic reach boost <3.


Timeliness, Profile Searches & Shares

Though Instagram scratched the reverse-chronological order, how recent you posted still plays a role in what kind of reach you’ll get for the post. It’s more or less general knowledge that users aren’t that interested in seeing posts from 3 weeks ago. The majority of the posts that get served to users are still going to be the recent ones.

Another factor that gets considered by the algorithm is profile searches. If someone searches for an account, it’s a pretty good indication that they are interested in seeing what more of the content that they offer on their Instagram account. On top of that, direct shares also has a part in this. Sometimes users don’t like or comment on posts, but opt to send them directly to people within their network. Instagram keeps an eye on this and considers it something that person then considered as relevant, even though this is not something you can track yourself.

Keeping these points in mind, the best strategies would be to ensure your profile is easy for people to find themselves, and to create a beautiful feed that will entice them to follow you. Next, put loads of energy again into your content. When you post something, try to take a step into the shoes of your followers. If you were them, would you send someone this post? If the answer is no, then it’s time to go back to the content strategy drawing board.


Time Spend

If you think about it, inferring whether a post is relevant to someone based on how long they spend looking at it is pretty smart. If someone scrolls right past a post, then it’s not something they care for. That’s why Instagram’s algorithm also looks at the length of time users spend viewing a post. If you’ve noticed that some of your posts with longer captions experienced higher reach, this might be the reason why. The users are devoting time to start reading, click the button to see more, and actually read on till the end.

Now, we’re not sending you out now to write novels in your captions. Every now and then, a longer caption will be necessary, but don’t overdo it in your quest to get more people to stare longer at your post. This is your chance to try out slideshows or videos and boomerangs in your posts. Both of these options encourage users to spend some more seconds on the content.

Seeing a decrease in organic reach is hard for any brand. But if you understand what factors are at play behind the scenes, you’re able to post smarter and better and boost your reach once again. The algorithm is supposed to make sure people only see what is relevant to them. And that is exactly what you need to keep in mind when planning your content. If your brand posts attention-grabbing images, compelling captions, and content of value to the people you’re trying to reach, then you will meet those goals!

 

We hope our tips will help you increase your organic reach! Now it’s time to put it into practice and start Scheduling and Auto-posting to Instagram with Preppr 😉

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Header photo by: Jaelynn Castillo on Unsplash
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