‘How To Get More Engagement On Your Instagram Photos & Beat The Algorithm’ is something that I have typed into Google over the past few months.
And I bet you’ve done it too.
Though I bet you are fed up of hearing about the Instagram algorithm To be honest, I am as well.
I used to joke that a good drinking game would be to take a shot, that every time someone mentions the Instagram algorithm on social media. You would probably get drunk, very quickly.
Anyways, I’m not here to moan about the algorithm today, I’m here to share some tips on how to beat it.
We’re going to get all Powerpuff Girls on it and kick its ass.
I have clearly had too much coffee today.
Anyways, the algorithm was annoying me at the end of last year. My posts were doing terribly, likes were down, comments were non-existent and I had a bit of a panic.
Now, I know that there is more to life than Instagram. I get this.
However Instagram is a pretty big part of my job, so this is why I probably care more about Instagram than most people.
This reminds me of a little while ago when I was talking about something to Henry, and I think I said something like ‘oh it would have to fit my Instagram theme, and I know I care too much about my Instagram theme’ and Henry was like ‘Corrie – I think you’re the only person who cares about their Instagram theme.’
But it’s not just me though right?
Instagram is a huge platform for bloggers.
With us all being busy bees, Instagram has become almost a new blogging platform. Captions are like mini blog posts, Instagram stories are like vlogs and a lot of the time, brands are turning to Instagram for campaigns.
Last year, I worked with Primark on one of my biggest campaigns to date, and guess what? It was solely on Instagram.
So when my pictures started to go down like a fart in an elevator, I started to worry a little.
I found myself, over thinking Instagram, and not enjoying it as much. I was posting any old photo from my camera roll and spending ages trying to think of a witty caption and then be disappointed when it tanked.
But in January, I had this lightbulb moment.
I realised that you know what, maybe it wasn’t just the algorithm that was to blame.
I had lost interest in Instagram, my photos were meh, I was putting no effort into my captions or replying to comments. I didn’t upload Instagram stories. I uploaded a picture and left the app.
I couldn’t keep blaming the algorithm for everything, maybe it wasn’t the algorithm, it was me.
And I decided to start doing some research and changing things up. I also signed onto Helene’s Instagram for Success course, which I ummed and ahhed over, but was so glad I did as it really helped to inspire me and get me back on that Instagram track (that makes no sense but hopefully you get me.) But I’d really recommend signing up for it, and for her newsletters too as she shares some very good tips about Instagram. The below tips are a mixture of a couple of things that I learnt from the course which I have developed for myself, and some other things which have all helped to increase my Instagram engagement.
Well today, I am pleased to say that me and Instagram are friends again.
I’ve changed some things up, and I’ve found that my engagement is up, and I’m gaining followers again. Not that numbers and followers are the be all and end all, but it’s kind of like the gold star equivalent of blogging.
What I mean by this, is that when you’re at school, you get a gold star if you’re doing well. Well in blogging, if your likes and comments are going up, it means that you’re doing well. If that makes sense? Well that’s kind of how I see things.
But now, let’s get on with it :
How to increase your Instagram engagement
Following all these tips below made my average likes on a post go from 819 likes in January 2018 to 1138 likes in February.
Comments wise, the average number of comments I got was 23 in January, and this went up to 62 in February.
During March, so far, my average likes are 1092, and comments are 63.
So as you can see, that’s quite a bit of an increase. And I didn’t need to do anything too drastic either.
So grab yourself a cuppa (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, wine) as this is probably going to be a long post, so settle in and let’s get to business.
Quality over Quantity
At the beginning of the year, I found myself trying to upload anything in an attempt to keep my Instagram alive. I wasn’t really thinking about what I posted and when I got fewer likes/comments than usual, I’d think to myself ‘why?’ But then I realised, that I wasn’t passionate about these photos, they weren’t inspiring anyone, I was posting for the sake of it. I decided that I had to start uploading pictures that I actually care about and that I’m happy with. I aim to post once a day, but I try to not post just for the sake of it.
Post At The Right Time
The right time for you, could be the wrong time for someone else, but something I try to do, is to post at a time when most of my followers will be online. Posting at 4pm, or 2am may not work as well as 8am or 8pm when people are commuting or sitting on the sofa. Test different times out, but think about when you most go on Instagram and you’ll probably get your answer for the best time. For me, I find the evenings 8-9pm and weekend afternoons to be the best time to post.
Look At What’s Popular
One thing I do when planning my Instagram photos is I’ll look back at the previous month and look at what’s done well and not so well. I’ll then adapt this into inspiration for photos, you shouldn’t just always stick to stuff that is popular, as you’ve got to include photos that you love too. So for example, a lot of my lifestyle-y shots do really well, but I also love taking flat-lays. These don’t do as well, but I’m still going to post them from time to time. But by starting to post more photos in a style that you know does well, is going to help with increasing your engagement.
Captions Are So Important
Captions are not just for song lyrics, this is not 2003 and this is not your MSN name.
I think that one of the biggest turnarounds for me, was my captions. I used to dither on what to caption my Instagram’s and would usually either end up saying rubbish, or try to ask a question that was just so vague. As Helene says in her Instagram course, you need your captions to bring value to people. They need to be inspiring and get people to stop and read. She says a good example of, ‘would you comment on a post that says Happy Monday?’ – probably not. To increase engagement you need to get people talking.
I’ve started to ask questions in my captions, and trying to include things that are a bit more personal. I think a lot of the people who follow me on Instagram are like me, so i try to include things that I know I like and am interested in.
Here are some caption ideas that you could talk about :
- Your current fave Netflix Watch (ask for recommendations of what to watch next)
- Your fave film growing up
- Your favourite song right now
- The beauty product you cannot live without/ your must used product in your make up bag right now
- Your fave place that you’ve ever visited.
- Your favourite way to spend an evening
- Your favourite motivational quote
Reply To Comments
I also try to make sure I reply to comments on my photos, when you’ve asked people to answer a question in your caption, it’s good to acknowledge them, or answer any questions. I used to never reply to comments, purely because I didn’t really spend too much time on Instagram, but now I will try to respond as soon as I can. There’s a rumour that if you respond quickly to comments within the first hour of your post going live, it’ll do better with the algorithm, but I’m not sure if this is true or not. But I used to see replying to comments as a chore, but these days, I love it. I feel like I’ve gotten to know people better already, and it’s nice to chat to people. It’s one of my favourite things to do these days, and can’t believe I didn’t used to do this. I also try to comment on other people’s photos often too, as it’s always nice to get comments.
I used to see hashtags as super spammy, but they are a good way to get new people to find your photos. I have a bit of a hashtag bank, and use this Hashtag library from Helene for reference. I also use the website Display Purposes which gives you recommended hashtags, and then will add these into a comment underneath my post.
If you’re not tagging accounts in your photos, then you’re missing a trick. Tag brands and inspiration accounts, as these may re-gram you which would mean new followers. I tend to make sure I tag all brands, then will tag about 15 inspiration accounts. Look at what accounts big Instagrammers are tagging and do a bit of research. Don’t just tag any old person though, it may take a little time working out who to tag, but once you’ve got a list, you can refer to this.
My faves are :
All these things have helped me to increase my Instagram engagement, and made me actually enjoy Instagram again.
These are all quite simple tips, that will take a little time but it’s worth it.
So is the proof in the pudding? Let’s have a look at two similar photos of mine on Instagram, and see how the analytics add up.
This is after using all of the above tips…
Both pictures were posted in the morning between 8-9am. Both are very similar, a photo of my office and desk.
Now, as you can see the photo from March, got double the amount of impressions than the one in January. Almost 1000 impressions came from hashtags, so showing that using hashtags is a valuable thing to do.
The impressions from the home page are almost 10k more in the March picture, which means it was seen by more people. I think this could be down to spending a bit more time on Instagram/replying to comments, etc..
I thought I’d include this to show that these things have been working, and although I’m no expert and saying this is all the be all and end all, these tips have all helped me, and thought I’d share them if you too, are trying to grow your Instagram.
I used to be a lazy Instagrammer, and yes these days, I spend a bit more time planning photos, writing captions and replying to comments, but I find it a bit more rewarding.
So I think I have talked at you for too long, but I hope that these tips have been helpful.
Do you have any tips for beating the Instagram algorithm?
P.S You can find me on Instagram here….(shameless self promo ;))