Instagram can be a confusing and overwhelming beast. It has its own constantly changing algorithm and culture that separates it from any other social media. Getting Instagram to work for you takes time, effort, insight, and unfortunately: intuition. What do you need to get the most out of Instagram?
Being an Instagram pro requires knowledge of 3 things: it’s culture, it’s algorithm, and your own analytics of those 2 things. Understanding the culture and the algorithm don’t do you much good if that knowledge is disconnected from your own follower and user data.
The biggest thing to remember is that Instagram is not Facebook. Facebook is for information, Instagram is for connections. And Instagram’s user base is generally younger than its big brother Facebook. More than 50% of Instagram users are between 18-35, while more than 60% of Facebook’s user are over 35. Therefore, these users have grown up with social media, including Instagram, and have shaped its function and culture. (For example, by the time my friends and I were old enough to have social media, Facebook was already too big and felt like something elusively for our parents. For a long time, Instagram was the only social media any of us had.)
Although Instagram is great for showing off products, the thing it is best at is highlighting your brand’s culture and personality. It is not enough anymore to have a good product available anymore, your consumers need to feel connected to your brand. 56% of Gen Z consumers say that having shared passions and perspectives is a major factor when it comes to their engagement with a brand.
And 49% of young consumers say they will evangelize a brand they feel represents their values, likes, and personality.
Don’t be afraid of incorporating causes you care about into your brands personality! 72% of consumers want the brands they care about to be positive contributors to society. We’ve seen in recent years that many brands (especially smaller companies) connect their core brand to a charity or cause they care about. Younger consumers are 69% more likely to buy from a brand that contributes to a cause.
According to Instagram, they decide to show your content based on 6 factors:
The first three are somewhat self-explanatory. Instagram shows you things based on what you’ve liked in the past. They highlight posts from people they’ve decided are close to you: people whose content you most engage with, the people who tag you, the people you DM etc. Instagram also cares about when you post. Keeping track of your analytics can give you a good idea about when the best times to post for you are.
Frequency isn’t about how often you post but instead about how often interact with the app. The more often you check your Instagram feed the more likely your feed will be chronological because they are always trying to show you the newest content available. This is helpful to understand what type of Instagram users your followers are. If they don’t check the app that often, then it will be harder to have your posts seen. Building up the other 5 components to the algorithm will be all the more important.
Instagram assigns value to follower counts in a couple different ways. First, is simple: the more followers you have the more likely your posts will be highlighted in your follower’s feeds. However, they also look at your follower’s engagement levels. If you have a lot of ghost followers that don’t interact with you, then they could actually be hurting you. Another thing to consider, the more people your followers follow the more competition for space in their feed. Do your followers follow a lot of people? Understanding that can help you decide if you need to adjust where you focus your efforts.
This is how Instagram qualifies the amount of time spent on the app. The more time spent on the app, the deeper into its catalogs they have to pull from to show content. You can use this to your advantage by using hashtags or developing content that matches with the interests of Instagram’s heavy users.
How do you get the most out of Instagram?