It used to be the case back when it first launched in 2010, that Instagram published each post in time order. This made things nice and simple. You knew when your post would show up, and you knew that, even if they had to scroll for a while to reach it, it would be on your followers’ news feeds. Not so since the Instagram algorithm came in. Now many users have seen their post engagement drop massively.
So what can you do to counter the algorithm and make the most of your Instagram?
Engage with your post.
The first thirty minutes after your post is published is when Instagram assesses how popular it will be, and uses this assessment to judge how many users to ‘boost’ your post to. If a post doesn’t perform well in the first thirty minutes, only a few of your followers may see it. If they were to scroll down they would eventually find it still, but if the initial thirty-minute engagement window doesn’t prove fruitful, then your post will be a long way down their feeds.
Use the first thirty minutes to reply to any comments that go up on your post and create conversation around it. More engagement means more boosting.
Schedule your post with care.
The time when you publish your post still matters a great deal even though the Instagram feed isn’t chronological. If there’s no one online to engage with your post in that first thirty minutes, you won’t do so well. Try to pick times when you know people are more likely to be online. 8:30 am when official work/uni has not yet begun but people have reached their office or uni and have time to scroll is a good time to go for. At the weekend, make it a bit later to allow for lie-ins. Allow for time zones also if your audience is mainly based in another country.
Resist the urge to edit.
When you edit a caption under your post, Instagram will treat the newly edited version as a whole new post. This means that all that engagement that you built up when you first published the photo will be wiped out, and you’ll have to start again. Not easy to do and the engagement rate is usually much less than with an unseen post.