From managing clients’ accounts on Instagram and having a personal connection through my food blog @half_cut_dining, keeping up to date with trends and the algorithm is a priority for me. When you’re trying to build your brand on Instagram, understanding the platform’s frequent changes can be challenging, however there are some key aspects you can utilise that will help you reach your target audience and increase engagement.
Currently ‘saves’ are regarded as the most important metric within Instagram’s algorithm for brand growth and engagement. Saves help Instagram determine what content to push as it provides a valuable insight into what your audience finds interesting, and therefore want to return to. In turn, your content is pushed out to others to encourage their connections to save the same posts. There are a number of ways to generate saves such as inspiration posts or helpful lists that people can use for future reference. Think ‘top tips’ or ‘what’s new’ when putting together information, that will keep people coming back for more.
Hashtags are an important feature to drive more people to your profile. For each post, using around 30 hashtags is ideal as it increases the likelihood that people will discover your content. Focus on what your post is communicating to help you decide the most appropriate and relevant hashtags. When selecting hashtags, those with around 500k uses are the most optimum as they aren’t as saturated as those with millions of uses. Similarly, if the hashtag has too few uses, not enough people will be searching for it. Try not be too repetitive either. If you are using the same hashtags over and over, and on different posts, Instagram may think you’re a bot and penalise your content. Where to place your hashtags can also make a difference due to the potential length of your hashtags. If your caption is relative short then feel free to keep your hashtags in the copy also. However, if your caption is already quite long, then you can comment on your post and include the hashtags as the first comment.
Whilst at one time reels were once the golden egg, Instagram have shifted focus to images and carousels as reels underperform compared to TikTok videos. This could be due to users choosing a platform depending on what type of content they want to consume at that time. Users are understanding that each platform has its own USP: for TikTok it’s video content, and for Instagram it is still image content. Instagram was originally created solely for image sharing and users are still aware of this. Research shows that Instagram users are spending 17.6 million hours a day watching reels, but TikTok users are spending 197.8 million hours a day on the platform. It’s still important to maintain a mix of reels and images so users enjoy a diverse experience. For reels, Instagram favours short-form video to align with people’s attention spans. Quick snippets of a product’s features or previewing a new service will draw people in and keep them watching until the end.
Trending sounds also help as, similar to hashtags, it will group content together for users to discover and engage with. As sounds grow in popularity, Instagram will push out reels using them. To find trending sounds, check the bottom left of the reels tab and look for a lightning bolt next to it. You can save these trending sounds to use at a later date.
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