March 2019 update: Since Instagram changed their feed algorithm yet again in March 2018, what time you post matters a lot more as the feed is now more chronologically ordered than in the past. To increase your organic reach on Instagram even more, we recommend reading up on the optimal times to post.
For the past couple of years, we’ve watched our organic reach rapidly recede. Social channels beefed up their algorithms to encourage your content to live on their platforms and our reach slipped away — just when we thought we were finally working the algorithms to our advantage.
But organic isn’t out of the newsfeed just yet, and it shouldn’t be left out of your content strategy.
Organically distributed content allows you to identify your top performing pieces, as well as your top engagers and influencers. And when working in conjunction with a paid social strategy, organic and paid content strengthen each other and evolve reach cooperatively.
In this post, we’ll focus on Instagram, and give you a checklist of 11 actionable tips to ensure the growth of your organic reach.
(If you’re looking to boost your Instagram engagement, you may want to read these 21 additional tips.)
How to get an organic Instagram boost:
1. Set a goal for your Instagram account. If you’re a travel company using photos of destinations to increase followers, or a FinTech startup highlighting businesses that use your product to grow brand awareness, a goal for your account helps define what you post and gives potential followers something to connect with.
Align your goal with your business and marketing strategies. Use your bio to include a CTA — “Download our sales guide here”, “Sign up for a pre-launch invite, limited seats available.”
2. Know your hashtags. Use good, relevant hashtags for your content to bring eyeballs to your account. Keep a list of hashtags that work for you so that you can copy and paste to save time, and look out for new hashtags that will broaden your audience. We talk more about honing your hashtag strategy here.
3. Post consistently. The algorithm works in your favor if you post quality content that receives engagement regularly. Find your best time to post, and set a schedule. If you have an Instagram Business account, use the Insights feature to see valuable Instagram analytics, learn more about your followers, and see when they’re most active.
If you have an Instagram Business account, use the Insights feature to see valuable Instagram analytics, learn more about your followers, and see when they’re most active.
4. Mix it up. Take a step back and look at your content. Depending on your industry and audience, you should have a good mix of photos and videos to favorably influence the algorithm. Videos get engagement, but they will also keep viewers on one platform, which is the channel’s goal. If you’re also highlighting the human aspect of your company, add good photos of people facing forward and making eye contact to show authenticity.
5. Build trust and a following with UGC. Add user-generated content to tap into other people’s’ networks and give conversations a nudge. We know that consumers trust other consumers. User-generated content that speaks positively to your brand builds trust, and attracts people to your brand to also share their stories.
6. Use Instagram Stories. Participate in this attention-grabbing format to be creative and funny. Stories helps to expand your reach by letting you tag other accounts in your Story to tap into their networks. You can also use hashtags in your Story to encourage people to find and connect with your account. Remember, more than 70% of Instagram users follow at least one business, so this network and format are a channel you can’t ignore.
7. Appreciate engagement, ASAP. Respond to engagement right away to show your audience that their comments are encouraged and appreciated. Instead of just liking a comment, speak to your audience, follow them, and thank them for taking the time to make a comment.
8. Align, and appreciate back. Do some research, and find accounts that align with your own, or identify industry influencers. Like their content, and open up a dialogue. Remember that their followers will also see your comments and can click back to your account. Offer real comments. Don’t be afraid to use emojis, if appropriate. We talk more about emoji usage in marketing here.
9. Learn from your top performers. When you measure Instagram and the effectiveness of your content performance, pay attention to the formula of the content that gets the best reach. Test each aspect of this content by repeating hashtags, visual style, copy style, etc. to help you strategize well-performing content going forward.
10. Tag a friend. Create engaging content that invites your audience to tag a friend in the comments. It’s a simple tactic, but once you’ve built up good, consistent content, your audience can suggest your account to their own networks and quickly expand your following and potential impressions.
11. Go live. Live video is offered at the top of a feed, actively keeping you in front of your audience. The format of live video on Instagram lets followers tap into your account as you broadcast, and you can engage back and forth with your audience. It’s a great medium for exciting announcements, as well as personalized checking in with your followers.
Embrace the many faces of Instagram
Social channels are all competing for our attention. As social marketers, we have to continue developing strategies to keep our content in front of a large, relevant audience, with and without spend. Luckily, Instagram gives us a few different formats to work with, and becoming a skilled Instagrammer can be a lot of fun.