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So, Instagram changed its algorithm. Again. But this time it’s different because it deals a big blow to your Instagram Engagement!

Didn’t you notice your reach dropping dramatically this year? Today we’ll show you a few of tips you can use to improve your Instagram Engagement organically and beat Instagram’s algorithm!

Why, Instagram, why?

Business accounts spend money on promoting their posts, so reducing the reach of active accounts seems counterintuitive. Why would Instagram do this?

The answer to that is pretty straightforward: Instagram is repeating what Facebook did in 2012.

After changing their algorithm in 2012, pages went from reaching 50% of their followers on average–or even more,–to a meager 1% to 3% of their audience. Facebook did this to push businesses into paying for promoting their posts. And guess what? It worked.

Now fast forward to 2019, history repeats itself. Instagram’s new algorithm not only affects organic reach, though. It also registers and punishes accounts that use bots, automation, or fake engagement. If you use any of these tools, you will probably be shadowbanned.

a shadow-what?

A shadowban is basically a slap on the wrist for users that try to cheat Instagram and their audience. If Instagram suspects your page of being spammy or it it has excessive activity, they will limit your presence.

Your account will still be active, but its reach will be very restricted with only a handful of people actually seeing your posts. The same goes with your hashtags, as they will have limited performance. Shadowbans usually last from 7 days to 14 days.

The algorithm makes it very hard to get a lot of organic engagement. As promised, here are a few tried and tested tips and tricks that will help you boost your organic engagement on Instagram.

1. Be active before and after posting.

Be active within one hour before and after posting content! If you’re active on the platform, e.g. liking pictures, commenting, or sharing stories, it’s more likely that people will visit your profile. If they do, Instagram might show them your content as soon as you publish it.

Share your new post on IG Stories as soon as you publish it! The first hour after posting will determine if your post will be successful or not.  If people engage with your post (likes, comments, shares, or saves), Instagram will recognize that your content is valuable. Once they do, they will show it to more users!

2. Learn how to use hashtags (and use the size chart method) 

Learn your hashtags! Posts with at least one hashtag will gain 12.6% more engagement than posts without one. Be strategic!

Don’t go crazy, though. Take your time to study hashtags analytics and performance. One rookie mistake is thinking that if all hashtags are viral, it will increase the chances of being seen.

While it makes sense on paper, it doesn’t play out like that in real life. 

Make more than one set of hashtags! I recommend using what I call the size chart method, where you will categorize hashtags by volume.

For example, say you want to use 20 hashtags, separate them into four sizes:

S – Pick five hashtags that have very little use (with less than 20000 hits).
M – Select another five that have a few more applications (with up to 100000).
L – Then choose five more with a lot more engagement (with up to 1 million hits).
XL – And finally, pick five massive or viral hashtags (with over 1 million hits).

With this strategy you get a whole range of visibility, from niche-specific to mainstream. Don’t forget to measure the success of your hashtags!

Another critical thing to do with hashtags is to follow related hashtags. You will have instant access to people from within your industry without having to follow them! You will be able to see how they behave, what they offer, and how they interact with their audience.

ig story example tavano team engagement tips

3. Make the most of your stories.

Important: Instagram Stories is the only feature not affected by the algorithm, and its the only feature that continues to show content chronologically.

Not only that, it’s by far the most popular feature on the platform. In fact, over 70% of users reported they check their stories first.

Make an effort to optimize your stories. Whenever possible, use mentions, location tags, and hashtags.

Be creative, though, don’t be formulaic. Use polls, “ask me anything” sessions, reaction stickers, or quizzes to interact directly with your followers.

Use your Instagram Analytics to find out when your audience is most active to make sure you publish stories at the best moment.

4. Interact with your audience

Write longer captions! Your post will be more engaging, and people will spend more time on it. Unsurprisingly, Instagram likes anything that keeps users on the app for longer.

The more time people spend on your post, the better it will perform. Have fun with your captions, make them entertaining, and above all, make them attractive.

Also, don’t forget to reply to comments and DMs! AlwaysReplyEverything. Many brands ignore their DMs or, even worse, turn off commenting on their posts (!). Show Instagram that people engage with your content and that you are building a community.

Pro tip: Mention other accounts, repost content you think will be valuable to your audience and tag your location. Every interaction counts!

5. Content is king. The end of vanity metrics. 

One of the most critical changes on IG this year is the hiding of likes. This one still hurts. Some accounts might still see them because it’s still on a global testing phase, but brace yourselves.

This is the end of plikes for the sake of likes. Your content needs to be top-notch now. 

Your feed needing to be neat and cohesive is a given, but still, it doesn’t hurt to mention it. Whenever possible, use pictures with faces! Photos with faces on them get about 38% more likes than those without. 

Also, carousel posts get 3 to 5 times more saves than regular posts. Make interesting content that people will save for later.

The more people save your posts, the more Instagram will consider you as a good quality content creator and will show your content more broadly.

Use your brand as content! Open up about your mission, tell the history of the brand, and show how your products are made.

Once your audience knows well who you are, collaborate with brands that share your same values.

It doesn’t matter if you sell different products or cater to different demographics, people like to see partnerships for noble causes. Make it all about your values.

In conclusion

Getting high organic engagement in 2020 will be hard, yes, but not impossible. Will it be more tedious? Yes. But it’s important to remember that users didn’t change, and they didn’t go anywhere! They’re still there –and they’re more than ever. We just have to find creative ways to get to them.

Instagram continues to be one of the top platforms to build a brand online and to gain a loyal following. With over 1 billion people using the platform every month, and 500 million users using Stories every day, we need smart ways to reach them. 

If you want to build your brand online, or if you need help increasing the reach and Instagram Engagement of your content, you’re in the right place. Contact us today, and let’s get cracking!