As we touched on previously, organic Instagram reach is no longer like what it used to be. Reaching a large amount of audience is now harder than ever, especially after Instagram’s algorithm change. Today, let’s focus our attention on Instagram and explore ways to increase Instagram reach and engagement rates.

How Instagram algorithm affects reach

Before we can get into the strategies to increase your Instagram reach, first we need to understand how Instagram’s algorithm works.

Instagram relies on a user’s behaviour to personalize what they see on their Instagram feed. These are the factors that determine why you see what you see on your feed:

  1. Interest. How much you will care about a post depending on your past behaviours with similar content. The more Instagram thinks that you will ‘like’ a certain kind of post, the more it will show up on your feed. 
  2. Relationship. How close you are to the person who put up the post, and how often you have interacted such as being tagged in photos, posts or comments. So posts from family and close friends are most likely to show up in your feed.
  3. Recency. How recent was the post shared? Priority will go to newer posts over posts that are already days or weeks-old, as Instagram wants to show you the latest and most interesting posts.
  4. Frequency. How often a user opens Instagram. The app will usually share the best posts since the last time you opened it. A frequent user’s feed would look more chronological, while someone who checks the app less often would have a feed that’s more personalized to what Instagram thinks they’ll like. 
  5. Following. How many people do you follow and how often do you interact with those accounts? Depending on this, you may see more of one person, and less of another.
  6. Usage. How long do you spend browsing on the app? Someone who spends a lot of time scrolling may even reach the bottom of his/her following’s content to see. If this happens, Instagram would show suggested content from other accounts based on online behaviour and previous interactions. If you only spend a few minutes per day on the app, Instagram’s algorithm will only show you the day’s highlights.

How to increase Instagram reach

Now that we have a clearer idea of how Instagram’s algorithm works, we can get into the different ways to increase Instagram reach.

1. Find your best time to post

You can impede your own engagement by not posting at the right time! When you post your content is just as important as the content itself. Generally, the best times to post on Instagram are at lunchtime between 11am to 1pm, or evenings from 7pm to 9pm. But as every Instagram account is different and made up of different followers from different time zones and habits, we would definitely recommend finding out your best time to post on Instagram.

You can do so with Instagram’s built in analysis tool for business accounts. Go to ‘Insights’ and click on ‘Activity’ to check out your audience demographics. From there, you can see when they are most active, and thus determine when is the best time for you to be posting content. 

2. Engage your followers

Instagram stories are a great way to start conversations and encourage your followers to share their thoughts, comments and feedback with you. This in turn helps to foster relationships. Your followers feel like their opinions matter, they feel more connected with your brand, and you’re not left guessing what type of content to push out or what direction to take with your next release. A win-win situation!

One way to spark conversation and engagement is to use the question sticker on Instagram stories. You can ask your followers what they would like to see more of, or what products they would like you to create next, like Beautycon here:

instagram reach - question sticker

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Or, you can also host a Q&A for your followers to ask you anything, like Classpass:

instagram reach - question sticker

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You can also use it to gather feedback on a new product or change that you’re making, like what Thinkific did when they debuted a new logo:

instagram reach - question sticker

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Another way to engage your followers and get their feedback is to use the quiz sticker to conduct voting, like this beauty brand did: 

instagram reach - quiz sticker

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With the quiz sticker, you can see how many people voted, and the number of votes for each option.

Lastly, you can use the countdown sticker to build excitement over new releases, special promotions or new announcements:

instagram reach - countdown sticker

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Your followers can then subscribe to the countdown, and Instagram will send them a notification when the countdown is up so they can tune in to see your news. 

3. Test out different types of content

You are no longer limited to just posting images and videos on Instagram. We just touched on a bit about Instagram stories, but there are also other avenues of putting out content such as Instagram Live, Instagram Reels and IGTV. 

Like Facebook, Instagram also “favours” its newer features to drive people to use it, so it’s worth taking advantage of this little boost. Longer content such as IGTV may work better with some brands, while others may benefit from shorter clips such as Instagram reels. It’s worth getting creative to see what would work for you!

4. Create shareable content

Instagram shares and saves are more important than ever. One of the most effective ways to boost your Instagram reach is to create valuable content that your followers would want to share with their own followers. 

Shareable content would be things that are informative, fun, and relatable. Think infographics that could spark interest:

instagram reach - shareable content

Photo credit: @justgirlproject

Or relatable memes and quotes:

instagram reach - shareable content

Photo credit: @headspace

5. Write longer captions

Did you know that you can write up to 2,200 words in your Instagram captions? That’s a whole lot of content that you could put out. 

It’s worth noting that one of the factors that affect your Instagram algorithm is how long a user spends on your post. So one of the easiest ways to get your followers to spend some time on yours is to write engaging captions that would compel them to read. 

Of course, we’re not saying that you have to write thousands of words for each caption, but it’s worth putting some thought into writing a few sentences for each post instead of just using a few emojis. 

6. Use hashtags

A great way to reach users that are outside your sphere of followers is to utilize hashtags. Understanding which hashtags will help drive people to find your content is one of the most effective ways to increase your Instagram reach. Not to mention, you can share up to 30 hashtags in your Instagram posts! That’s a whole lot of people that you could be reaching.

So which hashtags would work best for you? There are hashtags analysis tools out there that can help to identify what resonates with your target audience, as well as which hashtags will generate the highest engagements. They can help you to refine your content strategy, and find out which hashtags to keep, and which ones to ditch.

The stronger your #hashtaggame, the more engagement and Instagram reach!