Working with the Instagram Algorithm 2020

With more than 500 million daily active users worldwide, Instagram has quickly become the social media platform of choice for socially savvy brands.
The single most important thing that these brands have realised is that Instagram’s main goal is to make money. The way Instagram does this is by keeping users in the app for as long as possible, exploring scroll after scroll of organic content and most importantly clicking on paid ads. It makes sense then, that Instagram’s algorithm favours accounts that keep their followers as active and engaged as possible, and spending plenty of time in the app.

Keeping your followers active and engaged is proving trickier than ever with the algorithm in 2019.
In 2016 Instagram controversially canned the reverse-chronological feed and announced that users’ feeds would prioritise ‘the moments you care about’, favouring personal content over marketing content. This has made it increasingly difficult and frustrating for businesses hoping to reach new audiences organically, and in some cases reaching existing followers. It is rumoured that only 10% of your audience actually sees your posts in their feeds.

How click2cycle made the algorithm work in their favour.
Local bike hire scheme click2cycle have boosted their Instagram engagement this season by involving their riders in their social media posts. Their strategy was simple – build meaningful relationships with their followers, and encourage greater interaction and engagement with their content.

By collaborating with local businesses they ran a series of tactical competitions throughout the season encouraging riders to share photos and Stories of themselves enjoying their click2cycle experience across the nine bike stations from Folkestone to Dymchurch. People loved seeing themselves on the click2cycle feed, where other riders were exploring, and what they looked like. The content was consistent and timely and, most importantly, it was interesting to the audience.

In their busiest month, engagement was an impressive +190% compared to the control month when no competitions or events ran. Impressions, reach, profile visits and followers also increased throughout the season, proving that organic growth is possible when you work with the algorithm.

The easiest ways to keep your followers engaged.
You may be doing some of these already, but the important point is, how often? To keep things simple, here are 5 tips to help improve your Instagram engagement:

1. Spend more time focussing on consistent posting. Stick to the same frequency so your followers know what to expect. A scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Iconosquare is helpful for this.

2. Post quality photos and videos and take time to plan your feed’s aesthetic. Be sure to post more of what you know your audience likes. The algorithm sorts the feed based on posts it thinks your followers will like.

3. Build meaningful relationships with your followers. Always reply to comments people make on your own posts, as well as liking and commenting on your followers posts. It could be as simple as posting an emoji. Also reply to your DMs.

4. Post when your followers are most active. Timeliness is a key factor when working with the algorithm, so check out your Instagram Insights to see when your followers are active. If your audience spends a lot of time in the app they will naturally see more content as Instagram digs deeper into its catalogue of posts.

5. Post Stories making the most of the features available, i.e. hold and pause, as these encourage engagement. The Stories that appear first on your feed are from the accounts you engage with most, via both Stories and the grid.

Written By Laura Stokes | Marketing Strategist