How do BIG Instagram accounts get so many followers, likes, and comments?
The answer is that they understand the Instagram Algorithm and make it work for them, and by that, I mean they started small doing what they can to grow and as they got bigger, it snowballs.
Over the past year, through the changes of the Instagram Algorithm and growing our brand and business on Ivorymix, I’ve managed to grow a non-existent following on Instagram to an engaged group of 6000+ supportive followers (as of posting this article). It was slow going at first, but since putting in a little more effort, I’ve been seeing an average growth of 500 new followers every month for the past few months, and based on how things are going, I expect that this will grow exponentially as time goes by.
I’m sharing this information because I hear from the members of our stock photography library talk a lot about Instagram and their struggles with it. You see, the algorithm that Instagram has set up seems to have stumped some bloggers, leaving them in the dark on how to organically grow an engaged following.
What I want you to know is that all the algorithm does is it reads and reacts to engagement in order to serve it’s users.
To illustrate that, I want you to go to your Instagram account on your phone and click on the “Home” looking icon and then to the “search” icon. As you scroll through your feed, I want you to notice the relative time of when posts first occurred on Instagram. What you’ll begin to notice is that posts you are seeing on your home feed are not in chronological order. Do a search for something. You’ll notice that the same is true even when you search for something.
The basics of the Instagram algorithm:
What Instagram has done is put together an algorithm that shows you posts that you will likely love and engage with based on your past engagement, hashtags, locations, and the accounts you currently already follow and engage with.
Knowing that, how can you, as a blogger and business owner who wants more engagement ensure that your posts are being shown in the top of your followers feed (and what about the feeds of people who don’t know you yet)?
Instagram shows new posts to users based on the following:
- Instagram shows posts to users when the post is being engaged with by their followers and friends
- Instagram shows posts to users who search for or use the same or similar hashtags
- Instagram will show users recent accounts they’ve engaged with recently
- Instagram will show users posts if the number of likes is relatively high in comparison to others
- Instagram will show users posts if it’s been getting a number of comments quickly after it’s been posted
- Instagram will show users posts If the Instagram account is followed by friends or similar accounts
This is all well and good, but how can we get our posts into the feeds of users who are not following us – like the BIG Instagram accounts do?
If I were to tell you it’s easy, you wouldn’t believe me. But believe me, it’s pretty simple, straightforward, and can be easy, but seeing as there are many ways that Instagram users can and do find new accounts to follow – let’s cover some of the really simple ways so you can see how easy it actually is.
How to help Instagram users find you through Search:
The search icon on your Instagram app is where users search for people, tags, or places. This is also where Instagram users might search for hashtags you use or places you’ve been. Instagram has a tendency to make recommendations in this area based on the user’s existing activity and how they match your activity. Take a look through your search area and notice how many suggested posts are showing up for you before you even search for anything. I bet you’ll find you aren’t follow many of these people but they are some how related to your recent activity or the accounts you are already following have engaged with or liked these posts.
How can you get placed at the top of recommended items?
- Increase engagement on your account (getting more activity)
- Increase engagement from your account (sending out more activity)
- The use of 30 relevant hashtags on your account (relevant only to those tags used by your target audience)
- Having a bigger circle of influence
You’ll see that the more followers and engaged accounts on your profile you get over time – the better for increased speed (like a ball rolling down hill increases speed)
Consider how valuable the recommended area and the search area are if you are a local business who engages with people on Instagram in their local community a lot? Also consider how valuable this search area is in your respective niche when you use hashtags related to your target audience and how meaningful it could be if you started thinking a LOT about how you use hashtags and who you are engaging with?
Don’t just use any old hashtags. Focus on the ones your audience uses. So, if you’re a scifi author, instead of using #books use something like #harrypotterfan.
. . . and remember – don’t just engage with anyone. Like that Facebook group you are in with an Instagram share day. It’s definitely okay to share and engage with those friends in your Facebook group, but really put forth your best effort to engage more with other Instagram accounts who have a similar target audience as you.
Engaging with right people and using the best hashtags are hands down your best strategies for increasing chances of being found by a new audience – above anything else you do.
How to help new followers find you through Engagement:
What do I mean by “Engagement”? Engagement on Instagram means:
- Tags / Mentions (reposts)
If you Like one of the posts from your targeted followers and leave a comment on their post, it’s pretty likely they’ll come and check out your profile and resent posts. If they like and comment on one of your recent posts, your recent post might show up in the “recommended” area of Instagram for that new followers friends. This means you should be searching out and engaging with your target audience through likes and comments frequently if you want to be seen.
Then, if you Follow an Instagram user who seems like a good potential follower, they may come and check you out and like your posts, make comments, or follow you back. Again, engagement is key. That increased engagement will get your recent posts to show up in the recommended area for new followers and towards the top of the searches. Not to mention, following your target audience will get you noticed. But, be sure to establish a relationship through likes and comments first and don’t follow simply to unfollow later.
If you Tag/mention your new follower, potential follower, or someone they know and follow (like another influencer) – it’s more likely new Instagram users will land on your account. This is because the Instagram algorithm will boost your post in more “recommendation” areas and searches for more users because you mentioned other account names. This kind of personalized engagement is a great way to humanize your brand with the people you tag or mention too, but it can also help you gain more engagement from their extended audience.
Remember when I said this was easy? You may still not believe me, but it is. If you put in the effort to get each one of the above forms of engagement on your Instagram account, you would find yourself gaining more engaged followers and new followers every day.
Now, if you haven’t started to target your audience on Instagram, the first step for you specifically is to establish who your target audience is on Instagram, what hashtags they’ll likely use, and how you are going to commit to and track your complete engagement strategy so that you too can gain new followers and engagement for your blog and business.
While you’re at it, make sure you’re signed up for our free stock photo and resource library to stay in the loop on upcoming training’s and courses related to Instagram with special bonuses you won’t want to miss out on.