#Instagram101 – Tips to use Instagram effectively

I’m sure 95% of you reading this post, have an Instagram account and upload moments from your lives from time to time. I’ve had an account for the longest time and naïve as I was, I thought it was just about uploading photos and waiting for your followers to like and comment on my post. I posted infrequently and only when I thought I had something really good to share. Turns out, there were always people who had far more interesting posts and hence I waited for something amazing to happen so that I could capture it and upload.

Since I was working in communications at the time, I saw brands getting started on Instagram and to me, it was perfectly normal because they were supposed to have a large following. I think it was in the year 2014 when a lot of bloggers took to Instagram and started growing their online community on the app and not just on their blog. I wondered how they did it. They were turning into mini-celebrities, now known as influencers/ micro-influencers.

It was later that I learned about how these mini-celebrities used Instagram not just for recreation, but to build a personal brand. Earlier this year I started reading about it from a personal brand perspective, enrolled myself for a number of webinars, online classes, workshops and tutorials for some sort of guidance as to how influencers were using Instagram to their benefit. Each class, tutorial, and book taught me a lot and in this post, I’m going to share highlights from whatever I have learned (including the recent Instagram algorithm reveal by Facebook).

What will you see on your Instagram feed?

Despite the outcry by users, Instagram will not be going back to the reverse chronological feed for good reason. Their primary objective is to have users spend more time on the app. In order for users to spend more time on the app, they need to see relevant posts, which is why Instagram will show a unique feed to each person based on: Interest, Recency, Relationship

1. Interest: What are you interested in? Do you spend time liking and commenting on posts with puppies or funny cat videos? The Instagram algorithm will make a note of this and show you more posts and videos of puppies, cats and animals because you showed an interest. If you interact with food posts, the algorithm will show you more posts of cuisines, recipes and the likes. Follow me? So, if you want to see more posts on styling, you need to show that to Instagram by looking for and interacting with accounts and posts related to styling. Get it? It’s quite easy. You teach the algorithm what you like and it will show you exactly what you want.

2. Recency: How often do you open the Instagram app on your phone? 2 – 3 times a day? Once a day? Once a week? Depending on how many times you are on the app, Instagram will create a unique feed for you showcasing the most relevant posts during that time. For instance, if you log in once a week, you will see posts that are most relevant to you during that time. (A combination of interest, relationship and recency). This means that if you log in to Instagram now after a whole week, you will not necessarily see what your friends posted last week. You might see the most recent one instead.

3. Relationship: If you share a relationship with an account, you are likely to see more of their posts. ‘Relationship’ here means the more you interact with an account, stronger a relationship you build with that account. If you share posts with a particular account, tag that account often, like their posts and comment, (in short, interacting) with that account, Instagram will show you more of that account’s posts.

In addition to this, Instagram has also listed three ways that can influence your unique feed.

Frequency – If you open the app frequently, Instagram will refresh your feed keeping the above points in mind so you can see new and relevant content.

Following – If you follow more accounts, Instagram will have more options to show you, and will try to show you a variety of content.

Usage – If you scroll down on your feed longer, you will see more variety and if you scroll for a shorted duration, you will see the most relevant posts for that duration.

Why do you think Instagram is doing this?

Instagram, like any other app benefits if users are tuned in for longer periods of time. The only way to keep users engaged and glued to the app is by showing them what matters most to them. This is exactly what Instagram is doing. Simple, isn’t it?

Bonus – Make the algorithm work for you!

Get discovered by new accounts: Use geo tags in Insta stories, add location in posts, add up to 30 relevant hashtags in the post caption.

The more app features you use; the Instagram algorithm will like you even more. Use relevant GIFs in your InstaStories, upload posts & Insta stories more often.

Interact with more accounts based on your interest. Spread the love. Don’t be shy when it comes to liking / commenting on posts or while replying to Insta stories.

Feel free to use these tips and let me know if they worked for you.

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