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Busting the Instagram Algorithm: How to Boost Engagement

Do you ever scroll through social media and wonder why you see the exact same accounts over and over again? Did you ever think the same thing is happening to your followers, and you might not be one of those accounts that they ever see?

Smart Phone showing multiple social media apps

Engagement on social media is the name of the game, especially for businesses. You want people to follow your account, like your posts, watch your stories, and stay tuned into what you are saying and selling. One way to make that happen? You need to be just as engaged on social media as you want others to be engaged with you. Instagram is watching what you do and if you simply post a photo and walk away, they’re going to know you aren’t really as “social” as you want to seem.

We’ve talked a lot about why being social is important in our blog about Keeping the Social in Social Media so take a look at that if you want to know why liking and following other businesses can give you the boost you’re looking for. Today, we want to focus on how you can avoid being put in a box marked “not social” by Instagram. We’re going to give specific ideas about how you can engage with a wide range of accounts and maximize the eyes that see your posts.

Stay Social on Social Media

a business that does moreWe’ve talked about it a lot, but step one to busting the algorithms is to make sure you are being as social as possible. After you make a post on Instagram, go watch a bunch of stories, like the posts in your feed, and comment on other businesses in your area or industry. It’s a give and take and scratching their back will certainly lead to both the businesses running those accounts and the algorithms that fuel Instagram to being on your side.

However, if you only like the people who pop up in your feed, you’re just putting yourself in a smaller and smaller box. Finding new and different accounts is step one to busting out and creating the largest audience possible.

Engage With Hashtags

following hashtags on instagramHashtags are a great way to keep your feed full of variety. Just like you can follow other accounts, you can also follow hashtags. Find something industry and regionally specific to your business and give it a follow. Maybe #TravelVermont or #VTSmallBusiness or #VermontFarmtoTable is the right hashtag for you to check out.

By following it, you make sure that anyone who posts with that tag ends up in your feed, automatically adding a bit of variety to who you are engaging with. Plus, if they’re using a tag so closely associated with your business, they are probably a potential customer and a great addition to your audience. Engaging with their content increases the chances of getting on their radar and building a new client, customers, or business relationship.

Visit Your Following List

social media engagementYou have your followers, the people who choose to follow you, but you also having your following list, the people you have chosen to follow. Remember, just because you follow them doesn’t guarantee that Instagram is putting their content in your newsfeed. By going to your Following list and giving some love to the businesses there, you are signaling how social you are. You want Instagram to consider you a “close friend” of as many accounts as possible, and engaging with the people you follow is step one.

Recently, Instagram added a new section to your Following list that shows you which accounts you least interact with. Going to that list is an extra easy way to mix up who you engage with and force Instagram to reconsider who they consider your “close friends”.

Who to Follow

research hashtags instagramFollowing new accounts is a great way to stay active and pull in new engagement. We primarily want to be engaging with other businesses around us, as following community members and personal accounts is a bit strange. There are two major categories to consider when following businesses on Instagram.

First, follow as many businesses in your region as possible. If you’re from a small town, that might mean expanding to businesses throughout your state. Follow restaurants, resorts, farmers, jewelers, cafes – anybody and everybody in your region with an account, no matter their industry or professional relationship with you. Second, you want to follow industry specific businesses in an even larger region. Give some love to those who are working toward the same mission as you, direct competitors or otherwise.

Be Intentional About Engagement

Overall, being active on social media is about way more than just posting a photo to your account. You want to behave in a way that signals to Instagram, to other accounts, and to other businesses that you care about their content. That way, they will begin to care more about yours.