How to outsmart the Instagram algorithm- Actionable tips

If you are like me, you depend on Instagram to build your customer base. For the past several years you may have comfortably watched your followers grow along with your conversion rates.

All was fine in fact until 2019, when Instagram announced a new algorithm that suddenly dumped your views. Much like the Facebook update of 2018 that dropped many businesses in organic search results, businesses like mine started struggling with exposure following the change in the Instagram algorithm.

In theory, the change affects everyone, but I doubt that the Kardashians or Taylor Swift saw a drop in their followers. The people that hurt were small business owners without the money or time to figure out the algorithm change.

The good news is we can beat the Instagram algorithm. We just have to get smarter than it. There are some great tricks that can make your Shopify for Instagram boom again, but you have to rethink the way you manage your Instagram account.

Instagram’s Official Statement

After a lot of people (myself included) started complaining about the changes in our newsfeeds, Instagram broke their silence. Most people were complaining that photos were now only reaching 7% of followers, but Instagram shifted the blame stating that users themselves determined what showed up.

According to their post, what shows up first in the feed is “determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most.” So where does this leave the rest of us? It means we have to figure out how to get our customers to engage with us, so we get in their feeds just as much as their Crossfit loving friends.

So how do we do that?

Increase Photo Quality/ Content

If you want to get your follower’s attention, you have to give them something to look at. Instagram claims the new Instagram algorithm is based on ‘good content.’ This vague answer could apply to just about every single search engine or social media company out there.

Of course, good content is in the eye of the beholder, but I have found a few factors that seem to be helping my posts out.

  • Bold colors that instantly grab browsers’ attention
  • Landscapes that take away your breath. (I like to just place my product in front. They stop to look at the picture and get a look at my brand. Win-win.)
  • Professional high-quality photos. While they may not always be the most stunning, they are expected in most industries. If you want to seem competitive to your audience, you have to give them a sign of your expertise.

Start Posting More Videos

Instagram will never admit that videos do better than a photo in terms of newsfeed rankings, but I have noticed that my videos always get more likes and shares. I like to use my videos to tell a story. If I am short on time, I create a Selfie video so they get to know me better.

If my followers feel connected to me, they feel more connected to my brand by association. This is actually the same principle that has helped influencers gain so much attention. Influencers gain the trust of their followers and then show them products. I skip the middleman and build trust on my own.

Believe it or not, some of my best performing videos were not shot in the studio (although I also post those to build credibility). Sometimes I just take a video of where I am or what I am doing with my product. Any chance I get to shout out my Shopify for Instagram is just a bonus.

As a bonus, you can always toss shorter videos into your story to get them viewed more. The higher the views the better the chance you will get into a curator page which in turn means more followers! In short, build your own exposure. If you are lucky, you will be the next singing goat.

Reply to DMs and Comments

Remember earlier when I said to beat the Instagram algorithm you have to engage? Well now that you have quality material posted, it’s time to reach out. The best way to get your posts into followers’ newsfeeds is by engaging with them.

Instagram will read this as them engaging with you which will boost your profile. Its a scratch my back and I’ll scratch your situation. If a customer reaches out to you in DM, make sure you reply constantly and quickly.

You want to fall into the Instagram ‘friends and family’ category over a business ranking. To respond to everyone and send back at least a few lines of text. The more you do this, the more exposure you will get.

Follow the same rules with comments. Your followers will love to read your response, and you will be tricking Instagram into believing you are friends. Only you have to know you are ‘friends with benefits!’

Adam Torkildson
Adam is a content marketer, gym rat, husband, father and entrepreneur.

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