Instagram is a tricky beast and if you are looking to tame it, you need the right tools and knowledge. I am not claiming these are all facts, but these are some things about the Instagram algorithm that I noticed.
Algorithmic factors are elements that the algorithm uses to build a profile of your content and your account. Think of it like SEO for social media where you have to optimize and do little things to please the Algorithm gods for free traffic. Including things like:
These algorithmic factors change all the time, and it’s all based on Instagram’s priorities. When they released Snapchat 2.0, aka Instagram Stories, they made that a massive factor in the algorithm. Creators that used all the Stories features were rewarded with more organic reach, and that’s what you need to remember.
If you take anything from this article, it needs to be: Whenever new features come out, use them all the time and add them to your existing routine. That will severely impact your algorithmic rankings. Even if it’s small like the Instagram Poll or Question features, there will always be some advantage also if it’s small. If these features don’t work with your audience, AFTER you try them, then you can quickly shut it down and say it didn’t work. But always try them first and try them for at least a month and get some reliable data.
Instagram specifically has a few select places that the algorithm sneaks content into whatever you are doing. These places make it easier for businesses to get more reach and more accessible for consumers to see more relevant content.
Here are all the places the Instagram algorithm displays content that could get your content seen so far:
Note* I will keep this list updated as I go so make sure to bookmark this page or save this link somehow.*
Get in the mind of an average Instagram user. Reverse engineer the ways that people can find you and figure out how to optimize for those places. Let’s pretend you just posted a well-performing post, and a random person ends up seeing it through one of the above areas. You need to make sure that your profile optimization is tailored to help you grow your business in a lane. You should use a CTA and a link that lead to someone discovering more about your business or products to turn them into customers, but make sure to plan that journey out.
If the person does not follow you:
-Person sees content from algorithm or recommendation
-If they don’t like it they keep scrolling…sorry next time.
-If it’s good they like it and follow you
-if it’s really good they will probably comment, like and follow
-if it’s excellent they will possibly comment, like, follow and share it with a friend
If they follow you:
-Person sees content
-If they scroll past it without engaging with your post it reduces the likelihood that they will see your content in the future
-If it’s good they like it
-if it’s really good they will possibly share it with a friend or on their stories/feed
-If it’s excellent they will want to comment on and add multiple comments in a conversation
I hope this helps you better target your social media goals. You can say likes are everything, but at the end of the day, there is SEO for social media now, and the best way to optimize is to start treating social media like SEO on your blog. Be purposeful and intention while also adding immense value – whatever that means in your industry. It could be a slider explaining you’re onboarding process, a funny product commercial, or a How-To video. They all are valuable in their particular way and add to the overall strategy.
Better marketing please,
Social media profiles are like separate websites on a very popular website. Facebook has nearly 2.7B monthly active users, Instagram os almost at 1.1B monthly active users, and Twitter has 334M. Social media has become a part of our every day lives as a tech involved person. Whether you follow news and politics or just like to see some of your hobbies – social media is the place to go to view and engage with endless content. Social media has truly changed the behavior of consumers, and your business needs to be able to adapt quickly and agile no matter what size.
Think of social media posts as mini-billboards… stay with me for one minute here. Each billboard is trying to get a message across with images and text. Some are better than others, and some factors make your posts more clickable. That’s not this post, that’s this post here. (link to factors that make social media posts more clickable)
You need to think about what happens after they engage with your content and how you can optimize that part of the funnel to get more visitors to your website from social media. Here is how the engagement usually plays out on Facebook or Instagram because they are algorithmically driven.
Captions VS Descriptions
In both situations, writing good captions and making your profiles optimized are critical ingredients to getting the best results. You want to capture every single follower, and the best way is to be systematic and strategic in your approach. Each description should have a quick summary of what you do, a brand hashtag to tag you, and a call to action with a URL. Social media is the place for entertainment, fun, and media so you have to keep all of your writing short and sweet. Captions and descriptions should be quick, to the point, and involve some language that makes them feel like being apart of a club or community.
When writing captions, asking questions is also very important! Just don’t force it because it will sound fake. You will see so many people push random questions into social media posts just to generate any sort of engagement. Comments are valuable, and people will do anything for them! Responding to individuals personally is included in that. Try out commenting on your favorite Instagram models post responding to their bogus questions within an hour of them posting. I guarantee they will respond because they want those comments right when they post a post to boost its popularity, and they also want others to see them responding and comment with hopes of getting a similar response. We can learn from that and try to inspire conversations in comments. Use it like a forum or a chatroom and instigate meaningful discussions that will allow you to not only stand out but to build super fans.
When writing your descriptions you want to follow some of these quick guidelines to help point your marketing efforts in an efficient direction. For the Do’s, only apply the ones that work for you but also try to experiment and get ideas from the other ones.
–Write a quality CTA. Write a CTA as the final line to incentive them to click on a link or click the follow button. People need to be told, unfortunately.
–Always link to something. Don’t ever let your link area go empty because you are WASTING TIME AND EFFORTS. Always have a link.
–Don’t ever use a link on social media that is not hyperlinked. If it’s not hyperlinked or easy to get to then find another way to link it. For Instagram, you can’t put clickable URLs in each post so you say in the post “Link in bio” or a CTA to direct them to the clickable URL area on the IG profile. It looks bad if you have a link and you can’t click it so make sure all your links are clickable.
–Use a link that is mobile-friendly. Make sure it is mobile-friendly and ready to collect leads. Most social media is consumed on mobile phones so make sure the location of where you are sending your audience is optimized.
–Introduce your branded hashtag. Use #yourbrand or whatever you deem your brand-specific hashtag and promote it on the description of your social media. This will get people to post UGC (user-generated content) and engage their followers with your brand.
–On-Brand language to set the tone for your brand. This lets people know the tone, conversation, style of your page and allows you to catch the eyes of potential followers.
–Utilize all your characters. Listed below are the specific requirements for each platform so you can reference them and bookmark the page.
–Too many emojis is a problem. Tasteful amounts are acceptable but make sure you don’t use more than 3 or 4 unless it is for a specific purpose.
–Don’t be boring. This is your first impression, make it count.
–Putting no description. Don’t be a cool guy, you REALLY should put a description on your account even if it’s a minimalistic one. Random people all the time will find your page and it is an easy way to get them to follow you by telling them what you are all about upfront. Think of a dating profile, would anyone pick you if your account was blank?
–Promote too many things. Have some direction to your social media promotion and stay focused on one or two offers. Anything more will confuse your viewers and might make them not want to click.
Description Restrictions Per Platform:
Instagram: 150 character limit for your description and this is including your CTA. Make sure to leave room for a clear, well crafted, and short CTA.
Facebook: For the Short Description section you are restricted to 155 characters but you can expand more in your About section which has a limit of
LinkedIn: For your company profile, you get a 120 character tagline that displays next to your name and image. You get 2,000 characters on the full About tab which also has other details you can pre-fill.
Twitter: 160 character limit on your Twitter bio so make this count! Short and sweet is better but also remember to put in a CTA and a link to an optimized website.
Pinterest: 160 character limit for the Pinterest bio. Again, make sure to have a CTA and a beautiful profile image.
TikTok: 80 character limit but they allow you to link a Youtube and Instagram directly.
Post Restrictions Per Platform
Instagram: 2,200 characters is the limit for Instagram posts. Even if it is a photo or video they all are the same restrictions. You are also restricted to only 30 hashtags on one post so keep that in mind.
Facebook: 63,206 characters is the limit for Facebook posts so use them up! Experiment with long-form content or keep it short and sweet, you pick!
LinkedIn: For status updates on personal accounts the character limit is 700 but it goes up to 1300 for company pages. For articles, there is no limit but keep it consistent with good blog writing practices.
Twitter: A tweet started off as 140 characters but got upgraded to 280 characters at the end of 2018. 280 characters is a lot so make sure to make it count.
Pinterest: 500 character limit per pin. Pins should also be more visual so make sure to keep it short and sweet.
TikTok: 150 character limit to the text portion of TikTok posts. The video portion is limited to 15 secs and is primarily vertical video so flipped horizontal video will not fly on this platform!
Here are some examples of some great Instagram descriptions and why I like them:
Toyo offers original automobile content and also showcases the use cases of their premium brand of tires. They put up constant video and photo content and are really connected to their community in the comments. Their Instagram especially has grown so much recently because they have been consistent with their content and have really prioritized digital as the main avenue for them.
Red Bull is basically a media company at this point. They make an amazing consistent product and they also create variations of that product but they sell the product through all the media, sponsorships and sports events that they put on. They are involved in every single extreme sport and they have a stacked media library across the web including their Youtube channel.
CTM is a clothing brand that is taking the internet by storm this year. They are constantly releasing new quality clothing, posting daily content and engaging with their audience. They not only pay attention to timely trends but they take advantage of them with products and quickly agile promotion.
Gary has revolutionized the social media industry and has pushed more major brands into the space. He works with brands like Toyota, Chase, Pepsico, Johnson’s, Unilever, Hulu and more. Find more digital marketing tips and advice on his personal social media.
Whole Foods makes groceries fun by giving you fun recipes and content for what to do with the products you just bought at this store. They also use these channels to tell people about deals and sales while also giving them premium content to fill up those channels with media. Whole Foods uses a lot of the social media elements also in-store. Whole Foods is efficient with their content and you might see a social media post as an in-store promotion.
The legendary luxury brand has been on fire digitally this year. The acquired some new talent for their menswear line (Virgil Abloh from Off-White) and have altered their business model to include frequent product releases (almost daily) and constant content. I would highly recommend checking out what they are doing for content creation. LV is crafting their lifestyle online and you can take pointers from it by watching and apply some elements to your business. They are using every single feature and advantage online so you need to figure out how to do the same while also keeping your brand value.
WP makes sunglasses but is in one of the most monopolized industry. Luxottica owns more than half of the whole sunglass manufacturing market and they also own The Sunglasses Hut and other retailers too. To compete in such an industry requires agile, targeted marketing and that’s exactly what William Painter does. Their YouTube video ads are super high quality and really showcase why they provide a different product in every way. They go over materials, why they used them, the built-in features and more. Check them out and see more about their content on their Youtube or social media.
Fashion Nova is one of the originators of influencer marketing and have been incredibly successful sticking to their lane and continuing to dominate. Fashion Nova combines events, influencer marketing and social media content to create an ecommerce giant. You can take some tactics and apply them to your business so watch them and see how they convert people from social media to their website because it is pretty interesting. Fashion Nova’s website is inspired by social media buttons and layouts to give the customer a familiar feel if they just came from Instagram. #SuperSmart
Better marketing please,