How to Beat the Instagram Algorithm in 2021

The Instagram algorithm. An equation that continues to bewilder most brands (and at times, social media managers). Forever changing and adapting, marketers and content creators are often left playing catch up, having to continually change their strategies in order to beat the Instagram algorithm and come out on top. 

The Head of Instagram (Adam Mosseri) recently said that the platform is no longer a photo sharing app, instead moving towards primarily video content in the not-so-distant future. Mosseri stated that the company is taking inspiration from the success of competitors like TikTok and YouTube.

While this will take time to fully come to fruition, there are certain changes we can make right now to beat the Instagram algorithm through 2021 and way into 2022. Here are our six best tips.

How to beat the Instagram algorithm? Here’s six tips

1. Up the quality of your photography 

It may seem like a no-brainer, but ranking higher in your followers’ feeds goes hand in hand with creating “great content” that encourages users to hit that like button and comment. Ensuring your photography is high-resolution, striking, and on brand is the way forward. 

The exact detail of what constitutes great content vary between different audiences, but take it from us – no one likes fuzzy, nondescript images.

2. Use Stories & stickers 

Although, according to Instagram, Stories make no difference to the algorithm and your ranking in users’ feeds, what it does do is keep you front of mind. This is because Stories are automatically placed at the top of users’ feeds, regardless of where your other content may be ranking. 

In addition, the more engagement Instagram sees any of your content receiving, the higher it prioritises your profile. So how to get great engagement from your Stories?

We recommend using Instagram stickers to get your follower base to interact. The best stickers for driving engagement include the poll sticker, emoji slider, multiple choice sticker and question stickers, but play around with all the available options to see what works best for your brand.

3. Embrace new features 

Instagram has created these new features for a reason, and they will reward you if you use them, and as the Instagram algorithm turns its focus to video, we’d advise creating a complete video strategy to cover all bases, from in-feed videos and IGTVs to Reels.

Reels is the latest feature to be added to the app, and it holds lots of potential for going viral, or at least giving your engagement and following a serious boost. 

Our top three tips for increasing your engagement with Reels are:

  • Keep them between 6 – 15 seconds. 
  • Use trending ‘sounds’, otherwise known as the background music to your video. You can find out what is trending by tapping on the music section when creating a Reel, and clicking ‘see more’ to see what Instagram recommends, or even by checking out videos on the Discover Page on Tik Tok, as trends usually carry across both platforms.
  • Make sure the content is either entertaining, inspiring or educational.

Following these simple tips will not only help you reach a relevant, engaged audience but you may find one of your Reels could go viral! 

4. Use captions 

Yes, Instagram is focused around visuals, but captions are just as important. Make sure yours are as engaging as possible. 

Instagram has confirmed that comments are a key factor when it comes to feed ranking, so the aim is to try and get as many comments as possible. 

A good caption can do just that. 

Whether your caption evokes a feeling, or simply asks your followers a question or their opinion about something relevant, ensuring your captions make a connection with your audience is a must. 

5. Embrace hashtags 

Hashtags may be considered somewhat uncool, but trust us when we say they are important. Adding hashtags to your post is still one of the most effective ways to reach more people on Instagram, which means more “views” (and hopefully more engagement) for the Instagram algorithm to take into account.

Not only this, but the right hashtags will attract the right type of people; those who are actively searching for the content you are creating. This is why it is essential to use hashtags that perfectly describe your content and niche – generic hashtags such as ‘#instagood’ or ‘#love’ will not get you very far. 

Balance your hashtags by using 15-30 that have different usage counts, and are suitable to your niche. For example, you could use two hashtags that have 1m uses, five that have 500,000 uses, five that have 10,000 uses and so on, in order to get a good balance of popular and specific hashtags.

6. Listen to your community 

Your community is key. These are the people who are regularly engaging with your content and keeping your page a success. Our advice is to listen to them.

Find out what content they want, and create it. 

Respond to their comments, and spend time engaging on their posts too – interaction should be a two-way street.
Ultimately, beating the Instagram algorithm is all about showing that you care, whether this means using sharp, inspiring imagery, engaging followers through Stories, making the most of new features, using evocative captions and accurate hashtags, or listening to your community. To be efficient on social, remember that a dedicated strategy is always needed, with each platform offering different ways of boosting engagement. Get in touch with our experts today to book an audit of your channels and learn how to beat any algorithm.