Instagram has changed a lot over the past year. This outline will go over the knowledge you need for Instagram in 2018—the strategies, tactics, tips and growth hacks that can be implemented to grow accounts faster than ever.
For best results, you’ll want to start using these growth hacks immediately. This is the stuff that’s working right now on Instagram, but in another year it could be a totally different story.
There are various tactics you can use to see success on Instagram in 2018.
- Get in the Algorithm & On The Explore Page
- How You Should Think About Hashtags in 2018
- Don’t Forget To Be Consistent
- There is no “Best Time” to post on Instagram
- Create Great Viral IG Content
- Tag Hashtags/Locations in Stories and Get Twice the Views
- Targeted Follow/Unfollow
- Grow with Powerlikes
- Telegram Engagement Pods
- Why Giveaway Loops Are the Only Instagram Contests that Matter in 2018
Get in the Algorithm & On The Explore Page
In April 2016, Instagram unveiled the now famous algorithmic feed. Previously posts were shown in reverse chronological order. Now, like Facebook’s feed, Instagram has a really complex algorithm to determine what it shows you. But how do you get on top?
Instagram (and their parent company Facebook) makes money selling ads. Businesses advertise on Instagram (and Facebook) because people spend time there. The more time people spend, the more ads Instagram/Facebook can sell. More time = more advertising inventory.
The algorithm is designed to maximize IG users spend in the app.
Instagram also releases new product features (think Stories or Gallery Posts) to keep users engaged. Often it prioritizes new features via the algorithm to encourage adoption.
These are the known factors that influence the IG algorithm.
- Engagement: # likes, comments, video views, saves, shares via DM, etc.
- Relevancy: the genres of content you like and interact with most.
- Relationships: your BFFs, and anyone else you interact with most.
- Timeliness: How recent the post is.
- Content-Type: Pics, Gallery Posts, Videos (which always do better)
It’s 2018, and you should think about the Instagram Explore Page – which is the golden ticket to growth hacking Instagram in 2018.
Instagram’s Explore page evolved from the Popular page, which displayed the most-liked content at the time of your visit. The issue with the popular page was that it failed to cater to specific users’ interests. Now, with the Explore page, the content presented is different for each user.
Instagram’s Explore Page comprises of posts liked by people whose posts you’ve liked, posts from accounts similar to those that you follow, and posts with high engagement. In this way, Explore selects posts to show you, without being hemmed in by who you follow and what you claim to like.
By monitoring how you interact with Instagram, it is able to utilize its algorithm to select content that syncs up with how you use the app.
If you want to get your post on users on the Explore pages, you’re going to have to do something to stand out and GO VIRAL…and the best way to do that begins with a proper strategy. The following tactics can assist in this goal.
How You Should Think About Hashtags in 2018
The hashtag can seem like a necessary evil…some well thoughtout tags you pop at the end of a post. But going into the new year the 10/10/10 hashtag strategy is what’s working really, really well right now.
Your goal with hashtags used to be to reach the top posts section when people search that hashtag. So your new goal with hashtags is to reach the explore page. That’s how you bring in hundreds, if not thousands of new likes and followers from a single post.
To maximize your chance of hitting the explore page using hashtags consider the 10/10/10 Hashtag Strategy…
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, so use all 30. Choose:
- 10 Smaller Hashtags (10,000 to 50,000 total posts)
- 10 Mid-size Hashtags (50,000 to 200,000 total posts)
- 10 Large Hashtags (200,000 – 2,000,000 total posts)
When using this strategy, you’ll still need to do good hashtag research. The right hashtags can make or break your chances of going viral.
These are the three best ways to research hashtags in 2018:
- Hashtag research tools – with apps like TINT or RiteTag
- Find influencers in your niche that have hit the explore page and take inspiration from their hashtags.
- Find one hashtag you like, search for it on Insta, then check out the “related hashtags” underneath.
After you’ve done your research, save a few different lists of 30 hashtags as notes so you can keep them fresh.
Don’t Forget To Be Consistent
So Instagram’s algorithm is designed to get people to use the app, stay a long time, and return to it often. So does it reward users who post consistently with increased engagement? But of course. Instagram rewards consistently like no tomorrow. Accounts that grow the fastest almost always post once a day. If you don’t post for a few days, you’re compromising your account’s potential for organic growth. Sometimes not posting for a few days can even stop growth for weeks, so if there’s one thing to ensure you do to guarantee success with Instagram, it’s to be as consistent as possible.
There is no “Best Time” to post on Instagram
There is no “right time” to post in Instagram. In fact, Instagram hasn’t had a chronological feed since 2016. So timing is less important than ever. A recent IG algorithm change you may or may not have noticed has IG posts a few days old frequently appearing on people’s feeds. It doesn’t matter what hour those were posted; IG shows them to you because they know you’ll engage with them.
Viral content is viral content. And if your content is good, then it’s gonna get seen no matter what.
Timing does still matter a little. It’s just like the 19th most important thing you should be thinking about.
Instagram’s algorithm that determines how engaging a post is, takes time into account. A post that gets 100 likes in the first 10 minutes will have a better shot at trending, the explore page, etc. than a post that gets 100 likes in 2 hours.
So you should still try to post when the maximum number of followers are on the platform. To figure this out, check your analytics (if you have a business page). More often than not though you’ll find that your followers are on Instagram pretty much all the time, and there’s not that much of a difference between 7 am and 10 pm.
Create Great Viral IG Content
One of the keys to growth is creating content that gets people to react, to engage, to tag their friends, or save it to a collection.
Ok… so how do you create that kind of content?
Spend time looking at the accounts you know have great interaction, and are doing well. Spend time on the explore page. Work. Study. Learn. Test. Analyze. Repeat.
Create content you know people are looking for, by the way that is always changing, so it is about learning and adapting.
Tag Hashtags/Locations in Stories and Get Twice the Views
It is still really easy to make it on any given location’s Story in 2018.
Stories let you tag locations and hashtags. Use them!
When you’re tagging locations, you can tag a specific location, like “Mimi’s Tacos” and you will still have a chance at being included in the story of larger encompassing area locations — like “Pacific Beach” or “San Diego”.
Getting featured in a location story will get your Story more views. Why?
Content. Content. Content.
If you want this growth hack to work well, you’re going to really need to up your story game. Your Story has to be exceptional, surprising, and stand out. Turn that camera around and talk directly into it. Or use your story to tease your latest post, or even giveaway to drive people to your main profile.
Follow/unfollow is a controversial growth strategy, but you can’t deny its effectiveness. Find large influencers who already in your niche, go into their followers list and follow around 100 of their followers. Following them sends a notification to them. They go to your page, and if you’re lucky, they might follow you back.
The idea is that if they’ve already followed large influencer A (who has similar content to you) they’ll be interested in yours too, and follow you back. Wait 1 day, then unfollow the 100 people that you followed yesterday, and follow another 100.
If you do this you will consistently get 10-25 new Instagram followers per day!
Grow with Powerlikes
While “fake likes” have been around forever in the Instagram growth hacking world, powerlikes are relatively new.
Powerlikes are likes from large, influential accounts (usually with at least 20k followers) in the first few minutes after a post goes live. The idea is to game the algorithm and maximize the posts chance at getting on the explore page, where it will hopefully get more organic engagement.
The difference with powerlikes from fake likes is that they affect the relevancy part of IG’s algorithm equation. And this is HUGE for hitting the explore page. So by getting likes from accounts with tons of followers, you maximize your chance of hitting the explore page, especially for their most engaged followers.
FYI, If you’re using powerlikes or thinking about it one takeaway from this is to make sure you are rotating the accounts you’re getting the powerlikes from every few months. It is likely that your photos show up on Explore for the same people over and over again if the same accounts like your photos every time.
Telegram Engagement Pods
Instagram Pods started after the dreaded switch to the algorithmic feed in 2016. Instagram influencers banded together in “pods” which meant they agreed to like every single photo anyone else in the pod listed. But Instagram caught onto that one pretty quick and they were shut down.
Now the place to be for IG pods is Telegram, a messenger app. It is popular for a few reasons. Not only are messages encrypted, but also Telegram’s code is open source and the whole thing is very programmable. What that means is that people have found a way to automate certain parts of the actual management of IG pods.
The rules of engagement are posted as a pinned message at the top which is usually:
- Comment + Like on the links in the 10 messages above you.
- All comments must be high quality, related to a caption, and 3+ words.
- Drop a link to your latest IG post as a message
- Wait for the likes/comments to roll in!
Sounds great, right? So far, so good…
Giveaway Loops Are the Only Instagram Contests that Matter in 2018
If you’ve spent any time on IG this year stalking your favorite travel/fashion/beauty blogger, chances are you’ve seen a Giveaway Loop (and maybe even participated in one).
More than just a regular giveaway, giveaway loops are a really great, viral way to partner with other accounts in your niche and get a lot of followers quickly for cheap.
How do they work? Basically to enter, participants have to do a bunch of stuff as in like, comment share, etc., then go to the next influencer and repeat the steps. When they get to the next influencers page they will be asked to go to another influencers page, etc. etc. This could happen 20 or more times!
The beauty of this for influencers is that they can partner with other folks in their niche and attract their followers. Moreover, they can split the actual cost of the prize between all of the giveaway participants.
If you have a small budget to play with and are in a niche that is popular for influencers (think beauty, fashion, puppies, etc.) then you should consider trying a giveaway.
If you do this right you can get thousands of followers for pennies on the dollar.
Looking to grow your Instagram in 2018, try out some of the above tactics, tips, measure, adjust repeat. Watch the followers grow!