If you’re reading this, chances are that your primary goal is to grow on Instagram. The first thing you need in order to be able to do this is exposure. If people don’t know you exist, how would they follow you? Our strategies consist of using constant engagement to go “viral” via the explore page. This is the current number one way to grow on Instagram. Most people believe that going viral is nearly impossible and it happening, is based on complete luck. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With proper knowledge, you can manipulate the algorithm to your favour and consistently expose your content far beyond the reach of your follower base. This is exactly what you are going to learn to do today. We’re going to define the term “viral” and tell you how the algorithm really works.
THE NOTORIOUS INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM
It’s really important that you get a foundation of understanding here because, at the end of the day, this knowledge is what is going to help you get a massive edge on your Instagram marketing strategy. To go viral on Instagram, the primary element that the algorithm searches for is engagement. The more people engaging with your post, the more people your post will reach. Many of you know this, but don’t know where this extra reach comes from. When someone engages with your post, there is a chance that the followers of that account will be shown with your content on the explore page. This is the entire idea behind using engagement groups such as DM Groups or by spending your time to engage, like, comment on other peoples post. In order to get on the explore page, Instagram’s algorithm must deem your content, be it a picture or a video, of high value. The value comes from how quick and how much engagement a post gets. If you could put engagement into a formula, you could regard it as ENGAGEMENT = Likes + Comments + Saves + Profile Views. These are the main determinants of a post hitting explore. However, that is not all. It also depends on how quick you get engagement. Hence, posting when your follower base is most active is a good strategy. Using this knowledge and combining it with engagement groups is enough to achieve “above average” results, but the real goal is to manipulate these ideas into reaching massive audiences.
You may be wondering whether quick engagement is key. It is to a certain extent but there are posts that can be completely inactive for a certain time but can be picked hours later by the algorithm and hit millions of impressions. There is no way to accurately predict this. For your assurance, we have tested engagement groups on numerous occasions in order to provide you with the best combination and a set time that will help maximize the performance of your post. Posting your content at selective times is key to boost the engagement on your post. Bear in mind we seek to have as much engagement within the first few minutes of your post. However, the question remains as to what is the perfect time? There is no perfect time for everyone. It varies and it’s quite simple to find the optimal time for you to post. In order to figure this out, you simply go to your insights and analyse the behaviour of your audience. You need to post when your follower base is most active in order to help your post land on the explore page. Many users will post at peak times such as 2 pm, 5 pm, & 8 pm EST. We suggest posting outside these hours for multiple reasons. The first one is that when you post at a peak time, your likes will come in about 5-10 minutes slower than usual. The second reason is that when you post at these times, there is the most amount of competition on the explore page. We suggest posting when there is the least competition so that you have a higher chance to go viral. The one really important trick is to never post at the 1-hour mark. What we mean by this is that if you plan to post at 4 PM, we suggest you do it at 3:40 or 4:20 PM instead. This may not seem significant, but even the smallest advantage can make the difference between 5k and 500k impressions.
There are several factors that depend on going viral, however, content is key! You may find that engagement groups did not work on a certain post but it did on another. Why is that? That is because the content that went viral had something called “viral potential”. How does one decide that? Well, you don’t, the algorithm does. The goal with all content is for it to be engaging and interesting in some way. Selfies, for example, are terrible to use with engagement groups. They aren’t engaging, they can’t start conversations and most of the time have very little chance of hitting explore unless you’re a celebrity. There are a number of things one may do to curate viral content. For starters, you can watch your explore page to find content that has a high potential of going viral. Anything seen on the explore page with a significant amount of likes vs followers is a great indication of viral content. On the other hand, you may opt to create your own content. This, of course, is quite a bit harder to do, but the original content that lands on explore can gain many more followers than content that was used before. There is also a third option many people choose which is editing content. Some examples include side by side photos, comparisons and collages. Another thing you can do whilst editing your content is adding a red circle around the picture. This can either go really well or really bad! There are certain things to keep in mind with this. No one likes annoying clickbait pictures but if you deem something on your picture to be of value, feel free to create the red circle around it to attract an audience on the explore page. Just don’t overuse this method or your followers will likely be annoyed by it. The easiest thing that many people do is repost viral content from their explore page. So how does this work? To make things simple, let us choose a niche.
Fitness, for instance. Next step would be to carry out research and find accounts that go viral with fitness related content. You may repost their content on your page, whilst giving credits to the rightful owners. This is the easiest of all options. Does this mean that it is the best option? That depends on several factors such as the age of the content, the usage of the content and its viral potential. Allow us to explain this in depth. There is certain content you may see on your explore page almost all of the time. This could be one of those funny videos that everyone knows about. This kind of content is gold and can be reposted over and over again and will not die out. However, there is certain content that has been overused to a point that it becomes oversaturated and it will not go viral anymore. So how do you tell which one is which? Well, no more growth hacks for this point, unfortunately. This one just boils down to experience within your niche. This is something you will learn over time by watching your explore feed. You may be wondering at this point about the best way to find content. Whether to edit content or create it from scratch or to repost content. Well, why not try it all out? When editing or reposting content, try to find “fresh” content. “Fresh content” refers to content that has recently been on the explore page and hasn’t been on it for a long time! You may find content like this on smaller pages with, let’s say 1,000 followers, but a picture with over 10,000 likes. If this content has gone viral for them recently, there is a very high chance that it would do well for you too! However, ensure that you keep it related to your niche and always give credit in your captions.
Captions are one of the most important aspects of your post. They help engage your audience and give you a place to tell your story. There are a number of things you can do with your caption to increase your chances of landing on the explore page and going viral. The first thing you need to consider is having multiple CTAs in your caption. A CTA is “call to action”. This can be a number of things such as asking people to follow you, engage with your post or even purchase your product. We suggest creating a template for your captions that you can paste every time you post. This makes your profile look clean, helps drive engagement and gives your account an opportunity to stand out. A typical template for a caption looks like this:
<insert caption here>
💬 Tag a friend – Like – Save
👉 follow @username
📸 credit rightful photographer @username
As you can see, the first line has a 3 part CTA. It prompts viewers to tag, like and save. In the second line we have a 4th CTA asking viewers to follow. Above the template is where your real caption goes. Here we suggest you ask questions, give options to choose from or say something that will push a viewer to engage with your post. Some examples: If you post a photo of beautiful scenery or a great vacation spot, you would ask a question like “Who would you go with?” Let’s say you posted a photo collage of 2 different outfits side by side. Here you can say something like “left or right?” Using captions in a strategic way is one of the best ways to drive engagement on a post. We really urge you to put a lot of time and focus on creating captivating captions. Now let’s move onto our next chapter about engagement groups and DM likes.
ENGAGEMENT GROUPS / DM LIKES
Although we provide a good service on growing your Instagram, this alone isn’t enough to optimize your chances of hitting explore. For smaller accounts, we suggest joining engagement groups. As we mentioned in our previous section, ALL types of engagement are needed to successfully land on the explore page. Use free engagement groups to get comments on your post. There are many communities on facebook with 1,000’s of members for creating and joining various groups. You can join the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smartpods/ These are some great options for small accounts but once you grow over 10k followers, we suggest you stop using these groups altogether and move onto 1 on 1 DM likes. DM likes work similar to groups, but they are done with a single account via direct message on Instagram. When you post, you message several accounts privately and say something like “L/C Recent @username – Always returning!” There are several advantages to using DM likes instead of engagement groups. The first and most obvious one is that you get to control which accounts are engaging with your post. This means you can select 10-20 accounts which are within your follower range and niche, and get exactly what you want in return for engaging with them. It also allows you to avoid engagement from low-quality accounts or those who don’t return engagement. Receiving comments from large accounts has a similar effect as engagement pods. This is one of the biggest advantages to using DM likes. As you grow you will start doing DMs with larger accounts which will continuously help you increase your chances to reach explore.
COMMON MISTAKES & BAD HABITS
So far you have learned how to find viral content, design captions, and use engagement pods. However, there is a lot more to know about growing on Instagram. So far we have mentioned things to help land on the explore and gain followers, but of course, there are actions that can harm your account as well. There are many accounts getting damaged owing to certain actions and outdated growth strategies. The very first thing you need to avoid is automation. Have you heard of those services where they offer to make your account follow/unfollow other accounts or to sell you “real followers” or “real engagement”? There is no way of selling a real follower. A real follower is active and engaged and they cannot be purchased from a website. They follow you either via hashtags, explore or 3rd party sources but only out of pure interest in what you have to offer. Many people buy fake likes to keep their account’s value up. Yes, it may help impress your friends, however, you are damaging your account by doing this. Instagram’s algorithm is smart and knows what you are doing. It is 2018 now, after all! Instagram is smarter than you think. Once it views your account getting likes from an external source with spam accounts, it will flag your account and put it in the “spam” category. The same thing will happen with automating your account to do things such as follow/unfollow. You will be limited and won’t be able to gain any impressions from the explore page or via hashtags. It’s like being completely invisible. Another bad thing to do in 2018 is to abuse hashtags. Yes, we are aware that you have been told to use 20-30 hashtags on your posts. You may have realised that you are not ranking on hashtags anymore. That is because the algorithm for hashtags has drastically changed. Despite having more likes than the ones on top posts for hashtags, you may not rank. It does not mean that you are shadowbanned but it’s just the fact that hashtags do not work as efficiently as before. Currently, hashtags are used to collect users who use automation (as many bots target hashtags) and shadowban them. It would be a big disappointment if your account is considered a bot or a fake account. This is why we recommend using less than 30 hashtags. Why risk a shadowban for a few hundred extra impressions when using engagement groups can render you millions of impressions weekly?
We hope that this ebook has given you some insight and knowledge on how to use engagement to grow on Instagram. Every couple of months we will release new strategies and provide you with any information we have about changes to the Instagram algorithm. Our goal is to help as many people as possible achieve success on Instagram. If you implement the strategies: use engagement, post amazing content, take the time to really perfect your captions, and are consistent with your posting, you will see results. If you are interested in using our service, feel free to reach out to us on live chat or email if you have any questions. We have an amazing support team ready to help with anything you need.