Instagram employs a secretive algorithm that determines what is and is not displayed within the feed and on the Explore page. The company offers only a 3-sentence explanation about how they determine what content is displayed on this page, saying, “Posts are selected automatically based on things like the people you follow or the posts you like.
You may also see video channels, which can include posts from a mixture of hand-picked and automatically sourced accounts based on topics we think you’ll enjoy.”
For marketers interested in growing their brand’s reach through the Explore page, this explanation might seem a bit obtuse. This article will review 7 tips Instagram marketers should follow when trying to make it to the Instagram Explore page.
1. GROW THE RIGHT KIND OF FOLLOWERS.
The content that followers within the same network consume impacts what users see in the Explore tab. Instagram alludes to this in their FAQ about this feature when they say “based on things like the people you follow” in relation to how their algorithm determines what is and is not suggested in the Explore tab.
Therefore, if you’re interested in making it to this page, you should first ensure that the right kinds of people are following you. If your Instagram account has a large percentage of followers who are not your target audience, it will be difficult to derive value from a feature on the Explore page, even if your brand makes it there.
In contrast, if your brand already has a sizable following that is primarily comprised of accounts in your target audience, making it to the Explore page can mean attracting many highly relevant new followers. You can identify which posts have the best potential and take notes for future posts by utilizing analytics tools. The best Instagram analytics tool is SocialFox.
2. FOCUS ON CREATING ENGAGING CONTENT.
Instagram Explore is intended to expose users to new content and accounts that Instagram thinks users will find interesting. Explore is essentially designed to help users break out of the content they typically consume, in the hope that the new content will get them to be even more engaged with the platform.
As Instagram’s Director of Product told Wired, “Instagram’s mission includes exposing people to new things, not just new people sharing the same 30 Rock memes.” In order to expose users to new and exciting content, the platform suggests content that similar users engaged with.
That means that Instagram is using engagement as a key criterion for showing users new content on the Explore page. The same Wired article goes on to say: “If you and a friend follow the same 40 accounts and like everything they post, Instagram might start recommending that you follow your friend’s other accounts.”
3. OPTIMIZE CONTENT FOR VISIBILITY.
As much as 70% of the posts shared on Instagram go unseen. Posts that are unseen will have poor engagement, and will therefore never show up on the Instagram Explore page. In order to boost visibility and increase the chances of posting something that makes it to the Explore tab, it is important to optimize post timing.
There are a wide variety of Instagram tools that can help you and your team determine the optimal time to post based on historical data and follower demographics. Armed with this information, it can be easier to create content that gets better engagement, because visibility is improved.
4. EXPERIMENT WITH INSTAGRAM LIVE VIDEO.
It was recently announced that about 250 million people use Instagram Stories every month. To put that in perspective, Snapchat has 166 million monthly active users. Live video has become a popular medium among users of Instagram Stories, and in order to encourage greater adoption, Instagram created a special live video section within the Explore page.
Brands may find it easier to get promoted on the Explore live video page than on the classic Explore page, and it will still give them great exposure.
5. USE HASHTAGS WISELY.
Simply Measured found that Instagram posts with at least one hashtag received over 12% higher engagement than posts without a hashtag. Hashtags provide Instagram users with a quick way to find content of interest to them. Using hashtags well can mean better engagement, and therefore a better shot at making it to the Explore page.
6. BUILD PARTNERSHIPS WITH OTHER BRANDS AND TAG THEM.
Content with higher reach is more likely to have better engagement. In addition to using hashtags and optimizing posting time, creating brand partnerships is another good way to boost visibility. A partnership with a complementary brand in which both companies agree to re-share content can be a win-win. This agreement can help both brands reach new customers, while making it more likely that content will appear on the Explore page.
Usually, companies that have a partnership of this kind will simply tag the other company in a post. Then the social media manager in charge of the account can quickly re-share content to magnify reach.
7. TAG YOUR LOCATION.
Simply Measured also found that posts with a tagged location received 79% higher engagement than posts that did not. Instagram Explore also features a “trending locations” tool, which shows content with high engagement tagged with a specific location.
Tagging content with a location makes your content eligible for the traditional Explore page, and for the trending locations feature as well. It also provides content with an additional layer of information that can be interesting for followers.
Creating content that is promoted on the Explore page can be a great way to quickly grow followers and amplify your brand message. While Instagram’s algorithm that determines what content is shared on the Explore page is kept secret, there are a few principles that can increase the likelihood that content will be prominent on the page.
Ensure that the right kind of people are following your account, and focus on creating content that will engage these followers. Optimize post time, and experiment with video, hashtags and location. These will boost your chances of making it to the Instagram Explore page.