The Instagram algorithm

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Worried about your Instagram engagement? Whilst I will always suggest quality over quantity, it can be difficult not to feel deflated when your engagement numbers drop.

Whenever this happens, you'll be highly likely to see posts from influencers and brands taking about how they've been hit by the 'Instagram algorithm' and are suffering as a result.

When it comes to the way platforms display and weighs the importance of content, we will never be handed a blueprint of how this looks but we can make some educated guesses.

Here are a few tips, from personal experience and a range of sources, to help you stay on track with your Instagram marketing.

1. Posting

As a small business it can be difficult to post everyday, but being consistent will help to give signals that your account is a quality one.

Don't start off with posting everyday if this isn't achievable longer-term, work out what time you can dedicate to posting and spread that time out evenly. If it's twice a week on a consistent basis, that is better than posting 10 images a day every 6 weeks.

Plan your content, ensure it is good quality and relevant to your audience.

2. Your Followers

Your social media strategy shouldn't be putting content out there and hoping for the best. The best relationships come from having conversations and engaging with other people's content as well as talking about your own.

When it comes to Instagram, this rule applies. It is believed that Instagram will judge your account based on the relationship you have with your followers - commenting on others posts, tagging others in photos, liking connections.

If people are commenting on your content then make the effort to reply, or as a minimum at least like their comment by clicking the heart.

If you have a Facebook Page, you can connect your Instagram and Facebook account which means you can manage notifications for both accounts directly from Facebook. This means you can reply to comments and DMs on Instagram from Facebook Inbox. A handy way to help speed up admin time.

3. Analytics

Know when your audience is online.

If you're using Instagram for business then hopefully you've switched this to a business account. By doing this, you will be able to get analytical information on your followers including what gets the most engagement and who your audience really are.

Another important bit of information is when your audience are online. Using Instagram Insights will allow you to see when your audience are most active - use this as your time to post.

4. Features

When Instagram releases new features, make use of them.

Features such as Stories are still highly underutilised by companies but can offer a great way to get additional exposure and authenticity to your brand. Try using Stories, IGTV, polls and questions. See what really works for your brand and audience.

5. Tools

As a small business, time can often be hard to find. That where tools can come in to help you.

Being organised and having a strategy to work to is the first step. Once you've got this plan in place, then set aside time to start developing and scripting your content.

Take a look at some third party tools where you can load in your content in advance. Whilst not all content can be planned in advance, a large majority of can be. Especially around campaigns, key dates, launches, sales and national days. Having it scheduled in advance helps to free up your time on a daily basis.

If you're a visual person, apps such as later are great for planning content. Or if you want to look after multiple channels and get more detailed insights, Hootsuite might be more suitable. Both of these apps allow you to plan on both desktop and mobile.

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