Facebook’s recent algorithm change, which now favors quality content that generates meaningful interactions, sparked the discussion on whether Instagram would also see a hefty update in its formula. Although Instagram has not revealed the secret to its algorithm, we know by now that there have been changes to it in 2018. In fact, Instagram does seem to have adjusted its algorithm to reflect Facebook’s initiative to creating more relevant engagement.   You might have you noticed a sudden drop in the number of likes and comments in your IG posts since the beginning of the year. That’s because only 10% of your audience will see your post when you first publish it. Depending on how well it performs with those 10% right off the bat, it may or not be shown to the remaining 90%. This is directly tied to the app’s goal of spawning a more personalized & relevant experience to its users and explains why some posts do great while others don’t. As users browse and interact with different accounts, Instagram learns their particular interests and begins displaying similar content in both their ‘Home’ and ‘Explore’ feeds. That way, they’ll see more of what is relevant to them and, as a result, can enjoy a more valuable experience.   For any business profile, this presses for a change in strategy: instead of publishing in bulk and promoting each post as an ad to grow exposure among as many accounts as possible, brands should now focus on creating quality posts that resonate with their audience and foster real interactions. That way, your business will attract long-lasting fans, rather than just occasional followers.   With this being said, how can your brand stay present in user’s feeds without solely relying on paid ads? Well, read on:  
  1. Generate Conversation
If IG’s goal is to encourage more meaningful communications, then the trick is to communicate more! As users leave comments on your posts, make sure to reply, and timely. The faster your post gathers engagement, the more it will appear in people’s feeds, and a prompt response to comments will boost your exposure. At the same time, when the user hears back from you, they’re more likely to feel connected to your brand. A strong fan base knows you are reliable and will return in the future.  
  1. Caption It
To generate engagement, you need high-quality content that will spark a reaction in whoever sees it. While content encompasses all aspects of a post – from hashtags to the image itself – the choice of the caption can make a big difference in not just the amount of engagement your post receives, but also in the type of audience who interacts with it. As a brand, your goal is to get the attention of a specific niche who’s more likely to relate to your product or service, and with the right tone, message, and hashtags, you can more effectively reach them. Efficient captions aren’t necessarily short, but they are high-quality. Think a diverse vocabulary, solid grammar, and above all authentic copy. A good caption will ring a bell to whoever reads it and, in turn, inspire more likes and comments.  
  1. New Rules for Hashtags
Hashtags have always worked as a great tool to boost your account’s exposure. The research will reveal the hashtags that are most active in the niche you want to reach, allowing your content to seamlessly be seen. However, in 2018 the rules surrounding hashtags have changed to protect users from spams better. Now, instead of combining 30 different hashtags for each post, IG wants you to be more specific: choose the 5-10 unique hashtags that resonate with your brand, content, and niche the most, and switch them around every time – again, to prevent your page from looking like spam.   This makes perfect sense: Instagram wants to strengthen the value of the interactions between its users, which can only be authentic if they are human. It may not be automated, but if it looks like it, IG will not consider or display your post much.  
  1. Use the Tools:
The fun part about creating new and engaging content each time is that Instagram offers a massive toolset to help you craft posts with dynamism. Features such as hashtag following, location tags, the Explore Page, and even in-app tools like Boomerang for the camera allow you to create new and different types of posts each time. As a result, engagement goes up. On the other hand, the Stories feature has grown to represent an essential chunk of the algorithm. Differently from your feed posts, Stories can more accurately depict your brand’s authenticity and real life. This opens new doors for communication with your audience and lets you share with them in a more fun way.  
  1. One More Time: Stay Human
In a nutshell, Instagram is about people. You’re less likely to interact with a post that sounds, looks and feels like an ad, right? Authentic and somehow humanized posts receive greater attention simply because they are relatable. And IG is now rewarding the accounts that encourage significant interactions between people and brands. For businesses, this can be brilliant since, if done right, it puts you directly in touch with the audience who’s most likely to want or need what you have to offer.     The faster you build engagement, the more IG will promote your post in your follower’s feeds as well through the Explore Page. For that, your post needs to contain a high-quality content, with both the right caption and hashtags that resonate with your audience.
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