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How To Guide - Understanding Instagram for better engagement.

Instagram is a platform that most of you are using regularly and is certainly a great 'catch all' space that covers most types of user using most types of topics or media.

However, there are lots of posts out there from little businesses who feel they're struggling with engagement or 'being seen' by audiences. Many assume it's a dodgy algorithm that's thwarting their efforts.

But, there are some simple and easy ideas that might just help you improve your Instagram experience as a business owner and it starts with understanding what Instagram is looking for and how it 'ranks' content to please its audience. Check out Instagram's CEO account @Mosseri who regularly shares his plans, how they ranks and key factors as Insta evolves.

How does Instagram ranking work?

It's important to note that Instagram treats different content types slightly differently. Posts and stories are treated very similarly but reels are 'delivered' to the audience in a slightly different way. Here are the 3 main priorities for Instagram but with a note about the differences for each content type.

The relationship between an account and a user

Instagram is interested in if they follow each other, do they comments on each other's accounts or even message each other. This measure of the level of connection between accounts is really important especially for posts and stories but...reels are more about exposing users to new content so Instagram is keen to share your account reels with new audiences who may not have seen what you do yet.


Instagram wants to know if a user is interested in the type of content being shared by an account. Instagram notices what kind of content users engage with most including formats they prefer and will show them more of that.


Instagram is interested in trend and timing here. Is the content being shared part of a movement, trend or season and is it shared at timely moments of the day or week.

There are other, more secondary factors to consider when thinking about how Insta ranks content for users and it's much more about how the user interacts with Instagram. How often a user opens the Instagram app and how long they spend there means that Instagram may show them the most relevant content first and make it more tricky for accounts to reach those types of user. Instagram is also interested in how many accounts a user follows. If it's a lot, then an account might struggle to fight for space on that user's feed. can we use this information to try and get more engagement on Instagram?

  1. Instagram photos and videos are equally shared (apparently) so rather than being swayed about what to use, think carefully about what your specific audience loves and do more of that. You want your account to be loved and relevant so play to your strengths here.

  2. Harness the power of reels when you're seeking new audiences. Instagram are keen to show new content to new audiences through reels and this might be a good bet to grow your followers provided that your content is engaging and ticks some of the relevancy mentioned above....e.g. is it seasonal, using a hot topic or niche and much loved by audiences?

  3. Original content does better so try to avoid sharing content onto your feed. If there's stuff you want to share, then why not share to your stories instead.

  4. Get your timing right. There are lots of grids on Google advising when the best times for sharing are but I've found them to be not that helpful. Get to know your audience to know when the best time to post is. Play with different options until you hit the sweet spot.

  5. Guide your audiences to engage.Sometimes we have to be specific! for example, if you're sharing a series of interesting stories in a day then let people know that they have to head there. Perhaps you point them in the direction of stories to get the latest or more in depth updates about your post. Ask questions that require answers in comments or to tag others. Make this authentic and not spammy but fun and relevant.

  6. Stay engaged and interested. If you've asked for engagement or you're posting regularly, then you need to stay in the conversation. Answers DMs, reply to comments and be part of the chat so that Instagram understands the relationship you have with other users.

  7. Stories matters a lot so if you're seeking connections with other users on Instagram, then browse stories, engage with them and say hello. Again, this helps Instagram understand the relationship between you and other users.

  8. Tag your location in your posts....a really great way to give Instagram important information about your business so that they can find the right audience to share it with e.g. those in that location.

  9. Hashtags still play such an important role. Rather like geotags, they help your content get infant of interested users. Use the search option in the Insta app to help you understand which hashtags will work for you best. Try a mix of super popular hashtags and more niche ones to give you the best chance of 'finding' the right users.

  10. Frequency and consistency matter a lot! Remember what we said earlier about how Instagram is interested in how you're in relationship with other users? The 'ranking' wants to know that you're in regular contact, and regularly sharing good content. It wants to know that you don't cool off and warm up but are consistently hanging out and sharing content. Use Meta suite or in app scheduling to help you if you're overwhelmed with other business tasks.

  11. Get to know fellow Simply Club folks! Why not start by engaging and supporting the accounts of your fellow #teamsimply members? Seek them out (use the Member Hub for a quick search of members) and give them a follow and use the hashtag #teamsimply in your comments with them or if you share their content to your story.


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