Instagram is a powerful tool for brands to reach audiences globally, but with millions of posts made every day, how do you stand out?
Regular posting is key, but it takes more than just frequency to get your content seen by the maximum number of users.
The science behind maximising your reach on Instagram can be complex, but with the right strategy, you can effectively connect with your target audience and grow your brand.
Instagram has become a dominant platform for businesses to reach and engage with their target audience.
With over 1 billion active monthly users, the competition to get noticed can be fierce. But don’t worry, with the right tactics, you can increase your reach and get your content in front of more eyes.
In this blog, we will explore 9 effective ways to boost your Instagram reach, from optimising your profile to using hashtags and collaborations.
Whether you’re a small business or a larger corporation, these tips will help you achieve better visibility and growth on the platform. Stay ahead of the game and start increasing your Instagram reach today!
The Instagram Algorithm
The Instagram reach of your posts is 100% dependent on the algorithm, so it’s important that you know how it works.
The Instagram algorithm dictates where on the newsfeed your posts will appear. If you publish something that it doesn’t like, hardly anyone will see it.
There are a whole host of signals that affect the algorithm’s rank placement, but there are 3 that you should focus on:
- Engagement: This denotes how many people have interacted with your post by saving, commenting, sharing and liking. The higher your engagement, the higher you’ll rank and the more chance you’ll have of appearing on the explore page.
- Speed of engagement: Having high engagement on your posts is the first sign of success, but if you receive that engagement in double-quick time, you’ll rank even higher and get more exposure.
- Recency: Newer posts tend to rank higher than old ones.
There are other factors that appeal to the Instagram algorithm, including ‘time users spend viewing your posts’, ‘how often users engage with your posts’ and ‘location if tagged’. As we work through the tactics, I’ll explain these in more detail…
…but for now, really think about how you can prime your posts for the top three (I’ve listed above).
BTW: If you want to learn more about the Instagram Algorithm, check out our guide!
Let’s get knee-deep in Instagram reach boosting tactics:
Engagement Boosting Posts
If Instagram’s algorithm prefers posts that have high levels of engagement, it’s your job to do everything you can to get it!
I have seen so many brands on Insta who post (near enough) the same thing over and over again. This might appeal to users initially, but after a while, they become disinterested in the same post type and this causes engagement levels to drop.
There are a number of post tactics you can use that will instantly boost your engagement rate. I’ll list a couple in just a moment, but before that, you need to understand how important variety is.
When I say ‘variety’, I’m not suggesting that you regularly switch your posting strategy.
Variety should come in the form of your post type, whether that be a product post, behind the scenes shot, location photos or videos.
Yes, you’ll find winning tactics that your posting strategy should definitely lean towards, but always remember to keep variety in mind.
Ok, that’s enough of a lecture, here are a couple of post types that generate tons of engagement:
- Contests: Brands often run contests on Insta and as an entry requirement, users must comment, like and share the post. This post type asks users to engage and if you pick a good contest, you’re guaranteed a high engagement rate.
- Questions/choices: Asking users a question in your post prompts followers to respond with their answer in the comments. You can also use split images of two choices and ask for your followers’ opinion.
The great thing is that once a user has spent a long time engaging with one of these posts, your next post is likely to rank high on their newsfeed (because the Instagram algorithm thinks they like your stuff).
Before you start posting contests and questions every day, remember the importance of variety. Use these post types when you want to give your engagement levels a boost. Don’t overuse contests or questions, Instagram success can’t be built on them alone (and they will annoy your audience eventually).
Time of Day
As I mentioned earlier, speed of engagement and recency are two very important ranking signals…
…the best way to optimise your posts for these factors is to post at the right time of day.
Contrary to many brand’s beliefs, the best time to post is not when you find time to hit the publish button.
You must focus your post publishing time around your audience. Instead of posting only when you want to, you should post when your target audience are most likely to be online (and ready to engage).
There are a number of ways of doing this. The first thing to consider is how well you know your target audience. Whenever we work with a client (or market ourselves), our marketing efforts begin by creating a picture of our ideal customer.
This ‘ideal customer’ isn’t made of broad demographics (e.g. 20-30 years old), every single characteristic is definitive. It’s the person that our clients really want to work with (as their customers) and by building a very specific avatar of them, we are able to target them much more effectively.
When you have an understanding of your target audience, it’s time to test, analyse and optimise. This means honing in on 3-5 times of day to publish. Spread your test over a few weeks, varying your posting time each day of the week.
BTW: The day of the week will also make a huge difference to your Instagram reach, so make sure you test different times for each day!
After you’ve spent some time testing, go into Instagram Insights and analyse the reach of your posts. There should be at least a couple that stands above the rest.
If you’re unsure, start at 3pm, 6pm and 9pm on weekdays.
Use these as a ballpark and continue to test around them until you find your optimum times.
Video is the internet’s fastest-growing content medium and its popularity continues to soar year after year.
Instagram reels force users to spend more time looking at your post. For example, if you see a beautiful photo, you might spend 5 seconds taking it in, but if you’re faced with a video that catches your attention, you might spend 15-60 seconds looking at it.
Instagram want more people to spend longer on their app – it makes their network more and allows them to show more ads and therefore make money – which is why Instagram show reeels to more people.
Another reason that reels are a great way to grow your Instagram reach is because they are easily discoverable. Instagram prioritises Reels in their algorithm, promoting them to the top of users’ feeds and the Discover page, where users can explore new content.
This gives businesses a prime opportunity to showcase their brand and reach a wider audience. Additionally, using trending music, hashtags, and filters can help increase the visibility of your Reels and attract more engagement. So, incorporating Reels into your content strategy is a smart move if you want to increase your reach on Instagram.
Follow these tips from Instagram to increase your Instagram post reach with reels:
The longer you can keep people looking at your content and therefore on the Instagram network, the more the Insta algorithm will like you! If it’s good for them, they’ll show it to more people.
This tactic is so ridiculously simple that I won’t dwell on it too long, but if you’re hoping to increase your post reach, this will definitely achieve it.
When you post something on Instagram, you should also publish that same image/video on your other social networks.
Instagram allows you to automatically do this on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Cross-posting on Instagram and Facebook is a commonly used tactic.
I strongly recommend cross-posting your very best content, but don’t do it for everything.
If you cross-post everything, your social feeds will all look the same and you’ll find that some followers won’t join your audience on Insta because they already follow you elsewhere (and receive the exact same content!).
Content tagged with hashtags reaches more people than those without. Simple.
Instagram allow up to 30 hashtags per post. It’s important that you use as many as you possibly can (at least 10), focussing on a mix of three types of hashtags:
- The most popular hashtags in your niche: Use a free tool like all-hashtag.com to discover the top hashtags in your industry. These have the highest number of followers, reach and views, but are highly competitive.
- Relevant trending hashtags: Trending hashtags are short-lived but they receive high levels of engagement, views and will definitely increase your Instagram reach. Use the ‘live’ section to find the hottest hashtags of the moment.
- Branded hashtags: These are tags that include your brand, product or content name. When you first start posting with branded hashtags they will have little to no effect on your reach, but as you grow, develop a community and encourage your followers to contribute, they can help build an intensely loyal tribe of die-hard followers.
Hashtagged posts are discoverable in Instagram’s ‘explore’ and ‘search’ features, so it’s crucial that you use them on all of your posts, including your stories (more on these soon!).
To place a hashtag in your stories, simply add text to your image and hashtag it as you normally would. This will increase your chances of being seen by more people, than just placing hashtags only on your posts.
Learn more with our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags.
User Generated Content
User-generated content refers to posts that are created by other people (usually your followers), and are published on your profile, or under your branded hashtags.
They do amazing things for your following, Instagram reach and audience connection.
By curating and posting the best of your followers’ content, you immediately increase your chances of engagement, particularly the invaluable ‘share count’.
When you post somebody else’s content on your brand’s page, more often than not, that user tags, shares and likes the post, and their followers will do the same. This can be the beginnings of a snowball effect.
As well as this, it creates strong bonds with your following, proving trust, relatability and connection. It shows you as a brand who actually care about their audience and this can have powerful effects on your reach and following count.
The more user generated content you post, the more followers will try to contribute to your page, effectively increasing your brand’s content without you even posting or creating anything new!
But be careful when using this tactic. Ensure that every post you curate is high-quality and relevant to your page. If you already have a branded hashtag that is regularly used by others, pick out the best content from here.
Instagram is owned by Facebook (the kings of social media advertising) and they’ve ploughed a ton of their knowledge into the photo-sharing app.
An Instagram ad places your post in the newsfeed of people who are not part of your following, instantly increasing the reach of your post. This boost in impressions will generate more engagement and also boost the organic reach of your post and your chances of appearing in the ‘explore’ page.
There are two ways of running an Instagram ad:
- Hitting the ‘Promote’ button that appears beside the ‘view insights’ button underneath your post.
- Using Facebook Business Manager and editing the placements of your boosted content.
Either option will increase your Instagram reach, but if you use Facebook Business Manager you can be much more targeted with your Instagram ad’s audience reach.
If you would like to put some money behind a post to increase your exposure, I’d recommend using the insights tab in your Instagram Business account and choosing the post with the highest engagement in the last 7 days.
500m+ accounts use Instagram Stories every day…
…are you? And if you aren’t, why not?
Stories appear at the top of the newsfeed and are one of the hottest features on Instagram. They will reach a large percentage of your Instagram audience and can be used to keep your audience engaged with your brand.
Stories disappear after 24 hours, but they can be saved and pinned to your profile. A great example of this is NatGeo, who use their pinned stories as mini-episodes. These provide users with a great example of story content. If you’ve got great Instagram stories, do the same!
As well as engaging your audience and staying fresh in their mind, you can place a hashtag on your story, which, if you’re lucky, could increase your reach.
A huge part of increasing your Instagram reach is nurturing your existing audience, stories are an amazing way of doing this! If you’d like to post more Instagram stories but are lacking in ideas, check out 13 Instagram Story Ideas for Businesses (That Will Grow Your Following).
Instagram collaborations have become an essential part of a comprehensive social media strategy for businesses looking to expand their reach and grow their brand on the platform.
Collaborating with other brands, influencers, or content creators can provide a number of benefits that can help boost your reach and engagement on Instagram.
First and foremost, collaborations expose your brand to new audiences. When you work with other brands or influencers, you can tap into their existing following, giving you access to a new pool of potential customers or followers – increasing your Instagram reach!
Collaborations also help build brand awareness and credibility. When you partner with well-established and reputable brands or influencers, it sends a positive message to your own followers, and can help establish your brand as a leader in your industry.
Collaborations can also help you create more visually appealing and engaging content. Working with other brands or influencers can inspire new ideas and help you create content that is more relevant and appealing to your target audience.
Those are my top tips for boosting your Instagram reach.
As the social network grows, competition continues to soar and the best way to get ahead of everyone else is to really understand the platform and how it works.
When you fully understand what the Instagram algorithm prefers to rank on the newsfeed, you’ll be able to create an Instagram posting strategy that plays into its hands.
Look at your current profile, posts and the size of your following, have you been doing everything you can to nurture your audience? What tips can you use to boost your Instagram reach?
Test, analyse, optimise. And don’t stop!
Everything Josh writes is worth reading. Destined to be one of the World’s Social Media Guru’s. Clean, accurate and always spot on.
Keep up the excellent work.
Thank you Rae!!!
Sorry about the slow reply, I’ve been on holiday. The team told me about the lovely message though.
Always a pleasure to hear from you.
Very Informative article. You can also Find, analyze, engage and grow your audience through ZeInsta. It is a very helpful Instagram Marketing and Content Planning Solution site.
Love your guides Josh!
Here’s one more thing: Carousel posts. These are taking off right now! And you will soon see many more popping up because they work really well.
Instagram allows 10 max pics for your carousel – use all, with a hook on the first slide and meat in the slides 2-9 with 9 being the most valuable. Slide 10 use for CTA of your choosing and or ask a question or somehow encourage engagement.
Test – test -test what works for you.
In general, use little text and amazing visuals, let your creativity run with it.
Users stay longer on your content = IG loves > Magic.
Bonus – use the same slide deck on LinkedIn (save as PDF and upload as Document).
Hey Alie, thanks for your comment!
Yes, I’ve seen a lot of slide-deck-style carousels recently, and I agree that they’re doing really well. Anything that allows a creator to add more value to their content will always help their social presence- 10 images are (almost) always better than 1.
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I found the article Awesome and informative article. Interesting things that you always shared with us. Just continue and always write this kind of article. Thanks
Thanks so much for this Josh – I definitely need to try cross-posting a lot more.
Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!
I need to try a few of these – Instagram are reducing my reach…
Instagram are a business and will try to reduce reach so you’re forced to run ads from time to time. Good luck Arthur.
Nice post. I’m impressed! I need more Instagram followers, so I will try this.
Thanks Leslie and good luck!
Thank you for this! Instagram are making it more difficult for me to reach my audience. I will try to be more precise with my time of day!
Good luck Noah!
Nicely done & written!
It’s great to read an educational write-up of some real value to me, as an Instagram addict.
I will try all 9 of these Instagram tactics out|
Continue the great work!
Thanks Adena, good luck on Instagram!
Valuable Instagram advice.
Thanks for commenting Luciana.
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Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much.
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As the saying goes, within the professionals mind there arent many choices, but for someone possessing a beginners mind, everything is wide open.
I always thought that Instagram algorithm is very complex and difficult to deal with. But your article proved it wrong! Now I clearly understand how to get more followers, thank you for great tips
I have read many articles and read many blogs, but such information is available to be read somewhere, thanks