If you think you know all there is to know about Instagram, think again.
The rules for getting reach, and reaction, through the Instagram algorithm are complex and constantly evolving in big ways and small.
And there’s nothing that increases your exposure on the app more than stories. Those 24-hour icons at the top of your app are catnip to the early morning scroller, the follower on lunch break, and the avid fan looking forward to your next nugget of wisdom.
But the ever confounding Instagram algorithm can make or break your next great story, so it’s important to understand as much as you can about how to make it work for you.
There are, of course, tried and tested approaches to getting your stories seen by as wide an audience as possible….
Studies have shown that, if you’re getting stories out there regularly, at roughly the same time of day, people will learn to expect and look out for them. If you’ve got followers on the lookout for your next story, no need to keep them waiting. Post regularly, whether that means daily, every other day, or weekly. Just be consistent about it.
Keep up with popular hashtags, and location tags, to help attract larger audiences, especially the ones who are off searching for new content. Users who search for or click on the tags you use have a better chance of stumbling onto your story, and getting hooked on your great content, which brings us to….
That’s right! If you want folks digging deep into what you post, then make damn sure what you post is consistently great. If you know your audience, make sure your content is relevant to their interests. Make sure your visuals are eye-catching and fun and your information is relayed in a clear, compelling way.
Nobody likes to be played for a sap and, even on Instagram, people can spot bullshit pretty quickly. So steer clear of stories that don’t feel genuine. If it feels fake to you, it’ll feel fake to others. But if you’re authentic, and willing to share bits of truth in your stories, you stand a better chance of attracting attention.
Mentioning and tagging other content creators is a great way to attract the attention of their followers. Collaborations and shoutouts have the power to cross-promote content and introduce your profile to a wider circle of followers.
There are plenty of additional ways to bring attention to your Instagram Stories. Some may work for you, while others won’t. So practice a bit of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to bomb occasionally. Unless it’s incredibly embarrassing, the internet has the memory of a garden slug.
What is important, however, is that you understand how the mysterious Instagram Stories algorithm works, so you can make it work for you.
So let’s break it down….
Beginning at the beginning: When you publish a story on Instagram, the algorithm gets to work by sharing it with your regular followers, the people who interact with you the most. Let’s say they wake up, check their phones, and see your story at the top of their feed.
Your fervent followers then have a choice. They can simply view your story or click away from it, effectively killing its reach. But, if your followers reply, share or simply like your story, it can take its first step into a larger world!
Once it’s liked/shared/replied to, the algorithm places your story at the top of the feed for more of your followers (the less fervent ones,) and gives it the opportunity to be seen by more people than your biggest fans (hi Mom and Dad!)
Sharing is caring at this point, because, as your followers share your story with others, they give it the wings it needs to garner more views and engagement. And, by flexing the hashtags, creating great content, and directly interacting with people who respond to your story, your brand has a better chance of getting its social media wings.
And don’t forget to check out those Instagram Insights as you share your stories, so you can repeat your great performances and disregard the missteps.