There are some things that stay the same on Instagram, no matter how much it changes (and it’s always changing on us!). Below, I’ve outlined the basics of the Instagram algorithm, especially when it comes to IG reels. When you keep these in mind while planning your reels, your efforts will have better results.
Remember, your own use of the app shapes the algorithm as it applies to your posts. If you’re in the habit of browsing the wrong content, or only posting without engaging, your results will mirror that, so be strategic in your use of Instagram. (This is why many authors have a personal IG account and separate author account.)
The Top 3 Things That Are Always True
- Engagement will always be the easiest way to influence the algorithm. The algorithm may change what type of engagement it emphasizes, but this fact will remain the same. Why? Because engagement means your content is interesting and keeps people coming back for more. Instagram likes this, so you’ll be viewed as someone who creates great content and thus should be shown to more users.
- Time spent on the app is always Instagram’s goal. Instagram wants to be the only social media platform someone is hanging out on. ( In fact, all social platforms want this to be true.) If you’re creating content that keeps someone on your post or profile, that will be shown in your algorithm as highly favorable.
- Community will always win over competition. At its core, Instagram was made for people who loved technology and photography, and who wanted to build a community around that. As it grew, it incorporated other areas that seemed successful from other apps – but the creator focus remains at the core. That means sharing others’ content and giving them credit will help you. Stealing others’ content will not.
What does all of this mean when it comes to IG Reels?
Your content needs to keep people on your profile, engaged, & feeling like they’re a part of your community.
But how in the heck can you keep up with all of the app changes on top of all the things you have to keep track of as an author?
That’s where we come in. Every month, we will be sharing a short and sweet blog post with the current trends and platform changes. Today’s our first post!
As of April 2022, the following are the most effective ways to use the app and see great, consistent results:
Say goodbye to likes & comments.
It’s no secret that “vanity” metrics have been on the outs on Instagram for a while. That means just racking up “likes” and followers – or buying them – doesn’t help you succeed with the Instagram algorithm. In fact, most quantifiable numbers from the outside mean very little to your algorithm score. The best engagement actions you can have are SAVES and SHARE.
You want to use this in your call to action on your post and in your caption. Calls to action like “SAVE this post.” or “SHARE this post with someone who needs it.” Invite engagement.
Your content needs to be save-able and share-able. (Want more ideas? Check out our new Reels Freebie.)
More Content, Less Posts.
The best way to keep users on your posts is to use the carousel feature (with encouragement to swipe) or short video posts. This is a great example of how you can take a picture and turn it into a video that’s a few seconds long.
As far as REELS are concerned, short and fast videos that encourage users to replay are the best. You can do this by being entertaining with a trending audio OR by showing text that changes slightly faster than your average reader can scan. If the text moves slightly too fast, they’ll stick around for another loop to catch what they missed.
Comment Pods Are a Thing of the Past.
If you’re commenting on the same users’ content every day, your home feed will have less variety and your posts will reach fewer people. As with engagement, SHARING is the thing to do. That means you should also be sharing people’s posts.
Share posts that you like to your Story (and tag the user!). Another very effective way to get views is to share via Direct Messaging to your friends. Each individual share shows up in the analytics, and then users can see how many of these shares are converted to views via the “Others” reach.
Kick the community up a notch by commenting on the original photo and let the user know that you shared the post with your friends! This will hopefully start a conversation with the user, and perhaps become IG friends or associate in the same community.
Reels & Trends to Try This Month:
POV – Find an audio with a trending sound that is someone talking – usually something funny – and adapt that text to something that would entertain your audience. Here’s a recent example we did.
Affirmations – Affirmations will never go out of style, especially if you’re trying to connect with other authors. There are many trending audios of affirmations and feel good messages. Here’s an example of an #affirmation reel.
Trending music with photos changing in sync – This is your video creator challenge! It’s not the easiest to master, but if you’re sharing a series of photos, syncing it with trending audio is the best way to do it. There are a few apps that will help with this, and hopefully soon Instagram will have this option like TikTok does. Here’s one that I like by our author, K.T. Angelhart.
Here’s a few examples of trending audio that I’ve enjoyed:
If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, Explain This Audio – Show off your obsession (books, swag, desk supplies, coffee cups, etc).
Are You Trying to Romance Me? – Find this via the hashtag #areyoutryingtoromanceme because there are a few different audios and you want to use the one that’s trending when you’re making your Reel. To do that, find one that has the trending arrow on it (it’ll be a little ↗ next to the audio title). This is great for romance authors to show a tease for one of their tropes.
Want to uplevel your IG reels game? Grab an IG Reels planner, designed by our IG manager, Raewyn!