Learning more about the Instagram Explore page requires understanding why it exists to begin with.
Instagram remains one of the most popular social media platforms of the current year, but it’s hard to deny that it’s become quite crowded. It makes it challenging to find new accounts to follow, because you would manually have to filter through the posts that other people like or search for specific users based on other people’s recommendations. In other words, it’s highly inconvenient.
On the flipside, though, content creators have it equally tough. No matter how much effort you put into creating the perfect picture and pairing it with the perfect caption, you’d still have to contend with hundreds, if not thousands, of other users offering similar content as you.
Recognizing this challenge, Instagram reworked its Popular or Discovery feature — and that’s why we now have the aforementioned Explore Page. And in this blog post, you’ll find out how to use it to drive traffic to you.
What The Instagram Explore Page Is
Before, the page wasn’t curated specifically for the interest and tastes of the user. Now, however, the Instagram Explore page displays results based on who’s logged in. The Instagram Explore page algorithm picks and displays content (updates and Stories) based on the following factors:
- Posts liked by people whose posts you’ve also liked;
- Posts from accounts that fall under the same category or are similar to the accounts you follow;
- Highly engaged posts; and
- Posts from areas near your location.
This feature makes it easy for both ordinary Instagram users and online businesses alike, as it offers a better chance of matching consumers with product or service providers they’d be interested in.
Basically, the Explore page does the job of picking content for you, based on your Instagram browsing behavior.
Should You Know How To Get On The Instagram Explore Page?
If you’re just using Instagram for leisure or for personal updates, getting on the Explore page wouldn’t be of much concern to you. In fact, since it was practically made to make your browsing experience easier, you’d probably be more concerned about actually using it than being found on it.
On the other hand, if you’re running an Instagram page for a brand or business, you absolutely need to make the Explore page a part of your overall marketing strategy. Being found on the Explore page should be your priority, especially if you’re attempting to reach a wider audience.
Some of the benefits of being on the Instagram Explore page include:
- Building brand awareness and gaining new followers.
- Improving your engagement rates.
- Helping in selling products or advertising services.
- Helping to reach a targeted audience, which means a higher chance of conversion.
- Being absolutely free, unlike Instagram ads.
Understanding The Instagram Explore Page Algorithm
The first thing to understand about the Explore page algorithm is that outside of Instagram itself, no one perfectly understands how it works. There is no foolproof strategy for being counted by the algorithm. However, there ARE things you can do to improve your chances (which we’ll get into later).
For starters, Instagram has confirmed that your app usage behavior basically dictates what the Explore page will display, which includes the types of posts you react to or comment on. It’s very much like how the Facebook news feed works, except the key difference is that you don’t have to be following the person or brand for their content to show up on your Explore page.
According to Instagram, the order in which photos and videos are displayed on your feed is based on how likely you are to find the content engaging, how close or how distant your connection is with the person who posted the update/s, and when the post/s was/were published.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to how you should be using Instagram if you’re a brand or business, in order to maximize your chances of appearing on your target audience’s Explore pages.
Understanding Your Audience
The entire notion of understanding your audience is nothing new in marketing. It’s the heart that drives all well-planned, well-researched, and well-implemented marketing campaigns to succeed. And when it comes to Instagram, it’s equally important to know exactly who your market is.
Simply put, Instagram chooses content to put on a user’s Explore page based on the data available about the person’s usage habits. That’s what determines whether your products and services would be relevant to that person or not. After all, that’s how social media has evolved now; just look at Facebook (owned by the same company that owns Instagram) and how it tweaks the content on the platform (and even the platform itself) based on the data it has on its users.
So, how exactly do you identify your target audience?
- Figure out who they are (age, location, and other demographic information).
- Get to know what captures their attention.
- Find out who they follow.
- Check out the content they post.
You can also use data from Instagram Analytics (if you signed up for an Instagram business account, which you should) to help you profile your audience and plan your content accordingly.
Here’s a tip: Check your own Explore page and look at the content that shows up on it. Since it should match your own industry, you can take cues from the types of content you see on it and create your own. Topical channels are also available for you to browse and examine. You can also use the Search or Places feature to find nearby influencers that are a good fit for your target audience. Perhaps, you can even establish a partnership with them.
Get Discovered Through Hashtags and Location Tags
You already know how important it is to maximize hashtags for your posts. Hashtags allow anyone, and not just your followers, to find your content updates and increase your engagement.
Here are some tips and tricks in posting hashtags:
- The ideal number of hashtags in a post is between 9 and 11. Don’t try to push for the maximum number of hashtags, unless you’ve conducted your own tests and studied data specific to your audience that would suggest doing so.
- You don’t have to stick to branded hashtags. While they’re good and specific only to you, they’re also quite limited. Additionally, they won’t really help any non-followers discover you. Instead, you’ll want to incorporate unbranded hashtags into your posts as well. A healthy mix of both will certainly increase your chances of landing on the Explore page.
- Don’t overdo it. Having too many hashtags on a post can make it look too promotional, and may even turn off would-be audiences and existing followers alike.
As for tagging, it helps to indicate your location to make your posts discoverable to people within or near the vicinity. When you feature other brands in your posts, make sure to tag them as well. This way, their followers and audiences can see your posts, too!
Interact with Your Instagram Followers
Another way to boost your chances of making it to your audience’s Explore pages is to make sure that you’re engaging with the people you’re supposed to be targeting. Not only will this increase your reach on the platform, but it will also help your audience see you as more than just a faceless brand that’s out to get their money. It creates a genuine image of authenticity and relatability that will make your followers more likely to become loyal to you.
Like and comment on the posts of the people who follow you. Also, make sure that you reply to their comments on your own posts. Interaction here is key, and liking, commenting, and replying are your greatest tools in facilitating that interaction and fostering loyalty.
Write Effective Captions To Keep Your Audience Engaged
Obviously, since you’re on Instagram, you should concentrate on making sure that your posts are aesthetically appealing. However, it also doesn’t hurt to pair up those posts with some well-written and compelling captions.
Don’t just slap on some descriptive text to your post and call it a day. Encourage your followers to comment, like, purchase, sign up, or perform any kind of action with a CTA (call to action) in your caption.
Some effective ways to get your audience to act:
- Ask them questions.
- Hold contests.
- Conduct limited-time sales.
- Use branded actions.
- Compel them to engage with your post by saying things like “Like if you agree” or “Share your thoughts in the comments below.”
- Invite them to save your posts, or to share your posts via direct message.
Figure Out The Best Times To Post (And Make Your Fans Turn On Their Notifications)
The times and frequency at which you post can also make a significant impact on your engagement (and thus, your chances of landing on the Explore page). After all, if you’re posting updates during the intervals when your audience isn’t online, how would they be able to see your content?
Another factor that the algorithm appears to consider is the rate at which your post gets engagement. This means that the faster you attract likes and comments from your audience, the bigger the chance that Instagram will deem your post worthy of being featured on someone’s Explore page.
Basically, you’ll want to post when your audience is online — but you absolutely do not want to spam them.
Make sure to do research on the best times to post, or check your Analytics data.
Also, you’ll want to ask your fans to turn on their post notifications for your Instagram page. You can’t really expect all of them to do this, of course. Still, it’s worth a shot to ask. It can greatly help your engagement rates almost immediately if you can get them to do this.
Work With Big Brands And Influencers (Or Get Them To Engage With Your Posts)
The easiest way to do this would be to tag the brands and influencers who you want to engage with. However, there’s a good chance that you’ll get ignored, or that you may even be mistaken as a bogus Instagram account or a spammer.
Instead, try to build a long-lasting relationship with these entities by reaching out to them and befriending them. Establish that you have mutual goals and that you can help each other. That way, you can work together in figuring out exactly how you’re going to achieve your goals.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to make reaching out to these brands and influencers less awkward:
- Follow their Instagram accounts. Don’t expect them to follow you back, though
- Send them a direct message, through which you’ll introduce yourself and share a little bit about your brand and what you do.
- Contact them again via direct message or email, this time with a post that you think would be interesting enough for them to engage with. Before you do this, though, make absolutely sure that whatever post you’ll be sharing with them is actually related to their industry or worth their time.
- Once you’ve done all of that, tag said brand or influencer on the post itself.
All in all, it’s really not that difficult to get on the Instagram Explore page. What it really takes is a good understanding of who you should be reaching out to, applying the best practices in writing captions, using hashtags, and posting content, knowing who you should partner with, and valuing the people who are already aware of you and who follow you.