Making Instagram’s Algorithm Work for You

Making Instagram's algorithm work for youThere has always been speculation surrounding Instagram’s mysterious algorithm; and trying to separate the truth from rumors can be daunting – and time consuming.

But recently, Instagram put many of these rumors to rest and has spoken out about how the algorithm works; no more speculation about what appears in your follower’s feeds and why it appears there (or doesn’t)!

Let’s take a look at what Instagram shared with us all, and more importantly, how you can make Instagram’s algorithm work for you.

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How Instagram’s Algorithm Works – and How to Make it Work for You

In an unexpected move, Instagram revealed six ranking factors that determine where your content appears in your followers’ feeds: interest, recency, relationship, frequency, following, and usage. Of these, three are most important – and are those you can use to your advantage: interest, recency, and relationship. Let’s take a look at each and how you can use your new-found understanding to make your Instagram marketing even more effective.

Instagram Algorithm Factor #1 – Interest

Instagram uses machine learning to analyze user engagement to determine “interest” – what types of content people want to see.

The result? Content that Instagram thinks your followers are interested in appears higher in their feeds.

For instance, if someone often likes or comments on photos and videos containing dogs, they will see more dog posts in their feed. Each feed is personalized for every user!

How to Make it Work for You:  Find out What Your Followers are Interested In and Post That!

Analyze Your Content

Analyze your posts to see what generates the most conversation and engagement with your audience. Tailwind’s Post Inspector makes it easy to sort your posts based on number of likes, number of comments, and date published.

Reviewing posts that received a higher number of comments or likes will help you create more engaging content.

Tailwind’s Post Inspector provides valuable insights to small businesses and marketers

Besides analysis, you can always just ASK what interests your followers! Instagram recently launched “Questions” stickers for stories, which allows you to add a specific question to a story. Your followers can reply to your question right in the story. Use these questions to ask your followers what they’d like to see from you.

I ask my followers on my account @dananicoledesigns what they would like to know about blogging and SEO to feature their questions and my answers in my stories

Post more of what your followers are interested in and you’ll consistently reach more of them.

Instagram Algorithm Factor #2 – Recency

Although Instagram isn’t going back to publishing a chronological feed (there is just too much content!), the algorithm does take into account how recently a post was published.

Newer posts will have prioritization over older ones, so the home feed will be fresher.

How to Make it Work for You: Post At The Right Time – and Often

Since newer posts have a higher priority in the feed, you should post during a time when most of your followers are on the app.

You could figure out when the best time to post is to manually jot down the engagement you receive by testing different posting times. This can be tedious, however, and could change as your following grows!

Tailwind’s SmartSchedule can help you easily choose the optimal time to post each day so you can reach as many followers as possible. Our SmartSchedule makes personalized recommendations about when to post for your Instagram account.

Tailwind’s SmartSchedule helps you figure out the best times to post

Post Often

Instagram places a higher priority on newer content over older content, so post often to ensure your content isn’t getting lost in the feed.

But how often should you post?

Our study indicates you should post at least once a day to Instagram! Posting daily is easy with Tailwind’s Post Scheduler for Instagram. Feeling stuck for ideas? Start with the Instagram JumpStart – a great way to get in the habit of daily posting.

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Instagram Algorithm Factor #3 Relationship

Instagram also takes into consideration the relationship you have with each of your followers.

Followers who routinely interact with content from your account or who are tagged in photos with you are considered to have a stronger relationship with you. So, engagement = relationship!

How to Make it Work for You: Create Content That Generates Conversation and Interact Often

Because “interest” is determined by engagement, your content should above all encourage people to engage. Each “like” or comment signals Instagram to show more of your content to that follower.

How to Increase Instagram Engagement:

Through skillful use of captions. Try:

  1. Asking a question and replying to the answers you get (to encourage future engagement)
  2. Using emojis (emojis can increase your engagement by nearly 43%)
  3. Including a call-to-action such as “double tap to like”, “@mention a friend who would love this,” etc.

Instagram stories, Instagram Live, and IGTV also offer many ways to encourage audience engagement. For instance, you could create a story poll, which gives your audience a quick way to voice their opinion. Everyone likes to give an opinion! 

Once you get some engagement on your posts encourage your followers to continue interacting with your content by replying to their comments – even asking follow-up questions, which can keep the conversation going.

Make Use of User-Generated Content (UGC) 

User-generated content is content that your followers have created that features your products or services. When you repost user-generated content, you can legitimately tag yourself and that follower in a post together (never tag someone not involved just to elicit engagement or imply a relationship).

Not only does sharing UGC help you develop a relationship with your follower in the eyes of Instagram, it fosters trust with all your followers, AND you’re also cutting down on the time it takes to create content!

If you plan to repost content to your Instagram be sure to first ask for permission, tag yourself and your customers in their photo, and give proper credit in the caption.

@Starbucks uses UGC on their Instagram account

Tailwind’s Instagram Scheduler makes reposting photos to your own account incredibly easy (and Tailwind automatically includes attribution in the caption, so you don’t need to worry about forgetting it)!

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Busting Instagram Algorithm Myths

Along with addressing how the algorithm works, Instagram also came out to bust some persistent Instagram myths.

Instagram Myth #1 – The Dreaded Shadowban

First, the infamous shadowban is not real and Instagram isn’t purposely hiding any content because you used “banned” hashtags. Instagram busted this myth during a recent conference, so we can finally lay that rumor to rest!

Instagram Myth #2 – Switching from a Personal to a Business Account Will Decrease Your Reach

There has also been lots of speculation about whether or not using a personal account or business account makes any difference in your engagement rate. Many people switch back and forth to test which type of account provides the most engagement.

But Instagram has also confirmed this rumor is also untrue.

Business accounts offer analytical insights and give the ability to post directly to Instagram with approved schedulers (like Tailwind), so those who have been hesitant to make the switch from personal to business can now do so without worrying about engagement dropping.

Instagram Myth #3 – Instagram Rewards Users Who Use Certain Features

Instagram also noted that using different features of the app (such as Instagram Live and stories) will not in itself give an account any special priority in the feed.

Instagram Myth #4 – Instagram Favors Certain Post Formats

Instagram doesn’t increase or decrease reach depending on post type. If you notice the videos you post receive lower engagement, your audience likely isn’t that interested in watching your videos – but the lack of engagement is NOT a technical “penalty.”

Paying attention to content that receives higher engagement can help you continue to provide your audience with the types of content they want to see and want to engage with.

In Conclusion

Instagram opening up about their algorithm will really help creators understand how they can get their content seen in the feed!

The three main factors that Instagram considers when trying to place your content in the feed are:

  1. Interest
  2. Recency
  3. Relationship

With that in mind, you can increase your reach by:

  • Interacting with your audience
  • Posting frequently and at the right time
  • Creating content that encourages your followers to interact.

Isn’t it great when a platform gives us the formula for success? How are you going to change your posting habits now that you know a bit more about how Instagram’s algorithm works? What’s your Instagram plan? Let us know in the comments below!

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Making Instagram's Algorithm work for you

How to Repost to Instagram: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Resharing Great Content

Peaches arranged in a circle with the text: How to Repost on Instagram: Easy Ways to Reshare ContentSharing and resharing content is part of what makes social media a truly interactive experience. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to share other people’s content with retweets and shares. Instagram, however, doesn’t allow users to repost photos from someone else’s feed directly to their own feed. So should you even bother, and how do you repost to Instagram, anyway?

You absolutely SHOULD! Reposting to Instagram is a great strategy to build your brand by showcasing photos from your audience. So what exactly does it mean to “repost” content? Reposting is simply sharing someone else’s photo (with their permission, of course) to your own account so your followers can see it!

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Reposting on Instagram – What is the Benefit?

Reposting to Instagram reduces the need to create and shoot all of your own content, but that isn’t the only benefit. Other people’s content can actually increase your sales or reinforce your branding for you! Here’s how.

User-Generated Content

When you repost user photos (commonly called “UGC” or “user-generated content”) which promote your own products or service, you begin to build trust in your brand and strengthen your own community by offering an authentic look into your business with real customer experiences. Beyond building brand trust, you can expect to see sales rise as well! In fact, customers who interact with UGC content are 161% more likely to purchase from you compared to those who don’t interact with UGC content.

@target uses UGC to show their apparel, products and more.

Some ideas of images to repost are:

  • Someone using your product or service
  • A testimonial/review of your product or service presented as a graphic quote
  • Images that show how your product or service can make someone’s life easier

Build Your Own Brand By Reposting on Instagram

Creating a feature account is another way to repost photos. A feature account focuses on specific images from their audience to build a beautiful feed! Your account needn’t be ALL other peoples’ images – you can also use other peoples’ posts to supplement your own.

The @glitterguide reposts photos from their audience to their feed that matches their aesthetic and brand.

Luckily, reposting to Instagram isn’t hard. We are going to discuss two ways that you can reshare user content to your own account, but first, we need to cover some quick reposting etiquette.

Etiquette for Reposting to Instagram

Obtain Permission

Instagram makes it clear in their Terms of Use that your account will be disabled if you infringe on any copyright laws, so before you decide to repost anyone else’s photos to your own Instagram account, make sure you have received permission from the owner of the photo.

You can do so by simply sending them the photo you would like to repost to your account (by clicking on the arrow icon underneath the photo) and asking if you have their permission. Make sure to clarify by specifying which image you want to share.

Click on the arrow to send the photo to the account owner in order to ask for permission.

Credit the Creator

Secondly, you need to give full credit to the owner of the content. All you need to do is tag them in the caption so others know who the original came from!

@living_europe credits the photographer in their feature account.

How to Manually Repost to Instagram

Step 1: Find the Image You Want to Repost AND ASK FOR PERMISSION

You can find posts by:

  • Looking for images your account is already tagged in
  • Viewing your followers’ accounts to see what they have posted
  • Using a branded hashtag to start a collection of images
  • Searching other hashtags related to your product, service, or brand aesthetic

Click on the circled icon to view photos that your account is currently tagged in.

Encouraging the use of a branded hashtag will help you build your brand and keep all your images in one place. We have created an entire post on how you can create your own hashtag to find photos to feature on your account!

Remember, you first need to ask for permission as outlined above.

Step 2: Screenshot the Image and Upload to Instagram

After you’ve received permission to repost the image to your own account, you screenshot it and upload the image to your computer and then to Tailwind’s Instagram scheduler.

And don’t forget about your caption! Even though you will be crediting the photographer, you can still create an engaging caption by:

  • Telling a story about the photo
  • Asking a question to your audience
  • Including a call-to-action (CTA)
  • Using the photo to set the mood for an inspiring thought for the day.

Lastly, add in some hashtags by completing hashtag research with Tailwind’s hashtag finder.

How to Repost to Instagram Using Tailwind’s Instagram Scheduler

Step 1: Find the Image You Want to Repost and Ask for Permission

Tailwind makes reposting to Instagram a breeze with our Instagram scheduler, which can be done right from your desktop computer! But remember, you first need to ask for permission as outlined above.

Step 2: Use the Tailwind Browser Extension to Schedule Your Post

To easily repost images from desktop, you will want to add the Tailwind browser extension to your Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browser.

After the browser extension has been installed, navigate to the account containing the image you want to repost on Instagram via desktop.

Simply enter the username of the account in the URL like so:

Now, click on the Tailwind browser extension. All the images from the profile will be brought up and you will be able to select the one(s) you wish to schedule. If the one you want to schedule is older, you may need to load more of the feed so it is displayed.

Tailwind’s scheduler makes it easy to repost photos to your Instagram account.

Now, simply click the image you’d like to schedule and hit the big blue “Go Schedule!” button in the bottom right-hand corner.

After scheduling your photo, a new window opens with Tailwind’s hashtag finder:

Tailwind automatically credits the original account and pulls over the previous caption and hashtags. However, you may decide you’d like to change the caption and use your own hashtags – you can do so in this window.

After you’ve added your own caption or hashtags (if you’ve chosen to), confirm your post to be scheduled by clicking “Add to Queue Now”.

And that’s it! Your repost is now scheduled to your account.

With Tailwind, you don’t need to screenshot anything, as the image and caption are queued up in your Smartschedule for you! Plus, you’ll never need to worry about forgetting attribution because Tailwind automatically includes that for you.

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In Conclusion

Sharing Instagram content created by others will not only relieve the pressure of creating new content constantly, but it can also increase conversions, create a community and help you build your brand in a way that lets you connect with your audience!

Reposting images to Instagram can either be done manually by screenshotting the image you’d like to repost, or through Tailwind’s Instagram scheduler by scheduling your repost right from your internet browser. And don’t forget to always get permission before you repost someone else’s content.

Have you ever reposted content as part of your Instagram strategy? Let us know below!

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Why You Should Stop Using Alt Tags For Pinterest Pin Descriptions

Clock components organized over pink background with text - Why You Should Stop Using Alt Tags For Pinterest Pin DescriptionsThis is a guest post from Dana Nicole of Dana Nicole Designs.

What if your Pinterest marketing is sending Google the wrong signals?

Pinterest is a great source of traffic for so many bloggers and business owners, but none of us can afford to lose out on search engine traffic! Fortunately, there is a way to make nice with both Pinterest and Google.

Most of us know that to create Pinnable images from your website, you’ll need:

  • An appealing image that has been optimized for Pinterest
  • A key-word rich description with a call to action
  • A URL to link to the source content

Pinterest Graphic and Pinterest Description

Here is where even (or maybe even especially) experienced Pinners should take note. If you’ve been using Pinterest for a while, you probably use your image’s alt text to generate your Pinterest description.

After all, that is where the javascript for Pinterest gets the description when someone Pins from your site!

The problem is, this method can harm your website’s usability and search engine optimization (SEO).

What Is The Purpose Of Alt Text on Images?

The alt text (or alt attribute) is an extra piece of information that is added to your photos that is not visible to most visitors.

The primary purpose of the alt text is to describe the photo to visually impaired users so that they still have a good user experience when visiting your website, even if they are unable to see the photos.

The alt text also will show when your photo doesn’t load (due to page load errors) and provides context to search engines as to how your photo should be indexed.

Basically, the alt text should describe what the image is.

Why Your Images Need to Be Optimized for Pinterest AND Search Engines

According to Rand Fishkin of Moz, “a third of all searches performed in Google are for images and 12.5% of SERPs show Image Pack results.” So, give your images their best chance of appearing in search by optimizing your image alt text. Other factors that can help your images rank better on Google are the image file name and caption – which, by the way, will also help your Pinterest SEO.

Pinterest SEO Google Search

Optimize your images to appear in Google image search results.

How To Use Image Alt Text for Better SEO

Good alt text that boosts your search engine exposure is descriptive, brief, and incorporates keywords.

Alt Text Should Be Descriptive

As mentioned above, alt text should describe the image. Since the main purpose of the alt text is to aid those who are unable to view the image, you should not stuff it with keywords. Instead, focus on using your alt text to describe exactly what your image is. If there is text on the image – as there often is on a Pinnable image, you can include that.

Alt Text Should Be Brief

Alt text should be no longer than 125 characters, as many screen readers (for the visually impaired) cut off at 125 characters. If you are putting Pinterest descriptions in alt text, they likely are too long.

Alt Text Should Incorporate Keywords

If possible, your alt text should incorporate keywords. However, the main purpose of alt text is to describe the photo. Therefore if you can’t naturally incorporate keywords, leave them out.

The above image illustrates how the alt text looks “behind the scenes.” It reads: “Doritos Tortilla Chips, Nacho Cheese, 1.75-Ounce Large Single Serve Bags (Pack of 64)”.

If I were to tell you to close your eyes while I read that description to you would you visualize something along those lines? Most likely, yes! This is a perfect example of what you want your alt text to look like for SEO purposes.

The following code shows you where your alt text can be found within your tag:


Why You Should Stop Using Alt Tags For Pinterest Pin Descriptions

Many people use the alt text space to put their Pinterest descriptions, as that’s where Pinterest gets the description when someone Pins from your site. Knowing the purpose of the alt text and its impact on SEO, we can understand why this is bad practice from an SEO and website usability standpoint!

Take this blog post for example. Let’s say I uploaded a stock photo of a girl working on a computer, and wanted to use that image as my Pinnable image. If I put my Pinterest description in the alt text, I’d probably write something like this:


(PS – notice how there are hashtags in there? Yup! You can now use hashtags on Pinterest)!

Now, if your reader can’t view the photo (either because it didn’t load or because they are visually impaired), they will see the alt text instead of the image. Does the alt text above really help them picture what the image should be?

No, unfortunately it doesn’t.

The alt text should be something like this:


Much better. However, that is a terrible Pin description! So what’s the solution?

How to Set Your Pinterest Pin Descriptions For The Best PINTEREST SEO

According to Pinterest Pro Kristie Hill, “The way Pinterest works: the official Pinterest buttons use the Pinterest description first. If it’s not there it defaults to the title text, if it’s not there it defaults to the alt text.”

Make Google and Pinterest happy. Instead of placing your Pinterest descriptions in your image’s alt text, place this easy piece of code into your image code!

data-pin-description=”Your Pinterest description here”

Adding this piece of code will tell Pinterest to pull the description from there instead of your alt text, so that you are able to use both the alt text and Pinterest description appropriately and for the greatest SEO advantage in search AND on Pinterest!

In the above example, our final piece of code would look like this:


If you use a content management system such as WordPress, switch from the text editor to view the code once you have uploaded your image, and make your adjustments from there.

There are also plugins, such as our choice, WPTasty, that make this easier. You’ll just add your Alt text AND your Pinterest text in the Image details box.

How to Use Pinterest Text and Alt Text with WordPress Tasty Plugin

Pinterest descriptions made easy with the WPTasty plugin. We just started using it and we love it!


In Conclusion:

Now your content is optimized for Pinterest and Google! This incredibly simple code will help both your website and your Pinterest profile remain optimized!

If you’re looking to increase the number of visitors you get from Pinterest each day (and who isn’t?!), get Tailwind for Pinterest now. I wouldn’t Pin without it!

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Are you going to start using the data-pin-description code? Let us know in the comments below!

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