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How understanding the Instagram algorithm can help you reach mobile consumers

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If you run a business with any type of online operation and you’re not prioritising mobile Instagram marketing, you’re making a huge mistake, writes Rodney Laws. Social media posts have quickly joined promotional emails at the core of the digital marketing industry, and they all prove most effective on mobile devices — don’t you tend to check such things on your smartphone first?

Beyond this, there’s also the 24/7 nature of smartphone use. Marketing aimed at mobile users can prove effective throughout the day (and night), and proves particularly useful for reaching younger people who most likely organise their lives through their phones. If you want to get ahead, you need to do everything you can to master it.

Key to this is not only choosing the right platforms but also understanding how they work. Instagram is the prime example: it’s enormously influential and used to great effect by many top brands, but standing out is much easier said than done. The more you know about the algorithm that underpins it, the better you can perform.

Here’s why:

You can build a loyal Instagram audience

Since it’s been confirmed that Instagram serves more content from accounts that users have previously engaged with, it’s clear that repeat engagement pays off, which is very important to know when creating content. There isn’t just value in reaching strangers, after all: someone who’s already familiar with your brand is much more likely to be interested in what you have to say (and willing to consider converting).

It’s also very important to reward loyalty by providing great value. By aiming content at existing followers and paying close attention to how well it performs, you can make steady adjustments until you have an excellent ROI with minimal wasted effort. Given how hectic digital marketing can be today, this kind of efficiency is invaluable.

You can piggyback off similar brands

Reaching unfamiliar mobile users is necessary, of course, so what’s the simplest way to do that? By piggybacking off similar brands. Relevance is something that Instagram’s algorithm is always assessing in the background, with connections being drawn between brands and users to ensure that they’re getting significant suggestions.

Knowing this, you can use other brands to push users towards yours: post on the same topics whenever you can, and even link directly to any brands that are relevant but not your competitors: for instance, if you sell cars, you could link to a company that creates cleaning products for the automotive industry, knowing that your audiences must overlap.

You can use recency to your advantage

While the Instagram feed isn’t a direct representation of chronological order (something very important will appear above something newer but less important), recency is still a huge factor in the algorithm. The older a post gets, the less likely it will be to appear prominently in someone’s feed, as it will steadily be supplanted by newer material that is automatically considered more pressing.

How can your awareness of this help you, aside from encouraging you to post more regularly? Well, by looking at your platform analytics, you can see when your followers tend to engage with your content, and post it very shortly before that point: optimal timing will ensure that it holds an advantage over the content preceding it, allowing it to perform better as a result.

Knowing how the Instagram algorithm works won’t guarantee that your posts will stand out, but it will give you the right blueprint to follow: optimise your posts accordingly and they’ll be able to deliver on their potential. You’ll reach many more high-value mobile consumers, and reap a wide variety of benefits as a result.

Author

Rodney Laws is Editor at Ecommerce Platforms

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