As a recap episode of my interview with John Mouret, one of the top 10 Yahoo finance influencers, we discuss details about the Instagram algorithms and how they work. He’s someone who understands these algorithms to a very high and detailed degree that very few people do and we go over a lot of information regarding them. Jean revealed there’s actually 10 different algorithms and how there are strategies we can implement to speed up content production and make your content trend better, such as applying color trends and other actionable steps that you can apply instantly to start gaining more traction with your account.
While you won’t be lost if you listen to this episode first, I highly recommend you take the time to listen to the actual interview in episode 92. Otherwise, this recap episode touches on the main points and includes my 2 cents on what was discussed to expand on things a bit and give you applicable strategies for your business.
Images & Composition
One of the first things we can do to improve how our content trends is use more consistent and favorable colors. Specifically, Jean referenced the Chase Bank blue and how it’s too dark for Instagram and how lighter shades of blue tend to work better. Now unfortunately there’s no true definitive list of every color that works best on Instagram, but it’s theorized that opting for brighter shades of colors is what you want to aim for. Again, though theories, they come from analysis over time and what you should do is take a look at your content at a deeper level and ask what posts were the best that you’ve ever done? Start analyzing things like how the photo was composed, where the subject was placed, what colors appear in the photo, and even the caption and structure of the description. The truth is most people don’t fully analyze every aspect of these that are the real patterns that cause content to trend better.
Analyze Your Market
Additionally, looking at top-trending content in your industry always provides more insight but is something most people fail to do. The hashtags may be correct, and content might even be highly valuable and well-written, but the visual aspects are noticed (image and colors) before the caption and description ever are. This is essentially your main “entry point” or first piece of a post that’s going to be noticed, and every detail counts in determining how much engagement a post gets and if it makes a user want to read the caption and description.
So search hashtags in your market and look at what post types are most popular. More specifically, post types would be infographics, seamless carousels, video, video with subtitles, etc.
Captions & Descriptions
The next analysis that should be done are on post captions…not just having a caption in general but how they’re formatted. Paying attention to the amount of spaces, bullet points, and emojis used as well as what the first line of the caption is makes a big difference. Is the caption grabbing audience attention? Are the hashtags placed in the description or as a separate comment?
It’s important to be aware of things on a marketing level rather than just on a surface/consumer level and the fact that there’s psychology involved in advertising and marketing. Let me share a theory I have that most people have never picked up on.
So Taco Bell made Baja Blast and it was an exclusive flavor you couldn’t buy anywhere…for over 10 years you couldn’t find it at gas stations, other restaurants, or anywhere else. But as a kid as I, like the rest of the world, was less health-conscious that long ago and pretty much ate Taco Bell every day for lunch during high school…with a Baja Blast. It was rare and the only time I could get it. Even if there was Mountain Dew and I would think to myself “Yeah, Mountain Dew would be good right now”, I’d still choose Baja Blast simply because of the exclusivity factor.
Now after 10 years they finally started supplying it at gas stations and I remember thinking “They’re so stupid to give up that exclusivity factor”. One day I ended up buying one from a gas station, opened it, drank it and thought “Wow, I really want a taco now” and then all of a sudden it hit me…they’ve marketed to their consumers in a way that positions their products being exclusive with each other so that every time I had a taco I’d also have a Baja Blast and vice versa. This created a 10-year association with me and their customer base where you almost can’t have one without wanting the other.
This is only one random example, but my point is that people don’t think at that level as far as analyzing marketing and why things around them work the way they do.
So I’m mostly bringing this awareness to you to know that you need to be able to analyze things on a marketing level further than just what you see. Many people simply think things like “Oh yea, that was a good ad”…but what makes it a good ad and why was it so effective? If you can’t come up with at least 10 reasons for every TV commercial then you’re missing those deeper things and that’s totally fine to average consumers, but the awareness is where it starts at identifying how pieces of content trend well.
Many people think they understand something they haven’t actually done yet simply because they’ve seen someone else do it. But understand If you haven’t gone through it and seen the results yourself then you don’t truly understand it. In all honesty, it’s okay not to understand it. However, what’s NOT okay is to not admit it.
Components to Success
One of the biggest things that advanced entrepreneurs understand that beginners don’t is that when you’re analyzing things on a deeper level and facing the fact that you don’t know things that you haven’t personally done before, that’s when things start to make sense. It’s one thing to hear from someone or the media that you should never give up, which is something I’m a strong proponent of doing, but until you’ve had a scenario where, against all odds, you didn’t give up and pushed through to hit your end result at the last second you don’t have that experience and story for yourself…and don’t grasp the concept of what never giving up is truly like.
Simply put, if you haven’t gotten a post to go viral, then you don’t actually know how to do it and you need to analyze that process on a deeper level…what is actually going viral in your market? Break it down second by second and look at the things most people wouldn’t catch on that surface level and apply those deeper aspects all back to your business.
Modeling and Not Copying
You wouldn’t get into music without learning music theory and understanding bears, music, or the crucial pieces that you can analyze in order to compose a good song. If you don’t start with those fundamentals you’re going to be trying to make up for centuries of knowledge that’s already been found with music. You wouldn’t pick up a guitar and start plucking strings expecting to compose a song without taking lessons or understanding how a song is made with a guitar…and so many people make it much more difficult on themselves thinking they can do it alone when they don’t have to. Letting go of your ego and understanding that there are people doing things better than you are, and that’s totally okay. The only way to get there quick is to model off of what they’re doing.
Story Sharing Worthy
Another common mistake I see people make with content is not asking themselves if someone would find their content interesting enough to share it to their stories. There’s 2 ways people can share it; they would either share it just directly with a friend or they would add the post to their story.
As an example, the one time a picture of someone just standing by themselves would get shared is an attractive girl account. A guy would see this attractive girl and DM it to one of his buddies, but he’s not going to add that to his story…most likely because his followers wouldn’t find it interesting. However, if it gets DM’d that’s the easiest way for hashtags to kick in. Now as the easiest way for a post to start trending it’s not only getting sent to an extra pair of eyes that would likely not have been reached through hashtags or explore but likely that whoever it’s sent to is actually interested in that content (assuming the person sending the post and the person receiving it both know each other well enough). But other than it being personally sent, why would your post get added to someone’s story?
This is another common problem I see; when coaches try to follow the influencer model of an attractive girl account or something similar. They just post a picture of themselves, add in a long-form caption and think they’ll get likes from their following. While you might get likes from you following or do well on hashtags or the explore page the post wont go viral and you won’t grow at a rapid speed. I’m not saying it doesn’t work at all that way, but I’m saying you won’t grow at that rapid speed you’re looking for.
So imagine for a moment I took a picture of myself in a suit on my way to a business conference. There’s no text on the image, no value to the picture apart from it just being an image but gave a caption that dropped serious value bombs and value. How many people that don’t know me are going to actually read my caption? The only people that will are the ones that first liked my content or the ones that just trust me so much that they actually look for the information I put in my captions.
But no one is going to add that post to their story, because the caption doesn’t fit. This is one of the reasons infographics do so well, the value is on the image itself and people don’t have to read the caption first to gain any sort of value from it…making it easier to share because people notice it right away, it’s more convenient.
Trust Score & Staying Active
This is a score that Instagram has on your account that measures how active of a user you are and how much they TRUST you to post good content. John speaks that if you use IGTV sometimes or have done an IG Live, if you put up story or profile posts consistently, have your bio completely filled out, comment on posts and tag friends and utilize all of the features (especially stickers and things like the quiz and poll feature on your stories) are things that help with how well you build that trust with following accounts. And using trending stickers in your stories like the “Stay Home” branded ones additionally helps move you to the front of people’s story feeds because IG recognizes that your content is important.
Things like this helps build engagement with people that would probably not be seen otherwise, but by using all of the features Instagram sees that you’re an active user that they like to have on the platform and this provides them with data on which features of their app are good as well as the fact that you’re keeping other users entertained.
If you spend a lot of time on someone’s posts, regardless of whether you might like it or not, the amount of time you spend on it or if you go back and view it again, IG can keep track of that. So how does this play into how you make content? When you make posts that are more detailed and higher definition, with more layers; a foreground, subject, background, etc. people are going to need to stay on your piece of content longer to fully consume what’s in the post.
It’s another concept I’ve talked about with having multiple likable components to your photos. People are only going to visually zoom in on the photo. If there are details in your photo for them to really zoom in on they’re going to spend more time dissecting and analyzing your post, and IG recognizes that as something valuable to them.
One big time-saver that John talked about was keyboard shortcuts for hashtags. There’s actually 2 reasons this helps speed up your hashtagging process. Basically how this is done is you can go into your phone and create a keyboard shortcut so for your different group of hashtags you have different shortcuts to type in. Say for instance I have an entrepreneur group of hashtags that I can instantly auto complete by typing in “E”, making the time spent adding hashtags much shorter.
Now am I going to post that exact same group every time? Absolutely not. If you were using the same hashtags every time that’s one way to severely limit your hashtag reach, so you should always be using different hashtags…but it’s always good to start with a base of tags of 30 or so and then modify around 3-5 (or just modifying whichever tags don’t apply to this specific post).
This doesn’t only save you time, but prevents you from the app, which you don’t want to do. Even if you just had to minimize the app to copy the hashtag group from your notes app, Instagram doesn’t like that and it affects your trust score.
Planning Content Ideas
A lot of times you’ll have an idea for a post but won’t be in a position to make it at that current moment. In fact, most of the time I have an idea for a post and might come up with a quote, idea, or some kind of video idea while I’m driving. When I was a new entrepreneur I’d assume I’d just remember it later. But what I realized is even if I remembered 90%, that 10% could change the post for the better and make a difference. So don’t risk forgetting something you thought of, it could leave you back at square one. Put a note on your phone called “Content Ideas” and just have it ready to go with a bullet list when you have ideas.
Additionally, say you remembered most of your idea. It still takes mental energy to recall the idea you had that you could be spending on other things. Stop relying on yourself to remember all of these business tasks and ideas you have. I certainly didn’t create every book or podcast idea I had on the spot, and more than that I certainly didn’t just remember it later and not write it down in some way.
So create a pattern or workflow that’s easy and allows you to get ideas down quick to reference and create more content with later. Even if you see something on Instagram that you like, be it a font or color scheme, DON’T just assume you’ll remember where you saw it and find it later. Take a screen shot with your phone or save/bookmark that post within Instagram so you know exactly where it is when you need it.
It’s not only about using bright colors and providing valuable captions. People notice when your content has some sort of uniformity to it. A specific accent color placed in the same place of photos, or using the same font in all your image captions makes a big difference and provides a visual aesthetic that helps promote your brand and make you stand out. Even without people necessarily noticing specifically what that uniformity is, it’s still visually pleasing and actually will create more interest and engagement in your overall content. You may even consider analyzing your post feed and archiving posts that don’t match your brand’s theme or aesthetic.
As a matter of fact, I gained about 5,000 followers last month and one of the biggest differences was that I archived posts that didn’t match my page theme, even if it got a lot of likes. I probably archived 20 posts that just didn’t fit the style of my page…and all of a sudden my page looked a lot more uniform and my follower conversion ratio went up rapidly.
All of these strategies will help improve your consistency and speed up your workflow. They’re tactics I’ve implemented myself and have seen great success with. Again, I would recommend listening to the full interview with John for more details, but these are things you can start applying to your account right away to see results.