Do you want better reach on Instagram? Looking for tactics that work?
In this article, you'll find nine ways to increase your Instagram reach.
Instagram Algorithm and Organic Reach for Businesses
Organic reach is what makes social media so powerful, useful, and (sometimes) frustrating. It's a free way to communicate with customers and eventually increase sales. But as you know, it takes time and skill to develop your reach on Instagram and the algorithm plays a part in that.
Instagram uses a complex algorithm to choose which posts to show each person. According to the social network itself, posts are ranked based on:
- Activity—what kind of posts you like and interact with
- Relationship—your history of interaction with the account posting content
- Information about the account that posted
- Information about the individual post—how popular it is and what content it includes
This algorithm is still being refined to help people see and enjoy content. Although Instagram denies that it ever deliberately limited reach, by 2016, users were only seeing 10% of potential posts in their feed because there was too much content to manage. Now that the algorithm has shifted to focus on posts from family and friends, businesses have to work harder to be visible.
For business accounts, the algorithm rewards novelty: new content, formats, and connections. That's why it's important—regardless of your specific strategy—to keep up a steady flow of posts and never stop testing. Here are some tactics and settings you can test to improve your organic reach on Instagram.
#1: Use the Full Range of Instagram Post Formats
Instagram is never slow to add new features. By now, you can post:
- A single photo, photo carousels, and short video clips in your feed
- Stories, including options for AR lenses, polls, questions, links, shopping, and fundraising tags
- Story highlights
- Instagram Live video streams, including shared streams with other accounts
- Guides, which are collections of posts around a specific topic
- Products in an Instagram shop
When it comes to social media, businesses are typically advised to pick one or two channels to focus on. But within that social network, you should use all of the different formats available to maximize your impact. Posting across these formats creates a consistent presence and steady flow of content and ensures you reach potential followers wherever they are on the platform.
There are a lot of small businesses that only post in their feed or focus on Stories above all else. You may find that some formats connect better with your audience than others. But if you don't use the full range available, you're potentially missing out on new audiences or opportunities.
#2: Embrace Accessibility
Accessibility often ends up being a footnote in social media strategies but it should be right at the head of yours. Approximately 1 in 4 Americans has a disability of some kind, according to the CDC. If you fail to make your social media content accessible, you're potentially missing out on 25% of your target audience.
Making accessible content is often simpler than people think. Instagram now offers several automatic features that make the job even easier.
Here are some of the essentials:
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- Enable automatic captions for IGTV. These instant subtitles are available in 16 different languages on Instagram. (Note: You'll still need to add captions manually for stories and video posts.)
- Use alt text for your Instagram images. Alt text is a scrap of text that describes images for anyone who can't view them. Instagram may also use it as a source of information about the post's content, which feeds back into the algorithm.
- Use a checker such as Who Can Use (free) to ensure your color palette is comfortable to see and read.
- If you manually add your own captions to your stories, make sure the text is clear and large enough to read.
- When you record video, make sure your face is clearly visible for people who lip-read and keep background noise to a minimum.
Finally, the best accessibility advice I can give you is to listen. Accessibility needs are diverse and complex. If someone lets you know your content is inaccessible for them, then listen up and make any reasonable changes they suggest.
#3: Turn on Sharing for Your Instagram Stories
Are your Instagram stories shareable? You can enable options in your story settings to allow people to share your stories, either on their own Stories feed or in a direct message.
Some brands keep this feature switched off because they want to assert control over their content. But that's against the spirit of social media and it unnecessarily limits your organic reach.
When you allow people to re-share your stories, you empower them to recommend your business and find new followers and customers for you. If you're really worried about brand safety, you can monitor those shares and block bad users on an individual basis.
#4: Enable Remixing for Instagram Reels
Reels are Instagram's answer to TikTok: short, snackable videos to which you can add video effects or background audio. They also include a Remix feature similar to TikTok's Duets that allows you to record a response to someone else's reel, showing your clip and theirs side by side.
You can choose whether to allow people to remix your reels. I recommend turning this setting on, for the same reason as making your stories shareable, to encourage more interaction from followers.
#5: Add Location Tags to Posts
This step is especially important if you have a brick-and-mortar location such as a store, café, or even a mobile service such as a pop-up or truck.
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You can add location tags to both feed posts and stories. In general, I recommend mostly using location tags for posts. The location tag for Stories has to appear in the image, which can get in the way of the content, and it's less permanent.
Using location tags for your feed posts means that people will see your content when they search for local posts and accounts. It's an easy way to expand your audience and organic reach locally.
#6: Enable Instagram Branded Content Tags
Did you know that other businesses can tag you in their Instagram ads and sponsored posts? This setting is designed for brand partnerships and sponsorships. But it also means that you could benefit organically from another brand's paid reach.
While enabling this setting doesn't guarantee that you'll get a shout-out, it's worth doing just in case. A single branded content tag could bring thousands of new product views to your account.
You can find the setting for branded content tags by going to the Business tab in your Instagram settings. You can choose to enable all content tags or manually approve each one. Or there's a third way: You can create a list of approved business partners who can tag you in their branded posts and ads. This will save a lot of time if you regularly work in partnership with another business.
#7: Use Instagram Highlights to Maximize Content Value
Stories are great for your reach on Instagram. They're quick, fun, and interactive—all powerful qualities for increasing your organic reach. But they have one major flaw: After 24 hours, they disappear. That's where Stories highlights come in.
You can add any story to a highlight on your profile, pinning it to the top of your grid forever. This is particularly valuable for stories that showcase your products, services, or brand image.
However, you don't have to limit highlights to those informational categories. You can also use them to preserve your most popular and viral stories, setting them up for long-term interaction and shares as new people discover them.
#8: Give Followers a Reason to Post About Your Brand
One of the easiest ways to increase your organic reach on Instagram is to piggyback on the reach of other accounts; in other words, get them to post about you or share your posts.
But how do you motivate people to do that? Here are a few simple ideas…
- Mention people in your posts.
- Run Instagram giveaways that encourage people to tag you in a post (for example, a photo of themselves using your products).
- Reward user-generated content (UGC) by liking, sharing, and commenting on posts that mention you.
This strategy of motivating shares will take time to build. You can speed up your progress by running giveaways with targeted, desirable prizes or by encouraging people to use a dedicated hashtag for UGC.
For example, this clothing brand encourages people to use the #wearingseasalt hashtag for the chance to be featured on their account:
Another way to encourage your followers to share your Instagram posts is to create highly shareable content.
Shareable content will look different for different businesses. For some, it's inspirational quotes or images. For others, it could be questionnaires, puzzles, or informational content. For some brave businesses, it's memes! You know your audience best. Think about the types of content they post, like, and share most often.
You can also boost shareability by creating timely content. Think national days, major holidays, or annual brand events. I'd advise against going for every event on the calendar but a few well-chosen holidays can really help amplify your message.
- A sustainable brand posting for Earth Day
- A brand with lots of parents in their audience posting for Mothers' Day or Fathers' Day
- A brand with regular product releases creating an annual festival to celebrate their latest lineup
Finally, one more way to encourage sharing is to enable the Guides setting. This allows other accounts to include your posts in their Instagram guides, which are collections of useful content around a specific topic. Even if someone else puts the guide together, you'll still be automatically tagged as the post author.
#9: Test New Post Times and Frequencies on Instagram
Changing the time you post content can make a big difference to your organic reach. Remember, the Instagram algorithm rewards content for being recent. So your goal is to post when your followers are online so your posts go to the top of the pile.
Instagram Insights is the first place to start. This will give you an idea of when your followers are most likely to be online and active. If they see your posts, their interactions will feed back into the Instagram algorithm to increase your organic reach.
The frequency of your posts can also make a difference. You want to post often enough to get noticed by the algorithm and keep showing up in your followers' feeds. But if you overdo it, you risk overloading your followers with too many posts.
As a general rule, I'd aim for no more than one post per day and no more than three stories per day. (Of course, there might be occasional exceptions such as if you use stories to send dispatches from a live event.)
Every account is different. It's worth experimenting with different frequencies to see what works for you and your audience. Remember, it may take a couple of weeks for the results of changes to become clear so make a plan for testing post time and frequency and give it plenty of time.
Your followers are your best route to higher organic reach on Instagram. They have the potential to interact and share your social media content with a far wider audience than you could ever achieve on your own.
You can maximize your effect and show your gratitude by being responsive in return. Follow your followers if they have public profiles. Like their posts about your brand. Share their stories that include your products or a brand mention. Answer their comments and keep the conversation going in the replies. Monitor your direct messages and never leave them hanging.
It's always worth remembering that social media is fundamentally about interaction. Everybody wants to get a response and feel seen. So when you're responsive to your followers, they'll be encouraged to interact more over time. They'll have a positive image of your brand, and ultimately be more likely to shop with you.
Get More Advice on Instagram Marketing
- Attract the right followers on Instagram without buying any extra software or apps.
- Drive more traffic to your site from Instagram.
- Create ads specifically designed to sell products and services on Instagram.
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