To get on Instagram’s Explore page you’re going to want to do the following 8 things, really really well.
1. Know your audience
Instagram puts content on the Explore page that they think people will be most likely to interact with, and they determine this in all kinds of really advanced ways.
Relevancy is the basis behind all algorithm-based social media feeds. Social platforms want to show you the content that you’re likely to be the most interested in, and that you will engage with.
It’s also no secret that Facebook has access to a lot of data about people and the content shared on its platform. They’re also constantly working to bring the platform to new users, especially in terms of accessibility.
For example, they developed cutting-edge photo recognition software over 10 months to assist blind users. This tool automatically adds contextual alt text to every image upload. It seems fair to say that Instagram makes use of the software developed by their parent company, and this data can help with general content tagging.
If you prefer certain content types, Instagram knows this on a very deep level.
For example, Instagram knows that I like art videos, so in the Videos You Might Like section they show me a post of someone painting a beautiful work of art.
So if you are an artist, you would want to copy these types of content that appear on your own Explore page.
2. Use Popular Instagram Hashtags and Location Tags to Get Discovered
One way of the simplest ways to amass Instagram likes is to use hashtags, which make content discoverable by more than just your existing followers. Brands with at least one hashtag have up to 12.6% more engagement than those without.
However, you don’t want to rely solely on slightly limited brand hashtags. Incorporate the use of unbranded hashtags to ensure that your posts reach new audiences.
Though hashtags are powerful in helping users to discover your content, they should be used cautiously to prevent your posts coming across as overly promotional. The average account that gets on Instagram Explore tags cleverly and just the right amount.
Though the maximum number of hashtags allowed in a post hashtags to is 30, general advice has been that the optimum number of hashtags is between 5 and 11. Run the numbers with your own tests and analytics to determine the ideal number for your audience.
When you feature a brand, such as for clothing, gear, or a restaurant, you can tag them in the post so that when they like your photo, it will be discoverable to their audience. Even better for you is when they see that they’ve been tagged and decided to repost your photo, which can bring new users to your site.
You can also tag locations in your post to better target your audience, and to make them discoverable to nearby users and those searching the specific location.
3. Interact with Your Instagram Followers
To increase the chances of your content being discovered through the Instagram Explore page, it’s necessary to do everything in your power to increase engagement with your audience.
In addition to giving you further reach on Instagram, it also helps to build loyalty, as users tend to respond positively when they feel that your valuable time and effort was taken to personally engage them.
The most obvious way to boost engagement is by liking and commenting on your followers’ posts or replying to their comments on your posts. Comments tend to be perceived as more real interactions than likes.
So, when possible, you should reach out to users with comments, rather than simply liking their posts. The more specific a comment is about a post, the more likely it is to promote the user to continue to interact with you and your page.
4. Use Captions to Encourage Action
Don’t underestimate the power of your captions to encourage specific actions on your Instagram posts.
A compelling call-to-action (CTA) in your caption is a surefire way to encourage followers to engage with your content. This can be done by asking them questions, adding branded hashtags, and advertising a sale.
Many popular Instagram accounts find success by sharing funny or interesting photos, and engaging people with a “Like if you agree or Follow @username” call-to-action at the end of their caption.
Not only do CTAs promote Instagram interactions—they can also help you to convert your followers into paying clients.
5. Schedule Content for the Most Optimal Times
Though the quality of your content is a huge factor when assessing engagement, several studies have found that what time you post also plays a role in how well your content performs.
If you’re signed up for an Instagram Business Account, you can check out Analytics data for when followers interact with your posts, which is the best way to assess optimal times for your audience. However, this is only helpful if you have a large enough data set to work with.
If you don’t, check out some of these studies for the best times to post on Instagram, as well as the optimal number of posts to upload per day. As always, test your guesses to see how the best practices really apply to your business.
6. Get Big Brands/Influencers to Interact With Your Posts
Sure, you could just tag brands and influencers in your posts, but it may just end up coming across as spammy.
Once tagged as a spammer, you’ll have a hard time making truly good connections with these same entities in the future.
A better approach is to start with a long-term goal of building relationships with key influencers in your industry.
In other words, make friends with people who have influence.
A couple of quick hints for getting started:
- Follow them (without the expectation that they’ll follow you back)
- Reach out via DM introducing yourself
- Sending a post via DM or email that you’d like them to check out, with a reason why it would be relevant/worth their time
An example of this in action would be if Social Growth Factory made an Instagram post about an article we wrote, like The 25 Most Up & Coming EDM Artists on Instagram.
We could send this post to the artists that were featured in the article, asking them to comment on it or like it. We could also invite influencers to submit their own opinions as to the best music artists.
Even just tagging a relevant influencer can encourage them to like or comment on your posts… you just have to make sure that your post is extremely relevant to them.
7. Encourage Followers to Turn on Post Notifications
Besides aiming for a high quantity of engagement actions, it’s just as important for these activities to happen in a timely manner.
Another intricacy of the new non-chronological Instagram algorithm is that it matters how quickly a post accumulates likes and comments.
Instagram posts that are quickly attracting a large number of likes and comments have a significantly higher chance of making it on Instagram’s Explore page.
One tactic for encouraging fans to act in kind is to ask them to turn on post notifications.
Almost immediately after the new algorithm came into play, many influencers and brands created a post dedicated to telling fans how to stay in-the-know for every post.
Even though the algorithm changed happened a while ago, it’s not too late to ask fans to turn on post notifications.
Gary V. shares an interesting tactic worth adapting for your own purposes.
After encouraging people to turn on post notifications, he let fans know that there would be a giveaway exclusively for people that comment within the first 60 seconds and called this the #60secondclub.
8. Encourage Followers to Engage With Your Posts in Non Typical Ways
Likes and comments are the most common forms of engagement, but there are still other types of Instagram engagement that can help a post make it’s way to the Explore Page:
- Saving posts
- Sharing posts via direct message
In order to encourage these types of engagement, consider holding a contest that incorporates these activities in order to be entered.
For the best chance of making it on the Explore page, encourage contest participants to use multiple forms of engagement for entry, for example, liking, commenting, and saving the post.
To get people to share your post via direct message, it’s important to create content that naturally encourages sharing. For example, you might create a quote image post saying something like, “I love when the coffee kicks in and you realize what an adorable badass you are going to be today.” Then, in the post’s caption, encourage people to direct message it to an Insta-pal who loves coffee.
How to Know if You’re on the Explore Page
In the words of Pusha T, “if you know, you know.”
That might seem like a cop-out answer, but let me explain…
Take a look at your Instagram feed. Browse through your last 30ish posts. What’s the range of likes that you usually get? What’s the minimum? What’s the max?
You don’t have to bust out excel for this, but what would you say your average is?
Say you average 400 likes per photo. If you’re like most people, the likes on each individual photo vary quite a bit. Your really good photos might get double the amount of likes. Your weak photos might only get 120 or 150 likes. Your best photo of the past 6 months? It might have gotten 1000.
So that’s the typical range of posts that don’t hit explore. If your post gets more than 3x your average, then you might have made explore or at least trended on a hashtag or two for a few hours.
Any more than that and you know what? Congrats. You hit the explore page.
Pro-tip #1 – another way you can tell is by looking at commenters. If you start getting lots of comments from people who don’t follow you, guess what?
Congratulations, kiddo! You made it!
The Easiest Way Get on Instagram’s Explore Page Right Now
The above eight ways to get trending on Explore, all work, and we definitely recommend doing all of them.
The easiest way to get to the explore page is using Powerlikes, which basically boost your posts with likes from influencers and big accounts to give them the reach they need to get there.
Getting on the Instagram Explore Page can be challenging at first — But I Believe in You, Kid!
There are over 1 Billion Instagram users now. Let that sink in. 1 Billion Users. That’s a lot of eyeballs, a huge audience. Whatever it is your trying to promote, the Explore page can probably help you.
The Instagram Explore page isn’t rocket science: it’s a mix of good (viral) content, engagement from influential accounts and timing.
However, by having a clear vision of your target market, selecting appropriate hashtags, engaging followers, and optimizing your content by releasing it at the right time, it’s possible to bolster your base and your bottom line—without having to pay for Instagram Ads.