It’s commonly ‘taught’ that posting three times a day (at least), is the most effective strategy for engagement and growing your Instagram page organically, but is this true? (3 min read)
You might have heard a similar argument along the lines of this:
“Did you know the average user opens and browses Instagram 18 times a day? Therefore, the more that you can post, the higher the chance of hitting your audience”.
It makes sense. So what about that friend that we all have that posts countless times a day, using every hashtag under the sun, yet shows no signs of growth?
Firstly, a disclaimer. We know enough about this topic to tell you that no one, including ourselves, can truly call themselves an expert in this field, except Instagram themselves, so be careful what you take as gospel. Instagram’s rules, algorithms, placements, and features shift and change frequently. The platform does not work in the same way that it did a year ago, and it will definitely not be the same from a year from now. There are however, some clear mechanisms behind Instagram that we should consider when answering the above question.
The way Instagram algorithms are built, rely on measuring and prioritising user engagement. Simply put, Instagram organically boosts strongly engaging content to more users feeds, while suppressing the weaker engaging content. It deduces what content is and isn’t engaging, by testing it in front of small portions of your audience, before it is shown to your wider audience and then potentially new people too!
Why don’t they just show my post to all of my followers?
In a world where around a thousand photos are posted every second on Instagram, and around 4.5k per second on Facebook, there needs to be a way to make sure that what people see on their feed, is relevant and interesting to them. You have to take into consideration, if these social media platforms fail to get this right, their users will get bored/irritated/disengaged and will eventually stop using them. If this happens, businesses won’t advertise on them to reach users, and the wheels start to fall off of the company. The more that Facebook and Instagram can optimise and refine their users feeds to be as relevant as possible, the better the outcome for all involved (the better for the user, for their bank accounts and in some respects, the better for you – for having a way to target real people in an effective method).
So with this in mind, right off the bat your posts are only seen by the top 10% of your followers (rough gauge at best). So, if you thought that all of your followers saw your post(s), they don’t (sorry!). Those that DO see your post, are going to be prioritised as the people who the platform deduce are those who care most about your page (they may have DM’d you, liked your post, wrote a comment, or searched your name in the search bar). Of these most engaged people, Facebook and Instagram’s clever algorithms compare your profile and post to others who are similar to you, in both follower and engagement levels. It tries to level the field as much as possible, in order to do it’s best to determine the level of engagement on your recent posts, when considering the average. It will then identify your post as either relatively highly or poorly engaging. I’m sure you’ve already figured, poorly engaging content will be suppressed into the dark corners of smaller traffic, while highly engaging content will be shown to more of your followers, and maybe even a new audience that the algorithm has determined to be a demographic that are likely to resonate well with that piece of content (utilising it’s Discovery tool or IGTV, as basic examples).
So now we’re thinking like Instagram, and we understand about the right way to organically grow our followers. The key is engaging content, that resonates with our audience (we understand this is a challenge, but it really is THAT simple). Now this isn’t to say that posting three times a day is poor practice, but you have to start being very realistic about how well you’re investing into producing great QUALITY content, and whether you can still get away with posting three times a day. Especially when you are running campaigns on Instagram to place your video’s in front of people (learn how to do this with video views campaigns), each interaction from a user puts them into the ‘engaged’ bracket, which means that your posts can reach them again in the future (even if they don’t necessarily follow you). So here’s our simple take-away answer to the question in the title.
Whether you post three times a day, or three times a week, you will get zero growth if your content is poor! On the other end of the spectrum, if you had a magical endless supply of incredible content that resonated well with your audience, you could post three times an hour and see maximum growth on the platform.
What’s right for you? Understand your limitations and your investment into your content and make sure that you create the BEST content you can make, as a priority over making the MOST content. Strike the right balance for your project, and whether you can afford to invest into three posts an hour, or three posts a year, growing your audience will completely depend on how engaging it is to real people.
Pro tip: If you’ve cracked the content-code and have some media that resonates well with a particular audience, consider running video view campaigns to similar people from those posts, to grow your audience using LAL’s.