There’s been a renewed focus within Instagram to support you and your business with discoverability. Instagram Stories, which appear at the top of your feed, are one way. But there’s been a more subtle, yet powerful, technique as well.
Whenever someone follows a new Instagram user, they’re now presented with far more suggested users than before. This is your chance to grow your audience!
Note that you can also see similar recommended users even if you’re already following an account. Just view the account you want to start with and tap the down arrow button next to the Following button. A row of recommendations will be appear below.
But of course, there are two caveats. First, your account has to appeal to people who are actively connecting with others. And second, Instagram has to choose to list and recommend your account in the first place! In today’s article, we’ll address both aspects.
When someone looks at your Instagram profile, they’ll see your name, profile image, description and of course your recent posts. But when Instagram recommends that someone follow you based on someone else they just followed, they don’t see all of that. All they see is your Profile Picture, Name & Title.
First up, make sure that profile pic is great! If your Instagram account is for you personally, make sure you use a smiling, recent, close up picture of your face. If I can’t tell that’s you, and if you aren’t smiling, I’m less interested in learning more, or perhaps might not even recognize you!
If the account is for your business, please use a clear, great version of your business logo. Don’t have one? Learn about the best ways to get a logo designed and choose the best bang for your buck.
Next, make sure that your username is accurate and recognizable. If you have an established Instagram account, making a change here is not advised. But if you’re new or starting an account, try to choose a username that is as close as possible to your full name or business name.
Usernames are displayed as a single word, so a preferred username for me would have been MikeAllton. Alas, I created my Instagram account years ago before I had this advice! Fortunately, mallton is still relatively close.
The Name field is where you’d enter your full name or business name, like “Mike Allton” or “The Social Media Hat.” But, since you’re given 30 characters to work with, savvy Instagram users add additional info like their title, business focus, even emoji!
Mine, for instance, reads:
Mike Allton ▪️ Author ▪️ CMO
With those three profile aspects updated and optimized, anyone who sees a recommendation from Instagram knows my name, what I look like, and what I do, making it more likely that they’ll know, like and trust me (enough to follow me on the network). (See my full profile here: https://www.instagram.com/mallton/)
(Consistently branded images and a unique style of posting helps too!)
Other elements which may help your profile to come up as a suggested user or in searches include:
You likely know how important it is to use hashtags on your Instagram posts so that they’ll be seen in broader search streams. Consider also the potential for Instagram to learn more about you and the topics you are an authority on, based on those keywords. Like any system, Instagram learns based on the data that is entered.
If you don’t yet have a focused hashtag strategy that guides what and when you’re posting and ensures that your hashtags are closely related to your business, it’s time to create said strategy.
And to speed that learning process, as well as your overall audience growth, make sure that you’re posting frequently to Instagram. At least once a day should be the minimum, but I would recommend 3 – 6 times a day for accounts that want to really grow. (If you’re wondering how you’d have time to post that often, consider using a scheduling tool.)
Liking and Commenting
Spend a little time every day liking and commenting on other people’s posts. Again, make sure that this is a targeted activity, based on specific users, hashtags and related searches. It doesn’t help to engage with random users or off-topic posts.
Connecting With Peers
With the above activities in place, the most effective technique you can use to be recommended more often is to connect with your peers. It’s those connections that Instagram is going to use as a basis for recommendations.
For instance, when I look at recommendations similar to Social Media Examiner‘s account, I see Wordswag, Entrepreneur and Christopher Penn, among others. All great choices.
Instagram clearly wants to provide users with recommendations that make sense, and if you’re already connected with some of those other peers and influencers, it’s easier for Instagram to come to the conclusion that you’re someone that should be recommended alongside those others.
Got a question, or another tip to share? Leave a comment below.