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Hype Your Brand on Instagram

Lesson 10 of 20

Consider the Algorithm


Hype Your Brand on Instagram

Lesson 10 of 20

Consider the Algorithm


Lesson Info

Consider the Algorithm

Now let's talk about the algorithm. Oh my god I could spend like an hour here, but I'm not gonna. (laughs) The algorithm like literally changed again last week and this is probably gonna be the story of our life. So don't get so caught up in the algorithm, but let me tell you ways that you can beat the algorithm. Because Intagram's algorithm is designed honestly, to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time so that they never miss a moment that are most important to them. I mean that's the purpose of it and that's why Instagram is always trying to make that a better user experience. And like we said over here on the wall like when I started teaching there was 140 million monthly active users, and now there's over a billion. So there a lot of people to make happy all the time. And I get in my Instagram direct messages all the time about engagement and what are they doing wrong and why can't I see this and how can I do that? And I don't answer every single question,...

but I do my best to. And if I get the same question consistently, this is a little lesson to all of you business owners out there, that's information for content to be sharing and to be posting and to be doing a blog post or creating a YouTube video around a question that you hear over and over and over again. So pay attention to the questions, do your best to engage and answer every single one of them, but when it comes to the algorithm, it's a little bit tricky. So let's talk about some of the key factors that actually do impact the algorithm. Number one engagement. Instagram is showing you content based on your engagement. So if you're liking your cousin's dog or your boyfriend's outfit, you know, your girlfriend's night out and you're not focusing on your business, Intagram's just gonna show you more random content. The way that you double tap, like, comment, should be just as intentional as the way that you post. So you don't have to be nice on Instagram, you have to be intentional on Instagram. And you need to be engaging in that content, okay? It's also the relevancy of what you are engaging on. And the relationships that you're connecting with. Instagram starts to show you more of what you are engaging in, as suggested accounts to follow, suggested users to follow. So every double tap, every comment, every save, the amount of time you're spending looking at something, a video maybe you think they don't know you're looking, that account that you're checking out the video over and over again, well Intagram's tracking how long you're staying there and they start to show you more of that same content based on how much time you're actually staying and looking. It's smart. I don't know how it works. No one knows how it works. Like a user, the details of the algorithm, but there's key factors that you can change, right? The timeliness of when you post. So knowing the optimal time that your followers would actually engage is really important. And you can look at that from the data that we talked about earlier, when you go into your insights, you can look at your followers, you can look at the time that they are most frequently engaging, there's also some third party apps, like Iconosquare that you can look at, and really pay attention to the engagement time. Also profile searches. So every time you open up Instagram, and that little explore tab and you're searching for something, Intagram's tracking you. C'mon they're owned by Facebook. They are tracking your every move. Like you're looking for a videographer, so they might start showing you some more of the same. So that time, also direct shares from your Instagram stories. So this is another reason why you wanna be hanging out in the neighborhood, the Instagram stories, because if someone taps the airplane icon in your story and shares that to someone else, that counts as engagement for your Instagram account. And the time that you spend on each post, like I said. So the short answer to all of this is that it's very complicated. But we can outsmart it, right? We can definitely try to outsmart it. So here's what you need to share. There's three ways, okay? You need to have photos and videos that help you build an emotional connection with your followers. What is the reason you do what you do? Start With Why Simon Sinek, great TED Talk if you haven't watched that. If you don't know why you're bouncing out of bed to do the thing that you're doing, and you can't share that story, you need to kinda check in with yourself. There's a reason you do what you do. It's really important to know what that is. I like showing up as a role model to my three daughters and I love empowering the younger generation and I love helping business owners make more money. That's why I do it. 'Cause a lot of people struggle with making money and I wanna help people figure out how to use Instagram to launch their products or their service and to make the money doing what they love. 'Cause when you share what you love with the world in a big way, the world just becomes a nicer place for all of us, right? Okay so photos and videos that help you build emotional connection with your followers. Clear call-to-actions. No one should have to guess what you're asking them to do. Here's the rule of thumb. If you have a 10 year old in the house, or your kids have a friend that's a 10 year old, ask them if they understand what you just wrote. 'Cause you really need to say it in a way that is so easy to understand so they know exactly what you need them to do. And you wanna have timely posts that inspires your followers to join the conversation. You want people to feel inclusive. You wanna be building a community. And the way that you guys know, like I notice the same people who come back and comment on my posts, I check those people out and I don't always give them a follow. But I do go in and I give some love. So I'm not saying that you need to follow everyone's who's engaging in your Instagram content, but if the same person is showing up and saying really nice things about your photo about you or your business, I think that that warrants you to take the time, at least see who they are and what they do. And even if you don't need their business or their services you might know someone that does. I'm constantly playing matchmaker on Instagram. I am constantly sharing a profile with someone I know needs a copywriter, or a web designer. You know it's just like sharing the love. All you have to do is just press Share Profile and it's just an easy thing. So definitely making sure that you're showing up in the content, like I said earlier that's interesting to you. But also when you're there, stop for a second and look at who else is there. Because the other people who are in the comment feed are most likely like-minded business owners and are connecting to the same people, businesses, brands, books, things that you are and you just might be able to form a new relationship. There is so much in a comment thread. And for someone who's commenting often, when I comment I like to look at the conversation that's being had under the post from other people. And when someone takes the time to write something really long and brilliant, I'm like oh my gosh that was so profoundly said, I wanna check out this person. So the comment thread is often a place that people overlook. Okay so just, you wanna have that conversation. You wanna join that conversation, and you wanna look at that conversation. Even if it's three comments, it's a start. As long as it's not nice pic check out my profile, you're good. And just to let you guys know, when I go into those accounts and I look at what they're doing, the shenanigans on the other end, I'm like I block it all. And you can block and delete and report anything that you see on Instagram. Instagram protects us to make this the best experience. So just know that you can do that. You can be proactive and all that. Okay so what's the difference between engagement driving post and traffic driving post? Let me explain this to you 'cause a lot of people don't understand this. And this is really important. Okay so you wanna have a mix of the two. Engagement driving posts are specifically worded and designed to encourage those comments and likes making you more likely to show up in your follower's feed. Because the truth is, when you have a lot of engagement on your post, when you go and post the pre-launch and the launch, your post will show up in front of more people. You don't always get as much engagement when you're in a launch, but it will get seen by the right people that you've already done the work for in the pre-launch. So traffic driving posts are specifically worded and designed to encourage people to actually click the link in your bio. You want them to take the action like we talked about earlier. Where do you want them to go? What do you want them to do? So let's look at my friend Amy Porterfield. She's #brilliant. Do you guys know Amy? Yes, okay. So Amy did this post on the far left and it's a text heavy post, this is for her podcast. She has one of the best podcasts, Online Marketing Made Easy. And this is an episode, she told you the episode number, she told you the title, she told you the guest, and she gave you a call-to-action, listen now at So if you wanna know how to engage your small business group when you're just starting out on Facebook, go listen to that episode. What I love that Amy did, she wrote a great description, very well laid out. For those of you that don't know how to layout a description really well, we just posted a blog about how to space your descriptions, if you guys need to understand how to do this, because there are some nuances here, but Amy knows them. She used emojis, new podcast episode, she told you what she's talking about, she tagged Caitlin and she told you what to expect. And she has her own branded hashtag, #OnlineMarketingMadeEasy. And then she used the little emoji of the headphones, right? It's all there. This my friends, takes time. This is not two minutes. This is crafting it in the notes, and writing the right words, and having the right message, so that people take action and click the link in the bio. So Amy's using Linktree, which is software that you can use to have multiple links in your bio. I recommend it when it's done well like this and it doesn't confuse people. Because often people have so many links I don't know where you want me to click, so the more links you have, you know it has to be done strategically. Like what's the action you want them to take? Amy wants you to go listen to that episode. So that was one episode ago, but you may be interested in listening to one of her other four episodes that she has when you click it. What I love about what Amy's doing, she's only listing the episodes to her podcast. She's not showing you any of her online courses that she's selling, it's all about her podcast. Because she uses her podcast to build her list, to stay in touch with her audience. To connect with them, and nurture them, and build that know, like, and trust factor. And she does it so beautifully. So this is really well done, from post to description, to get them to click the link in the bio. Okay back to my favorite Instagram family. OMG you guys, you might be here for days. Okay so I had the pleasure of connecting with Jeff when he was in Boston. Jeff Mindell, who's the dad of Arlo on the far left over here. And everything that you see online, on Instagram, he is in person. He and I rocked out a couple videos when we were together, we took some hashtag sign photos, and we had a blast. And I asked him a lot of questions, I actually did a little interview with Jeff. But what I want you to notice here, these are all engagement driving posts. So they've got it all going on on three different accounts here you guys. So this is Jeff's with his wife and his baby, he just got his first haircut. OMG so cute, over 4,000 likes. Okay that's baby Arlo. And then shopstudiodiy, I showed you that clutch photo earlier, well here she is with another clutch. Always bright, always you know hands up, hands out. She's got the legs going on, the colors all done the same way and she's like it's almost like the clutch was made for today. She's not selling it, it's almost like the clutch was made for today. And on that clutch it says fun day. If you wanna learn how to do Instagram, these three accounts, I just watch them and I'm like that was so smart, that was so good. And on studiodiy, Kelly's post, Jeff is not even all in it, it's just all about Arlo. He's cut off at the top. It's all about that adorable face with the sunglasses. When you're feeling you're in your outfit of the day #minimindells, and if you click that, OMG you'll be there for days with little Arlo. Okay does anyone follow any of these accounts in the audience? Okay this is like the Instagram family, meet the Instagram family. They got it all going on. Jeff also sells his prints and Kelly has her shop. And they're influencers, they're amazing, and I love seeing it all come together. It's a great place to learn. So let's recap. It's not about outsmarting the algorithm, it's strategizing how to make it work to your advantage, meaning where to spend time engaging, when to be posting, and really taking the time to engage in the right accounts. And also when you're posting on Instagram, and you see that your engagement is showing up in front of more people and you're getting more likes, it means you're doing something right. So just stop and look at that, document that in your journal, in your Google Doc, wherever you're gonna do it. And continue working like that. Don't worry so much about is someone gonna like this? If you go through all the steps that we talked about that you need to do, post but don't dash. You wanna post and you wanna be there when there is engagement, so that you are answering questions and you are commenting back, if anyone's showing up. I always leave about 15 minutes after I post just to engage because it's that first hour after you post where the algorithm kicks in. So you wanna get as many likes, as many comments, as many saves in that first hour and if you do, it will get moved to the top of those hashtags, it will get moved to more people seeing it in their feed. And so you need to stick around and take the time to engage. We're gonna be talking about engagement in a little bit. And then the more people that are engaged with your content the more likely they are to see it in the future. So if you have someone that says to you you know I'm not seeing your posts anymore. I really miss Arlo, I haven't seen him. You can say to them, you know what, if you come over to my account, just double tap and like a few photos and comment on a few, and you'll start seeing them again. So tell your audience, if you hear that from someone, Sue I don't know why I'm not seeing your things, it's 'cause you're not engaging as much as you used to. Just come over, double tap like four or five pictures, leave a comment and engage. You know one of the things I see frequently in my feed, I have people who just like like 50 photos. And I'm like do you really think I'm coming over to your bio to say hi? 'Cause you didn't say anything to me. And you can like pictures for sure. But when you leave a real comment, that's when you get the attention. So if you're trying to get someone's attention, they will read your comment. The likes are nice, but the attention is in the comments, right? So occasionally I'll go back to that person in the DM and I say is there a reason that you liked 50 of my photos? Like I'll call them out like that. (laughs) 'Cause I'm curious, is there something I'm doing that you like but you didn't tell me? I wanna know. So you can kinda be like that, if that's your personality, 'cause I'm like I'm calling you out buddy. What are you doing trying to get my attention to go like and follow you? 'Cause that's not working for me. That's a tactic that someone taught, that apparently, you know double tap, like 10, comment on two, and then you'll get a new follower. Doesn't work for me, right you guys? That system is broken. Okay sharing both engagement and traffic driving posts will help keep your followers on their toes and keep your call-to-actions from getting stale, okay?

Class Description

Think Instagram is just for beach vacation selfies and shots of your quinoa-kale bowls? Think again. With more than 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social marketing platforms for business. But while you might recognize the power of Instagram and its millions of enthusiastic devotees, leveraging that power is a whole other story.

Sue Zimmerman is a highly sought-after social media marketing educator, speaker and business coach who specializes in teaching entrepreneurs, executives and marketing professionals how to use Instagram to boost their brand and drive their business forward.

Sue will explore every aspect of the Instagram universe—from how to use Instagram Stories and Highlights to how to master the site’s elusive algorithm—so you’re ready and able to grow your presence, build and engage your audience, and rack up sales.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Work with, not against, the Instagram algorithm.
  • Create effective and appropriate content for your feed and Instagram Stories.
  • Use Instagram Stories and bio links creatively.
  • Organize your content.
  • Craft an eye-catching and consistent look and feel.
  • Get your followers to take action.
  • Conduct hashtag research.
  • Figure out the end game for each of your posts.
  • Develop a posting schedule.


Cat in the Moon Photo

Can I just say, "I LOVE Sue"! I took her three day course on CreativeLive back in January when I had finally decided that I didn't want to be the only photographer NOT on Instagram. I took that class knowing absolutely NOTHING about the platform and by the end of it, I was up and running. When I heard that she was doing a new class, I knew I had to see it. By the end of the day my head was exploding with information. There are so many new things on IG that I am already WAY behind the times and have so much work to do. Sue delivered the course in true Sue form - highly entertaining and energized. The examples of successful businesses that she uses are so inspirational and make you feel like, "Yes! It IS possible!!" I am sooooo glad I own the course, because there is no way I could get the full benefit from just watching it once. I will be going back to this class MANY times as I develop as an Instagrammer!

a Creativelive Student

I love Sue's energy and her passion for her work is contagious. She is animated and articulate, making learning about Instagram not only fun, but inspiring. I found her tips to be very intuitive and easy to implement if you have the desire and drive to take your Instagram to the next level. I'm at a point where I've grown my Instagram to a respectable amount (13K), but I want to take it to the next level, so I'm doing a one-on-one consultation with her. I really appreciate all the work she's done into creating a program to uplevel your Instagram game.

Nick Davis

Amazing class, super helpful for understanding how to make your Instagram work for your business. And Sue B is engaging and fun to listen to. But make sure you have a pen and paper ready, because there's so much important information you're going to want to write it down! I'm about to start again from the beginning and this time take notes!