Everyone on Instagram, from the smallest influencer to the biggest business, wants #InstaFame. However, it takes a lot of work to shift from a state of obscurity into a place of notoriety. You need more than just great photos or even the best hashtags. You need to know how to hack the Instagram Explore page.

Otherwise known as “Instagram Search and Explore,” this part of the IG application can make or break your quest for social media success. Achieve the right placement on Instagram Explore, and you’ll have a regular flow of traffic coming to your profile in no time. After all, there are 1 billion monthly users on Instagram now, and they all go to the Explore page for their photographic fix.

While competition for placement on the Explore page is high, the good news is that finding your way around the algorithm doesn’t have to feel like you’re caught in a labyrinth. We’ve got the map to help you make the most of Instagram Search.

People, Woman, Girl, Cellphone, Instagram, Social Media

What is Instagram Search and Explore?

The Instagram Search and Explore page is where users can go to find curated content from the entire Instagram community. Instagram carefully chooses the material that it thinks you’ll like the most, like a personal shopper searching for the perfect outfit.

You can access the Explore page by clicking on the Magnifying glass icon in between the “+” and the Home icon. Remember, the Explore page isn’t affected by who you follow. It’s dictated by the content that you show the most interest in. Instagram’s smart algorithm watches your behavior on the app and lists the stories, videos, and even shoppable posts that it thinks you’ll find interesting.

That means that if you’re a brand hoping to get onto the Instagram Search page, you need to create the kind of content that audiences want to engage with. The material that appears on the Explore page is based on:

  • Posts users previously interacted with
  • Content with the highest engagement rates
  • Material similar to the posts from accounts a user already follows

Convince your Instagram followers to click on, like, comment, and generally interact with your posts, and the Explore page will reward you. Simple.

So, how exactly do you turn your Instagram posts into Instagram infamy?

1.     Know Who’s Looking for You on Instagram Search

One of the things the best things you can do to reach the Instagram Search page, is figure out what kind of content your audience is already interacting with. As mentioned above, the IG team often lists material similar to the posts users have interacted with before. With that mind, spend some time building out your user personas before your next Insta campaign. Ask:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • What kind of things appeal to them?
  • What are their own Instagram accounts like?
  • Who are they following (besides you)?

Imagine the kind of person you’d be most likely to show up on the Instagram Search page for and develop your strategy from there. Once you know the basics of your target audience, you can get to know them better by “Listening” to what they’re talking about with tools like Sprout Social, or Buffer.

2.     Develop Your Presence as a Lifestyle Brand

If getting onto the Instagram Search and Explore page is all about making deeper connections with your audience, then you’ll need to stop relying on soul-less pictures to populate your feed. Whether you’re an influencer or a brand, no-one wants to tune into a feed packed full of pictures of your latest product, or your new handbag. People go to Instagram to connect with other people.

Want proof?

Look at Nike and Adidas. On the surface, they’re two very similar brands. Nike spends about 60% of its time posting lifestyle shots, while Adidas only posts lifestyle pictures 32% of the time. The result? Nike gets 8 times more engagement.  

Pictures of people resonate with us. It’s easier to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes when you see a human being showing off a new product or service. What’s more, when it comes to building relationships, the classic #Selfie is more important than you think. Images with faces deliver more audience attention than any other picture.

3.     Use Hashtags to Boost your Searchability

Hashtags are the lifeblood of the Instagram Search page. Whether you love or loathe them, posts with at least a single hashtag earn up to 12.6% more engagement than those without. Ultimately, if you want to be seen, then you need to get used to tagging your posts.

The question is, how do you get the most out of your hashtags? At first, it might seem like going after the most popular hashtags on the market is the best option. After all, the more people that #Connect with your tags, the better. However, like trending keywords in SEO, trending hashtags also come with a lot of competition. Getting a little more niche with your content can make it easier to appear in Instagram Explore.

Ideally, you’ll want a blend of different kind of tags, including:

  • Branded hashtags like #[YourCompanyName]
  • Niche hashtags like #SocialMediaMarketing
  • Trending hashtags like: #TBT and #InstaGood

Check out the great selection of tags in this post from @Littlebaberham:

4.     Excite Your Audience with Promotions and Contests

Another great way to get your content onto the Instagram Search and Explore page is to get your customers talking about your brand. Giveaways are some of the best ways to increase the focus on your profile. After all, everyone loves free stuff.

The great thing about giveaways is they’re so incredibly easy to do. You don’t necessarily need to give away something too expensive to generate thousands of likes and shares. Just remember to ask your followers to comment on your post, and @Mention their friends in the comments for a chance to win. The more your audience spreads the word for your content, the easier it will be to extend the life of your post.

Competitions are a great way to simultaneously get your profile in front of new followers and show Instagram that you have the engagement required to thrive on the Explore page.

5.     Encourage Visibility with Compelling Captions

Captions are usually an afterthought in most Instagram campaigns. After all, Instagram is all about the visuals, so it’s easy to forget about the little bit of text that goes alongside your photos. However, the right caption could be the key to succeeding in Instagram Search.

According to studies, the ideal length of an Instagram caption is anywhere up to 150 characters. In other words, more than just one or two emojis. To increase the searchability of your photos, and hack the Explore algorithm, make the most out of your captions.

Throw some hashtags and emojis in there, but make sure that you tell a meaningful story about your pictures too. The more compelling your content is, the longer people will spend on your photos. Additionally, including things like @Mentions can increase your chances of engagement by 79%.

Optimize your captions by adding a compelling call to action too. Just as a CTA in your blog post can drive positive steps from your audience, the same rules apply on Instagram.

Check out this fun and engaging caption from @Innocent:

6.     Schedule Your Posts for The Best Possible Times

There are countless brands on Instagram today (71%), and most of them keep their profiles up to date with at least one post a week. Whether you’re running a business, or just building your influencer presence, you’ve got some serious competition to deal with. The question is – how do you make sure that you capture your audience’s attention?

One of the key components of the Instagram Search algorithm today is “timeliness.” It’s not just the most engaging and inspiring posts that make it to the top of the Explore page, but the most recent too. Posting at the right time of day improves your chances of interacting with the right audience. All you need to do to find your ideal posting time is check out the Instagram Insights page on your business profile. Here, you’ll be able to see where your customers come from when they’re most likely to be online and more.

Once you’ve gathered the right details from Instagram Insights, you can schedule your posts using a tool like Later, so that they automatically go out at the correct times. Of course, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your analytics in case your customer’s trends change.

Image result for instagram insights

7.     Tag Users, Brands, and Locations in Your Posts

People on Instagram follow the wisdom of crowds.

What we mean by that is that if you have lots of followers, your customers assume you’re worth following. If you have a lot of likes, people will be more likely to click the heart button when they see your post. If people see that other, influential brands and companies are connected to your brand, then they’ll also want to be part of your community.

With that in mind, it makes sense to find as many opportunities to tag other brands and users in your posts as possible. The easiest way to do this is through influencer marketing. Find someone with sway over your chosen niche and ask them to take a picture of them using your product. Remember, 4 in 10 millennials rely on Influencers for guidance when choosing products to buy.

You can also engage with collaborations with local brands, non-profits, and anyone else who can give your organisation an edge. Don’t restrict yourself to celebrities alone. While you’re at it, remember to tag your location too. People love supporting other ‘Grammers in their own community. A local tag will improve your searchability and give you an extra dose of appealing humanity.

8.     Keep Experimenting with Bigger, Better Content

Finally, remember that on Instagram, content makes the world go around.

If you want to appear in the Instagram Search and Explore page, attract the right audience, and build a reputation for yourself, then you need to invest in the right #IG material. That means that everything you post needs to be a perfect representation of your company, and what you stand for.

Regular pictures of your order at Starbucks aren’t going to cut it – nor are endless obviously staged business photoshoots. You’re going to need to get creative, and Instagram has tons of ways for you to do just that.

  • Try posting an Instagram Live video: Live content feels authentic and raw – it’s more likely to connect to your audience than staged videos.
  • Get visual with IGTV: Instagram is pushing video content more than ever lately, an IGTV post could be a great way to grab some extra attention.
  • Make your posts shoppable: Instagram recently added a Shopping tab to the Explore page. Showing off your latest shoppable products makes you instantly more searchable.

Need some inspiration? Check out what’s currently trending in the Instagram Explore page and get some insights from your competition. Don’t just copy and paste what you see though – make sure that you give every idea your own sense of style.

Getting Found on Instagram Search and Explore

Ultimately, the more engagement you get on your Instagram posts, the better your chances will be of getting to the top of the Explore page.

With great content, a solid knowledge of your target audience, and an insight into the other tips we’ve mentioned above, you’ll have what it takes to capture the interest and attention of endless new and existing followers. The more you learn how to hack the explore page, the greater your Instagram presence will become.

What are your favorite tips for making the most out of Instagram Search? Let us know in the comments below and reach out to FollowerGrowth today for instant boost to your IG strategy.