March 29, 2018Devvela insights
10 min read

Hacking Instagram Algorithm with Post Scheduling

Searching for the best Instagram post scheduling tool

When it’s been seven years since you created your Instagram account, it seems that you’ve seen it all: standard photo filters, all kinds of frames, food shots, #365project, #100happydays, #TBT, #icebucketchallenge, #followmeto, selfie madness, hot legs or hot dogs, vines, Facebook acquiring Instagram, Instagram feed algorithm change (hi Facebook), first ads, live videos, stories, and thousand other updates to the popular social platform. When Instagram becomes an internal part of your daily routine, a means for shopping and finding your next fun spot, and when you realize that your friends on Instagram are becoming bloggers, you begin to believe that you know everything about the platform. Or almost everything.

And when you find yourself a corporate team member with the largest number of subscribers on Instagram, and there is no SMM-person in the company, you accept the challenge of managing the corporate account with enthusiasm. Such a piece of cake!

In reality, things are a bit more complicated. You immediately face two problems:

  1. The new Instagram feed algorithm that is meant to make your newsfeed more customized and engaging. Honestly, it fails at its core. The previous version of the algorithm that showed the most recent updates was great, and I believe that Facebook should contemplate that.
  2. Consistency! Managing a business account requires a system. You should hold to the content plan and the schedule based on engagement peaks, come hell or high water. In our case, you also have to consider the significant time difference, because the two offices of Devvela are located in two hemispheres.

Well, managing a corporate account still is fun, but you have to #takeitseriously.

In this blog post, I’m going to share how I solved these two problems and equip you with a couple of lifehacks that will help make your profile more popular without driving you crazy or sucking up your valuable time.


The new Instagram algorithm

Let’s begin with explaining the new Instagram algorithm. Put in a nutshell, the algorithm organizes updates in your Instagram feed so that you see the most relevant content on the top. Content relevance is measured based on your activity, such as your most frequent likes and visited profiles. This makes you, as a business profile manager, want to convince the new Instagram algorithm that your content is relevant to your target audience. The following tips will help you hack the algorithm:

  1. User engagement matters. Update when most of your subscribers are online. Refer to Instagram insights for information on the activity peaks of your audience. There are also some third-party services that allow you to see the stats.


Instagram account statistics


Once your update has been posted, the Instagram algorithm will limit its visibility to 10% of your overall audience. Should user engagement with the publication be high enough, the algorithm will present it to the other 90% of your subscribers.

2) Be highly responsive. You have 60 minutes to reply to a comment for your publication before the algorithm lowers the visibility of your update.

3) Comments that are shorter than four words are not factored into engagement.

4) Don’t edit, remove or re-publish an update again. All these actions are a red flag for the Instagram algorithm, causing visibility to drop. Draft first, review twice, and then post. Keep careful and orderly!

5) Hashtags are a powerful tool to boost your engagement — if you don’t use the same ones every day. This might work as a spam signal to the Instagram algorithm, which will end with your account being suspended or banned.

6) Trendy hashtags don’t work. Your update with a trendy hashtag will be buried by a ton of other posts in seconds, unless you’re Beyonce or Taylor Swift. Focus on something that has been at the constant level of hotness for weeks, months, or even years. Going creative on hashtags can sometimes become a bit of a challenge. I personally use all-hashtag.com when I’m in need of new hashtag ideas.



Hashtag suggestion tool


7) Follow hashtags. Although it is not quite clear yet how this works, there have been claims that following certain hashtags signal the Instagram algorithm to put your profile ahead of others making it more popular.

8) Stories are a great way to boost engagement. They appear in a chronological order with your favorites on the top.

9) Last, but not least: your content. The Instagram algorithm is a technology subject to hacking, but not with uninteresting, boring updates. Keep it natural, keep it human, and people will want to engage.

There are many details that escape your notice when managing your own personal profile. When it comes to building a solid corporate presence on Instagram with all the aspects you have never considered before and all the goals you have never tried to achieve with your personal account, the complex universe of the popular social network unfolds for you quickly. I can tell you how this happened to me. I was trying to keep everything in the hopper to hack the Instagram algorithm — until I realized that my own brain and the app were just not enough. This made me google some software that would help me solve some of the most challenging issues and, finally, harness the new Instagram algorithm.

One such issue was organizing and storing the content. You have to keep it on your smartphone and then draft a publication using the device (remember, you don’t have a second chance, because editing a published post causes engagement to drop). This made me search for an Instagram scheduling tool that would allow me to compose, edit, automate, and publish via desktop computer.


Choosing the right Instagram scheduling tool

I began my search with free services and applications.


Crowdfire

The makers of Crowdfire promise that the app will “help you discover and schedule content, and manage all your social accounts from one place.” The application supports a plethora of social platforms, allowing you to access and manage your profiles across all of them.



Managing social accounts with Crowdfire


Another feature of this app worth a mention is your in-app feed, based on the topic preferences that you are asked to specify when signing up. The feed updates can be shared with one click, but, to be honest, I found the whole feed thing more annoying than helpful because it doesn’t actually help and, still, you can’t hide it.



Crowdfire in-app feed


Composing a publication and posting to Instagram from computer with Crowdfire is easy. You can set up a calendar and the specify the best time to post. In its free version, the app allows you to schedule up to two posts a day.



Scheduling an Instagram post with Crowdfire


Seems like what we’ve been looking for, right? Well, not so much. At some point, I realized that “scheduling” with Crowdfire doesn’t mean auto-posting to Instagram. You make a note in the calendar to get a notification at the right time and publish your post manually. However, this isn’t specifically this app’s fault. I couldn’t find another similar free application that would allow for scheduling as auto-posting to Instagram — due to the Instagram’s constant war against spam bots, I guess. Even so, there is something that Crowdfire, as I believe, shouldn’t be doing: they never tell you that scheduling does not imply automation until you proceed to publishing your first post.

This application allows you to post to Instagram from PC — once you have installed their mobile app.


Crowdfire mobile dashboard


The mobile app sends you reminder notifications when the time comes to publish your scheduled posts. You then sign in to your Instagram account via Crowdfire and manually forward your content to the Instagram feed of your target audience.


Posting to Instagram via smartphone


Crowdfire has a user-friendly design, though most of the app’s functions were not relevant to me. The only thing that really annoyed me were these endless in-app feed updates with articles. However, the main reason why the app isn’t something I was looking for is that it does not allow to auto-post to Instagram.


Later

Later was the next app I came across and decided to give a try.

I must admit, I found Later’s design to be more appealing than that of Crowdfire. It looks good and is simple and clean of any unnecessary stuff. Before you can compose a publication with Later, you have to upload your images to the in-app gallery.



Later desktop dashboard



Scheduling an Instagram post with Later


The free version of Later allows up to 31 posts a month. Basically, its function and usage are very similar to those of Crowdfire. Both of the apps make managing an Instagram account less of a challenge — but neither of them solve the main problem: delayed posting to Instagram.


Later mobile app dashboard

Posting to Instagram with Later


I had to check on some other similar free apps before I discovered that none of them offer the post automation feature. But I still needed to find out how to schedule instagram posts, so I switched my focus to paid services.


Buffer


Posting to Instagram from computer with Buffer


Buffer promises to roll out the automated scheduling feature on March 23rd. According to the company, it will be available to business profiles in all subscription plans, including the free one. Right now, Buffer requires that you install the app and use your hands to post.



Announcement by Buffer CEO



Posting to Instagram from computer with Buffer



Schedugr.am




Posting to Instagram from computer with Schedugr.am


Schedugr.am is what I was looking for. But why ask me for my credit card when I sign up for a free trial? Yes, you are an Instagram scheduler, but we’re not that close yet!


Schedugr.am billing page


The price is calculated based on the number of accounts and follower size of each account:



Schedugr.am pricing



Parasite



Homepage of Parasite, an Instagram scheduling and auto-posting tool


At last, a paid Instagram scheduling tool that provides a free trial with no nonsense! Just sign up and go, even mobile app installation not required. Parasite allows you to view other profiles, create templates, access stats (if you add a proxy), and upload photos and videos.



Composing an auto-post to Instagram


After trying several similar services, I opted for Parasite and subscribed for its basic plan which covers one account with no direct messaging for the comfortable monthly fee of $5. Parasite provides only what’s truly important: scheduling posts and delivering them automatically into my target audience’s Instagram feeds, and Instagram account management. Scheduled publications save my precious time hacking the Instagram algorithm, and the time can be used for more valuable things — such as our new projects at Devvela.

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