We all get times on our account where for some reason our reach is suffering. We often turn to things such as algorithms or shadow bans as a reason, lamenting on how the Insta algorithm is against us! Sure, to a point it is. It’s no secret that Facebook favours ads over organic posts on their site, and Twitter is now about to instigate their new policy of only Twitter Blue members coming up on their “For You” page (a paid membership which not only gives you verification but allows you to be seen more on the platform.) So, where does Instagram sit on this?

Instagram still favours reels of course, and I’ve noticed myself a drop in reach on my personal platforms now that I have neglected that part of Instagram (sorry Insta), so if you’re not posting reels, perhaps that’s one of the reasons? Now of course, Instagram favours paid ads over organic, after all that’s what those users pay for, and utilising both in your social media strategy, especially for business, is always highly recommended. But when your reach is suffering significantly, you may want to truly get to the bottom of it, so let’s go through the reasons as to why your reach may be suffering, and what you can do about it.

1. Find your optimal posting times

Although Instagram does use an algorithmic timeline nowadays, it’s still worth checking in on when your followers are mostly online and finding your optimal posting times. Not only will it help you with consistency (which is really important), it will give you a goal to work towards and give your post the best opportunity to be seen by your followers and getting that all important reach and engagement. The likelihood is your followers’ followers will have similar interests to you too, and therefore, any shares generated will hopefully reward a return.

If you are using Business Suite or have an Instagram Business Profile, you will be able to see when your audience is online to better decide as to when you should post. Take a look at my example below!

So, from my own personal account I can tell pretty quickly that it’s not worth me posting at all during the day – this makes sense, as most of my audience are actually from the US and, for any that are in the UK, a good proportion of them are arriving home and settling down for the evening at around 6PM. So, at this time I am hitting my entire audience at a pretty prime time. You also have the options to view which days are optimal, but I have found my audience is pretty consistently the same over those days. Therefore, as long as I am posting at around 6PM (ideally perhaps a few minutes before) I should be hitting most of my audience! On the opposite side, it is totally not worth me posting at all early in the morning (despite a large number of articles claiming that this is prime time to post on Instagram.) It goes to show that you should look at and trust your OWN numbers before anyone else’s. So, if I you are doing this already, it may not be the culprit. If you aren’t, I definitely suggest giving it a whirl.

2. Try Out Reels

Reels receive 22% more engagement than regular Instagram video posts and are number one in engagement, over and above other short-form video apps (20 Instagram Reels Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind (influencermarketinghub.com) – that’s quite the statistic right? It’s also more important now with the up in the air nature of TikTok, with threats of bans galore as many ministers are banned altogether from using the app already. So, if you aren’t making reels, WHY aren’t you? You don’t have to be a makeup page or vlog either to make them – they’re a great way as an artist to show people some speed draws or behind the scenes of your process, (which I’ll admit I need to do more of) and you can also use them to hop onto some viral songs and memes too! Get creative! You may end up on that explore page in no time! Show off your product, do a Q&A- let people get to know YOU.

3. Contests, Questions and Giveaways

Calls to action are always a great way not just to up reach, but engagement too. I’ve often found that hosting art giveaways has encouraged A LOT of comments and shares, leading to great amounts of reach – especially when conditions of entry include sharing and commenting! I usually host big events like this when reaching a milestone, as it encourages celebration of not just my account, but a chance to thank followers and inspire loyalty from them too.

Some calls to action I have done are:

  • Comment the character of yours you’d like me to draw and tell me about them (people LOVE talking about their characters in my circle.)
  • DTIYS – encourage people to redraw my drawing, tagging me and using the hashtag I created for a chance to win a commission.
  • One I am planning is an art share, where people tag their favourite artists, who inspires them and artists they think deserve more credit – again, this inspires loyalty too, and also causes these artists to become aware of you!

4. User Generated Content

Now this doesn’t entirely have any relevance to me personally (as most art accounts typically post their own art and content and that is the draw for their engagement), but I can utilise this to a point when it comes to DTIYS contests, where I share the entries on my account. Not only is this a great way of getting content out with minimal effort (yes, cheeky, we know) but it inspires loyalty from those whose content you’re sharing. For example, when managing Discover Your Wales, on a Friday I have #LlunYrWythnos (Photo of the Week) where I share my favourite photo of Wales from those the account’s been tagged in by its followers. Most are incredibly thankful when I share, and they also encourage a lot of engagement, reach and accounts tagging for the chance to be featured. It’s a perfect way of building community, alongside getting you noticed by other accounts too.

5. Instagram Stories

If you’re not using Instagram stories, why aren’t you? Stories take a prominent position on the Instagram app — above the feed. This allows you to stay on top of your followers’ feed and grab their attention. If your followers view your Stories regularly, it could possibly even help your Instagram posts rank higher on their feeds! Why not share posts you like, as if you share someone’s post to your story now too, the poster is also notified. (I’ve been followed by people I greatly admire merely from sharing a funny story centred around their post on my story.) You can also ask questions on your story – perhaps do a Q&A, or ask your followers for their opinions, or a fun little competition – on Discover Your Wales I tend to do a “Ble Ydyn Ni” once a week, where I post a picture of somewhere in Wales and encourage them to answer and guess where we are! You can also do a “Ask me Anything” and answer the question via your stories too! The possibilities are endless!

6. Go Live!

When you use live video, you will appear right at the front of the Stories feed, assuming no one else is live at the same time. The “LIVE” logo also makes your profile photo more prominent on the Instagram app, making you more noticeable. Seeing your logo at the top of your followers’ feed might encourage them to check out your Instagram profile, even if they don’t watch the LIVE. Why not use it as a chance to do a Q&A, reveal a product or do a collab with another account, also encouraging reach and engagement from their audience too?

7. Create Specifically for Instagram

One way to improve reach is to specifically tailor posts for Instagram. Instagram is a very visual platform and, as a result, has a greater focus on the photo or video itself as opposed to the text. So, a post that would do well on Instagram is probably different from one that would do well on Twitter or Facebook, where they are more text oriented.

Of course, for smaller social media teams or solo social media managers, it can be challenging to consistently create unique content for each platform. Repurposing content from other platforms is a viable strategy when it comes to content creation, and not one that should be ignored. But if you are doing that, it’s always best to craft specific captions for each platform as your followers likely follow you for a different reason for each of the platforms. Maybe give more information behind the image on Twitter or Facebook, some background to the content that followers on Instagram may miss out on, perhaps take advantage of Instagram’s carousel feature, and use the text differently and in a more visual way there.

8. Be a Good Instagram User

It’s not enough to just post and disappear, you MUST be an active user on Instagram too to reap the benefits. Social media algorithms are built to encourage genuine, positive behaviours such as sharing, interaction, engagement, and more. You cannot expect your audience to do all the leg work and sit back and take the rewards, no. Social media is about building relationships and communities, so do that.

Do you remember when I said that I had people I admired follow me over sharing their post with a funny adage? It works, as I have also had another do so from answering a question they asked (an artist I really admired wanted to know how they could schedule their posts as they had so much content, they often forgot to post it, so I shared my knowledge with them and we ended up chatting, meaning I got a follow and a friend out of it!)

Here are general ways you can go about this!

  • Post quality content that is relevant to your followers (be it informative, inspiring, or entertaining!)
  • Answer questions on your posts quickly and genuinely.
  • Thank people who comment on your posts and engage with them.
  • Explore other people’s profiles, engage with their posts, and build a relationship with them!

It’s easy to do this, and not only will it encourage engagement and reach, but it will also encourage GENUINE engagement and reach.