Since Instagram’s launch in 2010, it quickly earned its reputation as a social media giant in today’s world of point-and-shoot media sharing. Now, almost five years later, 300 million users share more than 70 million photos each day. With 20 percent of internet users 16-64 years-of-age flocking to the social platform, it’s a necessary marketing avenue. But, Instagram just became even more important with the launch of the Search & Explore feature.
To step up their competitive edge, Instagram recently launched Search & Explore to let users see the world as it happens around them with real-time reporting. Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom says “It’s a real-time visual pulse of what’s happening in the world.”
For users, this bold move simplifies discovering photos, but for businesses, you now have another way to get your brand right in front of your targeted audience.
Instagram’s Search and Explore Feature
Launching this feature required two updates. The first was a revamp to the Explore page to support their new vision for instant and effortless image discovery. Now, trends will surface in real-time to connect users to events and conversations across the globe. Using tags and trending placings, users will experience moments from unique perspectives with visual rich content from information that’s curated with collections.
The second update was to the Search feature to dramatically improve how users find exactly what they are looking for with the new Places Search. Users can peer a little deeper into any location on Earth. From restaurants to music festivals, users get an inside-look into what’s happening right now.
With new access to people, places, and tags from trending locations all at once, brands have the opportunity to land on the “Top Posts” to skyrocket their visibility on the site. This is extremely important for location-based businesses.
How does it work?
Search & Explore will individualize the experience for each user by choosing photos and videos that are liked by people you’re connected with and by current trending posts. The hashtags used on these posts will index and categorize the content to appear in what’s currently trending. The hashtags will be labeled in sections called “Top Posts” near the “Most Recent” posts to show users what’s popular for a specific hashtag or place.
Search & Explore will choose what you see by linking the trending places and suggested people into different collections by Instagram account or place. To find what’s trending, users will conduct searches to discover what, who, and where are popular on Instagram.
The results generated will depend on a variety of factors, like the people you follow, who you’re connected with, and what photos and videos you’ve previously liked.
How will businesses benefit from Search and Explore?
Search & Explore not only hands you a new way to get discovered, but you’re able to use the feature to fine tune your own Instagram strategy. For example, the Discover page will let you see suggested people and places who are already relevant to your brand. This takes a lot of guesswork out of targeting your audience because the recommendations are based on your Instagram activity.
Search by Place to grow your audience by connecting with people in certain geographical locations. You’ll explore what’s being shared by your location to engage with users while finding the best hashtags for more visibility. The same feature allows you to discover trending hashtags in real-time to see if current trends relate to your product, service, or brand. If they do, leverage this to develop engaging conversations to build brand trust and loyalty. Then, use these as inspiration to help develop your own trending posts for users and places that are connected to your business.
Combining these factors will help build to Instagram’s already high engagment rates. The more you develop your engagment, the higher you’ll appear in the feature’s search results.
Step Up Your Hashtags
Hashtags are your secret weapon to success, especially since only 20 percent of Instagram posts have 6 or more hashtags and 53 percent of posts only have one hashtag. This means you’ll instantly boost your engagement by stepping up your hashtag use, but remember it’s also about quality, not quantity.
Every post needs to have multiple relevant hashtags that are specific to your audience. To choose the best hashtags, pay attention to what others are using and use hashtag tracking tools like RebelMouse, Tagboard or Talkwalker.
Then, whenever you’re hosting an event, having a promotion, or just need more people to walk through your door, use these hashtags, along with your location to get in front of more people.
Share Quality Photos
A great photo says a thousand words, especially on Instagram. Not to mention 60 percent of consumers say they are more likely to consider a company if an image appears with their search. So, when people are using Search & Explore, make sure the picture they find accurately portrays your brand. But, only share quality pictures because 67 percent of consumers say image quality is very important when choosing a company.
Select your pictures wisely because there are certain aspects that have higher engagement rates. For example, pictures of real customers have 30 percent higher engagement. Also, high amount of background space generates 29 percent more likes that those with minimal and lighter images have 24 percent more likes than darker images. Texture also comes into play with high levels of texture generating 79 percent more likes.
For even more visibility, geo-tag your photos and connect to the mapping function to make it easier to find your business. Using the right pictures will boost your engagment to encourage more likes and shares.
Post at the Right Time
71 percent of the world’s top brands are on Instagram, with 57 percent averaging at least one post per week. This means you’re up against pretty tough competition. But, posting at the right times during the day will promote your engagement.
Latergramme ran an analysis of over 61,000 Instagram posts to see when engagement was the highest. They discovered the best time to post is at 2 am and 5 pm, EST. The worst times are at 9 am and 6 pm. Plus, Wednesdays appear to be the sweet spot in the week, while Mondays have the least amount of engagement.
Create Great Captions
The captions you create for your posts will drive engagement. Although there isn’t any apparent connection in the length of Instagram captions that impact engagement, the average caption is 138 characters long, including the hashtags.
Create a catchy and descriptive caption that includes your location and your website’s URL to help with search visibility. To drive higher engagement, use @mentions in captions for 56 percent more engagement. Combining your location, mention, and hashtags will add 79 percent higher engagement.
Strive to Promote Engagement
Forester reports brand engagment on Instagram to be over 4 percent higher with 58 times more engagment per follower than Facebook and 120 more engagment than Twitter. That engagement is more crucial under the new Search & Explore feature. If you want to land on the “Top Posts,” you need to step up your engagment. The more likes and shares, the higher you’ll appear when your hashtags and locations are searched.
- “The All-New Search and Explore: See the World as It Happens” Instagram Blog
- “Search and Explore” Instagram Help Center
- “Instagram Tips: Using Hashtags” Instagram Blog
- “5 Insightful Instagram Statistices that You Should Know” Social Sprout
- “When Is the Best Time to Post on Instagram?” Tech Times