Whenever you browse through a hashtag on Instagram, the very first thing you’ll see is a three by three grid of the ‘Top Posts’ for that hashtag. Because of their visibility, getting featured can provide a lot of exposure, possibly helping you to engage a wider audience and gain more followers in the process.
How Instagram’s ‘Top Posts’ Work
Essentially the ‘Top Posts’ on Instagram are a picked out by an algorithm that attempts to rank posts within that hashtag. Unlike the ‘Explore’ page that is user-specific, every viewer sees exactly the same ‘Top Posts’ for a given hashtag.
Although no one knows precisely how Instagram’s algorithm selects ‘Top Posts’, it has been proven to measure engagement and its growth. More specifically, it tracks both the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ that a post receives, as well as how much they have grown recently.
Simply put a post that has acquired more likes and comments recently has better chances of appearing in Instagram’s ‘Top Posts’.
Getting into ‘Top Posts’
Now that you understand how Instagram’s ‘Top Posts’ work, you should already have an idea of what it will take to get into them. In particular you will want to:
- Aim to hit the ‘Top Posts’ on less popular hashtags
Because the ‘Top Posts’ section is hashtag-specific, you will want to aim for hashtags that aren’t that popular. Popular hashtags have a larger audience, but the competition is much stiffer and unless you have lots of followers you’ll find it tough to gain enough likes or comments to get into the ‘Top Posts’.
- Mix in popular hashtags to increase engagement
Although you will want to aim to be in the ‘Top Posts’ for less popular hashtags, that doesn’t mean you should ignore popular hashtags entirely. In fact you should make sure that you mix in popular hashtags as well in your posts so that you can benefit from their wider audience and gain more likes and comments.
- Encourage comments with a call to action
One other way to increase engagement is to try to encourage comments by placing a call to action in your caption. In this case you’ll want to use a caption that is likely to provoke a response – either by asking your viewers a direct question, or through more subtle prompts.
- Time your posts to maximize engagement
It may take a bit of tracking and experimentation, but you should try to figure out when your audience tends to be most active and time your posts accordingly. You can repost other peoples content using a screen capture tool. Typically it is said that it is best to post in the evening (i.e. between 7 pm to 9 pm) – but that can vary on a case by case basis.