How to use the Instagram smart feed or how to increase the organic reach

4 min read
18 September 2019

Marketers on social networks use different metrics to measure the efficiency of their promotional activities: reach, engagement, targeting, etc. We have already briefly discussed those metrics and the ways to improve them.

Today we are going to review one of the most important metrics on Instagram – the reach. We are going to look into the organic reach, in other words, the number of people, who are going to see your post themselves without adverts and promotional activities.

Before Instagram used to have a simple chronological timeline. All your photos were shown to all of your friends along with other posts, one after another. However, it turned out that it wasn’t very user-friendly – they used to miss up to 70% of their friends’ photos. Indeed, it is not convenient to endlessly update the timeline and wait for new posts to appear. And if you were offline for a couple of days it was hard to catch up, you would need to scroll down to the bottom of your feed. To fix this, Instagram has introduced a timeline algorithm.

Now the feed is built smartly way. Instagram remembers how often you like posts of this or that follower. If you give likes rarely, the social network marks the user as uninteresting and puts him at the end of your feed. At the top, there are users that often receive likes from you. This algorithm can be seen as a formula with three components:

  • Time. The algorithm takes the time of the post into consideration but doesn’t prioritize it. You can open your feed and see a post that is one week old – Instagram just thinks it is very important for you.
  • Previous actions. The network evaluates how often you interact with the content of the follower: give likes, save and share posts, have conversations in Instagram Direct, leave comments.
  • Engagement. It is important how often you like posts of this user, and your comments are of even more importance. If you leave comments – here you go, you are best friends now and the user’s photos will be shown first. Likes on a comment are also taken into account.

With a timeline algorithm, it is not practical anymore to post every hour to be on all your followers’ feeds. To increase the organic reach, you need to stimulate your followers to interact with your content more often.

How to increase the reach

Write descriptions Write catchy descriptions. Tell short stories, give advice. A clothes shop can write on how to wear an item of clothing properly. A café can post a recipe for a dish.

Publish videos Publish videos. According to studies, a video gets 21% more interaction. Instagram users have developed a taste for videos.

Add to your stories Add to your stories. Stories allow for a closer interaction with your audience in comparison to posts. People are interested to know what is “behind the scenes” of a brand.

Use relevant hashtags Use relevant hashtags. Hashtags are useful not only for the users but for Instagram itself – with their help the network ties the content together and evaluates its relevance.

High-quality content Publish high-quality content. Photos and videos with good the resolution are viewed more often and boost interaction. To avoid transferring files from your phone to computer and vice-versa, upload them through Onlypult.

Do cross-promotion Do cross-promotion. Promote your Instagram posts on other social networks: Facebook, Twitter or even Snapchat. Your posts will get more traffic, and you will increase the reach.

Run giveaways Run giveaways. A great way to increase the engagement (and the reach) is to run giveaways. Your followers will like and comment on your posts, and the algorithm will remember you as their important friend. Basically, a giveaway is a method to “secure” your current audience, steadily increasing it with new followers.

Live streams Run live streams. Live stream allows you to communicate with your followers online and answer their questions. Read our article about the use of live streams on Instagram.


  1. Frequent posts won’t increase reach.
  2. To increase reach, improve your content: make quality photos and videos and write descriptions.
  3. Run giveaways and cross-promotions.
  4. Use proper hashtags: not very popular ones, but relevant to your audience.
  5. Add to your Stories and show what is behind the scenes of your brand.
  6. Run live streams from time to time and allow your followers asking you questions.