Unlocking Instagram’s Algorithm: 12 Tips for Boosting Visibility and Engagement

Cover image for Cre8ive's Unlocking Instagram's Algorithm blog article

Decoding Instagram's algorithm is crucial for gaining visibility and engagement. In this article, we'll delve into a series of tips and hacks tailored to enhance your Instagram strategy.

1. Value Proposition

This refers to a statement that summarises why a customer should choose your product or service instead of your competitors. 

On Instagram, you’re not just promoting your company. You’re encouraging people to choose YOU and your content over others. 

Make sure that your Instagram bio is optimised to let your audience know what you offer and why they should follow you. Here are some examples:

Lululemon's Instagram Bio example for Unlocking Instagram's Algorithm

Lulelemon tells its audience that they provide inspiration and includes a hashtag which allows people to easily view related content. 

Claire Turnbull's Instagram bio as an example for Unlocking Instagram's Algorithm blog

Claire Turnbull’s bio states her qualifications alongside what users can expect to see.

By doing so, you set the expectations for your audience, and will gain followers who enjoy your content and will engage with them.

2. Story Highlights

Another Instagram feature you need to take advantage of is its Story Highlights. 

Highlights are collections of your stories that are pinned at the top of your page, just below your bio. To add your highlights, you can click on the "New" circle and choose stories from your archives. Name your collection and add a cover either from a thumbnail on the story or a custom image from your device’s album. 

Here’s an example of a property developer’s story highlights with customised thumbnails:

TGC Homes' Instagram bio example for story highlights on Unlocking Instagram's Algorithm blog

Your highlights allow you to show who you are and your most relevant or appealing content. This enhances viewer navigation and extends the visibility of your Instagram stories beyond their 24-hour lifespan, offering a lasting impression of your curated collection.

Highlights contribute to a well-organised, engaging, and visually appealing page that can, in turn, positively influence Instagram’s algorithm.

3. Posting Reels

Instagram’s algorithm will show your short-form video to non-followers, making it an ideal way to grow your IG followers.

In May 2024, Instagram updated its algorithm to benefit smaller creators. When using trending music for your Reels, your content will be intentionally shown to a small group of non-followers instead of immediately competing with large pages’ content. If your reel performs well in this subset of viewers, it will be recommended to more people as long as it still has a good performance. Take advantage of this opportunity and get creating high-quality reels. 

Expert tip: When posting Reels on Instagram, make sure that there are no watermarks from third party apps you may have used to edit the video. Otherwise, create your Reels directly on the app. Instagram’s algorithm appears to favour original and high-resolution content. 

4. Avoid Engagement-baiting

Instagram has become strict about what people post; usually prompting warnings to those who use language that urges people to engage with their posts. 

Try to avoid "engagement-baiting". You may have seen posts which say "comment ‘yes’ to claim…", "tag a friend for a free…", or other captions and content which urges their audience to share and/or react to the posts. 

If Instagram’s algorithm detects this on your post, your content may be removed or is ranked lower in the feed.

If you have dedicated followers who look forward to your high-quality content, their active engagement should come naturally.

5. Encourage Engagement

Use these tips to increase the engagement of your posts without violating Instagram’s guidelines: 

  • Ask for your audience’s opinions "Let me know in the comments what you think about…"
  • Be genuine about your intent "If you found this advice helpful, share it with your friends…"
  • Use Instagram’s engagement-driving stickers such as Questions, Polls, and Emoji Sliders. Interactions are a huge factor for the algorithm.
Instagram engagement stickers example for Unlocking Instagram's Algorithm


Expert tip: Comment on your own posts or reply to your own story stickers to encourage others to do the same. Add questions of further context through comments to start conversations and make sure to react and/or reply to all replies.

6. Use of Hashtags

Many people ask - "are hashtags dead on Instagram?". 

Let’s settle this - no, they’re not dead, and hashtags are still recommended. You can add up to 30 hashtags on your post, however, we suggest to only use 3-10 relevant ones.  

Where should you put your hashtags?

You can put them either in the caption or in the comments. Instagram’s algorithms will read those hashtags regardless of the position.

Hashtags enhance searchability and visibility. Use popular and niche-specific ones to reach broader audiences. Also create and use a branded hashtag for brand recognition and simplified content search by your audience.

Taplink conducted research and saw that for accounts with less than 5k followers, posts with visible hashtags in the captions perform better in terms of engagement. So, if you have 5k followers and less, add those hashtags on your caption.

7. Link in Bio

We usually see content that includes "See the link in my bio for…" when we need to refer our followers to external links.

There are ongoing debates whether Instagram is intentionally restricting content that uses these phrases, as this action leads users outside of the platform. 

But is this true? Does telling my audience "click the link in my bio" decrease my engagement?

Well, yes and no.

Instagram has recently updated that users can now add up to 5 links in their bio, but only the first link is visible on your page. 

Leading people to the link in your bio is an effective way to get them to your desired location. However, casual scrollers probably won't stop scrolling to go to a link in the bio. Chances are, they would just keep scrolling. 

For your brand on Instagram, try to limit the use of these phrases. Instead of always using the link in your bio, you can also use the comment section which then enhances engagement. 

8. Engage with Larger Pages

Network or engage with larger pages within your niche boosts your own page. Find similar content and target audiences, likely among pages you already follow. Add thoughtful comments on their content and this may lead to collaborations or shout-outs. Avoid generic messages to maintain authenticity.

9. Repurpose Content

Reposting old content may be tricky when your audience realises that they have seen the posts before and are confused as to why you’re reposting them. The worst that could happen is that they call you out for recycling content if you repeat this often and potentially unfollow your page. 

We think if you select popular content from a reasonable time period before, like more than 4 to 6 months ago, you will be fairly safe to repost and maybe just freshen up the caption. 

Don’t forget to check if there’s any content you can update. For instance, your "2023 Autumn Fashion Tips" that performed well could be updated for this year.

Another tip is to repost or share your content on other platforms.

Always link back to your original Instagram post or page. This way, when people see your content on other platforms, they can go to your main Instagram page and see what other content you share which may appeal to them. 

10. Consistent Posting

Instagram’s algorithm favours pages and accounts that are consistently active and this increases the possibility of your content being shown to your followers and target audiences. 

Consistency in posting schedules not only aligns with Instagram's algorithm but also signals reliability to your audience, reinforcing your brand's commitment and reputation.

Consider scheduling prepared content for automatic posting, available for posts and reels with a Business or Creator account. 

On the Instagram app, in the prepared post, go to Advanced Settings and toggle the Schedule switch on. Choose the date and time you want your content to be published and click Share. You can also edit or delete these posts by going to Scheduled Content within your menu.

Instructions on how to schedule posts and reels on the Instragram app

You can also schedule up to two weeks in advance using Meta Business Suite. 

11. Quality not Quantity

While staying active and maintaining a consistent posting schedule is advised, prioritise content quality over quantity. Avoid posting solely for the sake of it, as this can overwhelm your audience and diminish engagement. Unsatisfactory content may lead to decreased post performance and be tagged as low-quality by the algorithm.

12. "Am I Shadow Banned"?

"Shadow ban" is usually experienced on X (formerly Twitter) resulting in decreased post reach and engagement. Instagram also encounters this restriction, limiting content visibility to your audience.

Instagram does not technically use the term “shadow banned” but they do provide guidelines on page activities that may cause restrictions on your account. 

To check your page’s status, go to Instagram - Settings -  scroll down to "Account Status" where you will see this:

Instructions on how to see your account status on Instagram

This lets you know if there are any restrictions on your page and what actions you need to do to fix this.