How to get to the Instagram Explore page in 2021
Social media discovery is mostly driven by ad money, but the Instagram Explore page remains one of the final frontiers to organic reach.
Behind the Explore feed, Instagram's finely tuned algorithm has gotten really good at recommending people with content that might interest them. A little too good when it comes to spreading misinformation.
In response to bad and good actors, the algorithm is constantly evolving and learning to identify problematic content, eliminate bias, promote new formats and connect people with positive communities on the platform.
For brands, the benefits of being shown on the Explore tab are potential spikes in reach, impressions, and sales. It's a place to grow your audience and build a community. Find out more about the latest updates to the algorithm and the right way to land on the Explore page.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that shows the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram without a budget and without expensive equipment.
What is the Instagram Explore Page?
The Instagram Explore Page is a collection of public photos, videos, reels, and stories tailored to help each and every Instagram user discover posts, accounts, hashtags, or products they might like.
The algorithm behind the Instagram Explore page uses machine learning to customize and improve the content recommendations.
"We're working on updating the types of photos and videos you see in Explore to make them more appropriate for you," explained an Instagram post. According to the company, the posts that appear are selected “based on the people you follow or the posts you like”.
You can find the Instagram Explore page by tapping the Magnifying glass Icon in the lower menu in front of the corresponding tabs for reels and shop. At the top of the feed, users can search for accounts, hashtags, and locations. In November, Instagram added the option for keyword searches, which means searching beyond usernames and hashtags.
Source: @VishalShahIs Twitter
Below that are different categories ranging from a dedicated IGTV feed to topics like music, sports, travel, beauty, and food. Expect new categories like "Audio" to appear here soon. When someone is looking for something, the category options adjust accordingly.
When someone clicks on a photo in the Explore feed, a continuous scrolling feed opens with content related to that photo. So, in a way, the Explore page is a monster feed of portals to more feeds, each of which is more detailed and focused than the previous one.
According to Instagram, 200 million accounts check the Explore feed every day.
How does the Instagram Explore page algorithm work?
No two Instagram Explore pages are alike. That's because the content someone sees when they open the Explore tab is personalized by Instagram Discover the feed ranking system.
The system known as the Instagram algorithm uses machine learning to customize the ad based on various data sources and ranking signals.
Unlike the home feed, where people see posts from accounts they follow, Instagram engineers classify the Explore page as an "unconnected system." In this system, posts are "selected based on a user's activity on Instagram and then ranked based on similar factors," said Amogh Mahapatra, one of the company's machine learning researchers, in a recent Instagram blog post.
In other words, the selection of content on each Instagram user's Explore page is based on:
- The accounts someone is already following
- Like the people an account follows
- The types of posts that an account interacts with frequently
- Contributions with a high level of commitment
Some steps have also been taken to address algorithmic biases, such as the introduction of model maps for machine learning.
Has a Instagram business account browse the page feed ranking?
Right now, Instagram's ranking favors the accounts that people interact with the most, whether they are business, creator, or personal accounts.
"Our goal is to enable companies to make more meaningful connections with their audiences and to be discovered by people who want to deepen their interests by branching out from the accounts they are already following," reads the Instagram business Website.
Benefits of visiting the Instagram Explore page
Appearing on Instagram users' Explore pages means more exposure to your content.
Accordingly, the benefits may or may not include:
- An increase in engagement on content (post, IGTV video, or reel) that made it to Explore as your content is shown to a wider audience than your followers
- An increase in new followers (those who like your post enough to review your profile and appreciate your amazing bio, highlight covers, etc.)
- Remaining increased engagement in the future (from these new followers)
- More conversions (when you have the right call-to-action ready for all those fresh eyeballs)
- A sales boost powered by product tags and Instagram shopping tools.
Convinced? Let's take a look at how you can implement it.
How to Get to the Instagram Explore Page: 9 Tips
Follow these tips to get on people's Explore page in no time!
1. Get to know your target market
Your audience is already following you. So to land on the Instagram Explore page, take it one step further. Familiarize yourself with your Instagram demographics, identify the audiences you want to reach in Explore, and learn what content these users interact with the most.
Your Explore Feed business account is a good place to start. Dive into posts, categories, and niche feeds, and note the tactics that you may be able to emulate. Some questions you might ask yourself during this exercise are:
- Which tone is most popular with the audience?
- Is there a visual style that works best?
- What kind of subtitle leads to the most answers?
2. Share engaging content
With a better understanding of what content your target market finds interesting, you can nurture your own Instagram engagement. Apply your audience research to your brand's social media content strategy.
Videos have a head start on static visuals in the interaction department, as they are played automatically on the "Explore" tab and are often given more space in the feed. But visual representations with product tags, carousel formats or simply breathtaking images can also be appealing. Also, don't overlook the power of compelling captions.
Follow the best practices for each format. Share quality graphics, engage viewers early on, and offer something of value, from great storytelling to loyalty rewards.
Remember, engagement goes beyond likes and comments. So try to create content that people will want to share and / or save as well.
3. Try popular formats like Reels
It's no secret that Instagram wants Reels to be successful. There's a reason roles appear in both the Explore feed and on their own tab. The tab is so central to the Instagram app user experience that the entire home page has been completely rearranged to accommodate it.
Being discovered on the Roles tab can also mean being discovered on the Explore tab. However, think twice before republishing the TikTok. Apparently, Instagram's algorithm marks those who have the TikTok watermark.
Test different formats such as Reels or IGTV to see which industries bring more reach. Stay tuned to Instagram updates to understand what formats the company may be prioritizing at any given time.
4. Build an active community
One of the main purposes of Instagram's Explore page is to connect people with communities on the platform. Community building is key to Instagram's success – which means it should be vital to your marketing plan as well.
The more active your brand community is on Instagram, the more likely it is that Instagram will recommend “Lookalike Audiences” on the Explore page.
Give your audience ample opportunity to interact with your account. Start and participate in brand conversations in the comment area, DMs and other active brand channels. Encourage your community to turn on notifications for your posts so they can get involved early.
5. Post when your followers are online
Instagram's algorithm prioritizes freshness (aka freshness), which means that if your post is brand new, it will show more of your followers. And getting high engagement with your own followers is the first step in getting a spot on the Explore page.
Check out our analysis of the best time to post on Instagram for your industry, take a look at your analytics, or use Hootsuite's Post Composer to find out when your audience is online. Or visit Hootsuite Labs on YouTube for a quick breakdown of all of this:
Pro tip: If your audience is online when you are not, an Instagram planner is your best bet.
6. Use relevant tags
Geotags, account tags and hashtags are additional ways to increase the reach of your content within the Explore ecosystem.
Remember, people also use the Instagram Explore page to search for hashtag and location. If a certain hashtag arouses the interest of someone, this can now also follow. Choose strategic Instagram hashtags and geotags so your content appears where people are looking for it.
Account tags are another way to bring your posts to a new audience. Make sure to tag relevant accounts in your posts, be it the company's CEO, brand partner (including influencer), or the photographer or illustrator.
Share posts from your audience to build a community while getting more reach and engagement.
7. Pay attention to analysis
Take a look at what you're doing and it's already resonating with your audience. You may find that they like your boomerangs more than your carousels, or that they like your jokes better than your inspirational quotes.
If you can get your own audience to keep pounding on their hearts and leaving comments, their involvement will help you get onto the Explore page.
Check your analytics to see if your biggest posts have already appeared on the Explore page. Tap the blue Show insights Click the button under your precious post and swipe up to check out where all of your impressions come from.
Pro tip: Use Hootsuite's Post Performance Tool to identify your top performing posts and adjust your strategy accordingly.
8. View ads in Explore
When you're ready to fund your organic endeavors with advertising money, consider placing an ad on the Explore feed.
These ads don't lead you directly into the Explore feed grid. Instead, they put you in the next best position: the scrollable feed of photos and videos that appears when someone clicks on a post in the grid.
Lest you think this is the easy way out, it isn't. To get the ROI of an ad on the Explore page, it needs to be as compelling as the posts that surround it. High order, isn't it?
For a complete look at how to nail ads on Instagram, we have a guide.
9. Skip the algorithm hacks
Creating Instagram pods or buying followers can offer short-term benefits, but they usually don't pay off in the long run.
“Instagram's feed ranking is based on machine learning, which constantly adapts to new data patterns. It can recognize inauthentic activities and make adjustments, ”explains Instagram's @ creators account.
Focus on creating engaging content and building a true branding community.
Here's how to reset the Instagram Explore page if you don't like what you see
Don't like what you see on the Instagram Explore page? Here's a quick fix: pull down and update the feed. Just gently place your thumb on the screen and slide it down until the circle spins under the categories.
For a more long-term solution, here's how you can teach the algorithm what you don't want to see:
1. Tap the post that you don't like.
2. Tap the three dots above the post.
3. Choose Not interested.
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