Seems impossible to be among the top Instagram posts. Unlike the Explore page’s posts, which are mainly based on your Interests, it seems Instagram is using a very different and somehow complicated algorithm to pick the top posts by hashtags. Every day, Instagrammers publish more than 95 million photos and videos, and honestly, it
You might have millions of followers and likes and cannot find your way up to the top posts. Or on the other hand, the number of your followers might not surpass 10K, and suddenly you’ll see your post among the bests.
The truth is, no one exactly knows how and why these lucky nine posts are chosen. We can only guess how this might work by continually observing the top posts for different hashtags.
In this article, I’m going to discuss the possible factors that affect the Instagram algorithm to choose these photos or videos and things you can do to increase your chance of being among the chosen ones.
I’ll also reveal a unique and secret way that will immensely help you become a top Instagram publisher. So, let’s start with the basics.
Here you are going to read about:
Basically, top posts on Instagram are those photos and videos that you’ll see when searching hashtags. It’s an excellent way for accounts to reach more audiences, and also, if someone starts following a hashtag, Instagram shows him/her the best posts on their feed.
Instagram put it this way:
“At the top of some hashtag and place pages, you may see a section called Top. Top posts appear on trending hashtags and places to show you some of the popular posts tagged with that hashtag or place.”
For example, let’s see what Instagram will show us if I type a very general term such as “book” in my search bar.
Using my phone it shows me these posts:
There are 49.1 million posts on Instagram with #book on them. As you can see, on the top left, Instagram shows me the top stories, and in the feed, there’s a video or reel on one side, and the rest are photos. The order was pretty the same for every other hashtag that I searched.
You can see that this page has two sections: top and recent. Instagram automatically shows you the top posts first.
Now, let’s see the result using the web version of Instagram:
What changed? The video disappeared, and Instagram only shows nine top posts. After these nine photos, it starts showing you the most recent posts.
It’s worth mentioning that the app and web erosion for some hashtags showed me slightly different photos.
Now let’s go a little bit deeper and see how much likes and comments these nine photos got.
Unlike the common belief that more likes is the only factor for being among the top posts on Instagram, we can see in this example that it’s not always the case.
One of these photos has only 111 likes and three comments, and on the other hand, there are posts with more than 2,000 and 16.7K likes.
Note 1: None of these posts were published for more than 12 hours when I took these screenshots.
Note 2: Top posts change hourly; the old posts are replaced by new trending posts.
So, depending on what factors a post will be among Instagram’s top choices? Keep reading to find out!
As mentioned above, no one knows exactly how top posts are chosen on Instagram. But these are the best guesses that Instagram marketers make:
I found the top posts using hashtags, right? Then it makes sense that hashtags be one of the main factors in ranking pages. Instagram chooses the top weekly posts based on the hashtags and then shows them on users’ feed. On the other hand, Instagram may prefer to deliver the results that are geographically close to you. So, as the first point, never forget to add hashtags and geotags!
Well, you are allowed to add up to 30 hashtags per post. But you should be careful about the number of them.
Some people believe it’s best to add only a few hashtags to each post because some studies showed that the most engaging posts have up to five hashtags.
However, as the engagement rate is not solely based on hashtags, others prefer to use the maximum number of tags on their posts.
The important thing to consider here is to strike a balance when using hashtags. First of all, only use hashtags that are completely relevant to your photo and post. Also, try to use less competitive hashtags along with general popular ones. For example, if your post is about pizza, besides using the tag #pizza, which is a very popular tag (≈49M tags), use less popular one such as #pepperonipizza (≈247K), or the name of the restaurant that you went to.
Absolutely! Posts with geotags get up to 79% more engagement! Using geotags, users that are geographically close to you may see your post. This is also an excellent way for businesses to gain local followers.
I wondered if results from a hashtag differed from location to location. To test this, I asked my friend who lives in another country to search for some hashtags, and I did the same thing simultaneously. Here are the results:
For the hashtags #book:
And for the hashtag #pizza:
As you can see, most of the pictures are the same, and there are only slight differences.
And one more thing: feel free to add hashtags as the first comment. Although some people say it’s not an effective way, many of the top posts that I’ve checked didn’t even add hashtags in captions, but they’ve placed them in the first comment.
If you pay attention to the top photos on Instagram, you’ll notice that most of them are high-quality and visually appealing photos.
That makes sense as people tend to like and leave comments for photos that are more attractive.
So, make sure you use original photos that will catch your followers’ eyes.
And remember, you don’t necessarily have to post real photos. You can also use graphics, especially quotes, to find your way through top posts on Instagram.
In this case, you may also be interested in the following article:
As I mentioned above, almost all top posts were published no more than 12 hours. So, your post needs to gain a good deal of engagement in the first hours of sharing.
There are many ways to increase your engagement quickly. Let’s take a look at the other essential factors:
Try to start your caption with a short sentence that grabs your audience’s attention. Remember, Instagram only shows the first 150 characters of your captions, and visitors will need to tap on the “show more” to see the whole text body. So, you want to write a catchy first sentence that keeps them interested.
Do you know what else makes visitors stay more on your post? Long captions!
A study carried out by Hubspot showed that the lengthier the caption, the more the engagement. This is because if you write a caption while respecting all the rules of microblogging, the users stay more on your post to read all the text and, hopefully, might go through the comments and perhaps leave a comment.
Each comment is useful in your engagement rate, even if it’s a reply. So, you want to respond to all the comments that you get as soon as possible. Not to mention that this is especially important if you run a business as people’s patient span on social media is about one hour!
Did you know if you simply ask people to like, share, or leave comments, they actually do it? Use a phrase such as “Like and share this post” or “Spread this word” to gain more engagement quickly.
Besides asking for likes, shares, saves, and comments, you can use other types of call to actions to build a buzz around your post.
For example, you can ask your followers to tag somebody or suggest a caption for your photo.
Don’t forget that Instagram identifies fake comments from the organic ones. So, better not to try spamming your comments.
Another way that helps you become an Instagram top post is finding the best time to publish posts. Although it’s been a few years since Instagram switched from it’s chronological algorithm to a more engagement-based algorithm, timing is still a great factor for a post’s success on the app.
There is some general guidance on when is the best engaging time to post on Instagram, but in the end, it’s best to figure it out yourself using trial and error.
A great way to start is by checking your Instagram insights. If you tap on the “Insights” button on your Instagram business profile, you’ll see the days and even hours when your followers are more active.
By posting in the best times, you increase your chance of being seen by more people.
You may have a great post that you published three weeks ago and try to get this one among the top posts. Well, don’t; it won’t work!
Even if you change the hashtags or edit the caption, the chances are almost zero for your photo or video to be among the best posts. It doesn’t have anything to do with the content; it’s just that your post is old. To be among top posts on Instagram, you have to publish fresh content.
The methods that I’ve shared above are useful, but they cannot guarantee that your post will be among the top posts. So, what can you do to increase your chance?
Remember when I told you I’d tell you about a secret way? Well, here we go:
AiSchedul is an Instagram management service that enables you to manage your Instagram with ease. It has many tools, but the most important feature of AiSchedul is a smart scheduler that can help you to be among top Instagram posts.
How? Well, first of all, it gets you organized in publishing posts. You can simply schedule posts for weeks and even months ahead.
But there’s a great hack that you can try using this scheduler. Watch this to find out:
As you saw in the video, to be among the top posts on Instagram for a long time and dominate a number of hashtags, you can schedule one single post every day and then delete it at the end of the day and repeat this process throughout one month. And the good thing is, it’s all done automatically.
This way, your content stays fresh every day with those hashtags, and it increases your chance of being among top posts!
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for AiSchedul for free!
Being among the top posts on Instagram is though. Many Instagrammers are trying to be among these chosen posts, even for a couple of hours. Using less competitive hashtags and tools such as AiSchedul, it’s a lot easier to achieve this goal.