How to use Instagram Search & Explore to boost your account

March 19, 2018

Being featured on the Instagram Search & Explore tab is a great way to get new followers and increase exposure to your posts and content. The algorithm is focused on a specific set of interests so allows targeted exposure to the users you want.

It’s not just getting featured that will help grow your business. You can also use the Instagram search tool for engaging other users, finding the best hashtags for your posts, and finding influencers to work with.

According to Instagram – Posts are selected automatically based on things like the people you follow or the posts you like. You may also see video channels, which can include posts from a mixture of hand-picked and automatically sourced accounts based on topics we think you’ll enjoy.


How to get improve your chances to get on the Instagram Search & Explore tab

  1. Make sure you are using appropriate Instagram hashtags and location tags. It’s pretty straightforward but if you don’t include these, they’re not going to appear in the search results. They also need to be relevant or you’re not going to be reaching the users you are targeting. Consider using niche hashtags to increase the chance of reaching the top posts section.
  2. Utilise Instagram Insights on your business profile. As well as showing you the success of your posts, you can also use this tool to track the days and hours when your target audience are most active. This way you can schedule your posts to appear at the best time possible, increasing the likelihood it will appear at the top of the search page.
  3. Don’t just post photos. Instagram stories and live video are also featured on the search & explore page – more opportunities to be highlighted. It is worth noting that featured live videos are the ones that are trending due to the number of users viewing it, proximity to the user’s location, and engagement of the viewers. Be sure to use the Insights to maximise these!
  4. Collaborate! When someone likes one of your posts, it vastly increases the likelihood that this post will be seen by their Instagram followers. The more followers they have the more people will see your post! Ideally, the other accounts liking yours will be related so that you are engaging new users from your target audience.
  5. Tag other users. Similar to the previous point, but this works better for those large accounts with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. The community managers for these big accounts often like posts they are tagged in to engage their followers – this like means your post will then be seen by all their followers!
  6. Create a conversation. A high amount of engagement on your posts boosts your chances of appearing on the Instagram Explore page. The algorithm favours user engagement so create call-to-actions, ask questions, promote branded hashtags, and reply to your followers’ comments.


Using Instagram Search results to find the best hashtags

When trying to work out which hashtags are best for your posts, utilising the search and & explore function will show you the most popular hashtags related to your search. Instagram search will show you a variety of hashtags similar to your search term and also the number of posts that are using that particular hashtag.

This is particularly important to note as Allen Harper, who wrote about Instagram hashtags, suggested avoiding the most popular Instagram hashtags:

Some hashtags are vastly more popular than others; however, popularity doesn’t always translate to effectiveness. For example, you’ll notice that #photooftheday, #like4like, #instagood, #iphoneonly, etc. are extremely popular. Unfortunately, since so many users throw these similar tags on their images, it means that their photos are buried in the pool within seconds and become virtually undiscoverable, Instagram automation.

They are also tags that are nonspecific to any field or niche. In other words, what few people may be browsing these pools could likely overlook your photo because it’s not necessarily what interests them. In addition, the popular tags usually have a lot of bots/spammers that use this tag on images—you’ll earn yourself a lot of spam comments on whatever photo you posted with said tags.

As well as being wary of the most popular hashtags listed on the search & explore tab, you should be cautious about those with the fewest number of posts. This will typically show users aren’t following the hashtags or searching for them. The exception is if it is part of a niche community or following. Always check the hashtag you want to use to ensure it is geared towards your target market.

When you’ve found that hashtag you want to use you should always tap on it to go to its page. This page shows you the top posts for that particular hashtag, allowing you to check your posts against these and confirm you are targeting the right people. It also shows you the related hashtags along the top which may not have come up in your initial search.


Using Instagram Search to engage your followers

It’s always a good idea to interact with your followers and their accounts. When a user tags your account it’s easier but you can always search for your branded hashtag or location tag in the search tool for any posts or stories.

The best ways to follow up on this and interact with your followers is to:

Make sure to give thoughtful and sincere comments/feedback. One word comments often come across as disingenuous as many spam bots do the same thing.

You can also extend this to hashtags related to your brand, interacting with people who aren’t your followers but are interested in the same topics.


Finding Influencers using Instagram Search

Influencers can be a very useful resource for promoting your account –  94% of brands consider working with influencers to be a success. 82% of consumers are “highly likely” to follow a recommendation made by a micro–influencer, compared to 73% who are highly likely to act on a recommendation from an average person.

You can find the right influencer for you in a number of ways using the search & explore page.

  1. Utilise your followers. Try looking through your followers for those with keywords in their username or name. If they have a big enough following you’ve found someone who’s already engaged with your brand and is likely more suitable to represent you.
  2. Search people. Use the same keywords you were searching for in your followers in the Instagram search box. Instagram personalises these searches based on location and who you follow so you should get relevant results.
  3. Search locations and hashtags. Check out the top posts for an appropriate hashtag/location and those with a good following could be great ambassadors for your brand. As mentioned before, niche or branded hashtags can be quite useful despite a smaller number of followers.
  4. Look at the Instagram Explore section. The most relevant Instagram posts are collated here for you based on who you are following, what posts you have liked etc. so can be very effective if you have been engaging with other followers and posts relevant to your niche.
  5. Look at similar users. When you have found someone you think is a good influencer, check the suggestions drop down on their account. If you can’t see this, simply tap the down-facing arrow next to the “Follow” or “Following” button to reveal a list of similar accounts.


A summary of Instagram Search & Explore

Quickly recapping what has been covered, these are the best ways to use Instagram’s Search and Explore for your account:

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