10 ways to get your content on the Instagram Explore page in 2022
There are three things you need to know about the Instagram Explore page in 2022:
- The Instagram explore page is viewed by 200 million accounts daily.
- 50% of Instagram users use the explore page every month.
- Getting on the Explore page is free.
Conclusion? Landing a post on the Explore page is the best free exposure a brand can get on Instagram in 2022, and you should definitely focus on making Explore page features one of your social media marketing KPIs.
After you learn all there is to know about the Instagram Explore page, how it works, and what it takes to get your content there, of course.
Spoiler alert: The starting point for any ambitious Instagram publication is visually-appealing design. Luckily, you can achieve this with VistaCreate in almost no time.
The rest of the formula?.. Keep reading to find out!
What is the Instagram Explore page?
The Instagram Explore page is a section on Instagram where the system suggests a curated gallery of content that could potentially be interesting to a user. Each Explore section is unique as it gets individually curated on a user-to-user basis, depending on what’s trending, the content each given user has recently engaged with, and what content they interact with the most.
The Explore section is formed by Instagram’s automatic algorithms and includes:
- popular publications on topics of interest to you;
- publications similar to those you’ve previously interacted with;
- posts that people you follow liked.
On top of getting a whole separate tab (the Explore page), content recommendations also appear in the feed when you run out of posts to see from the people you follow or between those publications. Instagram is very transparent regarding recommended content, so it shows exactly why you’re seeing the publication you’re being recommended.
How does the Instagram Explore page work?
In 1962, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote in his book, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” We couldn’t agree more with him. When it comes to the Instagram Explore page, the Instagram algorithm really does resemble a sleight of hand: the result is incredibly neat, and you can see the outcome of the trick — a selection of highly relevant to you publications — but you can’t quite put your finger on how it’s done.
And while we’d love to keep the illusion alive, we think it’s important to understand what you’re dealing with in order to master it. Hence, before we get down to sharing our best tips on how to conquer the Instagram Explore page and have your content live there rent-free for as many users as possible, let’s break down the process content goes through before it reaches the Explore page.
All the content uploaded to Instagram by public accounts (an important remark: no matter what you do, if your profile is private, your content won’t show up in any public feeds, including the Instagram Explore page) gets analyzed and ranked based on how relevant it is for each specific user.
The pool of relevant content to form an Explore page grid gets selected from a variety of sources.
For instance, Instagram can look for “seed” accounts a user has previously interacted with (this includes sending messages, liking, saving, sharing, or commenting on publications, etc.). Then, the system looks for accounts similar to the “seed” account. The extent of these similarities may vary: it can be an account that covers the same topics (or adjacent topics) and uses similar visuals, tags, keywords, or hashtags.
Here’s a visualization of how the algorithm can look for relevant content:
(Source: Search Engine Journal)
By the end of the candidate generation stage, the algorithm will have put together thousands of eligible pieces of content to show a user. Instagram then creates a much smaller pool of 500 pieces and sends them to the next stage.
After that, this content pool goes through a three-stage filtering process, where it gets narrowed down first to 150, then to 50, and finally to 25 publications.
According to Instagram, the algorithm decides which content makes it to the final 25 and which doesn’t based on how likely you are to interact with it. Essentially, the Instagram algorithm predicts how you will react to a piece of content on the Explore page and chooses publications that encourage the most desirable actions. Here’s how the ranking occurs:
We predict individual actions that people take on each piece of media, whether they’re positive actions such as like and save or negative actions such as “See Fewer Posts Like This” (SFPLT). We use a multi-task, multi-label (MTML) neural network to predict these events. The shared multilayer perceptron (MLP) allows us to capture the common signals from different actions.
Some other factors that have an impact on whether or not content appears on the Explore page include:
- Followers’ reactions to the publication — interactions, responses, shares (posts that get more public resonance get a higher chance of being shown to users who don’t follow the creator);
- Freshness and relevance of the publication;
- How regularly you post;
- The quality of the visual and the caption that accompanies it.
Why would you want your content to get on the Explore page?
Although it might seem like getting your content on the Instagram Explore page is a lot of work, it’s most definitely worth the hustle. Let’s look at the key advantages of landing your publications on the Explore pages of as many Instagram users as possible:
- It helps increase brand awareness. When your content regularly appears on the Explore page and gets seen by an ever-growing number of people, your chances of going viral and leveraging the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing increase. As a result, more and more people will know about your brand and share information about it with their network.
- It helps acquire new followers. The more people come across your content, the more people check out your profile, and — granted that your content is consistently good and relevant to them — the more people follow you. Once your following base grows, two things happen: you both become more credible on social media and your profile gets a better chance of being further promoted.
- It makes it possible to reach your target audience. The delicate work of the Instagram algorithm makes it easier to reach the right people that will have the most interest in your brand.
- It can drive sales and revenue. Not only do more people know about your brand, but it’s also people that can ultimately be classified as high-quality leads with the highest chances of conversion.
10 proven ways to get your content on the Instagram Explore page in 2022: Tips, tricks, and best practices
Now that you fully understand the importance of the Explore section and the opportunities it opens up for your brand online, you’re probably interested in learning all the tips that will guarantee you a spot on the Explore grid.
But we must warn you: the actionable advice we share in this article isn’t magic or an instant fix that will give you a hundred times more exposure than you have right now.
At the end of the day, Instagram itself claims that “Explore was designed to help you discover new things.” So it’s wrong to think of it merely as a medium for free promotion at a scale; it’s more of a way for brands to connect with their exact target audience. The main idea behind this algorithm is to introduce users to the content they’ll most likely find relevant and engage with.
So, all your Instagram Explore page-related activities should be focused on showing the platform what your content is about and who it’s aimed at. Your primary goal is to cooperate with Instagram and make it easier for the system to connect your brand with the target audience you intend to reach.
Now, let’s see how you can do it in the shortest possible time and with the best possible results.
Learn from your own Instagram Explore page
Ideally, you should have a separate Instagram account for your business-related activities and personal life. If that’s the case, you’re in for a treat: you can simply open the Explore page on your own device and take a look at the posts Instagram recommends to you — the majority of the publications you’ll see there will be relevant to your business and, therefore, can be used as an example.
Select some of the most appealing posts that pique your interest and attract your attention, and dissect them to see what they have in common.
- What type of content is it?
- What is the main idea of the post? Does it capitalize on current trends, or is it evergreen?
- What format is it?
- What does the copy in the caption look like?
- Does the post use any hashtags, ALT-tags, or geotags?
- Is it in collaboration with other creators? Does it tag any other users?
- What does the visual look like? Is it well-designed?
Our VistaCreate pro tip would be to not only pay attention to publications that are relevant, but also to the ones that aren’t. If you see something that you don’t find particularly interesting, the reason for that is that it likely has killer engagement. Try to figure out why: is it a CTA at the end of the caption? Is it a gamified post? Is it a hot topic everyone’s buzzing about currently?
Interact with Instagram accounts similar to yours
The good news is that you aren’t limited to the Explore page when trying to get your profile recommended to more Instagram users. Another effective way to get through to your target audience is to get featured in the suggestions section that appears after a user follows someone. Usually, this section consists of people the user knows, recently created profiles, and profiles similar to the one they’ve just followed.
The former two aren’t particularly relevant to you, but the latter is exactly what you need to boost your profile on Instagram. Your profile needs to pop up to people that have just expressed interest in your competitors or users who cover topics adjacent to yours.
Here are some ways to increase your chances of reaching that goal:
- Mutual PR with other brands and influencers in your niche.
- Communication with them in DMs.
- Liking and commenting on their publications.
This will also help the algorithm classify all your content as relevant to the audiences of the accounts you interact with and, therefore, place your publications on their Explore pages, too.
Everyone likes it fresh, so put effort into figuring out the best time for publishing content
The logic here is criminally simple: the more recent your content, the higher its chances of getting on the Explore page.
Wait-wait-wait… You’re probably wondering why your content isn’t appearing on the Explore page every time you post. After all, it’s always fresh and recent in the first few moments of posting.
The thing is, it’s not about you; it’s about your audience.
You need to publish content when your audience is online and expects to see your publications. Otherwise, your posts will get lost in the content stream and not get as many eyes on them.
There are a couple of things you need to know to find the best time to publish your content:
- Know the universally accepted Instagram peak posting times: Mondays at 11 a.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Thursdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
- Know where your target audience resides. Remember, there are many different time zones, and you need to know which one to use when scheduling your content.
- Know when your target audience is active on Instagram. While the time slots above are backed by research, there’s nothing more accurate than studying your own audience. See when your audience’s activity peaks, then adjust your posting schedule accordingly.
Besides, posting when your audience is on Instagram isn’t even hard. Simply schedule your posts, and don’t worry about having to stay up late or wake up early to publish at the right time.
In fact, in VistaCreate, you can schedule your Instagram publications right from the editor. When you’re done creating a design, you can click “Post,” and you will be given a choice to publish the post now or schedule it for later.
And just so that you’re convinced that timing really does affect your engagement on Instagram, here’s an example from David Beckham. The two posts are very different. In fact, the only thing the two of them have in common is David Beckham himself.
The first publication — in theory — should’ve done really well: it features a stunning visual, it uses all the right hashtags and geotags, it’s an engaging format (carousel), and, most importantly, it’s packed with celebrities (both on the photo, and in the caption). Kim Kardashian, Pharrell, Victoria Beckham — these are people with some of the most popular accounts and active audiences on Instagram. Yet, this post didn’t do that well as it was posted outside of the recommended posting hours.
On the other hand, here’s a publication that can’t boast of having a selection of A-list celebrities, an intricate caption, or even a geotag. Nonetheless, it generated lots of engagement thanks to being posted within the recommended time period:
Know your target audience better than they know themselves
To get on the right Explore pages and target an audience that’s likely to engage with your content and express interest in your products or services, you need to have a great understanding of who your target audience is.
To decide which content will resonate best with your target audience and have the most impact on them, you need to answer the following questions before creating your Instagram publications:
- What are your target audience’s interests? What do they like and what don’t they like?
- How much time do they spend on Instagram?
- When are they active on Instagram?
- Why do they hop on Instagram? Do they want to keep up with celebrities? Are they interested in staying in touch with their friends and relatives? Are they looking for products to buy?
- What content are they interested in consuming the most? Which formats do they prefer, and which do they skip when scrolling their feed?
- Why do they like certain types of content?
- Which accounts do they engage the most with?
On top of that, you should also have a solid understanding of what kind of visuals your target audience prefers, what is most likely to catch their attention, and whether they’re keener on old-school designs or trendier social media visuals.
With answers to all these questions, you should have a basic idea of what your target audience expects to see from your brand on social media. And while basic rarely goes viral, you still can’t ignore it as it helps you remain consistent in your Instagram marketing.
Make sure you publish high-quality content and do so regularly
What’s important to note is that the Instagram algorithm doesn’t only analyze individual publications, but also the accounts that made them. So, a post shared by a brand that doesn’t publish content regularly, or has broken the Instagram rules, has significantly smaller chances of landing a spot on the Explore page.
So, it’s vital to not only produce high-quality content that strictly follows the Instagram rules but also do so regularly, without any gaps.
Some ideas that can help you publish more regularly and, therefore, increase your chances of getting on the Explore page:
- Create a series of content. Break up a topic you want to cover into 3-4 posts and publish them at small intervals.
- Implement rubrics. If you want to always have content to share and make your Instagram blog more structured at the same time, you should come up with rubrics and publish content within those rubrics regularly, on allocated days. For example, publish evergreen content every Tuesday, expert interviews every Thursday, and fun content and memes every Friday.
- When planning your content calendar, brainstorm several major pillar topics, then branch out from there.
- Repurpose, repurpose, and repurpose! Make sure to increase your content’s lifespan and keep the flow on Instagram steady by repurposing content from other channels.
- Keep up with the latest socio-cultural trends to get a chance of going viral by hopping on them.
And, of course, ensure that your visuals are always of the highest standards. You need to remember that Instagram is a visual-centric platform, where the success of your publication majorly depends on how visually appealing it is.
Trendy, professional-looking unique designs are better liked by the general public and, therefore, are shared on Stories and via DMs more often.
The best thing is that you don’t have to be a professional designer to create visuals that get on the Explore page. VistaCreate offers a wide selection of Instagram templates for any taste and purpose — just pick one that works best for you and get down to customizing it.
Level up your Reels game
There’s no surprise that Reels got their own section in this article. Reels are hot, and Instagram is trying to make them much hotter.
In an attempt to outdo TikTok and YouTube, Instagram has been trying to fiercely prioritize Reels to stay top-of-mind.
The platform encourages creators to popularize Reels on Instagram in general, but also among their followers by making it easier for Reels to end up on the Explore page. Not only does the algorithm favor this format when picking relevant content to show to Instagram users, but the very space for videos is much bigger in the Explore page layout.
In fact, Reels take up twice as much as regular posts:
So, if you want a quick solution, ensure to make this format a big part of your Instagram marketing strategy in 2022 and beyond.
Learn how brands can make the most out of the Reel format in our article.
Just don’t forget, you have to compete among other content on the Explore page, so it’s best to doll up your Reel video by designing a cover.
Don’t limit yourself to a single format: Experiment with different formats
No matter how popular Reels are these days, only ever publishing one format of content would be the wrong strategy if you want to appear on the Explore page more often.
If you’re sticking to one format, you’ll quickly get boring, and that’s the last thing you want to happen, as boring accounts don’t get much engagement. As soon as your followers get used to your publications and the latter lose the ‘wow’ effect, you’re doomed.
The goal here is to constantly mix things up and surprise your followers with new approaches to Instagram content.
P.S. We can’t help but recommend considering the carousel format — those posts tend to have the highest engagement rate among all Instagram formats (excluding Reels).
Take time to optimize your publications
Remember what we said earlier in this article? To land your brand’s profile a spot on the Explore page in 2022, you need to work together with Instagram, and actively show what your publications are about and who they’re targeting.
The most effective way to do this is by optimizing your publications. Now, there are several things to consider:
- Make sure you always tag your geolocation. While it does sound like a minor detail, it can make all the difference.
- Pay attention to your captions. Keep your copy error-free, structured, informative, and optimized for search. In 2022, Instagram is testing text recognition to better understand what posts are about. So, it wouldn’t hurt to include a couple of relevant keywords in your caption. Just make sure you don’t get caught up in keyword stuffing — the algorithm isn’t stupid, and it will punish you for such misconduct.
- Leverage the power of hashtags. Whether or not hashtags are still effective has been one of the most heated debates among the social media marketing community. For some, hashtags remain one of the most effective ways to promote content on social media, while others have abandoned this strategy. We recommend adding 9-10 relevant hashtags to your posts to let the algorithm know what your Instagram profile is all about. Make sure you’re consistent in your posts and, therefore, your hashtags.
The main rule: choose thematic and relevant hashtags. It will be more difficult for the algorithm to select a target audience if there are dozens of unrelated hashtags under the post.
- Add ALT-text. ALT-text is just another space where you could add a couple of relevant keywords to let the system know what your post is about and categorize it more accurately.
Sharing is caring: Partner with other Instagram creators
It’s a never-ending cycle: the more engagement your content gets, the more features on the Explore page it receives, and the more engagement it gets.
The best way to start the cycle, though? To tap into another creator’s audience and borrow their engagement.
Back in 2021, Instagram made collaboration easy by introducing the Partnerships and Collabs features — you get your posts onto your follower’s feed and the feeds of the following base of your collaborator.
Besides, it’s likely that when you collaborate with a creator, you share some common traits. And even if you don’t, the influencer in question should understand and preach your brand values to agree to work together. All natural fit collabs generate higher levels of engagement because they resonate with both audiences.
Tap into your analytics
You might spend hours putting together a solid piece of content for it to flop. And that’s not even particularly bad. On the contrary, it’s actually great! But only for you — your audience, unfortunately, doesn’t think the same.
What you need to remember is that you’re creating content for it to resonate with your audience. This not only leads to your audience liking and buying from you, but it’s also the one and only thing that can get you on the Explore page.
So, it’s crucial to track your content’s performance and see which formats, topics, and ideas generate the most engagement and which don’t get as much attention from the audience as you hoped they would.
Once you have all your key metrics in, you need to adjust your strategy accordingly.
You need to remember that getting your content on the Explore page is only a job half done. As a brand, you shouldn’t aim at landing on the Explore page just for the sake of doing it — you should always strive to get as many conversions out of this achievement as possible.
And even if you don’t get any, there should always be a Plan B goal. For example, to improve your brand recognition.
That’s why you should always keep your Instagram publications on-brand and branded: if you do manage to make a post go viral, you’ll get some use out of including your brand logo and brand colors in the visual.
Learn more about VistaCreate’s Brand Kit feature that allows you to brand your Instagram designs in a matter of seconds.