If there is one thing about Instagram that I find fascinating, it’s their Explore Page. The elusive and ever enticing place where dreams are made. If your post hits Explore, you’re looking at boosted insights, likes, follows, and overall engagement. If you take a look through it, you can find helpful hashtags to use, other accounts to follow, and get a general idea of what Instagram and Facebook think of you and your usage.
Let’s take a peek at some of the ways you can use Explore to help gain some insight, and what each of these features mean for your account.
First things first. For my friends who are reading this and have no idea what the Explore Page is on Instagram, that’s okay! If you are a new Instagram user, or maybe you just haven’t made your way across some of Instagram’s features, this is a great place to start!
I am here to help, so I’ve put together a little video showing you where the Explore Page is, how to navigate to it, and what features you can expect to find when you make your way there. Let’s start by watching this quick 1 minute video of the features and click throughs of Instagram’s Explore Page, and then we can talk about them more in depth once you have an idea of where it is.
A quick 1-minute Video on Instagram’s Explore Page
Now that you’ve seen where Explore is, and what to look for when you click through it, let’s talk about more those great features and what they mean for your IG account.
1). Why do I want my post to be featured on the Explore Page?
– This is an important question, right?! Why would it be beneficial for your post to hit the Explore Page?
The reason why, is that when your post is featured on Explore, it is sent out to a wider audience than just hashtags/follower base alone. It’s sent to people that Instagram ‘feels’ would enjoy interacting with your post! It’s purely algorithm-based, but there are a few things you can do in order to get your post featured. The hard part about it is, there is only one way to find out if you HAVE been featured at all because the trick is, you will NEVER see your own post on Explore. Why? Instagram doesn’t think you want to be fed back your own post, right?
The only way to know you’ve been featured on the Explore Page is to have a Business Account on Instagram (it’s free!).
When you have a Business Account, you are given helpful insights on all of your posts, including whether or not you have hit the Explore Page. (See photo on right, under Impressions, and ‘From Explore’).
2). Beware your Categorization – BEWARE………
-No one likes to be put into categories, we are all unique individuals, with unique interests and skills, right? Right.
But, in this case, categorization is important.
It’s important because you are trying to market yourself to a specific audience, and the more specific you can be, the better results you can get.
One of the ways IG and FB categorizes its users, is by software that assesses the content of your photo. Literally if there is a face, a tree, if you’re outdoors, if you’re in a group, if you’re eating, if there is a tool in your shot. I once had to do a few hours of social media work for a company on a terribly slow computer that just wasn’t loading properly, and noticed that every single photo on my Facebook timeline was a green square. But the interesting thing was, at the top of each square was a small meta-tag with a description of what exactly was in the photo I couldn’t load. ‘Mans face, hands, outdoor, smiling.’ How interesting! So if you are looking to focus on your fiber-arts, be sure to tell your photo story with as much specificity as possible. Is your photo more about your yarn, or your coffee? Does your photo read more about that beautiful scenery you’re posing in front of, or your new sweater pattern? And you can help your case by being specific with your hashtags as well. If your photo contains a new sweater pattern, use a few sweater tags! Easy peasy.
That part was how IG and FB categorize YOU specifically in Explore, but what about how they are categorizing what they think you will LIKE as a user? Have you ever watched an adorable cat video, only to find your Explore Feed filled with all kinds of cute videos about cats, even though you never watch them on IG? Yeah. That happens. They are connected, so whatever you are looking at on either platform will affect what the algorithm thinks you want to see more of. There isn’t much you can do about that part, but if you are noticing that your IG categories listed at the top of Explore are a bit ‘off’ that could be why. It’s the same with ads as well, something you googled, or typed in Messenger, or looked at on FB can be fed back to you as an ad on IG. What fun!
3). A Deeper Look at some Explore Hidden Gems
-Now that you are aware of those Explore Categories, one of my favourite features is one that you have to look a bit harder for. And it keeps changing places. It is the specialty Suggested Hashtags.
The Suggested Hashtags used to be found at the top of the Explore Search Bar in a nice little menu that you could just happily jot down, but alas, all good things come to an end, and they are now a bit harder to find (though not impossible!). The Suggested Hashtags can’t be found on the ‘For You’ part of Explore, (because, of course not, that would be too easy). You can find them by picking a specific Category from the top of Explore, and under those posts you can find ones that have a white # symbol on them with the featured Suggested Tag.
This is useful and interesting because IG has decided that those hashtags fit the Category well. They have vetted it in whatever way they do those things, and said, ‘yep! #crochetersofig is a good one for the DIY category!’ If you want your posts to hit that DIY category, and not say, FASHION, then take a peek at some of the tags under DIY and use them! There’s a good chance that those tags have the IG Explore stamp of approval. Check back often to see what they are because they are always changing.
4). Some Things Do Better Than Others
-It’s true. Some things do better than others. Let’s chat about what they are and why.
If you want to hit Explore, a few things have to happen. First and foremost, your post has to get initial engagement. If, when you post your photo or video, a lot of your followers interact with it by liking and commenting, IG decides that your post might do well if shown to a wider audience. So it opens the doors for your post to go through to a higher percentage of your followers and appear on their feeds. If THOSE people really interact with your post, IG decides well, it’s not just your own followers who like your post, it’s everyone! Good for you! So they open the doors for your post to be shown to an even wider audience. And thus, your post gets featured on Explore where IG can present to people who may like to interact with your post.
There are a few ways to increase your odds at being featured, and one of them is to post a video. IG and FB both prioritize videos in their algorithms, and Explore is no exception. When you open the Explore Page, the video features are larger and more prominently displayed for you to interact with. Why? Because they last longer. You spend more time on the platform watching a video than the amount of time it takes you to consume a still photo. And they want you to get comfy. They want you to stay. Which is why they keep feeding me cute cat videos, they know me so well.
So videos are more likely to get a hit on Explore, but that’s not to say that photos don’t, because they do. Just not as much.
5). It’s Not Just Feed Videos Anymore
– Take a look at the photo on the right, notice anything? This was new to me as of this week.
LIVE videos that you record in your stories are now being featured on the Explore Page.
Interesting, right? This goes back to the point above, IG and FB *really, really, really* want you to get comfy, pull up a chair, and stay for a while. And what better way than by watching a favorite Instagrammer chat about what they are making today?
The fact that LIVE videos are now being featured on Explore is really fun and interesting to me. The content is not very curated, and often times are filled with any number of topics so I do wonder what they are looking for when they pop one into Explore. I’ll have to watch a few featured LIVES to see what they have in common, and ‘there’s the rub’ to quote Hamlet. You got me IG. I’ll go watch these videos now.
So keep that in mind when planning your content. Maybe think about getting into your stories and doing a LIVE video for your audience. Who knows, it might be your entry into a bigger room filled with more people.
So that’s my little take on the Explore Page on Intagram, I hope it helps you in your content creating friends! Leave me a comment below if you have any additional tips or insights into this topic, I am extremely interested in hearing what you guys have discovered as well!