If you’ve been using Instagram for some time, then you may have heard that the first 30 minutes after posting is crucial to whether or not that post is going to go viral or not. I’ve been growing Instagram accounts now for over 5 years now, and I’m going to share my perspective as to whether those initial 30 minutes have any influence on your post virality.
Despite Instagram denying these claims, I do believe that posts can benefit from receiving a lot of engagement within the first 30 minutes or so after posting. The reason being that it tells Instagram’s algorithm that it is a good post, and as such should be shown to more people. Depending on the engagement, it could push your post towards the top of the respective hashtag or explore pages.
The reason why I say this is because I’ve experimented on both sides of the Instagram coin. I’ve been on the side creating organic, quality content aimed at my pleasing my followers, but I’ve also tried out the various ‘Instagram hacks’ such as bots and engagement pods too, the latter of which is entirely focused on boosting post engagement during those first 30 minutes after posting.
When experimenting with engagement pods, I noticed that I could be sharing utter rubbish (posts) and, with enough engagement from the pod, the posts would end up ranking high up on their respective hashtag pages. Even hashtags that were fairly popular & competitive. Alternatively, I noticed that posts which didn’t receive that quick influx of engagement began to stall after an hour or so.
I thought you said Instagram denied this claim..?
Yes. Yes, they did. On a recent story poll, they were questioned on whether Instagram’s algorithm promotes content that receives more engagement within the first 30 minutes after posting, and simultaneously show ‘poorer’ content to fewer people after an hour or so. They obviously denied these claims.
The reason why I take this with a pinch of salt though is that this is the same company that also denied the existence of shadowbans – which are clearly a thing. For those that don’t know, a shadowban is a punishment levied by Instagram whereby they will stop your posts from showing under certain/any hashtags.
That aside, it’s also in Instagram’s incentive to be promoting good content on their platform. After all, they want their users to have the best possible experience on the app right? If not then why did they change the algorithm from the old system? You know, like when it used to show you posts in order of when they were shared? It makes no sense.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a dig at Instagram. It’s a great platform and I do enjoy using it, but from my experience, I truly believe that the first 30 minutes theory does have some truth behind it, even if just slightly. It makes total sense for the algorithm to promote ‘better’ content, with ‘better’ content often having more likes and comments – right?
Could It Just Be Coincidence?
You could argue that the correlation between posts that receive decent engagement within the first 30 minutes after posting, and posts that end up ranking on the hashtag and explore pages, is just a coincidence. To be honest, I wouldn’t even fight you on that argument. Reason being that it really doesn’t matter.
The focus should be less so about trying to go viral, and more so about how to provide the best content for your followers. Once you start creating content that is actually catering to your follower’s wants and needs, you will find that your account will grow organically anyway.
With that in mind, it’s only natural that high-quality posts are 1) going to get good engagement within the first 30 minutes of posting, and 2) is going to rank higher on the respective hashtag and explore pages. Hence why you could argue that the initial 30 minutes really doesn’t matter, as it becomes irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
What NOT To Do
At the end of the day, if your post is only ranking at the top of people’s feeds because you’ve manipulated the algorithm, then you’re only cheating yourself. Let me tell you now that any followers that you gain from bots or engagement pods, really don’t care about you or what you have to sell. In fact, they may even be bots themselves!
By growing your account using legitimate methods, you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether your content is any good or not, and whether it needs improving. If however, you’re just gaining followers because of hacks, bots and pods then there’s no accurate way to judge whether people are following you because they like your content or not.
Still thinking about using those bots or engagement pods, then let me tell you that Instagram is clamping down HARD on people who are using them. Not only might Instagram shadowban your account, but you may also even be banned indefinitely. Do the right thing.
How To Get More Engagement On Instagram
At this point you may be wondering how to actually get more engagement on Instagram, especially considering as I’ve warned you off using drastic tactics to do so. Well, need not to worry as I’m going to share with you some actionable tips that you can start using today!
You can also find a helpful article of how you can grow your account the right way, in which I discuss how I grew my @unreal.tattoos account to over 250k followers and counting. You can check out the article here! Anyway, let’s get started.
Optimize Your Profile
First thing’s first, you’ll want to make sure that your profile represents who you are and what you do, preferably all within the first 3 seconds of landing on your account. Any confusion as to what your account is about and I’ll be moving onto the next. Optimization can include your profile picture, bio, link, featured stories and feed. Make sure that everything’s consistent and to-the-point.
Start Getting Creative
I don’t just mean creative with your post design or captions, I also mean getting creative with your research too. Yes, you’re gonna have to start doing the research before each post if you want to really up your Instagram game. The main areas of research you should be doing is…
- Competitor Research – What topics are they posting about? How is their audience responding? How can you improve on their content?
- Internal Analysis – Similarly to competitor research, you want to be asking yourself the same questions and figuring out how to best serve your audience.
If you can continue to put in this amount of effort on a regular basis, combined with solid visuals and captions, then your account will be growing organically in no time.
If you really want to maximise your account growth though, you’ll want to be using the right hashtags too. Check out this ultimate guide on using hashtags for Instagram.
Engage With Others
To succeed on social media, you need to be social. This means creating genuine conversations not only with the people commenting on your posts and stories but also engaging with other people’s content too. Without it, you’re effectively relying on your followers to share your content.
For me, I’ve had the greatest spell of growth by visiting competitor’s posts and clicking on each and every account that has either liked or commented that post. I then drop some genuine comments on the posts of those respective accounts. I create a conversation with them which gives them the incentive to check out my account.
You can also find accounts like these by searching through specific hashtags that relate to your niche, however, I like using the competitor method because I know that the people engaging with their content already like that style of content, meaning that they’re much more likely to be interested in following me!
The first 30 minutes after posting on Instagram is important enough to affect the outcome of your post’s ranking on the explore/hashtag pages, but not important enough for you to take drastic actions such as using engagement pods or buying likes. You need to shift your focus towards creating high-value content for your followers and improve on that.
Do you have any questions or feedback on this post? If so, feel free to let me know in the comments below!