Remember the seismic shift that happened last year on Instagram? You know, when the social network announced it was changing the Instagram algorithm to stop showing posts chronologically?

There was a lot of hullabaloo about how scary the change was. But in short order, we all realized it was for the best: The new Instagram algorithm content delivery turned out to be really good. Instead of wading through tons of irrelevant posts, users could immediately see content that interested them.

The Instagram algorithm is humming along for Instagram Stories too. Besides a user’s own Story, Instagram only shows four other Stories before the user has to start scrolling for more. The app is constantly shifting Stories to the front of the feed in a bid to get the user to click on one.

Which, of course, might make you wonder: How can you work the Instagram algorithm to get your Stories seen by more of your followers?

First things first: Let’s talk about engagement

Straight from the horse’s mouth, we know that the Instagram algorithm is designed to always deliver your best friend’s posts or photos from your favorite band. Why? Because the algorithm assumes the more you interact with an account, the more likely you’ll care about what that account publishes.

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In my own Stories feed, I always see content from Gary Vaynerchuk and Yellow Claw first. And that’s just the way I like it.

That means if you want your Instagram Stories to show up on your followers’ feeds, start by getting users engaged with your account in general. (We’ll talk more about this in a bit.) When you get high engagement, Instagram’s algorithm starts giving you “favorite brand” status for tons of users. And that means your content — including each Story you post — regularly shoots to the top of your followers’ feeds.

Story engagement matters, too

As you probably know, Instagram is owned by Facebook and shares data with its parent company. So let’s talk about the Facebook algorithm for a sec. For each News Feed story, Facebook tracks reactions and shares. It counts the number of clicks a post gets. If the post has a video, Facebook measures how long each user watches the content. These are just a few factors that determine how engaging the post is — and whether the post will be shown to more people.

Instagram doesn’t release data about how its algorithm works, but the same is probably happening for Instagram Stories. Though we may not know precisely what’s being tracked, we might assume Instagram is looking at metrics like:

  • The length of time each user watches a Story.
  • Whether a user opens your Story when it pops up in their feed.
  • Whether a user watches your Stories all the way through, or stops watching before the sequence is finished.
  • How many direct messages and shares you get from your Stories.

Instagram looks at these types of metrics to understand how relevant and engaging your Stories are. If your Instagram Stories generate views, keep viewers hooked, and pick up lots of reactions, then you’ll be rewarded with more visibility.

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4 tips to get more organic reach from Instagram Stories

Now that we have a little insight into what makes the Instagram algorithm tick, we can develop a few ideas about how to get Stories delivered consistently:

1. Don’t ignore your traditional Instagram feed

Stories are a lot of fun, but don’t forget to publish traditional Instagram posts too. Engagement on your normal posts counts as account engagement — and it’ll affect your Story’s placement in users’ feeds. You can’t go wrong with a little eye candy. It’s what gets users to tap the “Like” button, write a comment or start watching your Instagram Stories. Here’s a primer on how to produce beautiful content.

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2. Make your Story worth watching… always

Give your followers total confidence they’ll love your content each time they open your Story. Avoid publishing filler material — just one or two bad Stories can lose your followers’ attention. Think of your Stories like a chain: Each link should be strong, and it should lead cleanly to the next one.

Should you use your Stories to plug products? Absolutely. But avoid selling in every Story, because it’s tiring and it might convince your audience that you’re more interested in promotion than actually getting them engaged. Instead, deliver a mix of content: tutorials, behind-the-scenes looks into your brand, views into must-see events, interesting news, and more.

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Check out how Airbnb delivers fun, interesting content before a call-to-action.

3. Encourage your followers to engage

Sometimes, all it takes to get a comment is some friendly encouragement. Use clear calls-to-action in post captions to whip up account interaction. Ask questions, direct followers to more content in your bio link, and tell them you’re always open to chat.

With Instagram Stories, creating CTAs is a blast — you have free rein to type text and doodle on your photos or videos. Tell your followers to send you some love. Use sticker polls to generate clicks on your Stories. And if you have more than 10,000 followers on your business profile, add links to send your followers to your website.

Want to take your posts to the next level? Add Curalate Showroom. When consumers swipe up to see more, they’ll not only be able to shop the items in your post, they’ll see product recommendations as well.

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4. Hang out with your audience

Engagement, as always, is a two-way street. When your followers comment on your posts, delight them with your replies. When they direct-message you after watching your Stories, DM them back. Your fans will learn it’s well worth contacting you because they’ll actually get to hear back.

The takeaway? Keep showing love to your followers. They’ll love you back, and Instagram’s algorithm will reward you for all the fuzzy feelings.

Want to win on Instagram? Partner with Curalate. Not only were we the first solution to bring shopping to Instagram, we offer advanced analytics to help you determine which posts perform best. We also have solutions to help brands gather and manage UGCfind Instagram influencers and make checkout a snap

On average, our clients achieve: 79% increases in time-on-site, 16% jumps in average order value and 31% increases in conversion rate. What can Curalate do for your business? Contact us to find out.