Everything You Need to Know About the Explore Page
Learn how to make content appear on the Instagram explore page.
Instagram’s explore page has evolved to become a carefully curated hub of content, unique to users’ likes and behaviours on the app. Previously known as the ‘popular’ and ‘discovery’ page, it uses an algorithmic formula to select the content that syncs up with users' previous interactions. Each explore page comprises posts liked by people whose posts users have previously engaged with, or similar accounts and content it predicts they will like, along with posts with high engagement. Because of the unique, user-specific nature of the explore page, Wired has called it 'the most honest place on the Internet'.
Typically, the explore page will display IGTV content and videos, along with shoppable posts and images that are similar to other content users engage with. Instagram is also incorporating Stories within the explore page (although this won’t be visible on everyone’s account, just yet). Along with the main explore feed, there are also categories to browse, such as TV & movies, nature, food, animals, travel and decor. It is interesting to note that video content will often be favoured on the explore page, where it will automatically play.
There are a number of benefits that appearing on the explore page can have for a brand, including a rise in post views, an increase in post engagement and even new followers. Some brands may see an uplift in conversions, too.
Here are our tips to increase your chances of being featured on the explore page.
Firstly, it’s useful to monitor analytics to see what content resonates on the explore page. To do this, you can simply click on individual posts and go into ‘post insights’ where you will be able to see a breakdown of impressions, including ‘from explore’, which is only shown if your post has appeared on someone’s explore page. Look at when your followers are most active and adjust your posting times accordingly - this should increase initial engagements. High engagement on posts, especially soon after posting, signals to the Instagram algorithm that this piece of content is 'of value' and worth putting on the explore page for others to discover and engage with.
Make Use of Instagram's Discoverability Features
Secondly, make the most of all of Instagram’s native features, 60% of businesses on Instagram Stories use an interactive element every month. When posting, add a location tag and use hashtags - these are useful tools that make your content more discoverable. Captions with questions often tend to encourage a higher level of engagement and spark conversation in the comments section, so craft copy that will prompt a response. The more interactions a post achieves, the more likely it is to appear on the explore page. Remember to always tag and mention relevant brands on posts to get more eyes on your content.
Milk Makeup utilises their Instagram captions to share help and advice with their followers. They routinely ask questions such as 'if u could capture ur skincare routine in THREE words what would they be?' to elicit a response from users and increase comments. Brands must learn what interests their audience and how they can leverage this information in their posts, whilst also being mindful of their core product offering.
Post Regular, On-Brand Stories
Stories are another way to increase engagement and appear on the explore page. One method is to link to posts in Stories as soon as they are shared to the main grid and encourage followers to like them. Stories containing images and videos similar to, and representative of, typical feed posts are more likely to appear on the explore page; this highlights the importance of staying true to your page’s aesthetic. The algorithm also favours visual content with little to no copy, so produce content that doesn't contain too much text. Videos, animations and GIFs are a great way to engage your audience and get your content seen.
'Videos have the potential to be ranked higher than photos since videos auto-play in explore and tend to get more attention,' says Josh Constine at Tech Crunch. An easy way to incorporate video content into a feed is to create stop-motion graphics or GIFs - these are simple ways of turning still posts into video content. Create brief tutorials or product intros to showcase your brand and catch potential followers' attention. Also, consider creating an IGTV series - Instagram is favouring these videos in the explore feed.
Take inspiration from Michael Kors and the stop-motion GIF that the brand shared on February 14th. Effective Instagram posts tell a story and are easily understood, both with and without audio. The key to a successful GIF is to captivate audiences through strong visuals, edited into a simple sequence with an easy-to-follow narrative or message, something that Michael Kors has mastered. It's often the most uncomplicated ideas that are the most effective.
Don't Just Focus on Likes
Saving and sharing posts via direct message are two other forms of engagement to focus on. We know that the Explore page algorithm favours images and videos with the least amount of text, so captions should do all the talking. The copy written in the caption space should naturally encourage sharing. Include subtle CTAs to give followers a nudge.
Making your page shoppable and tagging products is also beneficial, as the explore page frequently features shoppable posts and accounts. Plus, this makes for a much more cohesive user experience. Take inspiration from NET-A-PORTER and tag items within posts, alongside a CTA in the accompanying caption, to encourage followers to tap and purchase. According to Hootsuite, 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month
Words: Lauren Ashdown & Daniel Flay