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Instagram Algorithm For SaaS Companies: What You Need To Know

13.02.2023 – Sheila

saas conversational marketing

Instagram Algorithm For SaaS Companies: What You Need To Know

Learning how to leverage and work with the Instagram algorithm is one of the most important things SaaS companies can do to boost their online presence. After all, the SaaS marketplace is exploding in size, with countless new competitors entering the market on a daily basis.

While not every SaaS team will automatically consider Instagram as the best social media channel for generating awareness and sales, it can be a lot more valuable than you’d think. Some of the world’s leading SaaS companies, from Salesforce to HubSpot, have their own presence on Instagram, where they connect with their audience through engaging, informative, and entertaining posts.

Instagram’s engaging visual platform gives your brand an opportunity to showcase your products, introduce customers to the behind-the-scenes operations of your business, and create loyalty. After all, 81% of people say they use Instagram to research products and services. However, before you can discover the benefits of Instagram for yourself, you need to know how to navigate the algorithm.

Instagram Marketing For SaaS: Why Tackle The Algorithm?

SaaS companies leverage a range of promotional tools to engage, convert, and attract new customers. Instagram is just one of the valuable resources you can explore to help strengthen your brand presence and unlock new opportunities for sales.

Already, countless SaaS brands have discovered the benefits of videos and visuals when it comes to educating their customers on what their software can do, and providing helpful guidance for clients. Instagram gives you a useful environment for hosting, and promoting those visual assets.

Today, Instagram is home to one of the most engaged communities online, with 80% of consumers saying the Instagram posts they see help them to make purchasing decisions. With the right campaigns, you can spread awareness of your solution, highlight your credibility, and even earn the trust of your target audience, with user-generated content and reviews.

For SaaS companies, Instagram marketing is a chance to:

  •         Improve brand visibility: Highlight your unique software solutions, showcase your product interface, and draw attention to what makes your company special through videos, Reels, Stories, and educational posts.
  •         Boost audience engagement: Build relationships with your target audience through helpful guides, How-To videos, and behind-the-scenes insights into your brand. The more engaged your customers are, the more likely they’ll be to convert.
  •         Increase sales opportunities: Use your Instagram campaigns to drive traffic back to your website, convince people to sign up to your new webinars, or simply encourage them to download a demo of your product.

Understanding The Instagram Algorithm

Instagram has the power to generate fantastic opportunities for SaaS brands. It provides you with a unique place to showcase everything from thought leadership content, to social proof.

What’s more, the platform doesn’t just help you to attract new customers, it can also provide you with new opportunities to retain your existing customers and generate loyalty.

However, thriving on Instagram means you first need to figure out how the algorithm works.

The Instagram Algorithm is the rule set that the social media platform follows to determine where content should be listed, and who should see each post. The algorithm cross-references various pieces of information about different content on the platform, to help guide users towards the most relevant, interesting content for their needs.

While there are various factors which can impact the way the algorithm works, such as how many people a user followers, session time, and frequency of use, the three core ranking factors are:

  • Relationship: The Instagram algorithm considers the relationship between the viewer, and the author of the content. It looks at whether the users follow each other, leave comments on each other’s posts, or have interacted in the past. If a company regularly interacts with its customers, their posts will be more likely to show on their feed.

  • Interest: Since Instagram wants to provide customers with the most relevant and engaging content possible, it also takes each user’s interests into account. The Instagram algorithm looks at what kind of content a customer usually consumes, the industry it belongs to, the hashtags it uses, and so on, to provide access to similar posts.

  • Relevancy: Instagram also looks at how “relevant” each piece of content is to each user on the platform. This means analyzing where the content fits in with the topics the customer usually views, as well as whether the topic is trending, and when it was posted. Recent posts are considered to be more relevant than older alternatives.

The type of content you publish can make a difference to your ranking potential too. Instagram carousel posts, for instance, get an average of 3.1 times more engagement than standard posts. Since the Instagram algorithm looks at the time a user spends on a post to determine its value, carousels and videos can often lead to higher ranking than single images. 

After all, people spend more time interacting with videos and carousels. 

6 Tips To Beat The Algorithm In 2023

While the Instagram algorithm can seem daunting at first, the reality is most companies can actually take advantage of what they know about the platform’s content rules, to improve their chances of ranking. Once you know what the algorithm prioritizes, you can produce a marketing strategy which boosts awareness for your SaaS brand, generates new opportunities, and increases engagement.

Here are 6 tips to help you beat the algorithm.

1.    Know When To Post

As mentioned above, timeliness makes a significant difference to how relevant Instagram considers your content to be. The fresher, and more recent the post is when your customers are browsing through the platform, the more likely it is to appear. With this in mind, it’s worth making sure you’re posting at the best possible moments – when your audience is already active.

Finding the best time to post on Instagram can be tricky. There are many different reports out there offering different advice. Sprout Social says you should post between 11am and 2pm on Tuesdays, while other analysts offer different insights. The best option is to use your own data to plan your content calendar. Pay attention to your Instagram Insights page.

The reporting section of Instagram will give you insights into where your customers are located (so you can take time zones into account), as well as when they’re most likely to be active.

2.    Experiment With Reels

Video content is rapidly gaining attention on Instagram, and the Instagram algorithm is designed to prioritize this kind of post over other formats. With that in mind, it’s worth experimenting with fun, bite-sized videos in the form of Reels. Reels are promoted on the Explore page, as well as across various other parts of the platform.

Notably, the Instagram algorithm ranks Reels in terms of their entertainment value, so it’s a good idea to keep things as fun and light-hearted as possible. Produce authentic, engaging posts which show the human side of your brand, and experiment with filters, music, and other creative elements.

For instance, check out this Reel from HubSpot, which makes the company seem more fun and friendly, while also drawing attention to the brand’s values:

hubspot on instagram

Adding music to your Reels is particularly valuable because it ensures anyone who listens to the same song will also be more likely to see your posts.

It’s also worth noting that, when Instagram releases new features, it wants its customers to use them as much as possible. This means leveraging new capabilities like Reels means your posts are more likely to be prioritized than other content. 

As new features roll out, such as new story stickers, Reels, and Instagram Guides, it’s worth expanding your marketing strategy to include these types of content. 

3.    Encourage Engagement On Stories

Alongside Reels, Stories are some of the most valuable types of content on Instagram. About 500 million people interact with these content snippets every day. Plus, they give SaaS brands dozens of ways to connect with their audience, through live countdowns,

carousels, mini videos and more.

When ranking Stories, Instagram focuses heavily on interactions and engagement, so it’s worth focusing on finding ways to convince your customers to connect with you through your Stories. You can consider using polls, question stickers, and emoji sliders to boost your levels of engagement. Alternatively, you could add swipe-up links to your Stories to send people back to your site.

The Instagram Stories algorithm generally prioritizes content from the accounts users interact with most, rather than focusing on the specific content of a Story. The short-lived nature of these posts often means timeliness is less important, but it can have a slight impact on ranking after your Story has been posted for more than 10 hours.  

If you produce some particularly useful content in your Stories, consider adding them as snippets to your Highlight Reels too. This will help to make your profile stand out, and boost your chances of generating extra engagement in the future.

instagram story

4.    Use The Right Hashtags

Hashtags are one of the most important ranking signals leveraged by Instagram, as they allow the algorithm to assess the “relevance” of each post, and how it connects to the content customers are looking for. Optimizing your posts with valuable hashtags is a great way to boost your visibility, and improve your chances of reaching the right customers.

There are various different ways you can experiment with hashtags. Popular tags are a good place to start if you’re trying to boost the reach of your SaaS brand, but it’s also worth looking at more niche, focused tags too. For instance, you might use tags like #EmailSoftware or #AutomationSaaS.

If you’re targeting customers in a specific location, use Geotags to boost your chances of connecting with people in your chosen region. You could also consider generating and using your own branded hashtags. These will help to boost awareness of your brand, while also giving you new opportunities to cultivate user-generated content for future campaigns.

5.    Focus On Building Relationships

One of the things that makes marketing such a challenge for many SaaS brands, is you’re not just trying to convert a customer once. SaaS relationships are generally long-lasting, and built around subscriptions you want your customers to maintain for as long as possible.

With this in mind, you should always be looking for ways to build relationships with your audience. Not only will relationship building boost your chances of brand loyalty, but it helps you to beat the Instagram algorithm, too, by ensuring there’s a two-way connection between you and your customers.

Respond to the comments customers leave on your posts whenever you can, and encourage followers to take part in conversations by asking questions in your captions. Look for ways to engage your followers with competitions and contests, and champion your customers by drawing attention to what they’ve accomplished with your software, like Salesforce does here:

salesforce on instagram

Sharing user-generated content is a great way to make your customers feel more invested in your organization, and boost sharing activity. It also enhances the credibility of your brand.

6.    Track Your Analytics

Most software companies are no stranger to the importance of analytics. Ultimately, if you want to navigate the Instagram algorithm and get the most out of your marketing campaigns, you need to be willing to learn from every campaign, and constantly optimize your advertising strategy.

There are various tools available online which can help you with things like social listening and gathering behind-the-scenes insights into your target audience. However, you don’t necessarily need to invest in extra software. Instagram has its own dedicated reporting solution for companies with a Business or Creator account, called Instagram Insights.

Your Insights page will tell you which of your content is generating the most attention and engagement, as well as when your customers are most likely to be online. You can use your analytics to start planning future campaigns more effectively, focusing on the types of content that are helping you to achieve your marketing goals. The more information you gather, the easier it will be to produce highly relevant, engaging, and conversion-ready content in future.

Become An Instagram Algorithm Expert

The Instagram algorithm can seem like a daunting concept at first, but it’s really just a set of guidelines SaaS business leaders can follow to improve their chances of generating a fantastic ROI from every social media campaign. Learn how to navigate the algorithm, and you’ll know exactly what you need to do to strengthen your relationship with customers, and boost your visibility.

Start by thinking about how you can build better relationships with your audience, improve the relevance of your posts, and appeal to your customer’s interests, then use the steps above to create a compelling marketing strategy that addresses the needs of both your customers, and the Instagram algorithm. It’s as simple as that! 

Post by Rebekah Carter
February 13, 2023