You’re watching Netflix and you open Instagram because you no longer have the ability to concentrate on anything for five minutes. You click the little 🔍 icon and start aimlessly browsing, when a picture catches your eye. It’s a sundress from a brand you’ve never heard of. But you like the dress and it’s seamless to purchase directly from the app, and before you know it you’ve bought it. This is the power of the Instagram Explore page.
Since its birth over a decade ago, Instagram has gone through countless rebrands, expansions, and iterations, but one thing still rings true 13 years later. It’s an app created to establish a community, find inspiration, and share your life with others. More recently, it’s become a place to shop as well, with over 200 million Instagrammers visiting at least one Business profile per day.
Enhancements like Instagram stories and Reels have kept audiences engaged, but the one Instagram feature that is often overlooked is the Explore page. Solely created to be a place for discovery, there’s no better place for brand posts to land on than this.
With over 50% of Instagram accounts using the Explore tab every month, it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of this feature. Here’s how to sneak your way onto someone’s Instagram without ever needing their follow first.
What is the Instagram Explore page?
Think of the Instagram explore page as your own personalized, curated collection of content based on your individual interests. The algorithm caters the page to what you watch, like, interact with, and follow on Instagram. There’s no one “traditional” or “typical” explore page.
For example, if you spend two weeks watching and following exclusively dog accounts, your Explore page will most likely feature more dog content. Yes, I’m speaking from experience. It evolves as your social media patterns evolve.
How does the Instagram Explore page work?
According to Instagram, posts that appear on your Explore page are selected based on a few factors, which include but aren’t limited to, Instagram accounts you follow, photos and videos you like on Instagram, and who you’re connected to on the platform.
The Instagram Explore page is based on discovery, so it exclusively pushes accounts a user doesn’t already follow.
Adam Mosseri, the current CEO of Instagram, revealed that the Instagram algorithm works under specific signals in order to rank content for the Explore page. Once the algorithm detects a user that may be of interest to you, it ranks them according to the following signals:
- Information about the post
- A user’s activity on Instagram
- A user’s history of interacting with the content creator
- Information about the content creator
But what makes the Explore page different from the rest? Why should targeting the Explore page be an important part of your 2023 social strategy? Let’s just say there’s more than one reason.
Why does it matter for your brand?
The Explore page can be so transformative for brands because it guarantees that your posts will be seen by users outside of your current audience. So, if you’re looking to expand your reach and drive like-minded individuals to your Instagram, the Explore page will do that (for free!) for you.
Brand awareness is more important than ever, especially in a time where people look to social media to find products others like, trust, and promote. Businesses that build their brand awareness, especially on social, will drive more engagement and revenue. Putting relevant users in front of your content is an undeniable way to gain exposure because when users enjoy content, they like, comment, follow and share it. Everyone loves a boost in followers and engagement!
Naturally driving traffic to your Instagram is another upside to appearing on the Explore page. Instead of worrying about paid ads and targeting the right audience, Instagram does all the legwork for you with this page. Because the Explore page is specifically catered to an individual’s unique interests, they should be more inclined to spend time on your page and eventually purchase.
In a world where our attention spans are practically at zero, it’s important to make brand discovery and shopping on social media as frictionless as possible. 78% of shoppers value convenience more than ever before and the Explore page helps provide this experience
Seamlessly driving a user from a relevant post to an entire feed of them is a surefire way to boost sales.
How to get on the Instagram Explore page
Visibility on Instagram is getting increasingly difficult. However, there’s a few tried and tested ways to increase your chances of pushing your way onto the Instagram Explore page.
1. Post at the right time
Have you ever looked into when your followers are most engaged and active on Instagram? If you haven’t already, you really need to. When you post content has a huge effect on the likes, comments, and shares your post receives. Just posting content isn’t enough, you need to look at when to post.
The Instagram feed prioritizes fresh content, so diving deeper into your brand-specific metrics on suggested times will help your Instagram stay relevant. And it’s never been easier to find those insights. The right Instagram scheduling tool like our own provides you with the best days and times to post, all based on the Instagram AI and your specific Instagram following.
Remember – the more engagement your post receives on the main Feed, the better your chances of getting on the Explore page are.
2. Share engaging content
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating and publishing engaging content. What one audience may deem interesting isn’t necessarily the same for another audience. I’ll always like (and sometimes share) dog pics but others in my social circle are #TeamCat all the way.
For this reason, take a look at what kind of content your followers like and interact with the most. Skincare brands may find they get the most interaction on Reels demonstrating how-to and tutorial videos because people want to see the products in action.
A good example is Versed Skincare, which has done an exceptional job at tailoring their Instagram to serve their consumer. That’s why their feed is chock-full of interactive Reels that not only feature a product but also how that product works, its benefits, and why you may need it. Once you understand your existing content and current audience a bit better, it’s easier to cater to their specific needs.
Furthermore, social media users are more aware and intelligent than ever. Consumers can tell when a brand is just trying to take advantage of trends and get an easy follow, compared to those who create authentic content that aligns with their business’ values.
The algorithm rewards meaningful content because it more often than not gains traction on the app. Content creation should feel natural, and if it does, it will translate well onto Instagram and garner more attention.
3. Take inspiration from your own Instagram Explore page
As we all know by now, the Explore page includes already highly inspiring, likable content, so take a look at your own and study it. What do these posts include that make them so appealing to users? Is it a specific format? What about this post makes me want to click on the page?
Asking yourself these questions and understanding what makes posts successful helps you get a firm grasp on how this algorithm works. Finding inspiration from high-performing posts and then tweaking it to fit your specific business model should help you find a spot on the coveted Explore page.
4. Stay on top of Instagram updates and trends
Every day the Instagram algorithm seemingly changes and promotes something entirely different than the day prior. However, if you can’t beat the algorithm, you can at least know what’s trending and what new formats are gaining traction on the app.
For example, in 2022, Instagram was pushing Reels as a way to compete with TikTok. Video was what everyone wanted to see. So back then it would’ve made sense to recommend primarily creating and posting Reels in order to keep up with Instagram’s specific pushes.
However, that trend has already evolved into something else, not even a year later and Adam Mosseri recently admitted that they over-focused on video in 2022 and pushed ranking too far and basically showed too many videos and not enough photos. So now it makes more sense to focus back on photos, or the growing audio trend.
One brand that has done a fantastic job of paying attention to and catering to the social media landscape is Yeti. With a proportional mix of image and video, their content is colorful, varied, and puts their product at the center.
All this is a lesson in the importance of being in the know on all things social media. Pay attention to what Instagram seems to favor every week or month, and work within those means.
5. Consider paid ads
The beauty of the Instagram Explore page is the fact brands don’t have to shell out cash to get on it. However, if you are finding it increasingly difficult to naturally boost engagement, try investing in paid ads on Instagram. The app does allow promotional ads to appear on the Explore page, so it does boost your chances of securing a prominent spot for someone to discover your products.
Go beyond the Instagram Explore page
The Instagram Explore page is a coveted place for good reason and these tips and tricks will improve your chances of infiltrating it.
Engaging content will always stand out and be favored on all social platforms. As long as you feel your brand’s voice and image is consistent, have fun with trends, pay attention to metrics, evolve with the updates, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.
But the Explore page is only the beginning when it comes to Instagram. It will help you drive brand awareness and recognition, but to really grow your brand you’ll next need to learn how to increase sales on Instagram.