The Explore tab on Instagram is nothing new, but it has definitely evolved over the years. It has occasionally been updated with occasional tweaks that have encouraged people to spend more time on the app and increase their follow count, but it is nothing compared to the overhaul that it has just received. While previous updates have only been to improve the Explore algorithm and gently nudge people into searching for new accounts to follow, the most recent update has completely overhauled the Explore grid to focus on shopping, IGTV, and Instagram Stories.
The Shop Button
The first big change you’ll probably see on Instagram’s Explore grid is a large Shop button pinned to the top of the Explore bar. As always, this is intended to help Instagram users find other accounts and products that match their interests by giving them quick access to category filters such as clothing and home decor. It may feel a little too transparent to place the Shop button front and center with this update, but it also goes to show how powerful and popular Instagram has become in terms of online shopping. Instagram has an average order value of $65.00, which is the second-highest when compared to other social media accounts according to recent studies. It clearly generates a lot of sales, so it would make sense that Instagram wants to make it easier for users to shop on the platform.
Of course, people use Instagram for more than just shopping for things that match their interests. Instagram is primarily a social network for those who want to share their photos and videos, and the updated Explore function certainly reflects that. Along with having the ability to search for photos and connect with other accounts that match your interests, there is also a link to IGTV on your Expore grid. IGTV is available as a separate app for watching long-form videos from Instagram creators, but you can now access it directly from your Instagram app instead and browse through a collection of videos recommended to you based on your interests. As with the Shop button, the IGTV button on the Explore grid is intended to make it easier to browse content that is related to your interests and make Instagram more user-friendly overall.
Of course, you will also be able to view Instagram Stories through the Explore grid. Stories are used by more than 500 million Instagrammers every day, and they remain a great way to display new information about your interests and any products. They appear at the top of your Instagram feed, and thanks to this latest update, it is easier than ever before to see new stories and create some of your own.
Making the Most of the Explore Update
More than anything else, the new Explore update is intended to introduce you to new material and Instagram accounts that might otherwise slip under your radar. This is great news for marketers who are beginning a new Instagram advertising campaign since it means that their own photos, videos, and products have the chance to become more visible to fellow users. You still need to know how to market your business and products so that they show up when people use the Explore function though.
If you know about marketing and search engine optimization, you probably already know a little bit about how to do this. The Explore page uses the Instagram algorithm to learn more about a user’s behavior on the Instagram app and show them accounts, stories, and products that are similar to what they’ve viewed in the past. This is why the Explore page is different for everybody, but you can still find your way onto the page for users who have an interest in what you have to offer. Your first step will be to learn more about your followers. Pay attention to who is liking your posts and following your accounts as well as what kind of posts they are liking. That will give you a good idea of where to focus on for your next advertising campaign.
Once you have an idea of what your followers want to see, the next step is to create good content. That is something that will never change no matter how much search engine algorithms and social media evolve. Photos will still take priority over video, but a well-made video will still grab people’s attention. Keep your videos relatively short, preferably between 30 and 60 seconds. People will be more likely to watch shorter videos to completion without getting bored with them.
It’s important to know when to post your content as well. When you take a look at your analytics, you will hopefully notice when your followers will be the most active on Instagram. You don’t have to post only during those times, but they should be when you’re the most active. The Instagram algorithm pays close attention to posts that are liked and shared quickly after they are posted, so they will be more likely to show up on a user’s Explore page than something you posted in the middle of the night and shared by someone the following afternoon.
Finally, use your own Explore page for inspiration. As long as you keep posting new content, Instagram’s algorithm will show you accounts that are at least in the same ballpark of what you have to offer. These other accounts can be a great source of inspiration, especially if you find something that’s been shared several times before. You do have your own voice and you shouldn’t outright copy what others are doing, but this is definitely an example of why fans of art make the best artists.
Even though exploring and searching on Instagram is hardly anything new, the function has changed in a big way. It will almost certainly evolve with time, so keep a close eye on it. It will always be a great source of inspiration.