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February 7, 2018

There’s a place…a familiar place. A place where last week’s red carpet photos accompany acne removal how-to guides and vegan cauliflower wing recipes. A place where you might accidentally spend hours of your day or run into a mutual friend. No, I’m not talking about your dermatologist’s waiting room littered with old tabloids and Food Network magazines. I’m talking about the Instagram “explore” page.

Since the days of chronological timelines and square photo dimensions, Instagram has announced hundreds of updates and changes to the platform. Somewhere along the way, the explore page was born and has quickly grown right before our scrolling thumbs.

What It Is

Simply put, the explore page is where you find content that interests you. Or, content that Instagram thinks interests you. There are video channels, event channels, special topics and interests channels and, of course, plain old photos, all from millions of different users.

Explore works to connect you with the 95 million+ photos and videos uploaded to Instagram daily based on some major data they have collected about you, such as…

  • Who you follow
  • Who your friends follow
  • Your location
  • What you double-tap
  • What what you search for

Creepy, right? Well, you should be used to this data stuff by now. Content on explore is tailored to each user, so the chances my explore page is similar to this guy’s is very unlikely—at least I hope. But hey, now that I’ve searched “taxidermy,” our pages might not be too different. (I’ll test this out later.)

The Anatomy of My Explore Page

Here is my current explore page, a.k.a. the window into my soul:

And yes, Instagram, I like food. By looking here, anyone can tell I’m just a gal in Philly who likes funny animals, food and has no idea how to contour.

Before and After

In the name of research, I strayed from my usual “cat eye how-to” and “showering rat” searches for the day and pretended I was really into sports. More specifically, into the (world champion!!!) Eagles. I spent about 30 minutes rummaging through #FlyEaglesFly hashtags, fan photos and NFL clips to see how my explore page would change.

Sure enough, my explore went from “sushi fanatic” to “wannabe-blonde sports head.” Amazing. Science. Data. DATA. As for the hair transformation videos, I did get a bit distracted during my Eagles quest.

But look, there are now three posts featured on my refreshed explore page about the Eagles. Plus, four other sports-related pieces of content. We have OBJ’s Instagram story up top, some basketball tweets goin’ on and Floyd Mayweather talking about his one hundred million dollar check.

The Good

Getting new and authentic users to follow you, your business or your brand on the ‘gram is tough, especially when users are so worried about their following-to-follower ratios. Since explore’s content isn’t restrained by what accounts users already follow, though, you do have the chance to pop up on their explore page and be seen.  

But how? I don’t know, maybe…

  • Know your audience (preferably everything about them)
  • Hashtag, but keep those #s relevant to your post
  • Tag locations and similar accounts
  • Start a story to limit frequent posting, and add an event or location tag, too

The Unfortunate

You may never find your way to someone’s explore page. Fear not, there’s always paid content for that. *Wink-wink.*

About the Author

Katelyne Ortega

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