How to guarantee your post is a Top Post

If your Instagram content is on point, and your engagement is high, you can start to think about Instagram's mysterious creatures otherwise known as Top Posts.

What is a Top Post?

At the top of some hashtag and place pages you may see a section called Top Posts above Most Recent. Top posts appear on trending hashtags and places to show you some of the popular posts tagged with that hashtag or place.

How Top Posts are selected

Instagram is deliberately vague about how they define "Top Posts", so we are sharing what we have gathered from around the internet and our own research.

Instagram describes Top Posts as those which are 'trending'. They are selected via a combination of total likes received, engagement and engagement speed.

Users that have a higher engagement ratio, rank among the "Top Posts" over those who have achieved more likes, but have less engagement. Engagementis the percentage of interactions compared to the amount of followers.

So it's not about how many likes you get, but rather how engaged your audience is with your content! Makes sense.

The other factor is time. It's seems that accounts who have their audience interacting on their content rapidly after publishing tend to have a leg up in getting selected in the Top Posts section.

Choosing tags to get Top Post

You can't control your engagement or engagement speed, but you can control which hashtags you target. Your chance of getting Top Post on #love is virtually zero; there is too much competition, and you need a lot of total likes received (not just engagement or engagement speed). On the other hand, there's no point targeting #iwillgettopposttoday, because while you will get Top Post, no one is going to see it.

Targeting tags is a trade-off between, what is my potential visibility, and what are my chances of getting Top Post. We recommend searching relevant hashtags and seeing how many likes and comments the posts get that are in the Top Posts. If your posts consistently have the same or more likes as those in the Top Post section, you've found a winner.

Let's look at an example

Let's say I’d like to make a post about these lovely glazed pastries I’m about to devour for afternoon tea lunch. I could use the very popular #donuts with over 3.2 million posts, or I could choose a smaller #donutday hashtag with 55,000+ posts or the even smaller #donutsarelife with 9,000+ posts.

Let’s have a look the breakdown of the top posts for #donuts

Post Number

Likes

Comments

Age (hours)

1

21600

60

19

2

11900

59

22

3

8218

102

5

4

6921

131

9

5

3271

76

15

6

13900

135

15

7

4042

85

14

8

2904

50

11

9

1737

3

18

To simplify we’ll focus on the maximums, minimums and average of the likes, comments and age of the posts, and to simplify further we’ll not take into consideration the engagement rate of the accounts or engagement speed of their followers, let's just assume they are about average.

 #donuts

Likes

Comments

Age (hours)

Max

21600

135

22

Min

1737

3

5

Ave

8277.0

77.9

14.2

This will allow us to compare and gauge the value of these hashtags against others as well as the likelihood of one of our posts being featured as a ‘Top Post’ within these hashtags.

While #donuts is a very popular hashtag and it’ll give you the greatest exposure, you’ll need at least 1,700 likes for the chance to get featured and more realistically you’d want about 8,000 likes and 80 comments within the first 14 hours if you’re serious about getting in the spotlight

#donutday 

Likes

Comments

Age (hours)

Max

2639

59

48

Min

100

3

8

Ave

749.3

19.8

23.5

Alternatively #donutday might be the best hashtag for you with 750 likes and 20 comments within a day.

#donutsarelife 

Likes

Comments

Age (hours)

Max

354

9

48

Min

45

1

9

Ave

128.3

4.6

21.6

If you’re just starting on Instagram and are looking to be featured #donutsarelife could be your ticket, 130 likes and 5 comments in 22 hours is a very achievable even for a growing account and you’re more likely to find more likeminded followers with a more specific donut niche.

Of course you could just hedge you bets and use the caption “I eat #Donuts everyday because everyday is #DonutDay and that’s the only way. #DonutsAreLife” and while you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, you’ve most likely wasted a couple hashtags that could have been used more effectively to grow your brand.