Part 1 of this article can be found here.


The niche of your photo is defined, in part, by the author’s bio, the caption and hashtags of the photo.

But the niche is also defined by the types of accounts it is engaging with.

These are the accounts that have liked and commented the photo.   Engagement from influencer accounts will increase your chances of making the Explore tab for your niche.

As Instagram tracks your usage pattern, responding to and engaging with accounts in your niche will further re-enforce your niche classification.

For example a photo from @studioartyoga June2, had 175 comments and 17.7K likes.    The top Commenters are listed below.    These accounts are from the mother niche.

Figure 5 : Comments on photo @studioartyoga

This is best illustrated this is with the analysis of their account descriptions.     Included below is a list of key words found in the bio of top Commenters and Likers.  The size of the word represents how popular that descriptive word was used.   It is clear that the common themes are mother, family and blogger.  In other words, the top account engaging with this photo are Mother bloggers.

Figure 6 : niche of accounts engaged with @ studioartyoga 

@studioartyoga describes itself as mother, baby and yoga page.     Based on this and people who engage with the content, Instagram classified the photo in the mother & baby niche.   This explained why a number of Instagram users in the mothers and motherhood niche reported seeing the photo from @studioartyoga on their Explore page.


Speed of engagement

The speed of engagement is another important factor for the Explore tab.  When a photo received a significant number of comments or likes in the initial hours, it increases the chance of reaching the Explore tab.   This is particularly so, when these engagement comes from influencers or large accounts.  Typically the first one to two hours seem to be the most critical period.

In the example of @studioartyoga,  there were 12 large accounts that commented on the photo.

Eight of these, commented within the first two-hour of publishing.   These accounts were X2 the size of the @studioartyoga on average.  This rapid engagement would be another major factor for the being featured in Explore.

Tabled below are the major commenting accounts, grouped by the time of comment.

Figure 7   Large accounts commented in the first 2 hrs

Over the following three days, 4 major accounts also comment on this photo.  The continued attentions from large accounts ensured the photo stayed on Explore for over two days.

Figure 8   Large accounts commented in the next 3 days

Reply & engagement

Replying to a comment develops a dialog, and builds a relationship.  But replying to comments on your photo also increases the chance of reaching the Explore tab.   Fundamentally, comments, whether they are inbound comments (comments on your photo) or a reply from you, are counted as Engagement.

In our analysis, we noticed most photos on Explore have a healthy dialog between account owner and commenters.

Here is an example of a photo from @arnarkristjans_photography  in the travel destination niche.    This photo had 5.9K engagements.

The page had replied to 80% of inbound comments on this photo.  (see below)  Most of these comments were genuine reply, in the context of the inbound comment.   These replies were made within one to two hours of comments.  This interactive engagement would be another factor for this photo making into the Explore tab.

Figure 9   Engagement with in bound comments

Influencers  repost

Reposting your photo by other account is a factor for reaching Explore tab.    When an account reposts or shares your photo, it gives you access to their audience.  This applies to both organic and sponsored reposts.    Your photo appears on the feed of their followers, and in most cases with tags or mentions attributing the credit to you.

If the repost is from an influencers or a large account, it dramatically increases your chance on getting into the Explore tab in that niche.

This is what we observed for @studioartyoga.

Listed below are four influencers/large accounts that reposted the photo.  They are listed by the hours after initial post was published.

Figure 10 : Reposts from influencers over one week

The total number of followers across these four accounts is 510K.    This means the photo would have an additional half a million exposures.

These four accounts have a well define niche, with highly engaging audience.

The reposted photo accumulated a total of 135K engagement.  This translated to 25% engagement rate of the reposted photos.

Some of these interests and engagements would have translated into a visit to the author’s page.  In fact @studioartyoga reported a continue flow of new followers, well beyond the life of the post.



Getting your photo in Explore is an important objective for a lot of people.  The Explore tab remains the best way to get an organic boost in reach, and grow the page.

We now know the common factors influencing a photo making onto Instagram Explore.  It is clear that photos with superior engagements from a well-defined niche, stands the best chance of getting into Explore.

Over to you

Can you use this to define a strategy, and refine your engagement process ?