You’ve got the ingredients to a perfect Instagram post down pat: engaging content, impeccable copy, fun and visually compelling images and videos一you’ve absolutely nailed it to a T. But do you know how to use the Instagram algorithm to up your game and boost your Instagram content strategy?
Knowing how the system works can give you a good idea of how to optimize your campaigns and get more eyes on your ‘Gram. In this article, we’ll talk about how the Instagram algorithm works, how to outsmart it, and how to use it to your advantage and get more engagement for your brand.
What Does Instagram Algorithm Mean?
The Instagram algorithm is a system put in place to provide users with the best experience. Its goal is to filter out irrelevant content and serve users what it thinks they would appreciate best. Basically, it tells the platform if your content should show up in people’s feeds, or if it should be bumped all the way to the bottom, never to see the light of day.
Now, what does this mean to you? With over 25 million brands on the platform, all vying for users’ attention, you have to have a solid strategy so your posts don’t get buried in the abyss of cute cats and babies. The average user can only see a limited number of posts per day so you have to make sure you do everything you can to keep yours visible.
Optimizing your content for the new Instagram algorithm will ensure you get more eyes on your posts. This gives you more opportunities for engagement and leads to higher conversion rates.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works
The Instagram algorithm uses machine learning to personalize content for each individual user. It looks at your interactions and activities一accounts you follow, posts you like or save一and uses those information to suggest content it thinks you might enjoy. But it doesn’t stop there. Three are other factors that determine what you see in your Instagram feed: interest, timeliness, relationship, frequency, following, and usage. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Instagram looks at your past activity to work out what types of content you’re interested in. So if there’s a specific genre of content that you often engage with (for example, travel-related posts), Instagram might rank it higher on your feed. This means that the order of content that will appear in your feed will be based on the posts that you might potentially like best.
Another factor that influences the Instagram algorithm is the time content is posted. Instagram aims to serve users fresh content so it prioritizes the most recent posts over days-old ones.
Instagram cares about your relationships and doesn’t want you to miss important posts from your family and friends. So if you have accounts that you interact with on a regular basis, it’s likely that they’ll rank higher on your feed.
How often you open the app is another thing that affects what you see in your feed.
Each time you launch Instagram, the algorithm tries to show the best posts since your last visit. This means that if you open the app every day, you’ll see posts that are most relevant for that day. If you open it every hour, on the other hand, it will give you the most relevant content that you haven’t seen before.
The more accounts a user follows, the less content they will likely see from each of them. The algorithm sorts through all of the content you’re following, and given that there is only a limited amount of time you get to spend on the platform per day, you are most likely to see only posts that the algorithm prioritizes.
Short visits on Instagram will trigger the algorithm to show the most relevant posts first, while longer sessions will enable users to view more fresh content.
The Instagram algorithm helps curate the best content for each user, not just in their regular feed, but also in other features available on the app, like Reels, Instagram stories, For artists, and Explore page. The algorithm works differently for each.
Instagram hasn’t disclosed exactly how the algorithm determines what’s shown as a suggested post or in the Reels Explore tab. It did mention, however, that it will deprioritize and even deliberately give less visibility to recycled content, low-quality videos, and content bearing watermarks and logos from other platforms. So no, it’s not a good idea to use your TikTok videos on Reels to attract more followers.
On the other hand, the social media giant also confirmed that it’s prioritizing “entertaining, funny, and interesting content” in recommended Reels suggestions.
When it comes to how the algorithm works, Instagram stories are pretty similar to your regular feed. The first few stories that you see when you open the app are usually from accounts you often interact with. Stories are designed for binge-watching, though, so there’s a fat chance users will get to your post, even if you don’t appear at the beginning of their feed. This is why consistent and frequent posting to Instagram stories is key to getting more views and a better ranking.
We know how the Instagram algorithm works for most brands. But the system can be more complicated for artists. There are specific areas where Instagram is clear about artist content, and the platform may treat artist pages differently.
For starters, engagement is a bigger deal for artist pages compared to others. Sure, you have a better potential to grow traffic. Still, You need consistent page likes and comments to grow further.
Instagram also checks for collaborations, checking mentions and tags across posts, which makes collabs a powerful way to grow your fanbase.
Feed posts follow the most general ranking factors across Instagram. However, there are other more minor elements that help curate feed posts.
For example, geolocation is a crucial ranking factor that affects your feed. Local posts are more likely to appear first on your feed than those from a different timezone.
The new Instagram algorithm works a bit differently on the Explore page. It looks at the user’s activities on the page, collecting information on the user’s engagement history. The platform will then curate similar content from accounts not yet followed by the user.
Within the Explore tab, popularity helps propel posts to the top. The number of comments, shares, and likes is a significant factor, so engagement is critical.
How to Beat the Instagram Algorithm
While the Instagram algorithm influences how your content is served to your audience, crafting quality content that drives engagement is still key to reaching social media success. Here are smart ways to work with the new Instagram algorithm and use it to your advantage:
1. Abide by Instagram’s community guidelines
If your post goes against Instagram’s community guidelines, don’t expect the platform to reward you for it by showing it to more users. In fact, you can count on the fact that it will be less widely distributed. Instagram limits the visibility of content that shares misinformation, those that feature upsetting or sensitive topics, posts that are obscene or political in nature, and other types of content that are illegal in nature.
2. Use the power of hashtags
Hashtags do a great job at getting your content discovered by more people. They can help improve visibility by leading users, who are exploring a particular topic, to a relevant post you have published. Use relevant and popular hashtags whenever you post to get more views. The more views your post gets, the more views for the algorithm to take into account.
3. Post at the right times
Pay close attention to when your audience is online and in the mood to engage. Since Instagram always aims to serve the freshest content to its users, you don’t want to be posting when most of your followers are asleep. You can use the help of Instagram Analytics to give you an overview of when you have the most active followers and craft your posting schedule around it.
4. Encourage interaction
Engagement is a huge deal for Instagram. It’s the main thing that the algorithm measures to determine where your post is at when it comes to the key factors discussed above.
Get conversations going by writing meaningful captions, asking questions, and encouraging followers to share their opinions. When you’re posting stories, take advantage of emoji sliders, polls, and question stickers. Talking directly to your audience will always encourage interaction and will also help you build connections with them.
Why is My Instagram Post Not Reaching Anyone?
The whole Instagram game can be really complicated and confusing sometimes. It can be hard to figure out what you’re doing wrong. If you feel like your posts are not getting as much attention as others, here are some of the most common culprits.
1. Your audience is not looking
Thus, the importance of having a strategic posting schedule. The best way to do this is to identify who your audience is. Where do they live? When are they awake? How often do they use Instagram? Having answers to this question will inform your social media strategy and give your content better visibility.
2. Your captions are not engaging
Yes, it still all boils down to engagement. Engagement is your key to social media success. Having an interesting caption can captivate an audience and encourage them to interact with your post. Be careful not to overdo it, though. Captions that are too long may bore users and prompt them to leave. Keep your captions short but sweet.
As social media evolves, brand success on Instagram is more about engaging followers. Use the Instagram algorithm as a gateway to building more engaging Instagram content. Regardless of how social media evolves, exciting content is always a winning strategy.