Timeless Tips for Beating the Instagram Algorithm
You’ve heard about the infamous “algorithm,” an omnipresent, all-knowing Big Brother that makes decisions about your every move online. The algorithm exists on every search-capable app and site we have access to, including Instagram and other social media platforms.
But Instagram recently updated its algorithm. The updated algorithm has deprioritized the chronological format, where recent posts were given the highest priority, and instead, posts are ranked and shown based on relevant content, meaning that high-quality media and strategic approaches matter more than ever on the app.
How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?
Every post you see on your Instagram feed is based on the algorithm’s understanding of its importance and relevance to you as an Instagram user. Rather than showing posts only in chronological order or another rigid sorting technique, new algorithm changes mean that what is pushed to your feed is calculated by several ranking factors.
Thanks to the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, the app has maintained some transparency about its algorithmic standards. Starting in 2016, when it transitioned from a chronological feed, Instagram also announced the benchmarks behind the new Instagram algorithm and how that may affect users. Specifically, Instagram claims its bots rank posts based on what the app knows about the post, the user, the viewer’s activity, and the interaction between the two.
As an Instagram user, the posts that show up first in your feed most often depend on:
- Your interest: Using information on your Instagram account and interactions, the app makes a conclusion about your likely interest level in each piece of content. If you’re more likely to be interested, that post will rank higher on your feed.
- App usage: It makes sense – when you use the app frequently, you’ll see more posts than if you use it only sporadically.
- Posting time: The algorithm updates still include an element of timeliness – recent posts show up higher on your feed than others.
- Following count: When you follow more Instagram accounts, you’re less likely to see the majority of your content from a single account. Alternatively, if you only follow a few accounts, you’ll see most things they post.
- Engagement: Your relationship with content creators also comes into play. Engagement in the form of clicks, comments, likes, etc. can either heighten or diminish a post’s ranking in your feed.
Tips for Hacking the Instagram Algorithm
Optimizing your account for the algorithm involves relying on data, high-quality media, and an understanding of how users relate to your content on the app compared to other sites. Just like your strategy on TikTok, Facebook, and LinkedIn, any new post you make should attend to the specifics of the app itself – and how the algorithm works to either benefit or ignore your brand.
Make Engaging Content
Whatever changes social media apps make to their algorithms, one thing stays the same. High-quality content is placed above all else simply because users like to see good content, and when they do – they interact with it. Most content users see on their explore page is of professional quality, with striking visuals, sound, and concepts that audiences are intrigued by. Whether you’re posting video content or a traditional image, make sure it’s up to the standard set by the other posts on any user’s feed. Similarly, your Instagram captions and comments should offer the same quality, with call-to-actions your users can easily and excitedly engage with.
Post Frequently and at the Right Times
Though the Instagram algorithm changes mean that posts no longer appear in chronological order, time is still significant. When and how frequently you post will make a notable difference in whether your follower count even notices your posts. To attend to time, post at peak Instagram hours, when there are the most amount of users online – and post often. Instagram has clarified that your account won’t be down-ranked for regular posting, so take advantage of that by posting as much as possible, whether you schedule those posts or make them real-time.
Don’t Shy Away from Non-Traditional Types of Content
Instagram has been known as a photo-sharing app since its launch in 2010. But as social media changes and other apps like TikTok grow, the popularity of newer forms of media has taken precedence over single-picture posts. Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, IGTV, and Carousels have become favored posting choices by influencers and business accounts alike – and it’s because they work.
Use Hashtags and Trends Wisely
Hashtags, trends, and new features are your friend – but only if you’re using them effectively. These shouldn’t be the basis of your approach to Instagram engagement, but they could offer an enhancement to an already robust strategy. Stay on top of trends because they give you insight into what users want to see, but remember that not every trend or hashtag will work for your brand – it’s about finding the ones that best apply.
Engage with Your Audience
In that realm, one of the best ways to get engagement is to give it. Your relationship with your followers is equally as important as what you post. Respond to comments and DMs, use trending hashtags, create a giveaway, try stickers or questions, and personalize content to your target users to raise your engagement rate even further. When users see exciting feed posts directly tied to engagement, they’re more likely to spend time on that creator account, supplying bots with the information they need to boost it further.
Collaborate with Influencers
Influencers aren’t going to take you off the ground if you’re not focusing on an effective Instagram content strategy overall, but they can help push you further. We’ve seen again and again how elemental influencer marketing can be for big and small businesses online, and Instagram is one of the first apps to have illustrated their effect. Users like to interact with influencers, so collaborate with them to meet your target audience where they already are.
Understand Your Instagram Analytics
Instagram offers a variety of analytic options under their Insights Overview that gives you valuable information on what’s working and what’s not. Use those metrics to inform your future Instagram posts, experiment with new strategies, and find out what really reaches your audience.
Navigating Algorithmic Changes with First Media
Instagram isn’t the only app to announce changes to its algorithm affecting business accounts and creators. We’ve seen a steady evolution of app quality, algorithm design, and user interaction across all platforms – and it just keeps changing.Adapting to those changes requires a comprehensive understanding of app algorithms, what goes into quality content, and how to ensure high performance based on those elements. At First Media, we’ve devoted our story to developing high-quality content that extends brand awareness and engagement across platforms. Find the reach your brand is looking for on and off of Instagram when you partner with First Media.