I Algorithms have been the hot topic for quite a while now because they affect everyone. But, there are a lot of rumors that have gone around with just how it works and exactly how to beat it. So, I thought I would give you the down and dirty details behind just how this beast works so you can work with it instead of against it!
How the Algorithm Works - 2019
Way back when, Instagram was in reverse-chronological order so you'd see the newest posts first. Instagram is no longer like this, but they do take "timeliness" into account.
The most important thing to know is: Instagram's main goal is to maximize the time users spend on the platform. The longer they are there, the more ads they see, and the more money Instagram makes.
Instagram's Top Ranking Signals
The algorithm prioritizes content from accounts that users interact with a lot. So, if a person leaves comments on your posts, if they have notifications enabled for your account, you Direct Message each other through the app, or you tag photos of each other, the algorithm will recognize that the two of you are "close."
The algorithm also uses your past behavior to predict what is important or interesting to you. This might include images that are similar or hashtags that you've liked.
According to Instagram, the algorithm shows users newer posts first. This is important for businesses to know when their target audience is online and posting at those times.
Other Algorithm Factors
Frequency of Use
Instagram always aims to show users the best and most relevant/popular post since they last looked at their feed, so your posts and content will update based on how often you open the app.
Without being too obvious, the amount of accounts you follow makes a difference in what you see. If you only follow a few accounts, you are going to see a lot of posts from those same accounts. If you follow more accounts, you will likely see a smaller number of posts from one account but a wider variety of posts from multiple accounts.
A user who spends more time in Instagram will go further back and be able to see more posts than a user who is on for a shorter amount of time. The user who is on for less time will likely only catch the best performing or most popular posts.
How to Make it Work in Your Favor
1. Post Often
It's important to post regularly but do not sacrifice quality for quantity. Be sure your posts are still on brand and speaking to your audience. I would recommend starting with once per day. If you feel like you can do more, try for twice a day. But, again, do not sacrifice quality for quantity. Once or day might feel like a lot for some people! If it does, try posting about 3-4 times per week to get started.
2. Mix in Videos
While Instagram doesn't prioritize videos over photos, many people like to watch and stop scrolling to watch videos. The people that do like to watch videos will have more videos show up in their feed. You can post videos by going live, as a story, or on IGTV.
Videos also increase the time your audience spends with each post - which can in turn lead to increased engagement.
3. Post When Your Audience Is Active
The algorithm favors recent posts so be sure to pay attention to when your target audience is online. You can see the amount of people who are seeing your posts by clicking on the insights for each post if you have a business profile.
4. Be Personable
Building relationships authentically is important because the algorithm will promote your posts to people who already have a relationship with you. To do this, write captions that will drive engagement, respond to comments, ask questions, like and comment on other people's posts, etc.
5. Use Hastags
I often get asked, "What is the purpose of a hashtag?" The purpose of a hashtag is to make your post accessible to people who may not follow you, but have an interest in the area or topic you are posting about. Many people click on or even follow hashtags they are interested in. Do you love when cute puppies show up on your feed? You may want to follow a hashtag like #DogsOfInstagram! Make sense?
I hope this information and these quick tips help you up your Instagram game! If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out!
Sources: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-algorithm/, https://www.falcon.io/insights-hub/topics/social-media-strategy/21-tips-increase-instagram-engagement/