Ever since Instagram switched out the classic chronological feed their algorithms have been the topic of many discussions and debates. It doesn’t help that throughout the years the Instagram algorithm has been tweaked and revamped which continuously has creators and businesses alike struggling to figure it out. Yet even with its challenges there is no debating that Instagram is one of the best platforms for advertising and brand building. Mastering the Instagram algorithm will constantly be something that everyone who uses the platform on a professional level strives to achieve. Because the rewards are proven to be worth the work.
When a lot of people build out a social media, or particularly an Instagram strategy they often leave out a crucial factor. If you want to gain the most out of the time put into content getting the algorithm to work in your favour is important. But before you can begin to use the algorithm to your advantage you need to understand what it is exactly.
What Is The Instagram Algorithm?
In Instagram’s early days content was viewed by users in chronological order. A first come first served if you will. As the platform’s user-base grew they changed to algorithms as a way to prioritize content based on popularity and relation. The goal was to show users both the most popular content published but also content from accounts they engage with frequently. Since then the algorithm has been an ever-changing thing that adapts as it learns from user behaviours.
Instagram Algorithm Factors for Feed Posts
The first factor that the Instagram algorithm looks at is probably the most obvious: interest. Instagram shows users content based on the types of accounts and content they’ve engaged with in the past. So it’s important that you’re creating content that relates to your niche. In other words the reason why you’re followers followed you in the first place. It’s okay to dabble in a few different areas, say like beauty and fashion or travel and food. Just be careful not to go too off track with the content you share, as to not confuse the algorithms.
Interest can also be measured by your levels of engagement. Instagram will recognize content as being popular when it’s being liked, commented on, shared and saved. So in this sense, the more interested people are in your content the more reach it will gain.
If there is one thing that the Instagram algorithm loves it’s consistency. This means that if you want to score big you need to post content frequently. The good thing about this is it doesn’t mean you have to post daily, you just have to stick to a schedule. So whether that means daily, every other day or weekly, the important thing is you stick to a consistent pattern when it comes to posting.
As the saying goes, timing is everything. And although Instagram hasn’t seen a chronologically feed in what seems to be a lifetime ago, the time you post still matters. Your followers generally have a pattern in terms of when they’re active on Instagram. Things like their timezone and lifestyle will determine when they’re online. Instagram has built-in insights that can tell you things like where your followers are located, and what times of the day they’re most active. From there you can plan the best time of day to publish your content and get more eyes on it.
One thing that might surprise you, is your overall usage of Instagram plays a role in the algorithm. The main role of the Instagram algorithm is to distinguish real users from fake ones. A big indicator that your account is run by a human and not a bot, is by how you use it. Do you engage with other accounts, use your DMs and post on your stories? If you’re only logging on to post your picture and that’s it, you might be doing more harm then good. There really isn’t a set “formula” if you will in terms of your usage, but just be sure you’re actively using Instagram beyond posting.
In the early days of the algorithm, the more followers you had the more reach you had. These days things are a little different. While your followers still play an important role in things, it’s the how that has changed. Inactive and ghost followers might be having a negative impact on your reach. Instagram looks for accounts who’s following is actually engaging with their content. Not only does that tell them that your followers are real, but that they find your content interesting, which helps to boost your reach.
Do you notice that the first content you usually see when you logon to Instagram is from friends, or people you engage with regularly? You can thank the algorithm for that. In addition to content based on your interests, Instagram wants you to be able to see content from the people you care about most. To use this to your advantage, take time to engage with your followers. Answer messages, reply to comments and with those you feel connections with, engage back with their content. This can help better your chances that your content will show up in their feeds.