The Instagram Algorithm Explained
Before we get to explaining and understanding the ever-changing algorithm on Instagram, let’s talk about what the algorithm is and how it works.
The algorithm for Instagram is a set of signals that are taken from every single piece of content to give the users the best experience possible. The algorithm analyses different components of a post including the image, video, captions, hashtags, and other engagement metrics to ensure that the user is seeing posts on their feed that link to things they are most interested in. The algorithm prioritises fresh content that relates to the user’s interest. However, this is changing all the time, which is affecting brands and personal accounts alike.
The algorithm ranks content based on these 6 main factors:
- Interest: Users are most likely to engage with content they are interested in.
- Relationship: Accounts that have been engaged with previously will be prioritised.
- Timeliness: Most recent posts are prioritised over older ones.
- Frequency: How often the individual uses Instagram will reflect in the content in their feed.
- Following: If the user follows a lot of accounts, they will see less content from any one account.
So, how can marketers survive the ever-changing Instagram algorithm?
- Improve The Quality of Your Content:
It’s not a secret that the most engaging content is visually appealing and interesting to look at. Creating “great content” is one of the best ways to get your content at the top of the followers’ feeds which means you need to ensure that the content is high quality.
If you are already creating fantastic content, great!
However, if you’re lacking in the professional photographer department, use other apps that can help you as this is an expectation from Instagram. No one wants to look at fuzzy and boring posts, compared to some of the most interesting and well-presented posts that are out there which will affect your ranking severely.
- Stories, Stories & More Stories!
We won’t lie to you, stories aren’t supposed to influence the algorithm, however, due to the placements of the stories, you’re already at the top of the feed, right in front of the follower’s eyes so it’s important to increase the number of stories you are posting to increase the times that your profile pops up in front of the follower.
The more stories you produce, the more likely a follower will see your name and either watch the stories or go onto the account to look at the posts and therefore interact and increase engagement.
For marketers, Instagram stories are an extremely popular method of content and have proven successful with over 500+ million daily users with over one-third of the most viewed stories coming from brands and businesses.
However, due to stories not being affected by the algorithm, ensure to do both posts and stories regularly, so that you are getting on the feed as well which can receive engagement.
- Creating & Posting Video Content
Now Instagram hasn’t categorically said that videos are prioritised over photos, however, this doesn’t stop them from being treated the same in terms of the algorithm.
Instagram is being taken over with videos, reels & IGTV meaning that static posts are becoming extinct. The longer the follower engages/watches the content, the algorithm is signalled, therefore your content will be favoured over others which are easier to do with videos.
On the profile, reels and IGTV have their tab which is making the user’s journey to find this content much easier, in some ways easier than the posts themselves, which is Instagram’s way of increasing time spent on profiles.
Here are some examples of video content:
- Tips and tricks
- Behind the scenes
- Informational videos
The videos don’t have to be long and a full-blown production, as long as the content is captivating, that’s all that counts.
- Creating Compelling Captions
One of the most important parts of Instagram is engagement, which is generated of course by the posts, videos etc, however, the captions are one of the most crucial parts to generate that engagement.
Likes, shares and captions are what trigger the algorithm and prioritise the content in the feed.
Captions that encourage the user to tag a friend, like if you agree, share to win a competition will generate those engagements that will boost your ranking for that post and overall.
However, go easy on the instruction-based captions as your account may get penalised which will affect your ranking as well.
- The more people looking at your posts, the better
Hashtags are a crucial part of Instagram, by allowing your content to be searchable. By using branded, product and community-based hashtags, you can allow your content to be seen on the explore page where the users can see interest-based content.
TOP TIP: Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the hashtags, however, ensure that you are using relevant hashtags and don’t just look like spam.
Use different online tools to learn more about the hashtag and the volume that it generates as well as other hashtag suggestions to boost the performance of the post as much as possible.
In the marketing industry, the Instagram algorithm is a scary word, however, let’s change that! Once we can understand the changes and triggers, we can use that to our advantage to boost our ranking and engagement figures.
Contact us today for more information on the Instagram Algorithm and how to smash your social media strategy.