It seems like Instagram is changing its algorithm every day. All of the changes can make it tough to keep up, let alone maximize your visibility on the platform. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
This blog post will give you all the information you need to stay ahead of the game and get in front of your audience. So read on!
Challenges of Algorithms
Picture this: you've created what you think is the perfect Instagram post. Awesome! The caption is phenomenal, the tags are well-researched, and your chosen picture is effortlessly aesthetic. You are positive that this post will do well at attracting new followers and boosting your engagement. And then it tanks.
If this has ever happened to you, don’t feel alone. It's common. And it happens when users don’t have a good understanding of the ever-changing algorithm.
Instagram’s algorithm is pretty much a filter that decides what content should be "pushed" toward a specific audience and what content will be harder to find. All content CAN be found, but the likelihood is lower if the algorithm isn’t favoring it.
Originally, Instagram was set up on a chronological newsfeed. So whatever was the most recent would show up first. This changed a while back to favor popular posts before others.
If you are an avid IG user, you probably know you can actually switch back to chronological viewing. But even with this option to choose what shows up first, most people stick to the default settings and will see popular content over recent content. So to use this to your advantage, producing trendy content is a must.
Coming from a creator's mindset, implementing a successful marketing strategy means understanding what Instagram deems worthwhile or important in the first place. You can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules. So let’s dive into the latest algorithm changes and ensure your content gets the attention it deserves.
A Deeper Dive Into Instagram’s Algorithm
Every time a user opens the app, Instagram's algorithm sweeps through all available content and ultimately decides:
- Which posts appear at the top of the news feed and in what order.
- Which posts appear in the Explore tab.
- In which order stories, IGTV videos, and reels appear in the feed.
Each part of the app pays attention to similar factors. The algorithm pays attention to:
- The relationship you have with your followers: Do you follow each other, message each other, and tag each other in posts or comments?
- The relevance of the content: Instagram tracks users' typical interests and deciphers what's in a given photo or video to deliver the content people want.
- The timeliness of your posts: newer ones still take priority over older ones.
The 2022 algorithm for feeds and stories
For your feed and stories in 2022, the algorithm ranks content from accounts you follow and predicts how likely you are to interact with a post. It takes into consideration:
- The information about the post, i.e., how many "likes" has it received?
- When was it posted? Does it carry a location tag? If it's a video, how long is it? This data helps determine relevance and popularity, as well as the likelihood that YOU will interact with it.
- Info about the person who posted and your interaction history with them. Instagram tracks how many times you've interacted with a given person to try to get an idea of how interesting that person might be to you. Your best friend's birthday post is more likely to show up over some random person you knew from high school 8 years ago.
The 2022 algorithm for the Explore tab
The Explore page is all about discovering new content, so the algorithm looks at posts you've liked in the past or interacted with and pulls in a collection of photos and videos from related accounts that you don't follow (yet!).
These photos and videos are ranked according to what the algorithm thinks you'll be most interested in. It looks at things like:
- Post information. When selecting content to share in the Explore tab, Instagram looks at the overall popularity of a post, using data such as the number of people liking, commenting, sharing, and saving, as well as how quickly these activities occur.
- Your activity. What posts have you liked, commented on, or saved in the past? How have you behaved on the Explore Page before? Your activity history influences what Instagram assumes you might be interested in.
- Information about the person who posted. If an account has had a lot of interaction with users in recent weeks, it's a signal to Instagram that there's some engaging content that others might also like. Linking that, and your preferred niche greatly increases the chances of you seeing the content.
The 2022 algorithm for Reels
For Reels to be prioritized, the algorithm goes through both accounts you follow and those you don't, trying to entertain you with content it thinks you'll watch all the way through.
It evaluates it by taking into account the following:
- Your activity—the Reels you've liked, commented on, and reacted to help the algorithm understand what type of content might be most relevant to your interests.
- Your interaction history with the topic being posted about. With Reels (as with the Explore tab), you're likely to be shown videos from creators you've never heard of but who share similar content as you or other creators you follow.
- Reel Info. Instagram's algorithm tries to guess what the video is about based on audio, pixel, and frame analysis and also takes into account the popularity of the video. If a reel is using an extremely trendy sound, odds are it will pop up.
How to Work With Instagram's New Algorithm
OK, amazing. Instagram promotes certain content over other content. Big whoop. How do we use this information to our advantage?
Respect the community rules
This may go without saying, but a great way to get virtually no views for your content is to share false information or inappropriate content. If you have never read Instagram's Community Guidelines, you can do so here.
They are pretty straightforward and easy to follow. If you are hesitant to post something, maybe get a second opinion. You can also ask yourself, "If I saw this on someone else's page, would I like it?" If the answer is no, don’t post it.
Be creative with reels
This is a really big one right now. Reels get views and engagement. Utilizing popular sounds or remaking trending reels is one of the top ways to push your content and be favored by the algorithm.
These videos are one of Instagram's newest features, and the platform is still very much favoring this type of content. Make your reels short and funny or packed with great information. You want to entertain and keep the viewer's attention. If you’re not feeling creatively inspired, stick with the trends!
Time your posts for maximum reach
Audience interaction is a very important signal on Instagram. Posting your content on the right day and at the right time will greatly impact your organic reach. Look back through your last few posts.
Which ones did the best? What times were they posted? Continue posting at times that work well for your audience. If you have a large corporate professional following, they will probably be on before and after work. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
The algorithm favors high engagement. If you have a high following but essentially no interaction with your viewers, you’re missing out on some easy outreach. Not getting as much engagement as you'd like? Try using sticker features on your next story. Question boxes, emoji sliders, and polls are straightforward methods to get your followers to give you feedback and engagement. You can also start a discussion in your comments section.
What is a topic in your niche you can chat about for hours? Find a way to incorporate it into your description and get a conversation going.
Harnessing the power of #hashtags
Using niche-related hashtags is a great way to let the algorithm learn what your post is about in order to "push" it more effectively into the feeds of people interested in the same things. Niche-related hashtags are also a great way for people to discover your content when searching for things related to their interests. When choosing hashtags to utilize, choose a couple of viral/trendy tags as well as more niche-down, specific ones.
You want broad outreach, but also to be seen by the right people. People who are interested in your content are more likely to engage with it.
Having a defined posting schedule is a key factor on Instagram, whether you are looking to improve your reach, participation, engagement, or followers. Maybe you post three times a week, or maybe it's three times a day. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. So much of social media success is about consistency.
Algorithms and Social Media
The algorithm is always changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on what the different platforms are looking for. Right now, creating engaging and relevant content is your best bet.
Utilize trends in your niche to increase your chances of being seen by new people, and know your audience inside and out. Experiment with what works best for you, and keep pushing forward. We believe in you!
Want more tips? Check out our latest book, The Brand Partnership Bible- it’s packed with information straight from the source about how to make social media work for your business.