Instagram used to display posts in reverse-chronological order which made content exposure easier for everyone. However, much to the dismay of many of the platform’s users, Instagram switched to using an algorithm in June of 2016 to determine which posts show up in the feed, and in which order.
Instagram’s algorithm has been a continually changing mystery ever since, leaving marketers and influencers alike scratching their heads trying to figure it out.
Last month, Instagram helped us to decode this mystery by giving us some insight into the newest version of it’s algorithm. Here is what you need to know.
How does Instagram decide which posts to show in the feed? Three main factors:
Each user’s feed is personalized, meaning that Instagram shows you the posts that it thinks you care about the most. The algorithm determines what appears in your feed based on the type of posts you engage with and how frequently you interact with similar content. In this way, Instagram identifies your engagement with a post as a sign of interest and therefore displays that content in your feed.
Instagram predicts which content you will be interested in based on your relationship with other accounts; whether that be a family member, friend, or brand. This relationship is determined as a result of your level of engagement – i.e. how often you like, comment on, or share the posts of another account. Additionally, if you are tagged in a post by another account or tag them in one of your posts, Instagram will take this as a signal that you have a relationship with this account and will start showing you more posts from that account.
The new algorithm change heavily prioritizes the freshness of a post when determining the order in which to show the content that it displays in your feed. Older posts will appear at the bottom, or not at all, while the most recent posts will be shown at the top of your feed. Instagram implemented this change in order to make your feed “feel more fresh” and ensure that you “won’t miss the moments you care about.”
How does this affect your brand?
In order for your posts to show up in your follower’s feed, it is important that your followers engage with your content. Therefore your content must be compelling and incentivize users to like, comment, or share your post. A good way to increase engagement is by asking a question in your caption and encourage your followers to comment their answers and/or opinions. Other options include simple tactics such as “tag a friend who…” or “share this with someone who…” Any way in which you can increase the level of engagement on your posts will cause your content to appear higher in your follower’s feed.
You want to establish long-lasting relationships with your followers so that they will consistently engage with your content over time. The best way to do so is to find out which content garners the most engagement from your followers and then stick with these types of posts. Creating engaged and lasting relationships with your followers will ensure that they continually see your content.
The best time to post is when your followers are online. In order to maximize the chances of your posts being seen, determine what time your followers are most active on Instagram and post during these times. Doing so will maximize the chances of your content being displayed at the top of your follower’s feed.
Now that you’re ready to use Instagram’s algorithm to your advantage, go and get your brand’s name out there! You got this!