What is the Instagram Algorithm?
The Instagram algorithm consists of several rules that help the platform decide what content has the priority to be shown on the feed and which one should be sent down the user’s feed.
The goal of Instagram by applying this algorithm is neither to help a business nor to hurt it; it is to ensure the users enjoy their time on Instagram and see what they want.
How Does the Instagram Algorithm Works?
The Instagram algorithm is in charge of which content and in what order posts are displayed; every time a user starts using the app, the Instagram algorithm goes through all the content and decides how to:
- Order the posts in the newsfeed;
- Manage the posts to be shown on the Explore tab;
- Order the Stories, Live videos, Reels, and IGTVs.
The Instagram algorithm is complex; it considers seven key factors to base the order of the newsfeed.
Instagram predicts your followers’ top eight people and places their posts at the top of the newsfeed. It also considers your engagement and interaction.
Instagram shows every user the kind of content they are interested in. Instagram can understand what each piece of content consists of and track the users’ affinity, so have a clear plan about what you want to post and define your niche to help Instagram recommend you to the right audience.
The most recent posts always prioritize older ones and have a better chance of being on the newsfeed. Try to post at the times when most of your audiences are online.
Your posts are more likely to jump up the people’s feeds if they like your posts and comment on them, and vice versa.
Searching people’s profiles regularly can signal that there is an interest in that account, and Instagram will boost up their posts to the newsfeed.
Sharing an account’s content for several times means you probably like the content, and as a result, they appear more frequently on the feed.
Spending more time on a user’s post makes Instagram assume you want to see more of them and places that user’s posts higher in the feed.
How Instagram Algorithms Work
There isn’t just one algorithm on Instagram; various algorithms, classifiers, processes, and different data points and ranking signals are considered to help the algorithm work.
Understandably, the algorithm analyzes your history with users and your behavior to the type of content and decides which post would be the most relevant and exciting to you. The most interesting posts show up on the users’ feed.
There is an algorithm for Feed, Stories, the Explore page, Reels, and for IGTVs. Let’s study each in more detail.
Algorithm for Instagram Feed
Instagram has determined that people tend to see their friends’ posts in their Feed, so the algorithm takes in some information and makes predictions to serve you right. The information that the algorithm relies on is:
- Information about the post (number of likes, time, location)
- Who posted it (is there any interaction with the poster?)
- Your activity (how many posts you’ve liked or left a comment on)
- Taps on profile ( do you go to the poster’s profile from the post)
Having this information and the time you spend on each post helps Instagram predict which content is more suitable for you to sort in your Feed.
Other factors can impact Feed post ranking on Instagram, for example, image or video quality, violations of the Instagram community, timeliness, etc., but engagement is still the key.
Algorithm for Instagram Stories
The Instagram algorithm for stories is fundamentally the same as the Feed algorithm. The more interaction you have with an account, the more likely their stories appear first in the story queue.
The most recent stories also have a priority.
Algorithm for Instagram Explore
The Explore page is typically full of posts that you might be interested in seeing, not from your friends and people you know, so the algorithm doesn’t have information like your history and interaction and cannot work the exact way it works for the Feed and Stories.
Instead, it considers the posts you’ve liked, looked at, saved, and generally engaged with to see what you might be more interested in seeing.
The Explore page algorithm takes information like the account names, hashtags, locations, and keywords of the posts and pages you liked, saved, or shared into account to rank the post you consistently engage with and suggest similar posts in the future.
So as with the Feed and Stories algorithm, it looks at the post’s data, the poster, your history, and your activity.
Algorithm for Instagram Reels
Reels are short and fun videos designed for entertainment, and they can be from both people you follow or random Reels from other users.
Most suggested Reels are from people you don’t follow. Another thing is, Instagram asks people if they liked and enjoyed the Reel, and then it ranks the Reels, and those with higher ranks are shown to you.
And for the last words, just like other Instagram algorithms, the post’s data, the poster, your history of interaction, and your activity play important roles.
Algorithm for IGTV
Just like the way the algorithm works for the Feed, Stories, and Explore tab, the IGTV algorithm aims to show more relevant content to users, Stories, and Explore tab. This is again from your interaction with the poster or the type of content that Instagram realizes you like.
Tip: Posting a shortened purview of your IGTV on Instagram Feed can boost engagement and will influence the Instagram algorithm.
Instagram Algorithm 2022 Update
The Instagram algorithm has changed a lot over time and is still evolving.
In the first five years (2010-2015), there wasn’t an algorithm, and posts were shown chronologically, but in the next coming years, the algorithm appeared, and it was changed every year and focused on more details.
Now for Instagram’s latest update in 2022, Adam Mosseri (head of Instagram) announced that Instagram aims to release a chronological feed “early” in 2022, but he didn’t specify a month.
He also stated that this change is to give users new options, so they can decide what feed works best for them. The new Instagram algorithm change is not a force, and it is not switching everyone back to the chronological feed.
Can You Beat the Instagram Algorithm?
To answer short, No.
The Instagram algorithm is complex and, for sure, not stupid; avoid cheating the algorithm or manipulating the rules.
All you need to do in order to gain an advantage is to understand the algorithm processes and learn how it prioritizes all the content. That’s all it takes.
In the following part, you can find ways to grow your reach and prompt the Instagram algorithm to make your content visible on more people’s feeds.
15 Ways to Improve Ranking with the Instagram Algorithm in 2022
Now that we know the details of the Instagram algorithm, it is time to talk about the strategies that can grow your reach and improve your ranking.
Use Hashtags for More Visibility
Utilizing accurate and descriptive hashtags is a great way to increase your reach and gradually push your posts in front of more users’ eyes. The more your hashtag is searched, and your post is seen, the better the algorithm works and improves your position.
Quality Over Quantity
Normally, people engage more quickly with high-quality posts, and it can signal to the algorithm that your post is interesting.
Unlike people’s belief that increasing the number of postings is a great way to gain exposure, posting too often will make your posts less likely to be seen.
Less attention will diminish your overall engagement rate, and the algorithm will send your posts further down the queue.
Remember that people want to see a few great posts, not many ordinary and unqualified images.
Engagement is the key to algorithms, and comments, likes, saving, and sharing posts are the most well-known ways to signal engagement to the algorithm, but it is always nice to come up with something new.
There are other easy and fun ways to improve your engagement; for example, you can create question stickers, emoji sliders, and polls and ask your followers to weigh in.
You can also increase your engagement rate by responding to comments and DMs and creating an ongoing story to share user-generated content that you’ve been tagged in.
By posting consistently, you are showing the Instagram algorithm that you create content on a regular basis, and it enables the Instagram algorithm to land your posts on people’s feeds, stories, Explore tab, and Reels.
You don’t need to post every day; two feed posts per week and two stories per day are ideal.
Trends are famous for a reason, and when people see posts with a particular trend, they probably want to see more similar posts. You can follow trends that popular Instagrammers use.
Use Stories Stickers
Stories stickers are great for improving engagement on your stories; they include things like question stickers, emoji sliders, and polls. They are easy and fun and encourage engagement.
Create Viral Posts
Lots of engagement helps with the algorithm, and going viral on social media is a guaranteed way of increasing engagement.
In general, creating easily shareable content like infographics, riddles, tutorials, and motivational content is more likely to encourage people to repost it to their stories, share, and save your post; this is the way to go viral on social media and help the algorithm step in.
Run a Contest
People enjoy taking part in contests and challenges, so running a contest that requires them to like, comment, and follow can be a win-win game; the participants have fun, and you get a better engagement rate.
More people will see your feed and story posts with a higher engagement rate, which is a good sign for the algorithm.
Post at the right time
The right time to post on Instagram depends on your industry and your follower’s active time.
When a post is shared, and you have an active audience, they can engage quickly, and it can indicate to the algorithm that your post is interesting and make your content more visible.
Cross-Promote Your Content
Instagram has different content channels, including Feed posts, Stories, Reels, and IGTVs. By cross-promoting, you can expand the reach of your content and give them a better chance of being seen.
You can share your Reels to your feed or share your posts in your stories and add a “Tap Here” sticker.
Track and Monitor Your Content
Knowing what type of content your audience is interested in and posting more of it can increase your engagement.
Observing the analytics can give you a better vision of your posts and videos performance to know what and when is the right time to post.
Putting a call to action into your post is an encouraging way to increase engagement.
You can ask people in the caption part or the image itself to “double-tap” if…,” “follow to win…”, or “tag X people to….”
This will also have little effect on your posts appearing in people’s feeds and help drive traffic to your site.
Post More Reels
Instagram Reels can make a big difference to your followers and engagement rate. You don’t need to post Reels every day to enhance your organic reach, but it helps with having a bigger audience.
When you want to post a Reel, remember you should keep them short and sweet, shoot vertical, avoid Reels with TikTok watermarks and use the camera effects, filters, music, etc.
Automate Your Analytic Reports
Utilizing an excellent analytic tool can help you understand what content your audience is interested in and post more of that. Using an analytic tool, you will find information like when your audience is online, what posts are more engaging, and which hashtags perform better and improve your algorithm ranking.
Respect The Community Guidelines
Posting on Instagram Feed, Reels, or Stories should be in line with Instagram Community Guidelines; otherwise, the Instagram algorithms limit the visibility of your content.
Typically, sharing political posts, sensitive or upsetting content, crime or hate groups, bullying and abuse and etc., are not allowed.
To move forward with the Instagram algorithm, you should know your niche, create engaging content, be consistent, and establish a strong relationship with your followers. Next time you want to post, think through the fifteen tips we included here and make sure you follow them.