Understanding How the Instagram Algorithm Works
While trying to understand an algorithm might seem intimidating, it’s a lot easier than you think. The Instagram algorithm influences what people see when they open up their Instagram feed, but how can businesses make the most out of this?
Instagram has made this easy by releasing all of the information anyone could need to understand what makes it tick. It’s important to remember that the Instagram algorithm is continuously updating and analysing user behaviour, however by following a few simple steps, you will be able to work your way around the algorithm in no time, gaining followers and encouraging more meaningful interactions.
How does the Instagram algorithm work?
Instagram has fast become one of the key social media networks for social media marketing. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram now has over 1 billion monthly active users. Small businesses can use the platform to attract new customers and build brand engagement through paid and organic visual campaigns. But if you want to get the best results, it is important to understand how the Instagram algorithm works.
The Instagram algorithm predicts user interest.
You may have wondered how Instagram decides what to show you when you’re scrolling down your feed. The algorithm will remember the kind of posts a user has interacted with and will be more likely to show these in the future.
The more you like and interact with this kind of post, the more you will see it. That could be anything from showing videos more than images or promoting travel posts over another kind. Every interaction you have on Instagram will be analysed so you can enjoy more of the content you genuinely want to see. Thankfully, this means fake interactions from bots don’t perform well as the algorithm will rank it accordingly.
It’s worth noting that the algorithm considers all account types equal whether you’re using a personal, business or creator account. This also goes for video and photo content.[
The Instagram algorithm analyses the relationship with followers.
This means that the more interaction there is on your post by your followers, the more likely it is to show up on their feed. These interactions can be anything from being tagged or tagging someone in a post, commenting on posts, and exchanging direct messages. Any interaction will be considered by the algorithm; there is no minimum character length for a response before it counts – even replying with an emoji counts!
The more frequently these interactions occur, the more likely it is that your posts will show on your followers’ feeds and more often depending on how often you create and post content. This is ideal for business owners as it allows you to really connect and engage with your audience, promoting your product, brand or service to a genuine prospective customer base.
Time matters to the algorithm.
The Instagram algorithm will show the highest performing posts on your feed first. This means that, for users who don’t check in on the platform frequently, they will only ever see the best performing posts tailored to them. However, your post can still become a top performer even after the first 30 minutes since being posted, as it will be shown to users who have been identified as key interactors.
The algorithm likes to keep content fresh and up-to-date so people aren’t viewing content from New Year’s Eve parties in mid-March. With how fast the internet moves it’s essential to keep your content flowing.
The algorithm will also allow you to analyse when your followers are at their most active and engaged. For example, a generalisation is that posts tend to have the best engagement between 9-11 am. Using analytics will help you to identify when your followers are the most active, allowing you to identify the optimal time for your specific account.
Thankfully, there are many ways that you can use these analytics to maximise engagement with your followers and promote your business at the same time.
Maximising your engagement on Instagram.
By knowing and understanding how the algorithm operates, you can use this to your advantage and develop a strategy to achieve optimal results. We have outlined a few key strategies and tips that will allow you to do this.
Ensure you post consistently.
The more often you can post good quality content to your Instagram, the more likely you are to encourage engagement. A business that posts once a day will have a higher chance at increasing engagement than a business who posts once a week.
You will have to work out how often you can post your content depending on the needs of your business, as well as the time that you have to dedicate to it. So consider this carefully, as you don’t want to start by posting every day only to reduce this and see your follower count fall.
Use scheduling tools to streamline your planning.
It’s always a good choice to use scheduling tools, which will make it easier for you to plan your content ahead of time and budget your time accordingly. Sites such as Hopperhq or Later are ideal for helping you to strategize your Instagram marketing efforts and offer features which will help you to improve this over time. Rather than having to think up every individual post every day you wish to publish content, you can plan it all when it suits you. By visualising your content in this way, you will have a complete look at how it looks for your audience and develop your content further.
Take note of your analytics.
Once you’ve started posting your content, you can use Instagram analytics to identify how your content is performing. By knowing which posts perform better than others, you will be able to re-create similar content and boost your engagement further. You’ll also be able to identify how users engage with your content, what time they do this and much more.
While photos and videos are equal in the eyes of the algorithm, you may identify that your followers respond better to one or the other depending on your findings. You can use the data to revisit your content and strategy, editing and fine-tuning the details which will help to improve engagement each time.
Utilise Instagram features effectively.
Instagram allows you to create stories, use hashtags and so much more. Stories allow you continuous exposure, if you post regularly enough, as they display at the top of your followers’ feed and give you another way of being more visible to current and potential followers.
At the same time, using hashtags effectively will place your content in all the relevant streams for exposure. However, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t overdo this as people can become wary of an account which overuses irrelevant hashtags, as well as other features, to the post.
You can also reuse your best content. It’s not always easy creating fresh, engaging content so don’t be afraid to upcycle something you know has performed well. Chances are it will still be as effective with a bit of a refresh!
A fresh approach to Instagram marketing.
At FreshOnline we specialise in social media marketing and can help your business achieve the best results on Instagram and other social networks. We can manage your social media and pay per click campaigns or teach you the tricks of the trade to do it better yourself. If your business needs help with Instagram or other social media networks, please get in contact.