Over the past decade, Instagram has experienced exponential growth, rising from millions of users to more than 1 billion. Today, the photo- and video-based platform isn’t only a place to keep you updated about your friends’ escapades but also a powerful business tool.
Businesses and influencers use the platform to connect with their audience, set up online shops, and boost their sales. But as the number of Instagram users and the amount of content shared on the platform increase, it has become hard to see everything without a sorting process. In response, Instagram uses an algorithm to sort out the information displayed on the user timeline.
The Instagram algorithm has many different moving pieces, and understanding how it works is not simple. Here are some tips for understanding and working with the Instagram algorithm to expand the reach of your content.
What Is the Instagram algorithm, and How Does It Work?
Have you ever wondered why your Instagram Stories, Feed, and Explore page keep changing? It’s the Instagram algorithm. But what exactly is the Instagram algorithm?
The Instagram algorithm is a set of instructions for displaying certain content to Instagram users. The algorithm considers several factors, including the users’ location, trends, device, profile, user history, popularity, and relevance.
Generally, algorithms determine who sees your content and who doesn’t. Today, sharing content regularly on Instagram, even with the right hashtags, doesn’t guarantee the expected market reach and new customers.
Instead, you should consider learning how to approach Instagram marketing effectively, and this begins with understanding how the Instagram algorithm works.
The Instagram algorithm aims to provide users with personalized experiences by determining the order of content they see on their feed. The algorithm prioritizes the best posts, pushing the most relevant ones to the top and making them more visible.
As we’ll see below, the Instagram algorithm uses different signals to determine the content to appear on a user’s Feed and Stories. These include the user’s history, information about the post, and the person who posted it.
How Does the Instagram Algorithm Determine What Content Is Shown?
The Instagram algorithm goes through the content of the accounts you follow and tries to create a personalized experience using the gathered information. It uses the following key “signals” to determine what content is shown:
- Information about the post: Is it a photo or a video? How popular is it? What is it about? Who is likely to love it? When was it posted? From where was it posted (location)?
- Information about the person who posted: This helps Instagram determine how interesting the person may be to a user. Signals include how frequently the person posts and whether they are constant on the platform.
- The user’s activity (history): This helps Instagram understand what interests you. It includes signals like whether a user likes or comments on people’s posts.
- History in interacting with another user: This gives an idea of how interested the user would be in seeing certain posts.
The algorithm then uses these signals to calculate the probability that a user will interact with a post, then decides if it appears in their Feed and Stories.
In this video, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, hints at how the algorithm determines what content is shown in the user timelines.
Are There Ways To Manipulate or Game the Instagram Algorithm To Favor Your Content?
With Instagram increasingly becoming an important business tool, you may want your content to appear on every target audience’s timeline, right? And this brings us to the question of whether you can manipulate the Instagram algorithm.
Unfortunately, there is no simple way to immediately elevate your post to the top of people’s Instagram Feeds and Stories. However, keeping these tips in mind will help grow your profile faster:
- Increase picture quality
- Reveal your credentials
- Share posts/stories and reels consistently
- Use all of Instagram’s features, including Instagram Live
- Use hashtags to circulate your photos in areas they may not already reach
- Post during the peak times on Instagram
- Write quality captions
- Post during peak hours
- Increase the frequency of sharing content, but consistency is most important
- Use emojis to boost visual stimulation
- Engage your followers in the comments section
Following these tips will surely increase your Instagram posts’ engagement, which translates to more customers and sales. However, trying to cheat the Instagram algorithm can be detrimental to you.
What Are the Risks Involved with Trying To Game the Instagram Algorithm?
If used correctly, the above-provided tips will boost your business’s sales. On the other hand, using them incorrectly will only make things worse for you. For instance, overusing hashtags or posting an overload of content can make users less likely to engage with or follow your profile.
Posting too often or using unusual hashtags will cause people to consider your content annoying. Some may even unfollow you to try to block the content from appearing on their timeline.
Also, abusing the Instagram publication process can result in a ban or block. Recently, 10 large groups were suspended for helping hundreds of thousands of people trick the Instagram algorithm into displaying their posts to more users.
What Are the Best Steps You Can Take To Ensure that Your Content Is Shown To Users on Instagram?
Yes, the list of variables used by the Instagram algorithm may feel complicated and extensive, but the algorithm rewards engaging and quality content. So, work on posting quality content and make it consistent.
Here are a few ways to encourage Instagram to promote your content at a higher rate:
- Comment on posts from relevant brands and users
- Post when your followers are most active
- Respond to comments as fast as possible
- Leverage hashtags
- Repost old, but quality content
The bottom line
Instagram is billions of people’s go-to social media platform to share videos, photos, and stories online. As the number of users increases, businesses are using the platform as a tool to market and sell their products.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how the Instagram algorithm works and how you can use what you know to create engaging content that will make it to the top of your target audience’s Feeds and Stories. Do you have any great tips for working with the Instagram algorithm to engage more followers? Drop them in the comments!