Ever since Instagram changed its algorithm from the conventional progressive feed there has been a lot of debate about the new algorithm works.
Do videos do better and attract more followers and views than photos? Are hashtags still viable? How can you get your posts seen by more users?
Instagram recently answered all these questions by shedding light on how the algorithm works for feed, posts and stories. So, without further ado let’s hop right into it.
Important Information About the Instagram Algorithm
Recently Instagram answered some questions regarding the new Algorithm through the @creators account in a story separating reality from myth.
Videos and Photos Are Given the Same Priority
Instagram cleared the air about this one stating that the algorithm does not favor one over the other but instead the users feed is customized according to their usage.
So if you spend more time watching and engaging with videos the algorithm will push video content to the top of your feed prioritizing it over photos.
This can especially be useful for brands, as video content tends to keep viewers engaged for longer periods of time.
Videos that show up on the Instagram Explore page are also 4 times larger than photos which can be useful for brands or anyone looking to get some exposure.
Authenticity is Key, Bot Interactions Don’t Count
The new algorithm is all about eliminating likes and comments made through bots and pods (groups of people who agree to like or comment on a post).
In their Instagram Stories Q&A, Instagram said the only way to build and grow is through authentic and transparent engagement.
This myth has been around for sometime now, claiming that the algorithm does not consider a comment unless it’s at least 3 words or more.
However in reality even a single word comment is taken into account, even if it is just an emoji.
Comments are a great way to understand user engagement, it also helps you to learn what your users want and keep engaged with them on a personal level. They are also an important indicator for the algorithm.
All Accounts Are Treated the Same (Creator, Business, Personal)
Instagram confirmed via Instagram Stories that all account types are treated the same. The switch does not affect user engagement.
It all depends on how much users engage with your account. The more engagement they have, the more likely are your chances of showing up on their feed.
The First 30 Minutes are Crucial
It has been long assumed that the first 30 minutes after posting determine the ranking of your post depending on the engagement.
But that is not true as Instagram decided to finally end this debate.
While the algorithm does not prioritize posts based on the first 30 minutes of engagement, it is still a good idea to post when your followers are most active and can engage with your content.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works in Correlation with Your Feed Posts
According to Instagram, the Instagram algorithm follows these 6 points when managing your feed posts:
- Likes and Dislikes
The Instagram Algorithm Predicts What You Like and Dislike
The Instagram algorithm isn’t just about who you are following, it goes far beyond that.
The algorithm is designed to understand and study the users likes and dislike patterns. It studies your ‘Likes’ and then tries to predict what you care for, displaying it on your feed.
It studies your usage behavior, what posts you like, reshares, which friends posts you comment on, who’s stories you watch and who you are tagged with.
However, according to Instagram ‘Comments’, ‘Likes’, ‘Reshares’ and ‘Views’ are the top engagements that the algorithm uses to determine what is important to you, pushing it higher up your Instagram feed.
But with Instagram taking the initiative to hide likes in most countries, saving a post can be a key indicator in predicting your engagement patterns.
The Instagram Algorithm Learns Your Connections with Followers
The Instagram algorithm is designed to prioritize your family, friends and people you care for. The algorithm puts together your interactions and determines who is close to you.
Instagram’s algorithm calculates whose profile you make comments on regularly, who you are tagged with in a photo. This helps the algorithm to distinguish between your close ones and regular people.
A software engineer, Thomas Dimson who works at Instagram shared his thoughts on how the algorithm could figure out which people are important to you based off your usage.
Posted by At Scale on Thursday, February 9, 2017
- Content you like
- Your searches
- Direct Messages
It is important to stay consistent on Instagram if you don’t, the algorithm will have no record of your search, comment or video watching patterns. An easy example is when you start following a new account, your feed is instantly dumped with photos and videos related to the new account. But if you do not engage with that accounts posts the algorithm slowly starts to lower the feed performance regarding that account.
If you’re new to Instagram and are looking to get exposure you can use the algorithm to your advantage by posting daily. This will alert the algorithm that you are an active and quality account.
This will improve your chances of growing and your audience will stay engaged with your content.
However if you are not able to post daily it is important to set a time and day when you post regularly so your audience has an idea about your timeline and when you might post new content.
Once you have a timeline established about when you want to post, the next step is to stay engaged with your audience through comments. This helps the algorithm to establish a relationship between you and the follower.
The Instagram Algorithm Considers Timeliness
Instagram’s algorithm has become more aware about when a post was posted.
The algorithm aims at serving users with the most latest post. While it factors in comments and engagement, timeliness is also a big factor contributing to the growth of an influencer.
It is important to study when your audience is most active. To make sure you are posting when they are active, so your post is visible on their feed in time. This will increase your chances of getting more likes and comments.
Instagram Insights can be used to check your audience activity time, day and gender. This can assist you in understanding the most suitable time to post so you can get those like.
However, these times can vary from day to day depending on if it is the weekend or not.
The Instagram Algorithm Uses Frequencies to Manage Your Feed
Are you a regular user? Or just a part timer? If you are a regular user, your feed will be chronological rather than someone who is not as frequent as you.
If you are not as frequent the algorithm will try and show you stuff that is based off your past likes and comments.
The Instagram Algorithm Monitors Your Following
Have you ever wondered why you didn’t see a post from some influencer you are following? If you follow a lot of influencers chances are you might not be able to see all the posts on your feed. This occurs because the algorithm has a lot of options to choose from and will display the ones that are most likely going to meet your requirements.
The Instagram Algorithm Keeps Tabs on Your Usage
If you’re a regular user and tend to spend hours a day scrolling through your posts, Instagram’s algorithm will search deeper in it’s catalog for older posts that are according to your needs.
If you’re aren’t regular and spend only minutes the algorithm will only display highlights that it might think cater to your liking.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works with IGTV
IGTV or Instagram TV allows users to create large videos. The Instagram algorithm works the same way as it does for videos and photos, collecting data based off your likes, comments and reshares on IGTV videos, to help deliver videos that interest you.
IGTV has 3 categories:
For You, are videos Instagram thinks you will like based off the data the algorithm has collected from your past usage.
Following, is a compilation of all the videos that have been posted by accounts that you already follow.
Popular, is where all the viral and most watched videos that have been trending on Instagram are displayed.
In the past IGTV videos were only available in your IGTV channel, which made the chances of our audience viewing it very slim.
But since it’s rework, Instagram has added the option to share 1 minute of the videos directly to your feed. This allows for IGTV videos to be displayed on your Instagram profile grid. This helps the creator garner more views which means more likes. This signals the algorithm that you are producing top class videos that are worthy of being displayed on Instagram’s Explore page.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works for Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are one of the best ways to get followers. The stories that appear at the beginning of the row to the left are accounts that you are most engaged with.
The stories algorithm is also very dependent on timeliness. If you are a regular user and post a lot of stories daily, the chances are that your story will be added at the front of the stories section row.
Posting stories regularly on a daily basis will also increase the chances that you are visible to your audience, which will also make the algorithm lear that you post quality stories which keep your followers busy and engaged.
How the Instagram Algorithm Interacts with the Explorer Page
The Explore page operates under its own algorithm, which allows every user a personalized experience.
The purpose of the Explore page is the same as your feed. But the Explore page is designed to show new and exciting content that Instagram thinks you may like and is tailored to your needs. Comparing your Explore page with someone else’s will reveal how different and personalized the two pages are.
Moving the Explore page you will see multiple categories designed by Instagram to help you find your desired topic.
There are a number of tabs to choose from, starting with ‘For You’ to ‘Style’, ‘Beauty’, ‘Art’ etc.
The algorithm is always evolving learning from your usage, studying your likes, comments, views and reshares to better adjust the Explore page for your personal use.
You can also search by using hashtags. It follows the same algorithm. As you must have noticed when you search by hashtag a number of top posts will appear. The selection of these posts is based on a lot of different elements, comments, likes, shares, views etc. The popularity of the hashtag itself plays a huge role, stating the importance of using the right hashtags in a post.
And that’s all for now – we hope this article helped you understand how Instagram’s algorithm works and how it treats different types of content. For more guides and Instagram tutorials, visit our Influencer Academy.