What is the Instagram algorithm?

Instagram algorithm - Design 106

What is the Instagram algorithm?

Instagram algorithm

Instagram algorithm changes were first introduced in February 2016, when Instagram announced that users would start seeing more posts from accounts they follow. The platform’s developers also emphasized the importance of user engagement as a ranking factor, which means that Instagram will show you content it thinks is interesting to you based on your past activity. Instagram algorithms are designed to help users navigate the platform and provide them with the most relevant content each time they check their feed. This brings marketers to the question of how Instagram ranks posts and how one can reach as many users as possible. This article will explain the latest Instagram algorithm change, dig into the factors that influence what users see in the feed, and share tips on how to beat the Instagram algorithm.

What is the Instagram algorithm?

With a broad reach of over 1 billion users worldwide, Instagram is one of the most powerful social media platforms in the space, and brands are fighting for their place in the sun. For many, the fact that Instagram changes algorithms is burdensome because brands need to stay up to date to not lose the reach.

However, the algorithm is a good thing for both users and marketers. Instagram uses machine learning to study user behavior and customize feeds to show the most relevant content. If you are not taking advantage of Instagram algorithm updates in your marketing strategy, you might be missing opportunities for brand growth. So, instead of trying to game the system, learn how to exploit it for your benefit.

More recently, the platform has abandoned its chronological feed in favor of ranked feed, which has improved post visibility by 50%, according to Instagram creators. The platform now prioritizes posts based on how interesting they can be for the audience and not their relevance. So, as long as you publish relevant and engaging content, the algorithm will be advantageous to you.

How does the Instagram algorithm work?

Essentially, the Instagram engagement algorithms use six factors to rank content in users’ feed, namely:

  1. Interest. Instagram ranks content in the feed based on how much the user will be interested in it. So what people see in the feed is a combination of their Instagram behaviors. The more Instagram thinks the user will like a particular post, the higher it will be shown in the feed.
  2. Timeliness. Although the chronological feed is no longer used, the platform still considers post recency as a ranking factor. Instagram only sorts the posts published since the user’s last visit. Brands can take advantage of that by posting content when their audience is online to show up at the top of the feed.
  3. Relationship. Relationship is the next important thing determining what content users see in the feed, so posts from their friends and family will rank higher. To identify relationships, the algorithm analyses the user’s past activity to see which accounts they engage most often with, like people whom the user searches for, DMs, knows in real life, or whose content usually likes.
  4. Frequency. Depending on how often the user opens the app, the algorithm shows the best posts since the last visit. So the content the user sees will depend on whether they check the app daily, hourly, and so on. Posts that have been relevant for the last hour might not be that high in the feed if the user opens Instagram only the next day.
  5. Following. Users who follow numerous accounts will see less content from each person to get a whole picture, while those who follow only a few people will see more posts from every account.
  6. Usage. How long the user browses Instagram also influences the amount of content they’ll see. For instance, if one prefers longer sessions, they’ll see more content in contrast to users who only briefly check the feed.

In addition to that, it could be helpful to know how Instagram ranks other types of content. For Stories, the algorithm considers engagement and recency. Thus, Instagram prioritizes the accounts whose content the user likes, comments, and reacts to often, as well as the most recent content. On that note, consistently sharing Stories will help you reach more people. The same goes for IGTV videos and Reels, and you can also boost their visibility with hashtags and include a one-minute preview to increase initial exposure.

Art Director - Design 106

Manuel Leon is the Creative Director and one of the founding partners of Design106. With a background in graphic design and advertising, Manuel brings passion and an eye for detail to every project he works on. If you want to take advantage of Manuel and the entire Design106 team’s expertise within digital marketing and social media, be sure to contact them today to discuss your needs and goals!