The purpose of the Instagram algorithm is to help surface the best, most relevant content to each user every time they check their Instagram feed.
The question is; how does Instagram determine which content meets that criteria?
Let’s dig into the factors that influence the Instagram algorithm and share tips for increasing your chances of getting your content displaying on more people’s Instagram feeds.
The 6 Ranking Factors Of The Instagram Algorithm
The photos and videos that appear in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post.
Instagram looks at your past activity to get a feel for your potential interest. If there’s a specific type of content that you engage with more frequently (e.g., food), Instagram might rank content in that genre (e.g., food, restaurants, etc.) higher on your feed.
Ranking of Instagram posts is not a popularity contest. Posts with less engagement that are more relevant to what you’re looking for can still appear right at the top of your feed.
The next key factor to the Instagram algorithm is timeliness. Instagram wants to show you posts that are recent and more relevant.
The Instagram algorithm re-orders only the new posts between your current visit and your last visit. For example, if you scroll through your Instagram timeline at 11 pm and then check it again at 9 am the next morning, Instagram would only sort the posts created in between your check-ins.
Instagram doesn’t want you to miss important posts from your friends and family, such as a post about your friend’s engagement. This implies that content from your “best friends” will rank higher on your feed.
To determine who your best friends are, Instagram’s algorithm studies your past interactions to see which accounts you engage with most of the time.
Profile searches are a signal the Instagram algorithm looks at when ranking posts in your feed.
Every time a user opens up the Instagram app, the algorithm tries to show the best posts since their last visit.
For example; If you open Instagram once daily, you see the posts that Instagram’s algorithm feels are the most relevant for that day. However, if you open Instagram hourly, the app tries to show you the most relevant content you haven’t seen within that hour’s timeframe.
If you follow thousands of accounts on Instagram, the algorithm must sort through an enormous amount of content in order to decide what to show you each time you open up the app.
Browsing Instagram in short bursts or longer sessions can also affect what the algorithm shows. If a user prefers short visits on the Instagram app, the algorithm ensures it shows the most relevant posts first. For users who prefer longer browsing sessions, it may provide a deeper catalog of fresh content to browse.
3 Ways To Make The Instagram Algorithm Work For You
Vary The Type Of Posts You Use
It’s a common misconception that the Instagram algorithm favors video over photos. In reality, the algorithm favors whatever the individual user interacts with the most. For example, if someone tends to like and comment on Instagram Reels more often than on other post types, Instagram’s algorithm will favor Reels for that person’s feed.
Sharing your content in different forms helps you reach a wider audience. Plus, it’s a great way to repurpose your content. I will commonly take a static post that I put up and share that to my stories. By doing so, I’m reaching a different audience. Over time that translates into better reach and more followers.
Post At The Best Times For Your Audience
Timeliness is one of the key algorithm ranking factors.
To find your best time to post, you need to consider two things:
- When your greatest number of followers are active on the platform
- When your brand is most relevant for them to view
If you’re looking to uncover the best time to post specifically for your business, you need to regularly analyze your insights on the app to see when your audience is most active.
Create a Hashtag Strategy
Because users can search for and even follow hashtags, adding them to each post increases your chances of reaching a wider audience. Studies show that posts with hashtags receive higher engagement than those without.
Wrapping It Up
If you focus on building relationships with your audience and producing great content, you don’t need to worry about Instagram algorithm changes.
Authenticity and transparency are key to building long term engagement on Instagram. Make sure that you are creating content that is keeping your followers engaged and constantly coming back for more!
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