The Instagram algorithm used to rank posts chronologically. However, that was eons ago, and the social platform’s algorithm has changed significantly, leaving many brands struggling to grow sales or even reach their target audience on the platform.
That’s why in this blog post, we’ll show you how the Instagram algorithm works and 6 tips to hack it.
Instagram algorithm – how does it work?
If you’ve used Instagram since it was launched in 2010, you’d know that back then, its algorithm was quite simple. The latest posts would appear on a user’s news feeds first when they opened the app. But everything has changed now!
Here’s what Adam Mosseri- the Head of Instagram got to say about the Instagram’s current algorithm:
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After Instagram Stories was launched in 2016 and went all the rage, Instagram has evolved significantly. From one simple chronological mode, Instagram now has distinctive algorithms for each feature running all at once.
1. How Instagram Algorithm Works for Feed Posts
The latest Instagram algorithm prioritizes posts based on users’ preferences. That means Instagram pushes the most relevant ones on top while the less compatible stay further down.
Despite the fact that the Instagram algorithm is prone to change, here are 4 main factors that you can rely on for now: (confirmed by Instagram)
- Information about the post: What does the post revolve around? Which format is it (video/photo/carousel)? Whether it has a high engagement or not?
- Information about the post owner: whether you find this person interesting? How many times have other users interacted with this person in the last few days/weeks?
- Your activity: Do you like videos more than photos? Is there any specific type of content you’re especially fond of? (puppy/5-minute craft, etc.)
- Relationship with the poster: Is the person who posts it your friend? Do you usually interact with this person’s posts in the past (like/comment, etc.)
After examining all the factors above, Instagram will start sorting out and deciding on which posts will appear on users’ feeds. Here are 5 interactions Instagram uses to show you the most relevant posts:
- Time spent: For how long are you going to look at a post?
- Like: Are you going to drop a like?
- Comment: Are you going to comment?
- Save: Will you Save the post?
- Tap on Profile: Is the post exciting enough it makes you tap on the poster’s profile?
With 4 main metrics and 5 main interactions, the key here is to deliver your followers highly-relevant content. Or else, your target audience will be less likely to interact with your posts. Consequently, the Instagram algorithm will denote your posts down below, hurting your discoverability.
2. How Instagram algorithm works for Instagram Stories
Similar to the Instagram algorithm that works for feed posts, the algorithm for Instagram Stories will show stories from the users you’re most likely to interact with.
Since Instagram stories are full-screen on mobile devices, they are highly engaging. Therefore, you ought to post stories frequently to elevate your posts’ position on your audience feeds.
However, to see real results, you’ll have to utilize Instagram Stories the right way.
3. How the algorithm works for Instagram Reels
The relevant posts from the accounts you are following will be pushed by the algorithm for Stories and Feed posts. In contrast, Instagram Reels uses a different algorithm.
Technically, Instagram will give priority to the content we frequently engage with. Instagram will, in other words, suggest to us relevant videos from any account.
Here’s how the ranking algorithm works on Reels, certified by Instagram themselves:
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To determine which Reels to show you, Instagram uses 4 signals, in order of importance:
- Which reels have you recently interacted with?
- Your past interactions with the individual who posted the reel
- Information about the reels: What type of audio is used? How well-liked is it?
- Details about the poster, including how other users interact with them.
Check out these suggestions to make Reels that work for your business to increase visibility for your Reels.
4. How Instagram algorithm works for IGTV
Like Instagram Reels, the Instagram algorithm similarly applies to IGTV. Instagram will recommend videos to you based on your tendency of interest.
Long-form content on IGTV can run up to an hour when posted via a website and up to 15 minutes when uploaded via a mobile device. Due to this, you could potentially save a ton of time and effort by just re-uploading your current YouTube films to IGTV.
We advise posting a preview on your feed to give your followers a sneak peek to increase your IGTV reach.
By doing this, you can enhance video exposure, which gives the Instagram algorithm a good signal.
5. How Instagram algorithm works for Explore Page
Similar to Reels, the Explore Page‘s algorithm will make sure that you only see the contents that interest you.
Notably, the majority of the posts you see on the Explore Page are from brand-new people that you aren’t currently following.
Here are 4 major signals Instagram uses to rank posts on the Explore Tab:
- Information about the new post: how many people like/comment/share on a post? How quickly do they do so? Note that the Instagram algorithm weighs these signals much more than it does on Stories or Feed posts.
- Your history of interacting with the poster: Have you interacted with this person before?
- Your activity: Is there any piece of content that you prefer? Do you love video or photo content?
- Information about the poster: The number of users who have engaged with the poster in the last few weeks or days
The majority of the accounts on the Explore Page are ones we are not familiar with. Therefore, by increasing your visibility on the Explore Tab, you can increase your chances of making sales to a wider variety of customers.
At the time this article was written, Instagram Reels take the top spot on the Explore Page. Hence, spending money on Reels might be a terrific strategy to showcase your brand to the billions of Instagram users.
6 brilliant tips to hack the Instagram Algorithm
Nothing is more effective than focusing on posting relevant, helpful content to generate as much engagement as possible to improve your ranking with the Instagram algorithm.
It’s high time we guided you through these 6 tricks to cheat on the algorithm now that you know how each feature on Instagram gets ranked.
1. Choose the right time to post
Don’t post at random if you want to increase the visibility of your posts. Instead, make an effort to post on Instagram during the periods when your followers are most active.
You can find out when is the right time to publish by going to Insights > Your Audience and scrolling all the way to the bottom.
You can see this data by day of the week or narrow it down by hour on particular days. Remember to change to a long period of time for a more precise result (30 days instead of 7 days).
Publishing your posts during peak hours is vital since when your content receives many interactions in a short time, it leaves a good impression on the algorithm. Instagram will eventually start recommending your posts to more of your followers.
2. Embed your Instagram feed on your website
If you already have a fantastic eCommerce website, embedding your Instagram feed there might improve your chances of getting found.
We advise utilizing our proud Socialwidget to add Instagram posts to your website if you run a Shopify eCommerce store.
This increases the visibility of your store, increases sales, and increases traffic to your Instagram profile. There are so many advantages at once!
And what makes Socialwidget stand out is that it now enables you to add Instagram Stories and combine them into lovely Highlights to be displayed on your website, like this:
These Instagram widgets serve more than just aesthetic functions. Your Instagram feeds can be made shoppable on your website by adding product tags to each image, carousel, video, and story.
3. Try using Instagram’s new features
Want the Instagram algorithm to favor your posts? Making the most of the platform’s newest capabilities, IGTV and Instagram Reels is a good way to go.
We’re not sure if Instagram changes how content appears on the Explore Page. But for now, it’s very obvious that it prefers video content more because IGTV videos and Reels are shown in a larger size than regular posts.
So why not take advantage of this free boost to increase your chances of being found?
4. Use Instagram Geotag
If you run a physical store, it’s crucial to first increase brand recognition in your neighborhood.
The more real engagement you generate with your followers, the more the Instagram algorithm will favor your profile
To boost engagement with your local community, a good way is to use Instagram geotag.
Many more people trust user-generated content than they do branded content. Encourage Instagram users to use your geotag to check in when they actually visit your store by offering incentives.
By using hashtags that are relevant to your posts’ content, Instagram can categorize your content more accurately and show them to the uses who are most likely to be interested in.
Though Instagram limits 30 hashtags per post, adding 30 hashtags to every post can do you more harm than good. Instead, you may want to be selective and choose the hashtags that do work, which we’ll show you here.
6. Comment on posts of similar brands
Besides creating relevant content for your posts, you should spend some time engaging with posts from businesses or individuals that are relevant to your business.
For instance, you could comment on posts of your customers, relevant Instagram influencers, or similar brands in your niche.
Take Catherine Paiz, the Founder of 1212 Gateway Skincare, for example, she usually interacts with Kylie Jenner’s posts- Kylie Cosmetics’ Founder.
She can get attention from Kylie’s cosmetic-aholic fans by doing so. Additionally, the Instagram algorithm gives her future content a higher ranking the more viewers interact with her posts and click on her profile.
Try searching for posts using niche hashtags for your industry to identify brands that sell similar products to yours. And keep in mind that while engaging with other relevant accounts is a terrific idea, avoid becoming pushy.
We’re not sure whether Instagram will keep tweaking how it ranks posts in the future.
However, we firmly believe that interactions (likes, comments, and shares) will continue to rank as the most significant indicators for the Instagram algorithm, which determines how valuable your posts are.
Therefore, we hope this article will enable you to better understand how the social media platform functions in 2023 and increase the visibility of your posts.