How to take advantage of Instagram’s algorithm?

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What is the Instagram algorithm and why is it so important?

logo instagram held hand

Did you know that the social networks you use every day are programmed by algorithms? Indeed, the algorithms of social networks use rules that make you see certain content, different from other users. The goal of the algorithm is to show you content that you are most likely to like so that you spend the most time on the app. This allows Instagram to show you more ads, and therefore, get more revenue since the app is free for users.

The algorithm retains your behaviors and shows you content that matches the interests you have shown on the platform. In fact, the algorithm analyzes all the “likes” you leave on posts, the time you spend on the application, the accounts you follow or even the users you interact with the most.

The Instagram algorithm follows the precise rules that have been assigned to it. Only, one of the problems is that they change regularly and are not always easy to understand. The reason why the algorithm is regularly updated is that Instagram analyzes the behavior of users constantly and realizes that certain content or functions reduce the time of users on the application. Since Instagram always aims to promote the increase of time spent by users on the platform, it makes changes to the algorithm to correct the proposed content. The algorithm is not revealed in the open by Instagram and therefore must be observed by users to understand it.

However, we advise you to follow the @creators account that was created by Instagram to help content creators develop their digital skills and knowledge on the platform. Even though you won’t have access to all the secrets of the algorithm, it’s the best place to get access to the platform’s news. In this article, we’ve put together some tips for you that will help you take advantage of the Instagram algorithm to gain engagement. 

instagram creators account

Why are brands focusing their efforts on Instagram?

Instagram is a social network with many benefits for marketers and influencers.

According to Statista:

1.           Instagram brings together over 1 billion accounts.

2.           In the U.S., Instagram’s revenue from ads reached $9.45 billion in 2019.

3.           The US gathers 120 million Instagram users in 2022.

The platform is performing higher than ever and keeps growing. According to all predictions, the platform is not about to slow down its growth. The fact that the app gathers so many users also means that it gathers a lot of diversity. Instagram users come from all over the world. They represent all passions, interests, generations, backgrounds, lifestyles, or social backgrounds. Therefore, this platform has become the center of activity for marketing professionals. Any business can find its place on this platform, certainly because all potential customers are there.

According to Sprout Social:

  1. By the end of 2021, Instagram was the most downloaded app.
  2. 59% of Instagram users log in every day.
  3. 38% of Instagram users log in multiple times every day.
  4. Most Instagram users are between 18 and 34 years old.
  5. Engagement per post is 0.98% on average on Instagram, higher than Facebook (0.19%) and Twitter (0.04%).
  6. Engagement per post for influencers is 1.42% on average on Instagram.
  7. Carousel-style posts perform best on Instagram.
  8. The more Instagram stories you have, the less people will look at them.
  9. 90% of Instagram users follow brands.
  10. Instagram contains over 200 million professional accounts.
  11. 70% of shoppers check Instagram for purchases.

Not only is Instagram one of the most popular social networks, but it is also the one where users show the most engagement with content. The Instagram algorithm is surely the reason why posts perform better than Twitter and Facebook because it cares about showing content that can be interesting and renews the analysis of profiles continuously. Instagram influencers get superior performance, which is why brands are fighting to sponsor their posts. It is a very interactive platform that many users visit regularly, especially Gen Z and millennials. Instagram offers a lot of different content formats but not all of them are good, keep in mind that the more stories you post the less people will take the time to look at them all and that carousels are the most popular format. Finally, yet another reason for brands to join the platform is that 90% of users follow brand accounts. So, there’s a good chance that your most loyal customers will follow you on Instagram to have the most recent ads. As you can imagine, if most brands have a presence on the platform, your competitors are probably there too. It’s important to take care of your branding to make a difference, especially because 70% of buyers check Instagram before making a purchase.

carrousel example osortoo instagram

As you can see, Instagram is a very interesting platform to increase business revenues. However, there is a lot of competition on it, which is why you need to not only differentiate yourself but also understand the algorithm to get the best conversions.

What should you know about the Instagram algorithm?

First, Instagram will show your content first to accounts that have previously interacted with your account. This means that people who have liked your content, replied to your posts, left comments, shared your post, saved your content, clicked on your profile, or followed your account are more likely to see your new content appear on the platform. The reason behind this is that Instagram obviously doesn’t want users to miss out on content that they are interested in like that of family or friends.

There are two main places where your content is shared to users. The first is the News Feed, which gathers all the content that the user is subscribed to, and then there is the Explore Feed, which gathers publications that the user is likely to like but doesn’t already follow.

Obviously, the more popular your publication is, the more Instagram will share it with other users. That is, the more shares, likes or comments you have on your new post, the more the algorithm will consider that it is quality content that can interest more users.

It’s also important to know that since posts are no longer shown in chronological order in the news feed, they are shown starting with the post that is most likely to appeal to the user to the one that least matches the user’s interests. For this, Instagram uses an interest score that considers all the elements we mention in this article to determine the order. Contrary to popular beliefs, Instagram does not favor professional accounts (business or creator) from personal accounts, it treats all content equally.

There are many tips we want to give you to increase the chances of your content being offered to new accounts that have never previously interacted with your content. These include:

A.           Avoid logos. Indeed, if Instagram detects a TikTok or other logo on your video it will consider that the content is not authentic and is simply a copy of content on another platform and therefore does not want to showcase it on its own platform. Instagram has also analyzed that recycled content is less appealing to users.

tiktok logo on instagram feed reels

B.           Post content regularly. Instagram counts the number of times users interact with your content. Therefore, by posting content often your followers are more likely to interact with many of your posts and Instagram will then continue to show them your content.

C.           Post high-quality content. If the algorithm finds your content to be of poor quality visually then it won’t show it to users who might be interested. So, invest in content with good image quality, to avoid blurry images, slow videos or ones that have problems loading properly. Again, Instagram has analyzed that low quality content appeals less to users.

D.           Favor Reels videos that are entertaining, inspiring, or experimental and use creative tools like text, effects or filters. According to Instagram these types of content are the most popular and engaging for the audience. Plus, as soon as your Reels appear on the explore page they get 2 times the space of a regular post, making them a major growth driver.

instagram explore feed with reels

E.           Add #hashtags to your posts. By adding #hashtags to your posts you can expand your audience to all the people whose algorithm has found an interest in these hashtags. All the people who are subscribed to the hashtags you put or who will want to check it out will come across your content when the algorithm might not have shown them otherwise.

F.            Follow Instagram’s community guidelines. Instagram limits the visibility of content that shares misinformation, deals with sensitive topics, obscene or political posts, and other types of illegal content. If you post such content, you will surely be reported by users and Instagram will show your content only to users who follow you by displaying a warning message for them to choose whether they want to access the image or video.

sensitive content message warning instagram reported posts

G.           Use keywords. Instagram has implemented a search function in its app that allows users to easily search for photos or videos on a specific topic. To put it simply, think of this feature as the Google search engine. To answer the user’s search and suggest the content that most closely matches it, the algorithm uses the image or video directly by trying to associate it with a category as well as the description. It is therefore to your advantage to use keywords that reflect your content, for example your products, so that anyone can find them on Instagram.

bridge view instagram search engine

H.           Make stories interactive. Use tools such as quizzes, votes, links, @mentions, locations or music that encourage the audience to interact with your content by visiting a profile, liking a story, asking a question, voting in a poll, visiting a website, clicking on a location, or playing music that keeps them viewing your content for longer. 

instagram screenshot story tools

I.            Post collaborative content in cross-promotion. Instagram collaborations allow a post to be shared between two accounts, so there are two authors to the post that appears on both Instagram accounts. This type of post is usually boosted by the algorithm because the post receives engagement from two communities at the same time which makes its performance much higher than a regular post.

collaboration posts on instagram both accounts giveaway

Conclusion

To conclude, we recommend that you regularly look at your Instagram performance statistics to know which of your content is most liked so that you can focus your efforts on it and subsequently maintain or increase the engagement you receive from your community. Consider subscribing to @creators to get new updates on how the algorithm works. For your next post, keep in mind all the details that Instagram analyzes to put all the chances of success on your side. Now that you have all the keys in hand, good luck!

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