There is sometimes a serious commotion about the way the Instagram algorithm works because there is a lot of unknown and unverified information that can be found everywhere on the Internet. Since the algorithm is known to affect all users and their content publishing, this is an inexhaustible and very important topic. This is especially true if you’re a small business owner and can’t compete with large companies when it comes to advertising budgets, which is why you are trying to get to the heart of the algorithm.
And no, we’re not going to write about ‘random assumptions’ and ‘rules’ invented by Instagram users themselves to raise their engagement, but we’re going to analyze what Instagram itself has communicated in its new algorithm. Of course, in addition to that, we’ll share some knowledge that we came to ourselves, following the analysis of individual profiles.
Let’s get acquainted with the way the algorithm works…
How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work in 2022?
The most important thing you need to know about the algorithm itself is the following – it is a set of rules that control the organic reach of content, and Instagram claims that the former chronological display system led users to miss as much as 70% of the content, which is why it introduced the algorithm content ranked on the basis of your interests and priorities.
Every time you open the application, the algorithm creates the best combination of content for you in a second, going through the content available to it. It then decides which post will be displayed first in the Newsfeed, then in which order the others will be shown. After that, it decides on the posts, videos for the Explore feed, and, finally, the remaining are Reels, IGTV, Story feed, as well as Insta Live, which should also be arranged in the correct order and in the feeds to which they belong.
How does the algorithm decide what comes first? In short – based on all your previous visits to this application; and in a little more detail – it looks like it analyzes your behavior, what you watched for a longer amount of time, and what you watched shorter, which profiles, why, etc. to end up with the most interesting content at the top. All of these factors, on which the content is displayed, are called “ranking signals” and are important for understanding this topic.
Instagram Ranking Signals
These factors, on the basis of which the content is ‘evaluated’ and ranked, can be divided into three major categories.
The algorithm assumes that those who have previously established any kind of interaction with your profile will still want to interact. Therefore, when an algorithm decides whether to show one of your posts to one of your followers, it does so based on the connection your two profiles have. It evaluates your relationship based on these criteria:
- Do you follow each other
- Did followers search for your brand by name in the search
- Do followers send you messages or write comments, or do you write to them
- Do you tag each other on posts
- Do followers save your posts
It’s certainly clear to the algorithm that you can’t be best friends with thousands of your followers (if you have that much, of course), but still, if you have a loyal audience, which often likes, shares, saves your content, and comments on it, then it will certainly be recognized. However, if you’re the owner of a profile that is either just starting out or has fewer followers, then frequent interaction with their profiles won’t do you harm and will bring you loyal followers who’ll be happy that their favorite brand pays attention and likes their content. Likes have to be mutual, so do your best.
You’ve probably heard many times that it’s important WHEN, but perhaps more importantly, HOW MUCH content you publish, as well as whether you’re regular at it or not. This can be one of the factors for showing content to your followers because Instagram assumes that newer and current posts are more important, so it pushes them to the forefront. At some point, the algorithm will also show older posts to your followers, but the most current ones still go to the top of the Newsfeed.
When it comes to brands, for them this information suggests that it’s best to publish content when followers are online and when they will be able to immediately see in their news feed what’s new that you offer them. Therefore, monitor your profile analytics regularly and adjust your posting time.
The algorithm is designed to offer you content that best suits your interests. Following what you click (from Reels videos on fashion and food that follow all generations, through astrological mimes adored by millennials, websites that offer appealing templates for designing newsletters like VerticalResponse and similar ones to dormant cats and lively dogs that not everyone can love), the Instagram algorithm knows exactly what it offers and will hardly offer you a video about NBA basketball players if you’re completely uninterested in the sport. If you still see it in your feed, it may be due to the fact that such a video has become globally viral, so you can no longer avoid it.
For brands, all this means that the content they create must fully meet the interests of their target group, in order to be shown to them. There are no shortcuts – you need to know your niche well, know what your audience likes, and create posts, stories, reels, and similar content accordingly to the extent that it will be interesting and useful to your followers.
Instagram mentions three more signals, which it takes into account when it comes to organic reach, but they aren’t directly related to your behavior on this social network and might be more related to the way your followers behave.
- Frequency of opening the application – if a brand’s follower goes on Instagram several times a day, the chance of seeing the brand’s post increases, certainly much more than when someone opens the app, say, twice a day.
- The number of profiles that follow – if someone follows a larger number of profiles (here we are talking about numbers greater than 500), then there’s a greater possibility that they will miss the announcements of some brands. That’s why it’s important for a brand to ‘move in’ to someone’s feed, be constantly there with new posts, and interact with followers.
- How much time they spend scrolling through the feed – this is another important factor because if someone scrolls for more than half an hour and often likes your posts, you’re more likely to reappear in his or her feed at the moment when e.g. you have a new product.
What does all this mean for brands? Basically, these three factors don’t mean much, but if you were thinking of telling followers to follow only you and unfollow others, forget about it and read some of our tips below.
5 Tips for Successful Ranking on Instagram in 2022
As many carousel posts as possible – we’ve noticed that posts that attract more engagement and get better organic reach get up to three times better results than other types of posts. They are great for more detailed explanations of products, showing them from multiple angles, etc.
Frequent and constant publishing is a must – if you want your reach to be higher and your engagement and followers to grow, then it’s important to determine how often you post and stick to it. Constant presence is important both because of the algorithm and because of the followers with whom you’ll be able to constantly communicate. For constant publishing, it’s important to plan the content in the calendar of posts on social networks.
Don’t try to cheat the system – don’t use any apps to buy followers, don’t use ‘follow to follow’ and ‘like for like’ methods, and also avoid, if you can, to schedule posts through various services for that because all this violates to some extent Instagram rules, which they will know how to punish.
Try Reels – the algorithm is currently pushing Reels (one of the novelties on this network in 2021) to the forefront and you should take advantage of that drive because there are still no ads in this feed and the organic reach is still quite high. Good content will allow you to present yourself to a new audience, so you should think about it.
Use hashtags better – they were known before the advent of algorithms and were used in one way back then, while today; after the advent of machine learning, they can be a great way for others to discover you even when they aren’t following you. Do thorough research of the niche; check which hashtags the competition uses, and don’t use neutral hashtags such as #sunset and similar for brand posts. Instead, try to find the ones that your industry highly values.
And if you think the Instagram algorithm is too complicated for you or you don’t have time to come up with creative posts, what you can always do is contact a professional social media/community manager and they will design content for your profile and raise your brand presence on the social network Instagram to an even higher level.