July 1, 2019 – News & Blogs
How does the Instagram algorithm actually work?
It’s a question that’s caused a lot of confusion for business on Instagram since the controversial move away from a chronological feed. It seemed the Instagram algorithm was making it harder than ever to reach target audiences, get more followers, and improve engagement on your posts. But don’t worry! Once you understand how the Instagram algorithm works, you can use it to build a killer Instagram strategy, and continue to grow your account!
It’s time to take back control of your Instagram marketing strategy this year!
How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work for Your Feed Posts in 2019?
Instagram posts are no longer getting the amount of exposure they used to. It’s even rumoured that only 10% of your audience is actually seeing your posts in their feed. This can be extremely frustrating for businesses hoping to reach new customers, and even worse for influencers whose business model depends on their followers seeing their content. That is why, we will share our knowledge and some pro tips on this matter.
#1: The Instagram Algorithm Predicts How Much You Care About a Post
Your Instagram feed isn’t just based on who you follow, but also based on who and what you like. The more they think you’ll “like” that post, the higher chance it’ll appear in your feed. This is based on “past behaviour on similar content and potentially machine vision analysing the actual content of the post.”
When a post receives a ton of likes and comments, this signals the Instagram algorithm that this post is quality and an engaging content that more people will want to see. This explains how viral content spreads so quickly on Instagram, but it doesn’t mean you need thousands of likes to get the Instagram algorithm working on your side. You just need to focus on providing quality content your current, and future, audience will enjoy and want to engage with.
When the news of the new algorithm broke last year, they commented, “The order of photos and videos 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.” They claimed that the change was to improve user experience and to prioritize the moments we care about the most.
With these changes, came a lot of challenges for brands and businesses looking to grow their engagement and following on Instagram. That is why, if you’ve experienced a drop in your engagement, or a change in your posts’ reach, it could be to do with the Instagram algorithm. But thankfully, we have some tips to fix this.
Tip #1.1: Spend More Time Posting Consistently on Instagram
When you post consistently on Instagram, you’ll not only improve your engagement but it’s a signal to the algorithm that you’re a quality account! And the more frequently and consistently you post, the more likely your audience will see and engage with your content. When it comes to how often you should post, your ideal posting frequency will depend on you or your business’ goals and the amount of time you can dedicate to your Instagram marketing efforts.
Social media expert Neil Patel says, “If you make a habit of posting several times a day and then transition to only a few times a week, you will start to lose followers and generate less engagement. This means that the best posting frequency for Instagram is the posting frequency that you can consistently maintain for the rest of your natural life.”
So, it’s important to commit to a posting schedule that you can maintain. Even if you only decide to post once every 3 days, a smooth pattern of consistently good content will be rewarded.
#2: The Instagram Algorithm Determines Your Relationship with Your Followers
It’s now believed that Instagram not only prioritizes posts with high engagement, but may also restrict exposure based on your relationship with your followers. If you comment on a lot of someone’s photos or are tagged in photos with them, this signals to Instagram that they probably fall into your “friends and family” category.
So, both commenting on other profiles’ posts, and responding to your own comments and DMs, is super-important if you want to grow on Instagram.
Tip #2.1: Use Instagram Features Like Notifications and Facebook Page Manager
Treat comments like a conversation — you want to make sure you’re always replying and engaging with the comments on your feed to alert the algorithm you have a “relationship” with your follower.
We know, it’s easy to miss comments in the Instagram app, especially if someone is commenting on an older post. That’s why, Instagram continues to roll out new features that make it easier than ever to keep the conversation going with your audience. Making the notification system more focused on comments is one great way to be alerted on new comments. Now, your Instagram comments won’t get lost in the clutter so you can always make sure you’re responding promptly to your audience.
With Facebook’s new unified Pages inbox, you’re able to respond to messages from both Facebook Messenger and Instagram! With access to the new feature, you’ll see options for both “Messenger” and “Instagram Direct” when you open your Facebook Pages inbox. Receiving a healthy influx of direct messages on Instagram and Facebook is a great indication that your audience is engaged with your brand and the content that you’re posting.
Tip #2.2: Improve Relationships with a Consistent Instagram Brand and Aesthetic
If you engage with a particular account regularly, you’re telling Instagram that you like that account’s content. This is why you can see your best friend’s or favourite influencer’s Instagram posts at the top of your feed. The same applies of you regularly engage with a brand on Instagram — their profile may be up there at the top of your feed list, with your friends’ and family’s posts too! If you’re a brand and your followers are regularly liking, commenting, saving your content, or watching your Instagram Stories, your posts are more likely to be shown to them.
So it’s more important than ever to take the time to build a consistent Instagram brand and aesthetic. Followers are much more likely to convert into fans when they know exactly what they can expect from your feed, and continue to see the same consistent, quality content from your account.
By creating a consistent story through your Instagram aesthetic and account, you can turn those visitors into engaged followers. Your future followers want to know exactly what to expect when they follow you, so it’s crucial you take the time to plan out the look of your Instagram feed before you post.
#3: The Instagram Algorithm Factors in Timeliness
Not only does the algorithm pay attention to how much engagement your Instagram post gets, but also how long ago the photo was posted. Instagram’s algorithm is starting to care a lot more about when you posted, instead of just the content or engagement on the post, because it always wants to serve you the latest, most interesting posts. This was brought up around the holidays last year when a lot of people were still seeing Christmas posts even though it was past New Year’s.
By finding your personalized best time to post on Instagram, you can increase your reach and get more likes and followers. If you post at a time when most of your followers are online, you give yourself a better chance of racking up those likes quickly!
Tip #4: Find Out When Your Audience Is Most Active
Using your Instagram Insights, you can use the Activity matrix to work out the times of the day when your audience is most active online. But these peak times can often vary throughout the week — for example at weekends your audience might be most active in the mid-morning, while during the week it could be on their commute home or down-time after work.
But, for every brand, the target audience will behave differently, so it’s worth spending the time to find these optimum posting windows!
#4.1: The Instagram Algorithm Uses Frequency to Sort Your Posts
How often do you open the Instagram app? If you’re a frequent scroller, your feed will look more “chronological” since Instagram tries to “show you the best posts since your last visit.” If you check the Instagram app less often, then your feed will be sorted more to what Instagram thinks you’ll like, instead of chronologically.
#5: The Instagram Algorithm Keeps Tabs on Your Following
How many people do you follow on Instagram? If you follow a lot of people, then Instagram has more options to choose from, so you probably won’t see all of the posts from every account.
#6: The Instagram Algorithm Calculates Your App Usage
If you spend a lot of time on Instagram, you’re going to see more posts as Instagram “digs deeper into its catalogue.” However, if you only spend a few minutes in the app each day, then you’re going to just get the day’s highlights from the algorithm.
This is how Instagram’s algorithm works for your feed. At FMG, we understand about how these algorithm works and we’ll manage all of these for your business.
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