How the Instagram Algorithm Works
The algorithm decides the order of the posts that users see when they’re scrolling through their feed. Based on specific signals (what they’ve looked at in the past & for how long), it prioritizes similar posts, pushing the most relevant ones towards the top and giving them the most visibility, while other content ends up being placed further down. No longer can you simply post a pretty picture, sit back and wait for likes, comments, engagement, saves and shares.
How to create your Instagram strategy: ENGAGEMENT
Relationship With the User
If someone has interacted with your content before, they’ll be more likely to see your future content. This makes continuous, repeated engagement on your posts important for building a loyal audience.
Interest the User Has Conveyed
This signal is based on whether the user interacts with similar posts and accounts when they explore Instagram. Users who also engage with similar content are more likely to see your posts.
Relevancy of the Post
When you publish a post on Instagram, the algorithm gives it a relevancy score, which impacts who it’s shown to in the feed.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works for Your Stories
Instagram stories that appear first are from the accounts users engage with most. Comments, likes, and DMs all count towards your place in a user’s feed. Users are also shown stories by location, so use geo hashtags in stories. The more people engage with your brand through stories, the more they’ll see your updates each time you post. Be consistent with content & timing of stories in order to reach people when they open their Instagram app.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works for Your Reels & IGTV
Similar to your feed, the algorithm for video content (like reels and IGTV), is shown to people who interact with your account the most.
Reels are 15 or 30 second clips, entertaining videos your business can post on Instagram. You can use audio, text or other effects using tools and other apps to grow your following. Reels are shared on your feed and can appear on the explore page to reach more people. To increase visibility, share them to your feed first and include hashtags.
To extend the reach for an IGTV video, share a preview to your Instagram feed to increase exposure.
Tips for Working with the IG Algorithm in 2021
Focus on relationships, not just reach!
Post User-Generated Content (UGC): UGC is content about your brand that your followers have posted. It not only inspires more UGC, but users whose content you share may tag you in their stories and further expand your digital footprint on Instagram.
Produce IGTV content: IGTV features long-form, immersive videos that take up a user’s entire screen. IGTV content shows up in the explore page, so it’s easy for them to discover and watch videos from creators and follow them on Instagram.
Make some reels: The Instagram algorithm tends to broadly share content from its newer features, which today is reels.
Comment On Other Peoples Posts, Make Sure They are Relevant Accounts & Brands
To build relationships outside of your own content, start by leaving interesting and involved comments on content from potential customers, relevant influencers, and related businesses.
Posting on accounts that have a big following can help get visibility and more followers for your profile. Make sure that you are genuine and add value. If they tell you to check out their new product, then like and leave a thoughtful comment. Show your brand’s personality and engage in a meaningful way.
Timing! Post When Your Followers are Most Active
Since timelines are still a factor that contributes to where your content ends up in your followers’ feeds, try to post during peak performance times. Check out your Instagram analytics (insights) to find optimal time. It may be trial and error at first, but it’s a good place to start. You can see when your followers are online, by days of the week or by the hour on specific days.
You’ll want to test out specific posting times to see what works. Maybe posting right before a big surge of activity will work best for your account, or maybe you’ll find that it’s better to post right after a surge starts.
Respond to Comments While They’re Fresh (but not too soon or you may look desperate)
This creates social proof for your content, increasing your comment count while also encouraging further replies. It can boost your chances of earning more engagement while your post’s potential reach is at its peak. It can also encourage follow-up comments, or encourage others to comment. Either way, it can help the reach of the post itself and future posts.
Overall, remember to be relevant (on brand), consistent (type & timing) and use all neighborhoods of Instagram (feed, stories, IGTV & reels) when posting to Instagram.