Did you know that over 1.16 billion people around the world use Instagram!
That’s a lot of target audience that your brand can reach!
But how can you make data-driven decisions to increase your engagement rate, reach, and traffic?
By figuring out how the new Instagram Algorithm works – and making out the most of it!
So here’s the tea: Instagram wants to make sure the posts users see are the best ones perfectly suited for them.
Before Instagram ditched the chronological feed in 2016, users were missing out on 70% of the posts, and 50% of the posts from their family members.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll learn about in this blog:
How the Instagram Algorithm Works for Instagram Feed Posts in 2022
Here’s what the Instagram team said in a series of tweets: “What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.”
Six main factors that play an important role in helping you understand how Instagram shows users feed content, and assemble posts for them.
Factors contingent on your Instagram activity:
Factors contingent on your Instagram audience’s behavior:
Let’s discuss each of these six factors:
Do users care about the post? When Instagram announced the algorithm change, they wanted to share posts that they’d thought you’d like:
“To show the moments we believe you will care about the most. 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.”
This factor is determined by the user’s past behavior to predict if your post will be successful. How?
We’ve noticed an uptick in posts about Instagram limiting the reach of your photos to 7% of your followers, and would love to clear this up.
— Instagram (@instagram) January 22, 2019
It’s a combination of all the posts users have engaged with in the past. That’s how it’s able to highlight mouth-watering dessert recipes to foodies, or picturesque travel blogging posts to people that love to travel.
We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get. You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who’ve liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received.
— Instagram (@instagram) July 17, 2019
According to Instagram, comments, likes, reshares and views are all essential to high ranking.
That’s why it’s so important to show up to your feed consistently. To maintain a close relationship with your audience, to make them engage with your posts (likes, comments, reshares, saves interacting with stories – the more engaged your audience, the better!)
Of course, there’s no shortcut to this. It just requires you to maintain consistency in your posts, captions, and strategy. You can schedule your posts with the help of a social media scheduler like ContentStudio to plan ahead.
Related Read: Social Media Algorithms 2022: Updates & Tips by Platform
What’s the user’s relationship with the account?
Instagram wants to make sure that the posts you see are from the ones you care about. That’s why it prioritizes posts from your friends, family, and the people you care about.
It evaluates who is closest to you based on:
- If you follow each other
- Regular interaction
- People you direct message
- Whom you search for
- Whose posts you frequently like, comment, share, like.
But of course, if you’re a brand account, this differs for you: You aren’t best friends with your hundreds or thousands of followers.
(And they aren’t ready to be commenting on how amazing you look in the latest selfie you posted either.)
That’s why you need to post relevant content that stands out to them, build meaningful relationships in your industry, and make it a habit to frequently engage with them. (and vice versa)
Instagram Algorithm also takes into consideration when your blog was posted.
It wants to show you the most relevant content, which means the content posted most recently.
You can hack this by finding out the best time to post on social media.
This is a combination of industry benchmarks, your audience demographics, and data analytics from your past publishing behavior.
Pro tip: ContentStudio Analytics evaluates the best time to post to every social media based on your social media account’s insights.
If it turns out that your audience’s optimal time to post is at 3 am because you’re in an entirely different timezone than a major percentage of your audience, then we recommend using ContentStudio’s social media scheduling tool.
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There are other three factors that impact your ranking on the Instagram Feed but they’re more contingent on your audience’s behavior, rather than your actions.
If you have active followers who frequently check their Instagram multiple times a day, it’s very likely they’ll see your posts on their feed. Their feed will almost look chronological since Instagram shows them the best posts since their last visit.
On the other hand, if they check their social media less often, your post might be swallowed in the massive competition of what the algorithm thinks you’d like best. And they may not even scroll down enough to reach your post.
Your ranking on the feed also depends on how many people the user is following.
There’s a big difference between 100 and 1000. If they’re following a lot of people, it’ll hurt your chances of appearing on their feed.
Similarly, users who follow fewer accounts are more likely to see relevant content from their friends, family, and the brands they care about.
Related Read: The 2022 LinkedIn Algorithm Explained: How To Beat It?
This refers to the usage patterns of an Instagram user. Do they have long sessions or short bursts?
If users spend more time on the app, they’re going to see all kinds of different content.
If they don’t use Instagram all too much, there’s going to be a high competition to rank up in the first few slots.
Also Read: Guide to Instagram Collaborative Collections
How the Instagram Algorithm Works for Reels in 2022
Understanding how to bypass the Instagram Reels algorithm could be extremely helpful to anyone wanting to grow their following on Instagram.
Instagram recommends that brands and creators create Reels that are enjoyable, inspiring, or unorthodox, and that they use features such as text, camera effects, or filters.
You should also refrain from sharing low-resolution Instagram Reels as they can be blurry, or appear to have been reprocessed from other applications.
Such Reels will appear less frequently on the Explore Page as well as in the Instagram Reels tab.
View this post on Instagram
Now that you understand exactly what the Reels algorithm tends to prefer, you can use this knowledge to improve content strategy and gain a competitive advantage.
Instagram recommends that brands and creators post Reels that are:
1- Entertaining and enjoyable (i.e. delights people, grabs their attention, makes them laugh, or has a fun surprise or twist)
2-Motivating (i.e. starts a trend that others can easily participate in)
3-Made using innovative tools such as text, filter, and camera effects.
4-Created using music from the Instagram music library and/or original audio from Reels that you created or found.
Are you daring enough to experiment with new things? Be your creative self, and see what kinds of reels work for you.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works for Instagram Discover Page in 2022
Generally speaking, the Explore page and the feed algorithm seem to be very close in how they both serve up content that Instagram chooses to believe you’ll be interested in based on your interactions.
Unlike your Instagram feed, which is mostly made up of content from accounts you already follow, the Explore feed results would be almost made up entirely of content from accounts new to you.
View this post on Instagram
“The most important actions we predict in Explore include likes, saves, and shares,” Instagram says.
And the following are the most important signals for the Explore Page algorithm:
1- Post-specific information: What is the popularity of a post? How much — and how quickly did it reach masses— did it really gain traction? If a large number of people like, comment on, share, and save a post, the post is highly likely to appear on the Explore Page.
2- Your interactions with the person who posted. Have you previously interacted with this person or their content (even if you don’t follow them)?
3- Your activity: What kind of content do you most often like, save, or share? How do you interact with Explore posts?
4- Information about the account that posts content: How many people have engaged with this account in the past few days or weeks?
How the Instagram Algorithm Works for Instagram Stories in 2022
The Instagram algorithm treats Instagram Stories in a manner similar to how it treats the feed.
Instagram Stories that appear at the top of your feed is usually from the accounts you interact with the most.
However, because stories are meant to be consumed like a snack, even if you’re not at the top of someone’s stories feed, there’s a chance they’ll swipe to your content.
Having considered this, it’s a good idea to post to Instagram Stories on a regular basis.
You have a chance to reach a bigger audience as they browse their daily stories if you post to Instagram Stories more frequently — and the higher the views you get, the higher your ranking will be.
Related Read: How To Beat TikTok Algorithm In 2022?
Quick FAQs: Instagram Latest Algorithm Updates
1- How does Instagram deal with sensitive content?
If a user’s content violates Instagram’s Recommendation Guidelines, it may be deemed ‘upsetting, offensive, or sensitive’, and the platform may limit its visibility in Explore rather than removing it from Instagram. They have admittedly limited content like this in Explore, but you can also use the Sensitive Content Control to see more or less content that could be troubling or offensive in Explore.
“Our Community Guidelines define what is and isn’t allowed on Instagram. These guidelines help keep Instagram an authentic and safe place,” according to Instagram
2- How you can tailor your Instagram experience?
- Pick your Close Friends.
- Mute accounts you’re not interested in.
- Mark recommended posts as “Not Interested.”
3- How does Instagram rank search results?
Search assists you in finding accounts and topics of interest. It differs from Feed, Stories, Reels, and Explore in that your feedback helps us decide what to show you. Your search tells us exactly what you’re looking for, and it’s obvious when the results aren’t relevant.
It’s critical for you to get this right, so we try to organize search results based on what’s most important to you — whether it’s a close friend, a creator you admire, or vegan dessert recipes.
Assume you’re looking for health and fitness tips by experts or influencers.
As you begin typing a word like “fitness,” the results show you accounts, hashtags, places, and audio matching the typed text in the search bar. In this case, results like @fitness and #fitness show up because “fitness” appears in their name.
The most essential signals that Instagram uses are as follows in order of importance as stated by Instagram:
- Your typed query in the Search bar.
- Your activity in terms of accounts you follow, posts you’ve viewed, and how you’ve interacted with accounts in the past.
- Information about the search results e.g.the number of clicks, likes, shares, and follows
4- How to show up in search results on Instagram?
Use an appropriate username and profile name. Instagram uses matches search results to the text on your profile. Using an Instagram handle or profile name relevant to the content of your post is your best bet for appearing in relevant searches. If your friends or fans know you by a particular name, include it in your username or profile so that you appear when they search for you.
In your bio, include relevant keywords and locations. The same principle applies here as profile name and username. Make sure your bio contains keywords that describe who you are and what your account is about. If your account is location-specific, such as for a small business, including your location in your account’s bio can massively help people in your city, or state find you.
Use relevant keywords and hashtags in captions. For a post to be found in Search, put keywords and hashtags in the caption, not the comments.
Want to learn more about Social Media Algorithms in 2022?
Handy Tips To Improve Your Ranking with Instagram Algorithm in 2022
- Repurpose, and collaborate to cross-promote your Instagram content
- Consistently Share Instagram Reels
- Use Instagram Alt-Text
- Optimize Your Instagram Hashtag Strategy
- Master captions and microblogging to drive conversations
- Engage on others’ posts by commenting
- Encourage More Interactions with Instagram Stories Stickers
- Use Instagram Analytics to monitor what’s really working
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What to expect from Instagram in 2022?
Instagram head Adam Mosseri revealed in January 2022 that the platform is making major changes to the core feed experience, allowing users to select among three different feeds. ‘Favorites’ and ‘Following’ are two new options that sort content chronologically, while a third ‘home’ option provides the current algorithmically sorted feed.
View this post on Instagram
What else might Instagram be up to if you think about it?
A tweet from Instagram’s official account made rounds over the internet recently.
Sometimes the comments are better than the post
— Instagram (@instagram) January 26, 2022
Outsmart Instagram algorithm: Key takeaways
Hopefully, we’ve persuaded you that Instagram’s algorithm isn’t a strange humanoid out there meant to frustrate you. As aforementioned, you can beat the Instagram algorithm by simply not taking it too seriously. Instead of getting preoccupied with it, consider your audience and what they want to interact with. Because that is what the Instagram algorithm seeks.
To summarize, just focus on three things:
1- Start understanding your target audience
2- Produce high-quality content consistent
3- Use state of the art tools for Instagram
Once caught up with these, be sure of improving visibility and building an audience!
Do check out 30+ Instagram Tools for Marketers
Wasiq Naeem is a content and digital marketing veteran who is passionate about his writing. Extensive research and producing high-quality content is just another day at the office for him.