There are many ambiguities and wrong information regarding the Instagram algorithm. As it is widely known the algorithm impacts all the users and the published content, this turns out to be a never-ending and highly interesting topic. Especially if you are a small business owner and incapable to compete with big companies when it comes to paid ads budgets, so you’re trying to figure out how the algorithm works.
We will focus on the official information on algorithms shared by Instagram, skipping the random assumptions and rules the Instagram users share to increase engagement. Of course, we’ll also share the facts we discovered ourselves by studying the analytics of our clients’ profiles. Let’s dive into the way the algorithm works.
Instagram algorithm and how it works in 2021
The most important thing to know about the algorithm is a set of rules that controls the organic content reach. Based on the previous chronological system of displaying the content, the Instagram users missed 70% of the posted content, so Instagram started the new algorithm for displaying content based on our interests and priorities.
Each time we open the application, the algorithm creates the best combination of the content for us, going through the available content. It decides about the order of showcasing the content in Newsfeed. Then it decides about the order of posts, videos for Explore feed, reels, IGTV, story feed, Insta live.
How does the algorithm decide what goes first? Based on our previous Instagram visits, the algorithm analyzes our behavior, profiles we spent longer or shorter time on, etc. the point is to pop up the most interesting content on the top. All these factors related to the order of appearance of the content are called ranking signals, and they are important for understanding this topic.
Instagram ranking signals
We can split these factors in charge of content ranking into three larger categories.
The algorithm supposes people who interacted with your profile before, will keep doing it. Therefore, when the algorithm decides if your post should be displayed to some of your followers, it makes the decision based on the connection of your profiles. Criteria are as follows:
- Do you follow each other?
- If the followers search your brand by name
- Do you exchange messages and comments with your followers?
- If the followers save your posts
The algorithm knows you cannot be the best friends with thousands of your followers (if you have them), but if you have a loyal audience, liking, sharing, saving, and connecting your posts, the algorithm will recognize it for sure. If you are the profile owner, at the very beginning with a few followers, frequent engagement with their profiles will be good for you and it will bring you loyal followers happy to get the attention and likes from their favorite brand. Liking should be mutual, so do your best.
Best time to post
You might have heard many times it is important what time you choose for posting, how much content you post, and if you are doing it on a regular basis. These could be one of the most crucial factors for displaying your content to your followers because Instagram assumes new and recent posts are more important so it pushes them to the front. At one point, the algorithm will display the older posts to your followers, still, the most recent ones will go to the top of the newsfeed.
When it comes to brands, this information suggests it is best to publish the content when the followers are online so they can see what new posts you can offer them in their newsfeed. Therefore, follow the profile analytics regularly and adjust the posting time.
The algorithm has been created in a way to offer the content based on our interests, following our clicks (fashion reels, food reels, astrology, sleeping cats and lively dogs, etc.) the Instagram algorithm knows exactly what to offer based on the user’s interests. If you are not interested in sports, Instagram will not show you the NBA-related video. In case you see such a video on your feed, it’s only because the video got globally popular so you cannot avoid it.
It is of vital importance for brands to create content that totally corresponds to the interests of their target audience, so the algorithm displays the content on their audience’s feed. There are no shortcuts, you have to understand your niche very well, what they like, and accordingly create posts, stories, reels, and similar content so it appears as interesting and useful to your followers.
There are three more signals relevant for the organic reach but they are not directly in relation to our behavior, they are more related to our followers’ behavior.
- The frequency of starting the application – if a brand follower uses Instagram many times a day, it is more likely that follower will see your post than someone who uses Instagram twice a day.
- The number of profiles you follow – if someone is following dozens of profiles (more than 500) there is a high possibility the user will skip posts of some brands. For this reason, it is important for the brand to get into someone’s feed, be consistent with posting, and engages with the followers.
- How much time they spend scrolling the feed – this is another significant factor, because if someone scrolls your feed more than half an hour and likes your posts, there is a high probability your brand will appear on their feed, exactly at the moment you’ve been presenting your new product.
What does it all mean for brands? These three factors might not mean much for the brands, but if you were about to suggest your followers to unfollow other brands and follow you exclusively, forget about it and read our tips.
5 tips for successful Instagram ranking in 2021.
- As many carousel posts as possible – carousel posts get more engagement, more and better organic reach, and we’ve noticed this type of post gets three times more engagement than others. They are great for detailed product descriptions, showing products from different angles, etc.
- Increasing and constant posting – if you want to get a higher reach, increased engagement, and a number of followers, it is essential to determine the posting frequency and stick to it. Constant presence is important because of the algorithm and followers you want to keep continuous communication with. For constant posting, planning is needed.
- Don’t try to cheat the system – don’t use any applications for buying followers, don’t use “follow to follow” or “like for like” methods, if you can, skip any platforms for scheduling posts – because all this breaks Instagram rules, and it will result in tough consequences.
- Try reels – the algorithm is prioritizing reels (another novelty on Instagram we mentioned in our text on Facebook and Instagram news in 2021.) so you should use it as this type of feed is without ads since the organic reach is high enough. Quality content will enable you to present your brand to a new audience, so you should think about it.
- Use hashtags in a proper way – even before the algorithms, hashtags were popular and used in one way, while today they can be a great way to attract people even if they are not following you. Do in-depth research of the niche, check hashtags your competition uses, and use only relevant hashtags appreciated in your industry.
In case you find this text useful, save it, share it with your colleagues and friends that might consider it interesting. If you think the Instagram algorithm is too complicated for you, or you don’t have time for creating engaging posts, contact us and we will create the content for your profile in order to increase the presence of your brand on Instagram.