Have you ever wondered how Instagram organizes the content that appears on your feed? Passively browsing without much thought might leave one to thinking that the mass amounts of media they digest just appear to them randomly. But with a little curiosity, many begin to question how things and people they are interested in seem to take precedence over the endless options of other content to show up first on their feed. The secret lies in the Instagram algorithm. This is why for some Khloe Kardashian’s every post is sure to be seen, while another’s feed may be flooded with witty memes throwing rhetoric at modern-day issues. Nonetheless, there is a mechanism to this madness, and are here to give you the crash course.
With hundreds of millions of users, it is hard to settle on a single strategy regarding the organization of the news feed. Some people enjoy the olden days of chronological feeds, whereas others prefer the algorithm to filter the content they see based on the user’s assumed preferences. However, Instagram has announced it’s most recent update and we think many will be happy with the change. In the distant past, the Instagram feed was strictly chronological. This meant that the publisher of the content, as well as the audience member, must be active near the same time of the day for the content to be viewed. Over the years, the algorithm advanced to a complex formula that serves to predict the content that each individual user would like to see and placing that content at the top of the IG feed. There seemed to be a bit of a backlash in response to some of the later changes in the feed as many users felt that they were missing much of the content from the accounts that they follow, due to their feed being dominated by content that the algorithm has predicted to be favored. So what has Instagram since improved?
Instagram has found a balance between the chronological method and the prediction method. They state that their goal is to achieve a more “fresh feel”.
Chronological time- posts published more recently will likely show up higher on Instagram feeds
You like what you “like”- based on the type of content and accounts on which you like their content, the algorithm will provide more content of the like higher up in your feed.
Friends and Fam- frequent engagement between individuals, mainly comments and direct tagging in posts and stories, puts them into the friends and family category. The algorithm favors content from those who it predicts are your friends and family.
A number of people you follow- you just can’t see it all…especially as the number of people you follow grows. Therefore, the number of people you follow does have an impact on how much content from each individual you will see. (note: Instagram does not hide content, so if you endlessly scroll, you will see all content from everyone you follow)
** Those who browse Instagram frequently throughout the day will have a feed that is more chronologically organized. This is because the algorithm will attempt to display the most pertinent content since the last time the user has opened the app. If the elapsed time is a matter of a few hours, the posts featured high on their news feed will be mostly in chronological order with posts published since the last time the Instagram app was used being the main source of content.
**Those who browse Instagram less frequently will have a more variable feed, this is more influenced by perceived interests and the friend and family relationship factor. However, the most frequent posts from your perceived interests as well as friends and family will appear first. This adds a chronological aspect.
There are a variety of components that drive the actions of engagement on Instagram. Some factors include content originality and quality, relevance, and post frequency to name a few. However, Instagram recently confirmed some significant aspects regarding content and engagement. Here are some truths and myths that can help guide you in understanding what drives engagement with the new algorithm update.
Videos outrank pictures? – During a period of time surrounding the release of the video post feature on Instagram, the algorithm ranked videos higher than post. This was to help push and incentivize use of the new feature. This has since changed, as video and image posts are equal in the eyes of the algorithm.
Do more features equal more engagement? – Incorporating more of Instagram’s features was once rewarded by adding that user’s content to more people’s feeds. So at one time, yes…using a larger variety of features directly led to more exposure and engagement. This month, Instagram has announced that they are no longer giving favor to those who use the new features. This means that you must rely mostly on the quality of your content to drive engagement.
Post frequency- this topic is still up for debate, as there seems to be no precise number of posts that leads to the best engagement rates. However, we do know that Instagram does not down rank accounts for posting too frequently. Before, accounts who posts very frequently were viewed as spammy by the algorithm. This is no longer true. So post as often as you feel…you will figure out what frequency works best for your page.
Shadowbanning is NOT real- There has been a much chatter in the past regarding a correlation between overuse of hashtags and the number of hashtags per post, with accounts being “shadow banned”. Use of certain features were disabled on many accounts following the continued use of the same hashtags or by accounts that posted the maximum number of hashtags. It has been identified that this was not a feature of the Instagram algorithm, or some method of punishment. Rather, this was due to a bug in the app. With that being said, the issues is fixed and you may use hashtags freely. We suggest updating your hashtag strategy accordingly.
A basic understanding of how the Instagram algorithm works is crucial to maintaining a consistent page. Any user can leverage the system to produce better results for their account with the proper comprehension of the most recent updates. We hope to spread pertinent information to users worldwide when it comes to expressing themselves in the social media arena. After all, what good is knowledge if it is not shared with others? To keep up with all of the newest Instagram updates and news, be sure to hit that subscribe button!