Our guide to algorithms: Instagram

By Posted in - Instagram & Social Media on February 10th, 2017 0 Comments

In an earlier blog post, we took a look at the algorithm of Facebook, and this time, it’s the turn of the picture loving, posting, editing and scrolling app; Instagram.

So much has changed on Instagram in the last 6 months. From a new, fresh-faced redesign of the app (which split camps into love and hate), the Instagram Story release (*cough* Snapchat *cough*), and the revamp of the user experience – including direct messages and the ability to save images.

It turns out that wasn’t enough, as they topped it all off by tinkering with their algorithm.

Rather than clocking the day’s events from morning to evening in an orderly, chronological manner, Instagram’s algorithm will now re-order content in a non-chronological order, which may confuse your body clock but allow for endless scrolling.

Now, as you’ll have probably noticed, your feed will give you random posts in a random order. Or at least it will seem that way. So how are your own posts being viewed by others, if at all?

According to Instagram, your posts will be seen by your followers based on the following three factors:

  1. Timing (how recently your post has been shared)
  2. Engagement (the amount of likes and comments it’s attracted)
  3. Interaction (how often your followers have interacted with your post)

These three combined elements will determine where and when your post will appear in the feed for others. And vice versa. The more you interact with an account’s posts, the more often they will begin to appear in your Instagram feed.

On your own feed, you will find that the new experience not only prioritises the posts you’ve had the most interaction with, but also that there are much more advertisements – which have been given greater weighting.

Whilst this is annoying for the general public, this provides a larger opportunity for brands, enabling them to generate a larger push towards their targeted audience as they subconsciously scroll.

So if we can’t beat it, we have to join it.

Here’s how best to ride the algorithm:


As previously mentioned, in order to gain more interaction on your posts and boost your profile, you will need to interact with others. And not just with likes. Although the ‘double tap’ has become an almost subconscious motion from our brain to finger, comments take more time and effort to post and are therefore justifiably given a heavier weighting when it comes to calculating engagement.

If that wasn’t enough, the save and share functions are more accessible for all now. So not only do we want our consumers to like and comment, but also share and save our posts.

Q vs Q

Whilst we ideally want our posts to appear at the top of our target audience’s algorithms, it is still about quality over quantity. A few high-quality posts will most likely out-perform several low-quality ones.

By producing more high-quality engaging content – thinking carefully about everything from tone and style to format – your posts are again more likely to remain at the top of your consumers’ feeds.

Use varying formats

By the end of 2016, the use of video had significantly risen on the platform, with Instagram indicating that watch time increased by 40% since the summer.

When creating video content for Instagram,  it is also worth noting that 85% of users neglect to turn on the sound, and so sound-less content is on the rise.

Videos appear to receive more views than photos do likes, although you only need to have watched a video for a minimum of 3 seconds for it to be counted as a view.

Other ways to improve your visibility include using tools supported by Instagram, such as Boomerang.

Keep on top

Lastly, to stay on top of your followers’ feeds, you need to stay on top of relevant trends and hashtags. By interacting and using trending topics to boost your content, this is more likely to help you get noticed by both existing and new audiences.

Did you know we offer social media benchmarking packages? If you want to review how your Instagram account is performing against your competitors, contact us to find out more.

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